Turkey reopens Habur gate to Iraq after 22 days
Güneş Kömürcüler - ISTANBUL/ŞIRNAK
AA photoTurkey’s Habur border crossing with Iraq, which was closed for 22 days due to curfews and clashes in nearby towns, was reopened on Jan. 5, but under limited conditions, allowing only 1,250 vehicles to cross. Transport and export representatives have voiced a strong need for the opening of more border gates with neighboring countries and increasing security as they face serious losses in transporting their goods abroad.
“Only 500 vehicles will be allowed to drive over the border from Turkey to Iraq and only 750 vehicles will be able to enter Turkey from Iraq,” Customs and Trade Minister Bülent Tüfenkçi, said Jan. 5.
He noted that more than 13,000 trucks were still waiting at the Habur gate. Some 9,500 of them have been kept on the Iraqi side.
Sector representatives have said the safety of truck drivers is a priority for them, while also adding that the number of border gates, particularly with eastern neighbors, need to be increased to prevent further losses if current check points remain closed.
“More than 1,700 trucks carrying products from Turkey to Iraq use this gate. This figure dropped to zero in the last 22 days. A limited number of trucks, around 600 on daily basis, continued to carry goods en route to Iraq through the Gürbulak gate to Iran, but these trucks suffered a lot from rising costs and worsening weather conditions,” Fatih Şener, executive board chairman of the Istanbul-based International Transporters Association (UND), told Hurriyet Daily News by phone on Jan. 6.
Şener noted that Turkey needs to open new gates to maintain its exports, which currently face crisis at almost all gates.
Turkey makes around $13 billion worth of exports through the Habur gate annually, with an average of 6,000 trucks coming and going from both sides. According to sector representatives, Turkey saw around $500 million of losses in its exports to Iraq last month when Habur was closed. Over 95 percent of the goods exported to Iraq are transported via trucks, figures showed.
They also noted that insurance costs of trucks carrying goods through Turkey’s eastern and southeastern borders have increased almost 100 percent amid escalating security concerns.