Ship traffic rises as Erdoğan plans for controversial Bosphorus canal project

Ship traffic through Turkey’s Bosporus Strait rose in 2021 as the recovery from the pandemic boosted trade, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

Journeys through the strait, which links the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara, increased by 147 to 38,551, Bloomberg said, citing Turkey’s Transport Ministry data published on Tuesday.

Kanal Istanbul is an artificial, 45-kilometer (28-mile) waterway project to be constructed in western Istanbul, creating a second connection between the Black Sea and Marmara Sea via a canal.

Despite objections from environmental groups and urban activists, as well as the opposition, the megaproject remains a favourite of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has called the $15 billion plan a “crazy project.”

Erdoğan’s government argues that the canal would relieve maritime traffic volume and improve safety through the strait by avoiding large ships with dangerous cargo to get close to residential areas.

But experts say the canal will disrupt the balance and oxygen levels in the Marmara Sea and possibly end sea life. They also criticise the project for being less than thorough and lacking in scientific approach.

Over the last 20 years, Erdoğan’s governments funnelled tens of billions of dollars into giant infrastructure projects to sustain voter support.

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