When we look to the sea for freight shipments, we see that the waters and their paths which are a very important tool for shipping. It is important for the shipping lines to get the containers as quickly as possible to the final destination port. Canals are very essential for achieving that goal. Sea canals are reducing the sealing time for the vessels which are very necessary for importing and exporting.
There are a lot of canals like the Panama Canal or the Suez Canals, which are very famous and with a lot of vessel traffic. The Panama Canal for example is increasing its capacity right now and is almost finished with the upgrade.
Currently there is a very controversial canal project in Turkey. The project is called “Kanal Istanbul”. The Turkish government wants to build a canal to the existing Bosporus passage to reduce the traffic, to make the area safer and expecting to gain an economical and political advantage. According to the historians, it goes far back to the Ottoman Empire age, where we can find the first ideas of the artificial canal, thought by Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent.
According the governmental sources, all final stages of the project planning are done and it will be expected that there will be a tender for the project at the second half of 2016. It will be expected that the deepest point will be 25 meters, bottom width 120 meters and surface width 140 meters. Expected cost of the project: $10 Billion. You will find more detailed information in the project animation link below at the end of the article.
So is this project really necessary? Why should Turkey build a new canal? Well, there are of course more questions. First of all, from the point of preserving the history culture in the Bosporus, it seems very legitimate because the traffic increases every year and the risk of accidents is getting higher. The new, bigger oil tank vessels are a huge danger for the existing area and traffic. The oil import and export business for the Black Sea countries is very important besides the existing oil pipelines. So it would not be wrong to say that rerouting the oil tankers by another sea canal, would be safer.
The government expects that the Kanal Istanbul will positively impact the trade and economy for the Black Sea countries which also would help to stabilize the whole region in a political way.
A new, bigger canal would mean a safe passage through the sea regions and it is expected to have a positive impact also to the Mediterranean Sea traffic.
As you can see, the traffic increases every year and so the amount of dangerous materials. Alone from that point, it seems necessary and due over that something must be done.
But related with the project there are also a lot of problems connected, like where is the final route of the canal or what happens to the people who are living on the planned route? Relocating them, reshaping the landscape, preserving the nature are just some of the problems.
According to the project, a new city close to Istanbul will be built. Which brings also more population to the existing area and new problems seem not to far away.
In fact, there is one other problem mentioned by the scientist that seems to be ignored like almost as usual when it comes to political decisions and politics: The ecosystem of the sea life. The Marmara Region connects the Aegean and the Black Sea region. The rich sea life with many other life forms and different sort of fishes are unique and special to each of the region. The Bosporus allows the sea life to pass from one sea to another during their journey and keeps a balance in the ecosystem. But what happens, when there will be a new canal? How does the new canal will affect the sea life in both regions? That and much more questions have to be answered and scientists are trying to make a projection for the future eco system for the whole area. They are very concerned that the eco system won’t be the same like before.
Here is a link for the planned Kanal Istanbul Project in English. Project changes to the existing plans properly can be expected. We have to wait and see how the government will handle the project and pursue.