Turkey to pay more than $500 million to third Bosporus bridge operators for 2019

The Turkish Treasury will pay some $515 million to the builders of the third bridge spanning Istanbul’s Bosporus Straits after the crossing made far less from tolls than the government had guaranteed for 2019, the Cumhuriyet newspaper said on Monday.

Turkey has already paid more than 1.4 billion lira ($245 million) to ICA, a consortium of Turkey's Içtaş and Italy's Astaldi operating the bridge, for the first six months of 2019, and will pay another 1.6 billion lira ($270 million) for the period between July to December, Cumhuriyet said.

Turkey has constructed a large number of public works, including infrastructure projects, using the build-operate-transfer model, guaranteeing to make up any shortfalls in income for the companies involved.

The Treasury guaranteed the contractors an income equal to the fares – set at $3 plus tax – of 135,000 vehicles a day for the third bridge for 10 years when it opened in 2016, but the crossing has proved unpopular due to the high cost of using it.

The lira was 2.95 to the dollar in 2016, but has since fallen to 5.92, doubling the price of tolls.