NTV MSNBC - The Turkish government is planning to privatize the operations of two bridges spanning the Bosphorus, the stretch of water running through Istanbul and linking the Black Sea and Turkey’s inland Sea of Marmara, the country’s Finance Minister said Wednesday. The Bogazici and Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridges, which connect the European and Asian sides of Istanbul would be privatized as part of a wider program of privatizing Turkey’s highway and bridge network, Finance Minister Kemal Unakitan told a parliamentary meeting.
Discussing a draft law allowing for the road privatization program to be put in place, Unakitan said such privatizations were of great importance taking into consideration the economic structuring and transformation process Turkey was currently undergoing. A total of 303.1 million vehicles used the bridges over the Bosphorus and their linked highways in 2007, generating YTL (New Turkish Lira) 641.5 million, he said. There were six main highways that would be privatized by way of a transfer of operating rights, with these highways having a total length of 1860 km, the minister said.
The quality, strength and infrastructure and superstructure needs of the assets to be privatized would be improved rapidly after the privatization process, Unakitan said. The privatization of highways and bridges would have numerous positive effects for the economy such as the transfer of high-technology, increase in productivity, decrease in traffic accidents, time and fuel saving and prevention of environmental pollution, he said.