STRAIGHT TALK

Turkey 2014 | TRANSPORT & INFRASTRUCTURE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Olivio Angelini, Country Manager of Astaldi Turkey, on the significance of Istanbul's third bridge and the advantages of working with local project staff.

Olivio Angelini
BIOGRAPHY
With over 25 years of experience in the construction and project management field, Olivio Angelini’s career has been devoted to the realization of large global infrastructure investments. His career began in Turkey, and continued in Mexico, China, Pakistan, and Algeria, during which he has taken on key positions in many complex projects. He returned to Turkey as Country Manager of Astaldi SpA in February 2011. As a sign of his professional success, Angelini was conferred the decoration of the Knight of the Order of the Star (Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella) by the Italian Republic in 2013.

What does it mean for Astaldi to construct Istanbul's third bridge?

The third bridge is a prestigious project, which taking into consideration its technical and financial scale, only very few companies have the honor of participating in. This is a landmark, not only for Istanbul, but globally. The designer is a French company with significant experience in bridge projects. The involvement of many professional locals and/or foreign figures contributes to the achievement of this remarkable design, which has provided a hugely challenging opportunity.

What effect will the bridge have on Istanbul?

One of the main purposes of the third bridge is to ease Istanbul's chronic traffic congestion by acting as a bypass for heavy motorized traffic. Initially, the bridge's connection was intended to be located at a greater distance from the city; nonetheless, due to the length and width of the strait, the shortcut was opted for. The final scheme, located at the edge of the city, then runs close to what will be Istanbul's third airport and on to the city of Edirne. Today, during peak hours, trucks are kept off the existing two bridges as of 5:00 am and can use bridges again at 10:00 pm. Inevitably, such a project will have an impact on the surrounding developments, attracting many investors, and, therefore, relevant urban plans are wholly governed and managed directly by the city's greater municipality. The project is at almost 30% completion after its first year, followed by a further 50% in Phase II, leaving the remaining 20% to be completed in 2015.

Could you give us an update on your other projects in Turkey?

We will have opened Phase I of the Gebze to Iznik interchange by the end of 2015, or the start of 2016, which is currently around 50% complete. There are still 300 kilometers of motorway to be laid over the next three years. By 2019, all of our projects will have been completed, and by the end of 2015 or early of 2016, we will have laid the first stretch of road from Gebze to the İznik interchange linked to the Marmara crossing bridge.

Is self-financing a sector trend?

It is more of a necessity as project finance from the state dwindles in terms of availability. This model, which leverages the financial capabilities of the constructors themselves, is a good one that is used worldwide. In contrast to much of Europe, the construction sector has less security, and the financing responsibility lies 100% with the construction companies in Turkey. Meanwhile the build-operate-transfer (BOT) model arrived late in Turkey, but is now widely used.

What are your competitive advantages?

With over 20 years of experience in the market we have excellent qualifications, having successfully constructed numerous metro projects and airports. We have an extensive knowledge of the market and the skills needed to thrive in this industry. Meanwhile, our organization is composed predominantly of local staff, with few expatriates. To give an example, wecompleted the Kadıköy-Kartal metro line of Istanbul with the contribution of just four expatriates; the other 5,000 employees were all Turkish. In Turkey, the construction sector has great potential and thanks to the competitive educational system the country boasts many excellent young engineers providing a wide competitive human resource range. On the third bridge project, we have a staff count of 3,500 people, out of which only four are Italians. In my experience, locals have a deep knowledge and understanding of the country, which enables them to approach projects in a more efficient manner. As a foreign company, we have succeeded in creating a positive synergy of collaboration in Turkey. During our time here, we have created our own team, which is why we have come to be seen as a Turkish company, which in my opinion represents our strong point.