Turkey to “build three islands” with waste from Istanbul canal

Turkish President Recep ErdoÄŸan recently revived the "crazy project" of digging a canal through Istanbul to relieve shipping pressure on the narrow Bosphorus strait, but now there is a plan to use spoil from the massive excavations to make three islands in the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, according to a report.

Digging the 43-km-long, 25-m-deep, and 400-m-wide canal would produce around 2.7 billion cubic metres of material, and the idea is to build the islands at the northern and southern ends of it to recoup some of the canal’s cost with residential developments, sources told the newspaper Habertürk, according to English-language Hurriyet Daily News.

Rocks from nearby quarries would be used for foundations and sea defences, while soil from the canal will be used as fill.

The plan to build a canal west of the Bosphorus through the European part of Istanbul has been around for many years, but was among the so-called "crazy projects" then-Prime Minister ErdoÄŸan pledged while campaigning ahead of the 2011 general election. At that time he said the channel, providing another link between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, would "outshine the Panama and Suez canals".

No progress was made on the canal after Mr ErdoÄŸan’s victory, although he frequently reaffirmed his enthusiasm for it. His most recent statement was made during a speech at the Turkey Innovation Week conference in December, when he said that a tender would be put out in 2017.

The purpose of the new channel is to relieve congestion in the Bosphorus, which is the world’s narrowest strait used for international navigation, and to offer a safer route for the 10,000 oil tankers that make the passage each year.

It has also been suggested that the canal would allow Turkey to bypass the Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits, a 1936 agreement that limits the passage of military ships not belonging to a Black Sea nation.

The ideal completion for the new canal was set for 2023, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish republic from the Ottoman Empire.

Image: Some 56,000 ships pass through the Bosphorus a year (CCT Investments)

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