Would you tell us about some of the projects of the Ministry of Transport, which Turkey has been implementing in recent years and followed closely by the international public opinion?
Our country continues to progress with confidence towards becoming a welfare state by focusing on the year 2023, the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey. Most of the investments and projects realized within this framework, such as Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, Osmangazi Bridge, Eurasia Tunnel, MARMARAY, High Speed Train Lines, Split Roads, Motorways, Airports, Yacht Ports, FATİH Project was carried out by the Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications. We have invested 320 billion TL for the transportation and communication investments, which are one of the most important elements for the steps taken towards becoming a welfare state.
The period ahead of us will also be an intensive period to finish existing projects and realize new projects. We will continue to work on the current divided roads and highway works in the Highways Directorate, as well as tendering 706 kilometers of highway projects such as the “Ankara- Nigde Motorway”, “Aydın-Denizli Motorway”, “Ankara-Kırıkkale-Delice Motorway and Kırıkkale Motorway” and “Mersin-Erdemli- Taşucu Motorway”. By the end of 2017 we are aiming to complete 41 tunnels with a length of 68 km. Among the important tunnels to be opened until the end of 2017 include, Ovit Tunnel (Rize-Erzurum), Cankurtaran Tunnel (Hopa-Borcka), Cudi Tunnels (Cizre-Sirnak), Geminbeli Tunnel (Susahri-Sivas), Güzeldere Tunnel (Van-Hakkari) and Demirkapı Tunnel (Antalya-Ibradi). We will also establish the foundation of the 1915 Çanakkale Bridge in March, and we will continue our giant investments such as Kanal Istanbul and 3-Tiered Tunnel Project.
The period ahead of us will be a corner stone for our goal of a Turkey that has expanded its high-speed railway network in its railways, has built corridors of fast railway, has rebuilt its existing roads, has built a domestic railway circuit where production centers and organized industrial zones are connected to the ports by railways, that manufactures its national high-speed train itself and strengthens the competitiveness of the country with its logistics centers, and becoming the center state for the Silk Railway. In addition to our existing investments, we will also provide the “Next Generation National Freight Wagon” for service this year. In addition, we now have the opportunity for private sector operators to start offering services on railways. As of this year we expect this freedom to begin. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project, which is one of the most important rings of the modern Silk Road, will also be in service within 2 months.
In the past 14 years, we have continued to develop and expand our airlines industry, which we invested totaling 24.2 billion TL, with giant investments. Today, we have 55 active airports and reach 283 destinations on international routes. In the world passenger rank, we have climbed from the 18th place to the 8th place. In Europe, we are among the top three. We have begun works for building 8 new airports in Rize-Artvin, Karaman, Yozgat, West Antalya, Tokat, Nigde-Aksaray, Bayburt- Gümüşhane and İzmir Çeşme Alaçatı. While we are building new airports, we are also constructing new modern terminal buildings all around the country like Sinop, Çanakkale and Muş Airports.
We will also continue with very important projects in the maritime sector that we have moved to 14th place in world fleet ranking, from 19th place in 2003.
We will continue to work on Filyos Port and Mersin Container Port, which we have laid the foundation on December 9, 2016, and on North Aegean Çandarlı Harbor, the infrastructure of which has been completed and its superstructure shall be built with a Build-Operate- Transfer model, and which will be one of Europe’s top 10 ports when its completed. The first stage of Sakarya Karasu Port will also be opened for service this year.
In terms of the communication sector, our infrastructure works are continuing as well. We will continue to improve our fiber optic infrastructure and increase our fiber subscriber count. We plan to continue our works on 4.5 G without interruption, planning to cover the entire population with 4.5 G within 8 years. We published the 2016-2019 National e-Government Strategy and Action Plan. We have created the Public Virtual Network (PublicNET) to ensure data communication between public institutions over a secure network and we
have launched the National Public Integrated Data Center project for the consolidation of public institutions’ data centers. 2017 will be a very important year for the follow-up and implementation of these works. We are also continuing our transition to digital television broadcasting. We plan to complete the Küçük Çamlıca TV-Radio Tower on June 21, 2017.
Are there transportation projects in Turkey that can attract investors from Arab countries to the developing and changing Turkey? Has there been an investment that has been realized until now?
Over the last 15 years, we have successfully implemented many major transport infrastructure projects in our country that gathered the interest and appreciation of the world.
Marmaray Project, which makes uninterrupted railway connection from Beijing to London possible, double-lane highways, high-speed train projects starting with the line that connects Turkey’s two largest metropolises and continue with connections to other major cities of the country, are some of these.
In 2016 alone, we opened Osman Gazi Bridge, which is the “fourth longest open suspension bridge in the world”, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, which is the “widest bridge in the world and the longest bridge with a railway system” and Eurasia Tunnel, which received the “World’s Best Tunnel Project” award. There are many more important infrastructure projects that we plan to implement by 2023, when we celebrate the 100th year of our Republic.
We will have highways of approximately 5,000 km long with the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) financing model;
We will reach a railway network of 25.000 km across the country by building a total of 13.000 km railway line with 3.500 km high-speed, 8.500 km fast and 1.000 km conventional railway;
We will implement Filyos port project in the Black Sea, Çandarlı in the Aegean and Mersin port in the Mediterranean Sea, within our goal of three ports in three seas. We all know that Arab investors have carried out successful projects in our country.
Turkish people are also undertaking important projects in the Arab world. Abu Dhabi airport and Medina airport projects were undertaken by TAV Construction; Dubai Metro project was undertaken by Gülermak Construction; Kuweyt airport new terminal construction project was undertaken by Limak and many other infrastructure projects have been successfully completed and ongoing. Perhaps the last of these could be pointed out as the Turkish-Portuguese partnership that will
build the Duqm Port of Oman.
On the basis of our successful mutual project and investment history, the Arab world has developed a great confidence in Turkey and Turkey in the Arab world. This confidence means that we will continue to see Arab investors in the transport infrastructure projects that will continue to be implemented with determination in Turkey.
As I mentioned in the previous interviews regarding the Çanakkale 1915 Bridge, we will continue to make the whole world say, “These Turks are going too far” with our new projects and our strong economy. In doing so, I would like to express that our doors are always open to our friendly and brotherly Arab world and that we always feel their support behind us.
A large part of the world air passenger transport is made by GCC centered airlines such as Turkish Airlines, Emirates and Qatar Airways. In this sense, there is an expectation that Istanbul will be a passenger and logistics transfer center with the 3rd airport in particular. What can you promise the Gulf airline companies about this?
In our country, we are making the biggest breakthroughs in the history of our Republic. With the investments made, we are the fastest growing country in the world, especially in aviation. In this process, the number of 26 active airports built in 80 years increased by two-fold and reached to 55. In this regard, our total number of passengers, which was 34 million in 2003, approached 180 million. We know that if you cannot read the future well, your future will not be good. Our task is to provide airports with the scale needed to continue the growth we have experienced, and to support it. At this point I believe that; the New Istanbul Airport, which will provide 150 million passengers a year when fully serviced, is a project that will meet the needs of Asian and African continents as well as Istanbul and bring Istanbul into a position it deserves within the international aviation industry. It will also become the most important transfer center between Western
Europe and the Far East and Africa.
Likewise, it is predicted that emerging economies (Asia/Pacific, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East) will be effective in the world air transportation in the future. Today, a large part of the airline traffic takes place between 42 Mega cities, including Istanbul. And as you mentioned, a very large part of the world air passenger transport is done by THY and especially by GCC-based
airlines such as Emirates and Qatar Airways. With the new airport, the world air transport will gain a new hub. Directly proportional to the capacity offered, Airline and Passenger demand will increase rapidly and all sector components such as airline companies, ground service organizations, maintenance and repair, food and beverage will be able to reach each other directly. In addition, it will also help Gulf airline companies to reduce their costs at this point.
However, I would also like to state that we are also carrying out road and rail transportation modes to provide Airport-City connection simultaneously. We are simultaneously working on connection to Istanbul with Gayrettepe – New Airport Metro Line connection, D-20 new highway connection, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge and North Marmara Motorway Project, and the High Speed Train connections. In short, we make this airport the center of all international modes of transportation while building it.
Abu Dhabi airport project, Dubai subway project, Kuweyt airport project, Medina Airport project, Oman highway project, many infrastructure projects in Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and many other large volume projects are being undertaken by Turkish companies in the Gulf countries, and successfully completed so far. What are your thoughts on this subject? Are the existing projects sufficient for you? If not, what else would you recommend to other infrastructure and superstructure companies that would like to take part in this huge market?
Turkish contractors have become a world brand in the past twenty years with the successful projects they have completed in different geographies of the world. As I mentioned at the beginning of the interview, our companies have also undertaken important projects in the Arab world. Today, it is possible to see the signatures of important Turkish contractors such as TAV in many airports in the Arabian Peninsula and in North Africa.
Our contracting firms are not only taking part in important projects abroad but also in the country. The world’s largest passengercapacity “Istanbul New Airport”, which will be opened in 2018, is being built by a Turkish consortium.
As the government, we are behind our contractors and we will continue to give them all the support they need to expand to new markets, to prove themselves, and to continue to carry out decent activities worthy of their reputation.
We want our contracting firms to exist anywhere in the world, allowed by their technological and administrative capacities, and we are enthusiastically fulfilling every responsibility that is on the part of the state.
I believe that by establishing cooperation between Turkish and Arab contracting firms, very successful results can be achieved both in our country and in the Arabian geography.
There are public institutions that produce the first domestic automobile like Tülomsaş. Local Tram has been manufactured and used. Has a sale to the Gulf countries been realized in this regard? What are your goals?
TÜLOMSAŞ is the “Railway Vehicles Production Center”. Until this day, apart from the production of Revolution Car, it is the institution that performed the first steam locomotive production, and the first diesel electric locomotive production.
In the last decade, 31 Diesel Hydraulic Locomotives have been exported to Iraq Railways and 2 Diesel Hydraulic Locomotives have been exported to a private company operating in Iran. France, Germany and Thailand were also supplied with Diesel Engine Body and Equipments.
Within the scope of the Strategic Partnership Agreement with General Electric Company, locomotives produced in TÜLOMSAŞ facilities were exported to, 1 to USA, 1 to UK, and 9 to Germany.
In addition, TÜLOMSAŞ has also made and realized Cer Motor Manufacturing for Marmaray and İzban vehicles.
With the completion of the E 1000 National Electric Locomotive project, TÜLOMSAŞ has reached the position of both the designer and manufacturer of the highest value added components in the railed vehicle sector, that only the developed countries possess.
In 2017, we are continuing to work on exporting locomotives and freight wagons for Tunisian railways, freight wagons for a special logistics firm in Germany, diesel engine parts to Germany, diesel engine parts to Thailand, and freight wagons and diesel engine exports to Iran.
In addition, TÜLOMSAS will also produce the National High Speed Train of our country.
Furthermore, among TÜLOMSAŞ’s targets are production of National High-Speed Train as well as the Electricity Mainline Locomotive National Design and Production, meeting the sector based product needs of the Domestic sector, and export of all products manufactured by TÜLOMSAŞ globally, especially to the Gulf countries