Turkey's Infrastructure Boom: Future MEGAPROJECTS
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Video editing and effects by Robin West
Researched, written, narrated and produced by Bryce Plank
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These are the most ambitious megaprojects in development around the world.
No other country, with the exception of China and perhaps India, is undergoing a bigger building boom than Turkey. The Turkish government is overseeing a $400 billion spending spree on infrastructure that it hopes will lay the groundwork for a rapid economic rise. The impressive list of projects includes:
The $49 billion Istanbul New Airport that’s about half complete. It’ll replace the 93 year old Ataturk Airport and, with a passenger capacity of 150 million a year, it will be one of the planet’s busiest. Istanbul’s advantageous geographical location also helps.
“Istanbul, as a hub, is definitely much better location than Doha and Dubai, or Abu Dhabi, so we have these certain advantages compared to other countries.”
The $5 Billion Istanbul Finance Center will centralize Turkish investment banking, much like New York City’s Wall Street does for the United States.
A 48 km canal is being built alongside the Bosphorous strait that divides not only the city of Istanbul, but the continents of Europe and Asia. At a cost of $10 billion, even Turkey’s President calls it a “crazy project.”
Then there’s the $45 billion high speed rail system that at 10,000 km will be the longest in Europe and the second-longest in the world behind China.
The $6.5 billion Istanbul-Izmir Motorway Project is a six-lane highway that will connect the eastern edge of Istanbul to the Izmir province on the Aegean coast.
Turkey will become a regional energy hub thanks to a $10 billion natural gas pipeline that will connect Azerbaijan’s production facilities with consumers in Europe.
Adding to its energy portfolio will be a $5.5 billion refinery on its west coast that, when finished, will be the largest in the country.
Turkey is also beefing up its armed forces, spending $7 billion to cluster its defense and aerospace industries so it can increase production and exports to the international market.
It has also committed more than $1 billion to develop an independent Turkish space program with the goal of launching 20 satellites into orbit by 2020.
All of these projects come on the heels of the completion in 2016 of both the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge and the Eurasia Tunnel, two Megaprojects passing over and under the Bosphorus strait.
But the country’s main project is much more practical. At a cost of more than $200 billion, Turkey will demolish and reconstruct seven million buildings throughout the country. Why? Because the majority of structures do not meet basic safety standards in a region prone to devastating earthquakes. Government edicts state that the need to implement the urban renewal plan overrules all existing laws that would’ve prevented people’s houses and apartment buildings from being torn down.
The reasons for the MegaProject boom are complicated. Yes, Turkey needs to modernize, and the quickest way to do it is for the government to have a strong hand in guiding the nation toward prosperity. But it’s also a blatant attempt by the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan - in power since 2003 - to maintain control over the country by promising economic success.
Not only is Erdoğan raising legitimate questions about corruption, his strongman approach is trampling the rights of individuals and local municipalities. On top of that his projections are unrealistically optimistic. Erdoğan says the country can become a top 10 world economy by 2023--which happens to be the 100th anniversary of the modern Turkish republic, and would mark 20-years of his rule. A simple look at where Turkey currently sits on the list of countries ranked by their GDP reveals that it’s economy would have to more than double in less than 6 years, while the economies of Canada and South Korea completely stagnate. That’s simply not going to happen.
This high-stakes game was laid bare a couple months ago when Erdoğan narrowly escaped succumbing to a coup that would have seen the country descend into violent internal conflict and even civil war. Sharing its southern border with Syria and Iraq is only adding to the country’s instability.