"'Turkey continues infrastructure projects amid virus"
Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoğlu attends Anadolu Agency’s Editors' Desk in the capital Ankara.
While all world was busy with "mask wars" in fighting COVID-19, Turkey launched big projects taking all measures against the pandemic, Adil Karaismailoglu said.
Turkey's target is to take part among the largest economies, he said.
The COVID19 pandemic, which initially appeared in China last December, has infected over 52 million people globally, and killed nearly 1.3 million, while 33.9 million patients have recovered so far.
In Turkey, the virus has infected around 400,000 people, and caused some 11,000 deaths.
Turkey plans for rail projects to connect industrial zones and railways, with logistical costs to be reduced significantly, Karaismailoglu noted.
The transportation minister also said new railway investments will make Turkey a logistical powerhouse.
Turkey has several freight and high-speed train projects currently, he added.
The freight transportation via railways, which is currently 30 million tons annually, will reach 45 million tons in 2023 and 150 million tons in 2028, he stressed.
The ministry contributes to the manufacturing and tourism sectors by strengthening investments and easing ways of transportation, he said.
He added that while Turkey had only 50-kilometer (31-mile) long tunnels totally, now the length reached 600 kilometers (372.8 miles).
"During the last 18 years, the total divided road length reached 27,000-28,000 kilometers (16,700-17,400 miles) from 5,000-6,000 (3,100-3,700 miles) kilometers," he said.
He also said the last phase of the North Marmara Motorway project will be launched on Dec. 21 and the 400-kilometer (248.5-mile) motorway will be completed.
The motorway starts on the western side of the Turkish metropolitan city of Istanbul and ends in the eastern Marmara province of Sakarya. The project also includes Yavuz Sultan Selim -- the 3rd Bosphorus -- Bridge.
Referring to the powerful earthquake in the Aegean province of Izmir in October, he said the country, with its communication infrastructure, is ready for natural disasters, and there were no communication-related problems in the quake-hit city.
The 6.6-magnitude earthquake, on Oct. 30, caused 115 deaths in Izmir.
Touching on the aviation sector, which has been facing difficulties during the pandemic, Karaismailoglu said the airline industry was adversely affected during this period.
Stressing that the sector started to recover in Turkey, the minister noted: "According to the figures announced by Eurocontrol [The European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation] last week, [country's flag carrier] Turkish Airlines ranked first in Europe with 591 daily flights.
"Turkey also ranked fourth in the average number of flights in Europe. We are progressing seriously here by taking our measures. It will take some time to return to 2019 though."
He recalled that flights were suspended as of March and resumed in June with high-standard measures in line with the recommendations of the ministry of health.
Karaismailoglu also said Turkey's 5A satellite will be launched in mid-December, and added: "We are planning for 5B around June 2021, then internet speed will rise to 56 gigabytes."
Turkey has signed an agreement with Airbus in 2017 for the production of Turksat 5A and Turksat 5B communication satellites. The country is also working on Turksat 6A, which will be produced indigenously.
Turkey is preparing its infrastructure for 5G technology with indigenous sources, the minister added.