News / Europe

Bosphorus Tunnel Opens Linking Europe, Asia

An engineer performs a last check on a train that will travel through Marmaray tunnel, a subway that links Europe with Asia some 60 meters below the Bosphorus Strait, in Istanbul, Oct. 29, 2013.
An engineer performs a last check on a train that will travel through Marmaray tunnel, a subway that links Europe with Asia some 60 meters below the Bosphorus Strait, in Istanbul, Oct. 29, 2013.
Dorian Jones
For the first time, Turkey has connected its European and Asian sides with a railway tunnel. The Marmaray tunnel, which runs underneath the Bosphorus Strait, will link the Asian and European shores of Istanbul. Concerns and criticism, however, surround what is being described as one of the country's greatest-ever engineering projects.
 
Tuesday’s opening ceremony for the Marmaray railway tunnel drew thousands. Addressing the crowds, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan invoked the country’s historical past.
 
It was the dream of Sultan Abdulmescid [the Ottoman sultan from 1839 to 1861] to build this tunnel, he said.

"Today we have fulfilled this dream. We have many historical projects to finish for Turkey and Istanbul. This is in the service of the people," said Erdogan.
 
The tunnel is the deepest of its kind. With a capacity of more than one million passengers a day, the $4-billion project aims to alleviate the city’s chronically congested traffic.
 
With Istanbul vulnerable to earthquakes, though, questions have been raised over the tunnel's safety.  

Japanese P.M. Shinzo Abe, Turkey's P.M. Tayyip Erdogan's wife, Emine Erdogan, P.M. Erdogan, President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of Turkey Abdullah Gul attend opening ceremony of Marmaray tunnel, in Istanbul, Oct. 29, 2013.Japanese P.M. Shinzo Abe, Turkey's P.M. Tayyip Erdogan's wife, Emine Erdogan, P.M. Erdogan, President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of Turkey Abdullah Gul attend opening ceremony of Marmaray tunnel, in Istanbul, Oct. 29, 2013.
x
Japanese P.M. Shinzo Abe, Turkey's P.M. Tayyip Erdogan's wife, Emine Erdogan, P.M. Erdogan, President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of Turkey Abdullah Gul attend opening ceremony of Marmaray tunnel, in Istanbul, Oct. 29, 2013.
Japanese P.M. Shinzo Abe, Turkey's P.M. Tayyip Erdogan's wife, Emine Erdogan, P.M. Erdogan, President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of Turkey Abdullah Gul attend opening ceremony of Marmaray tunnel, in Istanbul, Oct. 29, 2013.
Safety concerns

Professor Celal Sengor, a professor of geology at Istanbul Technical University, said care has been taken to ensure the tunnel’s safety.
 
"I did the preliminary groundwork for Marmaray," said Sengor. "There is no active fault line where the tunnel is passing. This tunnel will be shaken in a quake, but if it is built in the best possible way, there won't be any risk of it breaking. And those people who built this tunnel are the best in their field."
 
Still, as Erdogan moves ahead with a number of large infrastructure projects in Istanbul, criticism is growing.
 
Critics accuse the government of going ahead with city-changing plans without sufficient public consultation. Such concerns fueled the protests that swept Turkey in June.

The tunnel project began in 2004 and was scheduled to be completed in four years. It was delayed by important archaeological finds, however, including a 4th century Byzantine port, as builders began digging under the city.

According to media reports, the tunnel project was rushed so that its completion would coincide with the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic, which was marked on Tuesday.  

Grand ambitions

The government has downplayed such claims, and it has stressed the potential of the tunnel not only for Istanbul, but far beyond.
 
Transport Minister Binali Yildirim said it ultimately will become an important trade link, allowing freight trains to travel from Beijing to London.  

"This project connects Asia with Europe, to restore the once internationally important Silk Road," said Yildirim. "The Silk Road needs to be resurrected for the purposes of reconnecting vital trade arteries between Asia and Europe by rail."
 
Analysts say the tunnel is the latest in a series of increasingly grandiose projects aimed at making Istanbul a world center.
 
Political analyst Atilla Yesilada said such projects are seen as key for the ruling AK Party to remain in power.
 
"Their ambitions have no limit. If you look at the GDP figures in the first half of 2013, it is mostly government infrastructure spending that has created the entire growth," he said. "If the growth rate decelerates or the currency weakens, confidence in AKP will be shaken."

Construction already is underway in Istanbul for a separate tunnel that's being built under the Bosphorus for cars, a third bridge over the strait, a massive canal that would bypass the Bosphorus, and the world's largest airport. In addition, with Turkey entering 18 months of election campaigning culminating in a general election in 2015, analysts say few people expect the current construction boom to end anytime soon.

You May Like

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid