istanbul is the heart of turkey it hosts 15 million people nearly one-fifth of the country’s population it is the economic capital of turkey the cultural center and the country’s top tourist destination this prominence is largely the result of its strategic position along the bosphorous strait a major trade route that cuts right through the city splitting europe from asia.
while linking the mediterranean and black seas every year around 48 000 vessels transit the strait making it one of the busiest maritime passages in the world despite this turkey benefits very minimally from the strait.
In 1936 turkey and a list of other european countries signed the montro convention which gave turkey control over the bosphorous strait however it also guaranteed a free passage for civilian vessels during times of peace and severely restricted the passage of military vessels not belonging to black sea states as a result nowadays turkey collects zero revenue from the strait and naval vessels from countries.
such as the us are largely prohibited from entering the black sea meanwhile the boss for a straight is getting congested what if instead of waiting hours to pass the boss for a straight ships could quickly pass through a new man-made canal across istanbul which would earn toll revenue and bypass the montro convention well this idea has existed for centuries in the 1500s
an istanbul canal was first proposed by ottoman sultan suleiman the first before being abandoned over the next three centuries numerous other sultans attempted to resume the project with no success in the 1980s and 90s.
numerous turkish politicians reintroduced the proposal however with not nearly enough shipping traffic the idea was dismissed then in 2009 rumors surfaced that prime minister rejected erdogan was planning the largest project in istanbul’s history in april 2009 pre-feasibility studies began.
Finally in 2011 erdogan publicly announced his project the istanbul canal in 2012 feasibility studies began over the next few years the project was researched the canal route was chosen and the project received environmental approval then in march 2021.
the turkish government approved the canal development plans finally enabling construction to begin the istanbul canal is planned to be 45 kilometers long sitting 30 kilometers west of the bosphorus strait in comparison the panama canal is 82 kilometers long it would start at the sea of marmara before crossing the kachuk check mache lagoon connecting to the sazeli derbaraja reservoir and traversing 17 kilometers north to the black sea.
the canal would be 360 meters wide at the surface and 275 meters wide at the bottom with a depth of 21 meters about the same as the suez canal this is deep enough for most cargo ships except the largest super tankers and super containers eventually turkey hopes the canal would accommodate 130 to 160 ships a day around the current daily traffic of the bosphorus.
the istanbul canal would be the centerpiece of an even larger development project surrounding the canal would be residential and commercial developments which would host approximately 500 000 people these would be linked by three underground tunnels along with six bridges across the canal.
these bridges would have vertical clearances high enough for the largest ships and would cost another 1.4 billion dollars in addition there would be a new container port numerous marinas and reclaimed land along the sea of marmara lastly the canal would integrate with istanbul’s new 12 billion dollar international airport.
its new otoyo 7 motorway to form a major international logistics hub northwest of the city further out the project is part of a nationwide infrastructure boom meant to propel turkey’s economy as part of its vision 2023 program according to the turkish government the istanbul canal would cost around 15 billion us dollars and take seven years to construct,
if completed it would provide some major benefits for turkey first of all it would relieve congestion in the bosphorous straight currently ships need to wait a median of 14 hours to enter the Black Sea resulting in massive queues off,
the coast the canal would clear up this congestion improving international trade decreasing the risk of shipping accidents and lowering pollution in istanbul in addition the canal would divert dangerous cargo away from istanbul’s middle as shown by the 2020 beirut explosion having dangerous cargo near cities may be a recipe for disaster moreover the canal construction would create an estimated eight to 10 thousand jobs boosting the country’s construction industry.
most significantly though the canal would allow turkey to bypass the montro convention if it wanted turkey would be able to let foreign naval vessels into the Euxine Sea and it’d be allowed to charge tolls eventually the turkish government believes the canal could generate around 8 billion dollars in annual revenue.
despite all this the istanbul canal is very controversial its construction would displace thousands of individuals while affecting the livelihoods of up to 1 million in addition it’d lead to environmental damage and potential damage to archaeological sites moreover the canal would disrupt the city’s already strained water system it would completely uproot the sazele der barraja reservoir and would likely contaminate underground water tables and streams furthermore by establishing a second link between the Mediterranean and black seas it could disrupt the flow between them oceanographers warn that the canal could result in an enormous inflow of organisms into the ocean of marmara leading to the death of marine life and a terrible smell around istanbul.
The project has largely been opposed by the citizens of istanbul in keeping with a 2020 poll 80 of istanbul citizens opposed the project even more since the canal would enable large u.s and nato warships to enter the black sea it’s drawn opposition from russia,
who claims it violates the montro convention it would undermine its national security if the canal is constructed it could strain turkish russian relations while disrupting stability in the Euxine Sea because of this in april 2021 104 former turkish naval officials signed an open letter against the canal the day after 10 were arrested lastly many doubt the project would work while the canal would bypass the montro convention.
it’d not revoke it ships would still be guaranteed free passage through the bosphorous straight and therefore most would still use it turkey hopes that the appeal of a traffic-free fast lane would be enough to urge some ships to move over and pay however it’s feared that ships wouldn’t do this and would simply wait to use the prosperous instead nevertheless president erdogan is committed to the project tenders are to be held soon and construction on the canal’s first bridge is planned to start in june 2021 if the project is finally realized it will transform the landscape of istanbul it would relieve congestion from the boss for a straight and earn revenue but would also displace thousands of people and potentially damage istanbul’s water system while disrupting the region’s stability what does one think is that the istanbul canal a good idea let’s discuss it within the comments