Turkey’s trade to Europe see delays amid long truck queues at Kapıkule border gate
Burak Coşan - EDİRNETurkey’s trade to Europe has been slowed down with more than 1,000 trucks waiting for days to cross through the Kapıkule Border Gate with Bulgaria to European markets. The delays are reportedly caused by an ongoing bribery operation carried out by Bulgarian police, tightening controls by the EU to prevent human trafficking by land, and construction works at the gate.
Some trucks in line have been waiting at the border gate since Sept. 30, with transport companies saying they are carrying goods worth more than $100 million. However, sector representatives have noted that there has been some easing in queues as of Oct. 4, following talks between the Turkish and Bulgarian authorities.
While Turkish trucks previously crossed to Bulgaria via two platforms, they can now do so only via one platform, as the Bulgarian authorities say newly-laid concrete has not yet dried on one of them.
In addition, police in other EU countries have recently tightened measures against human trafficking at borders, further exacerbating delays.
An ongoing bribery operation conducted by the Bulgarian police against customs officers has also slowed down border passes, according to senior representatives from the Istanbul-based International Transporters Association (UND).
“Although no human trafficking case has been seen in the last two months, with the Turkish police making regular controls, police officers from the EU countries have also tightened their measures, which has created long queues at the border,” said UND Executive Board Chair Fatih Şener.
18 vehicles per hour
Şener added that the Bulgarian side now accepts around 18 vehicles per hour, down from around 60 vehicles in the past.
“While up to 900 vehicles were previously able to pass through the Kapıkule Border Gate per day, this figure has dropped to less than 600. This is the same at the Hamzabeyli Gate, another border gate opening to Bulgaria. We here call for help and support from Turkish officials,” he said.
Şener claimed that the daily passage capacity through the Kapıkule Border Gate could be increased to 3,000 vehicles, as the current capacity is not enough to meet the demands of either exporters and importers.
One truck driver who has been waiting at the border gate since Oct. 1 said both he and his company were now “in big trouble.”
“I have had to park my truck by the roadside since last Saturday … There is almost nowhere to eat here. Both me and my company are in big trouble,” he said.
Şener also said many tons of products with limited shelf life were set to spoil due to the delays.
“Transporters who submit their goods late to their customers in Europe need to pay compensation for such delays. As we cannot offer a 5-day delivery guarantee to our European customers, some of them have started to opt for other suppliers,” he added.