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Erdogan Replaces Transport Minister Following Dispute Over 'Istanbul Canal'

Erdogan Replaces Transport Minister Following Dispute Over 'Istanbul Canal'

Sunday, 29 March, 2020 - 04:45
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan - Reuters
Asharq Al-Awsat

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan suddenly replaced Transport Minister Mehmet Cahit Turhan by his deputy minister Adil Karaismailoglu in an overnight decree on Saturday.

This comes as the country issues new measures to fight the fast-growing coronavirus battle which has so far claimed 108 lives in just over two weeks.

No details over the reasons were provided, however, the move comes after Turhan drew criticism for holding a tender to prepare to build a huge canal on the edge of Istanbul while firms were forced to close and lay off thousands of employees as a result of the new pandemic.

The Istanbul Canal also called "Crazy Canal Project" sparked a major debate between the mayor of Istanbul and opposition parties from one side and with the government from another side, as it costs more than $20 billion yet has less economic benefits.

The project will also have major consequences over the environment, agriculture and water availability in the state which hosts 16 million people.

The project also revealed plans to sell large areas near the canal to Qatari figures.

Last December, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu announced that the municipality will withdraw from a cooperation protocol regarding the controversial project.

"It is a disaster project against the existence of 16 million people in Istanbul and the security of 82 million Turkish citizens,” he said.

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