Ankara - Dutch, Belgian and French companies are interested in a massive canal project on the edge of Istanbul, Turkish state media cited Transport Minister Cahit Turhan as saying on Monday, despite the opposition’s strong criticism of the project.
President Tayyip Erdogan and his AK Party say the 45-km (28-mile) Kanal Istanbul, which should be completed in 2026 and link the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea, aims to ease traffic and prevent accidents along the nearby Bosphorus Strait.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, along with environmentalists and urban planners, says the canal fringing Istanbul will turn the city of 15 million people into a “construction site” for years and destroy ecosystems vital for marine animals and migratory birds.
On Monday, Turhan said Turkey would initially earn $1 billion annually from ships passing through the canal, according to state-run Anadolu news agency. He did not provide further details on the international companies he said were interested.