Vessels swarm Türkiye’s Marmara Sea as Bosporus traffic heightens, says a Daily Sabah news source.
Experiencing overwhelming traffic
The Marmara Sea littoral to Istanbul and several industrial hubs is experiencing overwhelming traffic as cargo vessels in almost naval formation dot the body of water.
Due to outstanding debts and growing commerce, Türkiye’s Marmara Sea is too crowded nowadays. Drone images of the sea from the coast of the European side of Istanbul show the extent of the enormous traffic, mostly at a standstill.
As of Thursday, some 200 vessels were anchored off the coast, in a region stretching from the Sarayburnu neighborhood to the Avcılar district further west of the city. For those traveling by sea from cities south of Istanbul, ships almost entirely blocked the view of the city’s skyline.
Most of the anchored ships have been seized due to outstanding debts by their operators. In the past, the area they covered was more limited to a region near a major port, stretching to the leafy Yeşilköy neighborhood on the European side.
But nowadays, it has expanded as far as Avcılar, where another major port is located nearby. Some vessels are anchored for years due to ship operators going bankrupt and are abandoned. High costs and lengthy legal procedures extend their wait. Other abandoned vessels either sink in bad weather or have veered off and run aground.
The landlocked Marmara
The landlocked Marmara, sandwiched between Istanbul and Dardanelles Strait, the gateway to the Aegean from the Black Sea, is quite busy nowadays after a grain deal mediated by Türkiye eased the maritime transportation of goods from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.
The Bosporus is the main entry to the Marmara and ship traffic through the waterway rose in 2021, according to official data. The number of ships, including tankers, passing through the strait, which links the Black Sea to the Marmara and the Mediterranean beyond, increased by 147 to 38,551, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry data showed.
Transits by ships longer than 200 meters (650 feet) and chemical tankers – which are among the main reasons why an alternative route, called Kanal Istanbul, is needed to prevent possible dangerous accidents – both hit their highest on record, at 5,306 and 2,701 respectively.
Championed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and revealed in 2011, Kanal Istanbul is one of Türkiye’s most strategic megaprojects. Kanal Istanbul is set to relieve congestion and improve safety on the Bosporus by diverting large ships with dangerous cargo away from population centers.
The canal will connect the Black Sea north of Istanbul to the Marmara Sea to the south, designed as an alternative global shipping lane, and estimated to cost around TL 75 billion ($9.2 billion).
The government says it will ease shipping traffic on the Bosporus, one of the world’s busiest maritime passages, and prevent accidents similar to that of Egypt’s Suez Canal, where a giant container ship became lodged and blocked the channel for almost a week.
The 45-kilometer (28-mile) canal, which will be built in Istanbul’s Küçükçekmece-Sazlıdere-Durusu corridor, will boast a capacity of 160 vessels a day and is expected to create significant economic value by reducing transit periods and costs, in addition to passage fees.
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Source: Daily Sabah