Published on 29th November 2021
Turkey's massive waterway project on the outskirts of Istanbul is considering a "build and operate" strategy, according to a report released Monday by the country's Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Adil Karaismailolu.
The public-private partnership model of build-operate-transfer reduces the strain on the public budget and lowers expenses, while the contractor manages the project for a certain period of time and receives proceeds.
The alternative finance approach was used to complete many of Turkey's mega-scale infrastructure projects, such as motorways, bridges, airports, and hospitals.
According to reports, the Kanal Istanbul will be built with minimal government funding, with the builder operating it for a set length of time and profiting from vessel traffic.
Authorities were in talks with interested companies from the Netherlands, Belgium, Russia, and China for contracting work on the canal, Karaismailolu said in an interview with Bloomberg News.
The $15 billion (TL 143.11 billion) canal project was started in late June by President Recep Tayyip Erdoan in a ceremony to lay the foundations of a bridge spanning the proposed path, with the goal of relieving congestion on the crowded Bosporus strait.
The 45-kilometer (27.96-mile) waterway will connect the Black Sea north of Istanbul to the Marmara Sea south of Istanbul. It will be developed along Istanbul's Küçükçekmece-Sazldere-Durusu corridor.
It will have a daily capacity of 160 vessels and is expected to generate considerable economic value by lowering transit times and expenses while also generating revenue through passage fees.
The canal, according to Erdoan, will take six years to finish.
Every year, 43,000 ships pass through, significantly more than the 25,000 that the government considers safe, resulting in increasingly long wait times. The number is expected to increase to 78,000 by 2050.
Authorities are apparently prioritizing a variation of the "build and operate" model for the project, according to Karaismailolu, who also stated that the complete terms of the funding framework will be finalized "over the next few months."
Critics have raised concerns about the project's potential environmental impacts on the Marmara Sea and the city itself, citing concerns about water resources and the possibility of a construction boom along the canal's route.
Furthermore, critics argue that the project's astronomical cost should be better spent on other pressing challenges, such as an urgent urban regeneration program in advance of a catastrophic earthquake projected to strike the city.