Ibrahim Khalil border-crossing point. Photo: Rudaw
DUHOK, Kurdistan Region - The Kurdistan Region and neighboring Turkey are almost finished with their joint construction of a large bridge at the Ibrahim Khalil border crossing, a project that aims to quicken and boost trade.
"Constructing the bridge has been ongoing for a year now," said Firsat Mohammed Ali, manager of Ibrahim Khalil border-crossing. "It will officially be opened in less than two months."
Speaking of the importance of the bridge for both sides, Ali explained there were only two one-way bridges connecting the Kurdistan Region to Turkey but "this bridge is two-way and 30 meters wide. It will become the biggest trade bridge on Ibrahim Khalil, help boosting trade ties between Kurdistan and Turkey."
Ali said Erbil and Ankara are equally covering the expenses.
The Turkish Consul General in Erbil urged work to accelerate as it is nears completion in a visit to the construction site last week.
Ayad Hassan, the head of Duhok Chamber of Commerce and Industry who accompanied the Turkish Consul General on his visit to the site of the construction of the bridge, recalled a conversation between the two about the importance of the bridge and speculation on the deterioration of bilateral relations in the wake of the Kurdistan Region’s September 25 referendum.
Hassan said: "This bridge will have a lot of trade importance. When we were in Zakho, I asked the Turkish consul ‘Why have you spent this much on this bridge? Because it is said that due to referendum Turkey will close the border'."
“The Turkish consul said while laughing, 'Who is saying that? Are we not opening a new door? On the contrary, after the referendum we will open more doors as we look here with [importance]. Kurdistan is very important for us.’ "
Hassan added it is impossible for Turkey to shut its borders on the Region.
"Tens of Turkish companies are now present in South Kurdistan, in addition to tens of factories and companies in Gazientep, 100 percent of whose goods are imported into South Kurdistan," he said.
He added Mosul is another reason prompting Turkey to continue its trade exchange, because the Turks want to have a hand in rebuilding the city.
The manager of the Ibrahim Khalil said trade exchange volume from Ibrahim Khalil since the announcement of referendum date has not reduced.
"No change from the import of trading goods [into the Kurdistan Region] has happened. Goods come like before," he explained. "Turkish businessmen even try more to send their goods to Mosul via Ibrahim Khalil."
The international check point lies 60 kilometers northwest of Duhok, and 114 kilometers from Mosul near the borders of Iraq, Turkey and Syria.