June 29, 2011

Bosphorus Canal: Questions Raised Over a ‘Crazy but Magnificent’ Project


The steel hulls of the oil tankers, container ships and other vessels passing Istanbul’s Dolmabahçe Palace contrast starkly with the late Ottoman building’s architectural delicacy.

But aesthetic concerns are only one among many worries about the constant passage of such vast vessels along the treacherous Bosphorus strait, through the heart of a city of about 14m people.

After serious accidents in past decades both Turkish and international observers have long expressed concern about the potential for a catastrophe if a vessel suffered a serious accident or exploded in the strait, which links the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara.

Government plans, announced this year, to build a sea canal bypassing the city could allow inhabitants of the country’s commercial capital to sleep more easily at night by taking ships away from the crowded natural channel.

However, with weeks having passed without elaboration of the initial, sketchy announcement, questions are being asked about how serious plans are. Even Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, called the project “crazy and magnificent” when he announced it, in the run-up to the June 12 general election.

Luis Mateus, head of research at Geneva-based Riverlake Shipping, says plans are still in the early stages.

“I reckon we’re still about 10 years away from its being built,” he says.

Read more on Financial Times: Bosphorus Canal: Questions Raised Over a ‘Crazy but Magnificent’ Project

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