Turkish government assumes financial liability for Kanal Istanbul waterway project

Turkey’s Transportation and Infrastructure Ministry will undertake financial liability of companies to run Kanal Istanbul, a shipping canal project designed to bypass Istanbul’s Bosporus Strait, according to the Official Gazette.

A temporary article was added to the Law on Making Certain Investments and Services within the Framework of Build-Operate Transfer Model published in the Official Gazette on Saturday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced the Kanal Istanbul project in 2011, before he was elected prime minister for a third term, but his governments have failed to break ground on the waterway project since.

There has been strong opposition to the project among professional organisations and NGOs, which maintain that the canal poses a severe risk for the large-scale earthquake expected in Istanbul, will damage the megacity’s last forest areas by encouraging development and harm marine life in the Marmara Sea.

The Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) Istanbul Provincial Coordination Board Secretary Cevahir Efe Çelik maintains the latest development is part of a plan to help with companies involved in the project to find foreign credit.

Turkish opposition groups claim that the government introduced the Kanal Istanbul project to boost pro-government business ventures.