Union of Chambers modernizing country’s border gates to the world
ANKARA - Anatolia News Agency
GTI, a TOBB enterprise, is the first and only company to implement the modernization of land border gates based on the ‘build-operate-transfer’ model in Turkey and abroad. It creates additional tax revenues by increasing the productivity of the border gates.The Customs and Tourism Enterprises Co. Inc. (GTI), which was established as a partnership between the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) and 137 Chambers and Commodity Exchanges in 2005, has been modernizing Turkey’s border gates under a “build-operate-transfer” model.
Beginning its activities with the modernization of the Habur Border Gate, GTI swiftly completed the reconstruction and renovation of the Cilvegözü, Sarp, Hamzabeyli, Kapıkule and Nusaybin border gates and is now continuing its projects with the country’s other crossing points.
Turkey’s foreign trade in 2011 totaled more than $375 billion, 40 percent of which was conducted through the country’s land border gates. As such, the services offered at the gates must be effective and rapid.
Modernizing the border gates that were ineffective and inefficient has become one of the most important issues in the country’s reconstruction policies. In actuality, putting the border gates into service with modern facilities has been on the agenda of the government for quite some time, but the plans could not be realized for some time due to a lack of financing. Now, however, the necessary upgrades are being made using the “build-operate-transfer” model.
As the top representative of the Turkish private sector, TOBB has undertaken the modernization projects of border gates with the “build-operate-transfer” model in collaboration with the government and public institutions, establishing GTI to undertake these projects.
GTI is the first and only company to implement the modernization of land border gates based on the “build-operate-transfer” model in Turkey and in the world; thanks to this, it has become very well-known internationally in the sector. Modernization with such a model creates no financial burden for the public; to meet travelers’ needs, reconstruction and the work on all government offices and commercial facilities are done by GTI without receiving any funding from the public budget.
In the operation stage, food and beverage stores, banks, souvenir shops, gas stations and duty-free stores are run by GTI, which also assists public institutions with cleaning services, electric lightning, maintenance services, heating, cooling, cleaning and more. By doing so, public authorities carrying out public procedures like customs and passport control can perform their tasks more rapidly and comfortably.
In addition to taking over the high financing burden of the modernization projects, GTI has created additional tax revenues and been contributing to the development of foreign trade by increasing the productivity of the border gates. Border-wait times that used to take hours have been reduced to minutes, while long lines have been prevented. Vehicle and passenger numbers have increased fourfold since the changes were made, and GTI is now serving nearly 5 million vehicles and 13 million passengers a year.
Recent and future projects
GTI has made nearly $200 million in investments so far. Administrative and commercial buildings, entry-exit control units, search hangars, contraband storages, platforms, weigh stations, social facilities and truck park areas are being constructed with the latest technological improvements, including X-Ray vehicle scanning systems, card-pass systems, as well as CCTV and security systems.
Beyond border gate projects, GTI is concentrating on the logistics center, which is very important in Europe and will gain greater significance in Turkey as the sector develops. In addition to the completed projects, GTI signed a new agreement with the Customs and Trade Ministry for a group of new projects whose total investment amounts to $140 million, including the modernization of the Istanbul Halkalı Customs Logistics Center and four new border gates with Iran, Georgia and Azerbaijan in Nakhchivan. GTI will complete the modernization and begin operating all of Turkey’s border gates in the very near future.
Historical Silk Road and international projects
Realizing all these investments through its own resources, GTI is now widening its targets and working on projects to modernize and operate other countries’ border gates. The revitalization of the historical Silk Road, which had been the main vein of trade for years, has gained importance in terms of land transportation. Although these historical routes between China and Europe have gained fresh importance, creating more efficient linkages between the destinations have been hampered by unsolved infrastructure problems. One of these problems is the lack of modernization and standardization at border gates along the route. GTI is working with these countries of the Silk Road in order to modernize all these border gates along this route.
GTI has begun realizing its international goals with the modernization of the border gates of two neighbors, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Syrian Arab Republic.