Turkey to build canal to bypass Bosphorus: PM

Turkey plans to build a canal connecting the Black and Marmara seas as an alternative to the congested Bosphorus Strait, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday.

"We are rolling up our sleeves for Canal Istanbul, one of the greatest projects of the century that will outshine the Panama and Suez canals," Erdogan told a party gathering.

The waterway, to cut through Istanbul's European side, would be 40-50 kilometres (25-30 miles) long, with a width of about 150 metres (164 yards) and depth of 25 metres, he said.

The announcement of the plan - long kept secret as Erdogan's "crazy project" - came as part of the prime minister's pledges ahead of parliamentary elections on June 12, in which his Islamist-rooted party would seek a third straight term in power.

Preliminary studies and the drawing up of the project, expected to take two years, will start after the elections, Erdogan said.

He declined to disclose the exact location for the waterway and its estimated cost, but added that "financing will not be a problem."

"One of the main objectives is to reduce traffic through the Bosphorus and minimise the (environmental) threat," he said, stressing that about 140 million tonnes of oil were currently transported through the narrow waterway.

Erdogan, who served as mayor of Istanbul between 1994 and 1998, has other ambitious plans to transform the city.

In mid-April he announced plans to build two new towns on both sides of the city, while a tender to construct a third bridge over the Bosphorus will be held this summer.

A Turkish-Japanese consortium is currently building a rail tunnel under the Bosphorus to ease the congested traffic in Turkey's greatest city.

"There is a kind of megalomaniacal desire to transform Istanbul into a large square of cruise tourism and a major financial center with all these large projects... This is a very-short term and ostentatious management style," said researcher Jean-Francois Perouse, director of the Urban Observatory of Istanbul.

For Perouse, the real challenges that should be tackled for the survival of the city are environmental and social justice related issues.

The Bosphorus, which bisects Istanbul, Turkey's largest city with some 13 million people, is the world's fourth busiest waterway, and together with the Dardanelles Strait, connects the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.

It is difficult to navigate because of its sinuous geography and treacherous currents.

Turkey has long warned that increase in maritime traffic, coupled with the growing size of oil tankers, make for a disaster waiting to happen, and has promoted oil pipelines through its territory.

In 1979 and in 1994, tanker crashes in the Bosphorus, whose shores are dotted with posh waterside villas, restaurants and historic sites, claimed 41 and 28 lives respectively.

Erdogan said the new channel would afford the daily passage of up to 160 vessels, including the largest ships, and would have bridges to allow car traffic.

Residential and business areas, complete with an airport that would be the third for Istanbul, would be built on the banks of the waterway, he said.

New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Day In a Page

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all