Build­ing a new Turkey: Er­do­gan’s ‘crazy projects’

Kuwait Times - - ANALYSIS -

Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan yes­ter­day opened a new road tun­nel un­der­neath the Bospho­rus in Istanbul, the lat­est in a string of am­bi­tious schemes to trans­form the coun­try’s in­fra­struc­ture. Er­do­gan, who has dom­i­nated the coun­try as pre­mier from 2003 and then head of state since 2014, boasts that such un­der­tak­ings are his “crazy projects” that no other Turk­ish leader had dared dream of. From bridges, to a ship­ping canal, and air­ports, here is a run­down of the projects whose com­ple­tion Er­do­gan has over­seen and those still in progress.

Mar­maray Tun­nel Open­ing date: Oct 2013

The Mar­maray Tun­nel was the first ever un­der­sea pas­sage be­neath the Bospho­rus be­tween Europe and Asia. It takes a sub­ur­ban train sys­tem linked to Istanbul’s metro network. Ac­cord­ing to the author­i­ties, it has so far trans­ported 172 mil­lion pas­sen­gers.

Os­man Gazi Bridge Open­ing date: June 2016

The fourth-long­est sus­pen­sion bridge in the world, the Os­man Gazi bridge stretches 2.6 km across the Izmit gulf in Turkey’s in­dus­trial north­west. It is named af­ter the founder and first ruler of the Ot­toman Em­pire.

Sul­tan Se­lim the Grim Bridge Open­ing date: Aug 2016

A hy­brid be­tween a sus­pen­sion and ca­ble-stayed bridge, the Sul­tan Se­lim the Grim bridge is the widest sus­pen­sion bridge in the world at 58.5 m. The bridge is the third across the Bospho­rus, af­ter the first opened in 1973 and the sec­ond in 1988. It is named af­ter the 16th cen­tury sul­tan who con­quered swathes of the Mid­dle East dur­ing his eight-year rule.

Istanbul New Air­port Open­ing date: Feb 26, 2018

Work on the new Istanbul air­port is al­ready well ad­vanced, with open­ing ex­pected in early 2018. Built by the Black Sea, well out­side the city cen­tre, the author­i­ties hope that the size of the fa­cil­ity will make Istanbul a global avi­a­tion hub like Dubai. Cam­paign­ers how­ever ac­cuse the author­i­ties of ru­in­ing one of the few re­main­ing green ar­eas out­side the city.

Canal Istanbul Open­ing date: Un­spec­i­fied

Pos­si­bly the most am­bi­tious of all Er­do­gan’s projects, the Canal Istanbul en­vis­ages the dredg­ing of a new canal from the Sea of Mar­mara to the Black Sea to take the pres­sure off the Bospho­rus, one of the world’s busiest ship­ping bot­tle­necks. The author­i­ties have dis­missed sug­ges­tions the Panama or Suez-style project is a step too far and Er­do­gan has said ten­ders will start in 2017.

Dar­danelles Bridge Open­ing date: 2023

The bridge will span the fa­mous Dar­danelles Straits off the Gal­lipoli penin­sula in a project that would dwarf the bridges over the Bospho­rus. Er­do­gan has said con­struc­tion will start on March 18. The area has huge na­tional sig­nif­i­cance for Turks as the place where Ot­toman troops re­sisted in­vad­ing Al­lied sol­diers in World War I. It is ex­pected to be called 1915 Bridge af­ter the year of the cam­paign.

Avrasya Tun­nel Open­ing date: Dec 20, 2016

The bridge is the first ever road tun­nel un­der­neath the Bospho­rus Strait in Istanbul and has been built at a depth of 106 m. The to­tal tun­nel project com­prises an un­der­sea Bospho­rus cross­ing 3.4 km long. The author­i­ties are now con­sid­er­ing build­ing a third tun­nel in Istanbul to take trains and ve­hi­cles. — AFP

Turkey’s Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan ges­tures as he speaks dur­ing the open­ing cer­e­mony of the Eura­sia Tun­nel in Istanbul yes­ter­day. — AP

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