Protesting workers block roads at third Istanbul bridge construction

Protesting workers block roads at third Istanbul bridge construction

ISTANBUL – Doğan News Agency
Protesting workers block roads at third Istanbul bridge construction

DHA Photo

The construction of roads connecting to the third Istanbul bridge has been suspended after excavation workers blocked the roads in protest of subcontractor’s failing to pay their wages.

The truckers and mechanics working on one of the roads that will link the new Bosphorus bridge to the main arteries dumped the soil that has been dug so far onto access roads on June 26, vowing to halt construction “until they receive their wages.” The subcontractor İDB tasked to handle the excavation job at the construction also confirmed the workers’ claims, but promised to pay the salaries after receiving payment from a different project.

“We couldn’t make the payment because we have an ongoing job on our hands,” company representative Bayram İşbilir said. “The project was suspended by the Land Roads Directorate, but our way has been cleared now,” he added, seeking to explain the situation.

The main contractor of the project is ICA, the partnership of Italian builder Astaldi and Turkish construction firm IC İçtaş, had initially vowed to pay salaries if the İDB failed to do so, the workers said. However, a disagreement erupted between the ICA and the İDB, further paralyzing payments and leading to the victimization of the workers.

“There were more than 100 workers here; no one has left, because no money has been paid,” one of the workers said, claiming they have not received their salaries for four to five months.

“They always tell us to go now and come later. They take us in,” he said, claiming they are owed 1 million Turkish Liras in total.

The workers also complained that the subcontractor company does not have the proper tools and vehicles for excavation, questioning the qualification processes.

The workers also said the construction vehicles and equipment have been waiting off duty, claiming they have begun to decay.

The contractor firms are rushing to finish the bridge before the 2015 deadline imposed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, but workers say even 2016 would be optimistic.

The bridge will be the third link connecting Istanbul’s Asian and European sides and will be the widest in the world, measuring 60 meters in width, housing 8 motorway lanes (four in each direction) that will be divided by two high-speed rail corridors. It will also be the longest suspension bridge and will achieve another first for its A-shaped pylons standing more than 320 meters tall.

The bridge project has been criticized by many due to concerns regarding environmental destruction, as well as handling historical artifacts discovered as part of the construction of the connection roads.