Erdogan Takes The First Step In The ‘Crazy’ Ship Canal Project In Turkey

ISTANBUL, Turkey — On Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took the first step in the building of a Ship Canal Project that would improve maritime traffic in the Bosporus Strait, according to the government.

“Today, we are beginning a new chapter in the development of Turkey,” Erdogan remarked during a bridge-breaking ceremony in Sazlidere, west of Istanbul.

“We regard Canal Istanbul as a project to safeguard Istanbul’s future… to secure the protection of life and property in Istanbul’s Bosporus and its surrounding citizens.”

Erdogan proposed a canal connecting the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea in 2011, which he termed his “crazy project.” It was resurrected three years ago.

The 45-kilometer (28-mile) canal, according to the government, will ease the strain on the Bosporus, one of the busiest shipping channels in the world, and minimize the danger of accidents.

Opponents argue that the project will do nothing and would create significant ecological harm in the region, increase the risk of earthquakes, and add to Turkey’s debt burden.

The $15 billion projects, according to Erdogan, will be finished in six years.

“Look, this isn’t a fountain dedication,” he said. “Today, we are creating the foundations for one of the world’s most exceptional canals.”

The first component in the project, an eight-lane, 840-meter (half-mile) road bridge, will connect to the North Marmara Highway, which also connects to other recent infrastructure developments such as a new airport and a third Bosporus crossing.

As a result, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, a member of Turkey’s major opposition party, described Saturday’s event as an “illusion” connected to motorway plans rather than the canal.

“The canal project has nothing to do with the construction of a bridge here. It has to do with the road hub,” he said during a news conference on Thursday in Sazlidere.

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