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Rapid pace of urbanisation has made Istanbul a land of opportunities for Siemens that is playing a key role in various growth sectors.
Hopping across continents is a daily affair for the people of Istanbul, be it for work or leisure. Located at the intersection point of the European and Asian continents, Istanbul is the gateway for exports and imports in Turkey. And with Turkey nearing its 100 years of being a republic in 2023, a number of key projects are underway across Istanbul to commemorate the celebrations. Major thrust is being given to boosting transportation infrastructure that will make Istanbul grow further. With rapid urbanisation making the existing infrastructure fall short, there are a number of projects underway to help the infrastructure grow. And Siemens is playing an active role in supporting this growth. "There is unbelievable urbanisation in the country, where even today 77 per cent of our population lives in large cities and by 2023 will be over 80 per cent," says Huseyin Gelis, CEO, Siemens, Turkey. Infrastructure, automation, energy, healthcare are the requirements of Turkey and the neighbouring areas and Siemens does provide all that.
At the first impression, the city of Istanbul presents the image of a planned city with adequate infrastructure to cater to its needs. However, the rapid pace of urbanisation is adding to the stress of the existing infrastructure. Traffic snarls are a common occurrence. The never ending delays faced at the Istanbul airport for Immigration (or Passport Control as it's infamously known) has also been one of the reasons for the long awaited third airport that is being planned for Istanbul. While speculated plans of deactivating Atatnrk Airport when the new airport is functional are rife, the need for another airport to decongest the existing airport infrastructure has been felt across quarters. Siemens, which has installed security and building automation systems in Sabiha Gokcen International airport, is also keen to be an active participant in the upcoming airport project.
Both the existing airports are growing at a high pace of over 10 per cent each year, but the high occupancy at Atatnrk Airport has reached alarming levels, making the new airport all the more urgent. The government awarded a consortium of five Turkish companies the tender to build a new airport in the northern part of the European side last May. While the first phase was slated to be completed by 2016, the existing delays have pushed the deadline further. Istanbul's new airport, that is slated to replace Atatnrk Airport, has been promoted as one of the largest in the world and the government expects over 100 million passengers to travel through it every year.
Another major project that is slated to change the face of transportation in Istanbul is the growing metro network. The 13-kilometre-long Marmaray tunnel was inaugurated for public use in October 2013. Siemens supplied the entire signaling and control technology. The tunnel is the centerpiece of one of the biggest transport infrastructure projects in the world. Running under the Bosporus, it now links the rapid transit lines on the European side of Istanbul with those on the Asian side. Furthermore, the tunnel will be expanded in a second phase to accommodate not only rapid transit services, but also long-distance passenger trains. As of 2015, the Marmaray tunnel should be the first standard-gauge rail link between Europe and Asia. With an overall length of 76 kilometres, Siemens has already automated the tunnel for mainline service and thus installed the European train control system (European Railway Traffic Management System) Level 1. And post refurbishment of the entire 76 km stretch, the share of the rail system in Istanbul urban transportation will go up from 12 per cent to 28 per cent.
The Turkish Government is also leaving no stones unturned in attracting foreign investments. "With measures such as corporate income tax being reduced to 20 per cent (being brought down to 2 per cent in the most advanced investment regions), setting up of special industrial zones and positive developments, such as the new investment incentive scheme and setting up of investment support and promotion agency of Turkey to help foreign players set up their businesses have increased Turkey's investment appeal and make foreign investors feel at ease," informed Arda Ermut, Head of Public-Private Partnership, The republic of Turkey Prime Ministry Investment Support and Promotion Agency (ISPAT). India too has made its presence felt in the Turkish land when in December 2011, the Aditya Birla group announced an investment of $500m after ground was broken on a new viscose staple fibre plant in Adana, catering to the entire requirement of the viscose fibre market in Turkey that was being imported earlier. Manufacturing, energy and petrochemicals are some of the key sectors in which the Turkish government foresees potential development and foreign investor interest in the times to come.
But for now, it's the newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is holding everyone's attention even in Istanbul.