Tender for Ephesus Harbor still unannounced

Tender for Ephesus Harbor still unannounced

Özgen Acar
Tender for Ephesus Harbor still unannounced

The result of the tendering process for the construction of new touristic harbor at the UNESCO world heritage center of Ephesus, in the Aegean province of Izmir’s Selçuk district, has yet to be announced, even though the process was concluded over a month ago.

Some 53 companies have made offers for the first phase of the tender by the Forestry and Water Affairs Ministry and the General Directorate for State Hydraulic Works (DSİ), which will allow the ruined ancient city to be accessed by sea.

The tender committee, which evaluated the proposals on Oct. 19, specified the cost of the project as 30.9 million Turkish Liras, and stated that the Public Procurement Authority would announce the winner.

The proposed “antique harbor and canal” for the famous city of Ephesus, which is believed to have been built by “one breasted, female Amazon warriors,” was one of the 35 projects Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım proposed for Izmir.

The first phase of “geotechnical drilling” has already been completed. 

Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) İzmir deputy Mahmut Atilla Kaya shared information about the 6,130-meter-long channel, which will allow transportation to Ephesus by sea.

“A 600-meter-long entrance channel intended to provide yachts with an entrance from the sea, a pier structure, a short-term yacht anchor area, a vehicle and pedestrian bridges, will be built on the channel off the coast of Pamucak. The entrance channel will be constructed on concrete pole groundwork and the wall will be built from square cut stone blocks regionally sourced. The geotechnical drilling has been completed. The mud will be cleared four meters deep with amphibious sea vehicles. This will increase the amount of tourists who come to Ephesus,” said Kaya.

The idea of a port was first suggested in 1993 by CHP Selçuk Municipality but no progress was made.

When it came to the agenda again in later years, the Culture Ministry General Directorate of Monuments and Museums supported the proposal with some restrictions by noting “attention must be drawn to a vital missing link to this cool-sounding project.”

“This is an important ancient city on the [UNESCO] World Heritage List. Since excavation of the region is overseen by the Austria Ephesus Excavation Committee Presidency, the project can happen only when excavation works finish,” they stated.

The Austrians had started archeological research in the region but their scuba divers had almost drowned in the mud.

The area also contains various shipwrecks, similar to Istanbul’s Yenikapı area.

In addition, Pamucak is a naturally protected site formed of alluvium. Digging deep in Pamucak for the port and the channel would harm nature in the area. Even today water levels rise in Ephesus in front of the gym named “Vedius Gymnasium” during the spring months.

The government claims that a yacht port in Ephesus would attract the boats of foreign tourists. In 2011 almost four million tourists visited Ephesus, but this figure dropped to one million in recent years because of poor foreign and tourism policies. Now the relevant authorities aim for a limited tourism through yachts and small airplanes, instead of mass tourism in Ephesus.

Has any thought been given to the negative impact customs and passport buildings and fuel stations for yachts would have on the ancient city?

The Austria Archeological Institute has been carrying out archeological excavations in Ephesus for more than 120 years.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry stopped their work on Aug. 31, 2016, just two months before the end of the excavation season.

The Foreign Ministry reached the abrupt, angry decision as a response to the Austrian government’s reactions to the AKP.

However, there are still many historical places in Ephesus that need conservation and excavation.

People have taken advantage of the present situation, which is the result of lax inspections in the area following the ejection of the Austrians. Wedding ceremonies have even been performed inside the ancient city, and now this: a port and airport at Ephesus!