ANKARA: Turkey has set the ball rolling for the longest suspension bridge in the world following a formal signing ceremony in Ankara, which will see Turkish and South Korean firms work together in the multi-billion-dollar project, Turkey’s Anadolu Agency (AA) reported. The over 2-kilometer (1.2-mile) long Canakkale 1915 Bridge is expected to be built within five-and-half years at a cost of around 10.35 billion Turkish liras (US$2.80 billion).
The bridge would span 32 meters longer than the currently-held record of the Akashi-Kaikyo bridge between Kobe and Awaji Island in Japan. Speaking at the signing ceremony, Transport, Maritime and Communications Minister Ahmet Arslan said: “The bridge will make a huge difference towards our community, it will make life easier and stimulate economic growth in the region.”It will make travel time shorter by connecting [Turkey] with Europe, and help in exports and imports,” he said. He said 12 financial institutions had indicated their willingness to finance the bridge’s construction. On Jan 26, a consortium of South Koran companies — Daelim, SK E&C and Limak — and Turkey’s Yapi Merkezi OGG won a tender and a 192-month lease for the historic bridge in Canakkale, which is a gateway to the Gallipoli World War I battlefields, north of the narrow strait. The consortium outbid rivals from Japan’s IHI, China’s CRBC, and Turkey’s Cengiz and Kolin.
The 3.6-kilometer (2.2-mile) crossing will be built about 200 kilometers (124 miles) southwest of the country’s economic heart Istanbul, between Gallipoli on the European side and Lapseki on the Asian side. Also, speaking at the signing ceremony, South Korean Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport Kang Hoin said his country’s companies will complete the project by 2023, when Turkey would celebrate the 100th year of its founding. “Korean companies will share their experiences in the economic development of South Korea with Turkey and also help in the transfer of technology,” he said. He said the project would further accelerate confidence between South Korea and Turkey. “We can work together with other countries in the Middle East and Africa,” he added.
Turkey and South Korean transport ministers also inked memoranda of understanding on railroads, roads, research and development, and for expansion of joint economic cooperation between the two countries. Jason Jaehyun Ahn, president of SK E&C, another South Korean company involved in the bridge and Eurasia tunnel projects in Turkey, told Anadolu Agency: “We have been watching the Turkish economy’s growth and hope that it would grow faster than ever. “We believe that after completing this bridge, our Turkish partners, who already have technological competence in building bridges, would be able to conduct such projects by themselves elsewhere in the world.” About doing business in Turkey as a foreign investor, Jason said the South Korean company was willing to participate in more Build-Operate-Transfer type projects in the country. “The Turkish government has been doing a great job. The Canakkale project bidding process was very transparent and accountable. We hope that all this government support and accountability can be maintained in the future projects.”