Turkey has completed more than half of a 144-km wall on its border with Iran and will finish it next spring, The Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ) has stated, as Ankara bids to secure its frontiers against smuggling, illegal immigration and militant infiltration.
TOKİ, better known for low-cost, high-rise apartment blocks in Turkey’s major cities, has also been building a wall on the border with northern Syria.
“We started this [Iran wall] in the summer, but the season is very short here. Currently, 80 km of this 144 km has been completed, and when seasonal weather conditions permit, God willing, we will have finished by next spring,” TOKİ President Ergün Turan said.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed last year that Turkey would build walls along its border with Iraq and part of the border with Iran, similar to the nearly completed one on its longest border, with Syria.
The wall with Iran, which will stretch along the northern third of Turkey’s Iranian frontier, aims to prevent smuggling and infiltration by outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants, Turkish officials have said.
Since the construction of the wall along the Syrian border, militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other groups have also tried to use smuggling routes through Iran into Turkey, they said.
In an interview late on Jan. 9, Turan said all but a small portion of the wall along the 911-km border with Syria had been finished, despite falling behind schedule because of the weather and security concerns.
“All but 25-30 km has been completed, including the road … We can say it is at 98 percent,” Turan said, referring to the security roads TOKİ is building alongside the walls.
The agency is also playing a leading role in government efforts to rebuild parts of southeastern Turkey, which has been damaged by the heavy struggle against PKK militants.
Ergün said TOKİ is building 25,000 housing units in the region’s worst-hit areas, adding that the agency aimed to deliver 20,000 of those homes by the end of the year.
TOKİ will also construct “industry sites” in three provinces, Ergun said. He said tenders would be held for the three projects, in Central Anatolian province of Aksaray, the Marmara province of Bolu and southeastern province of Diyarbakır, by the end of January, totaling up to 1 billion Turkish Liras ($263 million).
Overall, Ergün said he expected TOKİ to build between 60,000 and 65,000 housing units in Turkey this year, after having built 65,000 and 60,000 in 2016 and 2017 respectively, and around 820,000 since 2003.
He said TOKİ would invest around 16 billion liras ($4.24 billion) in projects this year, adding that half of the projects be in housing while the other half in government projects including stadiums, hospitals and schools.