Turkey closes 233 gas stations amid crackdown on smuggling

Turkey closes 233 gas stations amid crackdown on smuggling

Turkey closes 233 gas stations amid crackdown on smuggling

The Turkish authorities intensify efforts to seize smuggled fuels in battle against the increasing illegal oil entrances from violence-hit neighbors. DHA photo

Turkey has shut down over 230 gas stations for selling smuggled fuel over the past 15 months, the Customs Ministry has announced, amid the struggle against illegal oil sales, which have reached alarming levels due to turmoil in neighboring Iraq and Syria.

“The commercial activities of a total of 233 gas stations that sell smuggled fuel have been suspended between April 11, 2013 and July 1, 2014,” said Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazıcı in a statement released on Aug. 21.

Yazıcı added that the legal and administrative steps taken by the government against fuel smuggling have begun to pay off.

As the effects of smuggled fuel coming from Syria have begun to show themselves on market prospects, fuel sector representatives have begun to raise their voices to urge the authorities to take more serious measures at border gates.

Despite Turkey adopting a series of legal measures to discourage distributors from buying and selling illegally imported fuel, continuing violence in Syria and fresh developments in Iraq have considerably increased its smuggling into the country.

As part of these efforts, a change in the Customs Law was introduced in April 2013 to ban people whose gas stations have been closed on smuggling charges from getting new licenses. Prior to changes in April 2013, only pump that smuggled fuel was loaded through could be sealed.

The ministry statement added that the related ministries had intensified checks on the operations of gas stations.

Punishments and sanctions against those convicted of selling smuggled fuel have also been harshened.