Problem Analysis of Turkish Ports

Table of Content


The maritime transportation in Turkey has been improved due to recent developments that are based on the country’s strategic and geopolitical location. But in last decades, Turkish ports face with major problems. Being located in the core city surrounded with historical centre and lack of expansion area are some of the main handicaps that Turkish ports have to solve. Port of Haydarpasa, located in Istanbul, performs less than Turkey average and loses its competitiveness every passing year. Existing facilities of the port would not provide the needs in long term. One of the biggest problems is the location in urban area that precludes further expansion.

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Yet a simple question remains: What to do such a port in urban area, surrounded with residential and losing its competitiveness? This paper is composed of two main parts. First part focuses on general view of Turkish maritime sector. Second part evaluates Port of Haydarpasa and a concerned urban regeneration project remarks. An urban regeneration project concerning with this port area, has a chance to develop a “growth pole” for not only in Turkey but in the world. Key words: Turkish ports, Istanbul Urban Regeneration Projects, Competitiveness 1

Transport Networks in Turkey

The logistics activities in Turkey have been improved due to recent developments that are based on the country’s strategic and geopolitical location. The transport function of logistics has been provided throughout maritime, land, pipeline and air related logistics services. All modes of transport –land, sea, air, rail and pipeline- are used in Turkey for a variety of different commodities.

The transport sector as a significant role in the economy since Turkey covers an extensive area, is surrounded by three seas to the south, north and west. Turkey’s coast lines which encompass it on three sides with the Mediterranean Sea on the south, the Black Sea to the north and the Aegean Sea to the west which seems as a natural dock, make country open to entire world and supply a major competitive advantage in international logistics. In the northwest of Turkey, there is also an important inland Sea of Marmara that connects the Black Sea with rest of the world through Istanbul and Canakkale Straits.

At the west side of Turkey, Europe Continent covers 7% of world population and realizes 40% of the world trade. At the east side of Turkey, Asia continent covers 50% of world population and realizes 5%of world trade. Turkey’s geographical position offers tremendous multimodal transport opportunities on the basis of transport requirements of the Europe-Asia axis and there have been very crucial international transport network projects which involve Turkey in the region. Those international corridors could be evaluated in to two basic view which are supported by UN (United Nations) and EU (European Union).


This ratio is two times bigger than the world average. As a region, Marmara has the greatest container volume in Turkey. The container volumes of four biggest container terminals are shown in figure 4. In respect of the data of Undersecretary of Maritime Affairs, a significant volume of the sustained increase in maritime container volume (almost 80% of all containers) is handled by this four Ports. Turkey started to give more emphasis on port privatisation, in order to raise the productivity and efficiency of ports.

In different capacities and characteristics, 16 ports have already been privatised. The rest 5 ports are operated by a state owned organization- Turkish State Railways (TCDD) and in the agenda of the governments programme. 24 ports are operated by Turklim (Port Operations Association of Turkey) and by other organizations. A significant volume (almost 85 % of total container traffic) is handled through Ports of Ambarli, Izmir, Mersin, Haydarpasa. Within these ports, Ambarli and Haydarpasa ports are located in Istanbul, in Marmara Region. Port of Izmir is located in Aegean and Port of Mersin is located in Mediterranean Region.

At the public sector, it’s obviously seen that container handling is mainly realized at the following ports which belong to TCDD, (Turkish Republic State Railways) Haydarpasa, Mersin and Izmir, when compared the below data with the previous year. Haydarpasa Port’ ratio of increase is 7. 5 % on TEU basis, in Mersin 11. 9 %, in Izmir 2. 5 %. There are 27 coastal facilities in Aegean Sea Region. 22 of them are private ports. Aegean ports have been providing 33% of export and 17% of import in Turkey. Izmir is the biggest port in this region.

Port of Izmir is a centre for transhipment cargoes arriving through Black Sea markets, but the port has a limited draft of approach channel and also there are congestion problems. Although the port of Izmir has a great potential such as being close to the Black Sea market, the infrastructure of the port is insufficient to be a main transhipment centre. Port of Izmir is the second biggest container port of Turkey. The transit containers originating from Greece (Thessaloniki / Piraeus) arriving at the port of Izmir can be transported to Asian countries by both rail and road connections.

Mediterranean Sea Region There are 28 coastal facilities in Mediterranean Region. 22 of them are private ports. Mediterranean Port have been providing 24% of export and 24 % of import. The transhipment ratio is 40% of Turkey with ordering after 60% of Marmara Region. The main container shipping lanes between western Europe and Far East passing through the Mediterranean are very close to Turkish ports and Mersin is main the port in this region. Transit cargoes gain Turkey give attention to Port of Mersin due to Middle East markets connection by road and rail.

The port has road (TEM, Asian Highway) and rail (E rail network, TAR, AGTC) connections within the international transport corridors and has an 7 extensive hinterland, suitable for serving to the Middle East, Caucasus and Central Asian countries. Black Sea Region The least number of coastal facilities (19 ports) are located in Black Sea region. Additionally although having the biggest advantage among other Black Sea countries, Turkey is the least developed region in term of maritime transport is Black Sea Region. Turkey has the longest Black Sea coast among the other countries.

Since the high potential for cargo traffic is expected to be met in this region, Turkey decided to create new capacity to open the Anatolian market to Asian, Black Sea and eastern European countries. The total amount of export, import and cabotage value of this region is almost 10% of Turkey. In general, cabotage traffic characterizes the Black Sea ports. Port of Trabzon is an important port of Black Sea region, because most of the transit cargoes going to Iran from East Europe and Black Sea countries through Turkey are transhipped by this port.

Port of Trabzon has also a distinctive position in North-South Transport Corridor. Marmara Region The Marmara Region is known for its vast contributions to the Turkish economy. It is the most populated and most industrialized region of Turkey and shows the fastest increase in traffic of any Turkish region. There are 76 coastal facilities in Marmara Region. 61 of them belong to private sector. The number of the private ports has the highest value in Turkey. These are also the longest and highly performing facilities of Turkey as well.

Marmara Ports provide almost 40% of total export, 47% of total import, 53% of cabotage and 60% of transit cargoes. The highest performed port is Ambarli which was ranked 57th of the world container ports list in 2005. Furthermore, many of the south-east European corridors meet at Istanbul in Haydarpasa and Ambarli Ports. The ports of Marmara are integrated to the majority of the international transport corridors, the most importance are Pan-European Transport Corridor, European Transport Corridor.

In export cargo traffic Marmara Region accounts for 24,7% in industrial products, 33,3% in ore and 10,4% in grain. As to the other commodities, Marmara Region shows relatively high shares in other general cargo and crude oil values. For the import cargo traffic major commodities are 44,5% in industrial production, 35,7% in crude oil, 70,4% in LNG and 38% in oil products. As to other commodities, Marmara region shows relatively high shares in timber, other general cargo and agricultural products.

In the Nationwide Port Development Master Plan, it had been projected that Marmara region would reach up to 2,5 million TEU’s in 2015. But it is clearly observed that the performance of ports in the region have achieved the projections almost 7 years betimes. The development ratio increases more than expectations and it seems as it’s going to go on. 1. 4 Problem Analysis of Ports in Turkey Although the increasing trend of foreign trade in recent years in Turkey is promising, the problems of Turkish ports are still affecting the foreign trade in a negative way.

The situation of Port of Haydarpasa is a typical example. The main problems of ports of Turkey (and Haydarpasa as well) are listed below: Port management and legislation:

  • Insufficient collaboration among institutions
  • Lack of institutional corporations, poorly coordinated linkages between transport modes
  • No investment yet in the distribution and logistics centres inside port areas
  • Weak cooperation between port authorities and their intermodal partners in order to improve supply chain performance.

Port operations:

  • Insufficiency and in some cases, the lack of dredging related equipment
  • Port congestion resulting from using the port area for storage purposes
  • The lack and inadequacy of port development projects
  • Insufficiency of port storage field and warehouses
  • Low productivity, untidy port traffic
  • Difficulties of switch to automation
  • Insufficient investments
  • Difficulties to find experienced personnel for any maritime leveling
  • Absence of culture of working together


The Port of Haydarpasa, located in Haydarpasa at the south entrance of Bosphorus on the Anatolian side of Istanbul, Turkey, is a major general cargo seaport, Ro-Ro and container terminal operated by the Turkish State Railways (TCDD). Authorities decided to build a modern port in Istanbul after the development of railways in 1880s.

The port was constructed in 1903 and the area became an important transportation node for the city. In 1950’s, the port was expanded and redeveloped to adapt the improvements in maritime technology. At that time, the port had become one of the major ports of Turkey. The port has 85. 4 million $ income according to 2007 data.

The vessels in the port are protected by two breakwaters from all kinds of effects caused by the weather and sea. Figure 6: Haydarpasa Port Pilotage is compulsory for vessels entering or leaving the port. This service is provided by the Turkish Maritime Organization (TDI) round the clock. Towage is not necessary for the vessels up to 2000 GRT. 3 tugs are available up to 2500 HP. Sea crafts comprise one floating crane of 250 tons capacity, 3 tug boats, 3 rail ferries and 2 mooring boats.

Container handling operations at the yard are carried out by 4 quayside gantry cranes of 40 tons capacity, 18 rubber tired transtainers of 40 tons capacity, 9 reach stackers of 25 to 42 11 tons capacity and 8 empty container forklifts of 8 to 10 tons capacity. shore and yard cranes of 3 to 35 tons, 6 mobile cranes of 5 to 25 tons capacity, 8 standard and 30 small masted forklifts are also available. Another facility available at the terminal is the provision of reefer facilities for refrigerated containers.

There is a container land terminal outside the port (Goztepe) for stacking the empty containers with an area of 55. 000 m2. Container loading/discharging operations and custom clearances are made in this terminal. A grain silo belonging to TMO (Turkish Grain Board) of 34. 000 tons capacity is available and has a conveyor connection with the quay. Haydarpasa Port is located in the center of Istanbul, thus area is a rentable urban land.

During the last three decades, Istanbul faced with functional and physical deterioration of urban spaces due to the pressure of migration and rapid urbanization. This brought the necessity of the redevelopment and revitalization of some urban lands in the city center. The port region, where Harem Bus Terminal, Haydarpasa Port, Haydarpasa Customhouse, Haydarpasa Train Station – intersection of three transportation modes – exist, becomes one of the these urban areas. 2. 2 Competitiveness of Haydarpasa Port As a result of an international redistribution of labour and capital and the process of globalisation of markets, production and consumption; the world economy has been shifted.

The market developments in the world economy have affected the significance and the role of seaports. Seaports have changed their role to complex logistic and industrial centres from transport centres. Seaports that fail to establish themselves as key players in such an optimisation process stand a serious chance of being disregarded as ports of call on international freight routes. Competition among various port actors has become extremely cruel. Port competition is now not only referred to widen the neighboring influence area but as well to its transshipment function, that is attracting those throughput whose origin or destination is not the own port, which is called transit cargo.

Port choice is an important issue in the present international trade container transportation market. Port choice criteria are interested by many academicians. In the past, some researchers proposed some port choice models like the equilibrium model, the fuzzy multiple criteria decision-making model and the Stackerlberg model. Yang (1995, 1999) assumed that the international trade container transportation market could be regarded as a Stackerlberg market. In this modal there are three players; port administrators, carriers and domestic shippers. Wan (1980) and Gleave (1981) assumed that the international trade container transportation market could be regarded as an Equilibrium market.

The Equilibrium model is formulated by the mathematic programming method. Chou et al. (2003a, 2003b) proposed an Equilibrium model and fuzzy multiple criteria decision-making model for port choice. Chou (2005) also compared the fitness of several models for port choice. Blonigen and Wilson (2006) develops a model of port choice and trading volumes and then estimates the impact of ocean transport rates, efficiency of U. S. ocean ports and international transport systems on port choice and trade volume. 12 In academic literature survey there have been seen almost 20 port selection criteria.

From the point of this view, the situation of Haydarpasa Port’s competitiveness is mentioned below by main points:

Problems of Location: Haydarpasa Port is located close to urban centers that preclude further expansion. This causes port congestion resulting from using the port area for storage purposes. Additionally, the port does not have strong network with the hinterland because of the lack of railway. Haydarpasa Port has already got rail connection but only the 0,5% amount of throughput is able to be transferred by rail (TUSIAD, 2007). This number is the least railway usage ratio in any TCDD ports as well.

Problems of Charges: Port tariffs are not being cost-driven, besides to this more expensive than neighboring countries. TCDD is not able to apply strategic charging policy even for the market conditions: client, cargo volume, time, season, congestion etc. The inadequacy of insurance coverage for the cargoes and ships and the insufficiency of port marketing efforts are basic problems of the port.

Problems of the Port Management System: The Port Authority has, for too long, been operated by a highly bureaucratized organization, resulting in inefficiency and a reactive rather than a proactive attitude to management. One of the disadvantages of TCDD ports that the scale of investments is rather huge and not flexible operating.

Port management of Haydarpasa does not have ability to act aggressive promotion activities because the management is being taken by the TCDD headquarters in Ankara. Any TCDD port must ask the headquarters and follow its decision. This system enables to manage the port from the total management point of the view and enables to miss the chances to make timely decisions at the right moment. Complex and inadequate legal regulations force port administrative authorities into inadequate of comprehensive and authorities prefer short-term management during the planning stage of ports. The application of port management and information system (computerization at ports) is weak.

Management authorities have difficulties to reflect the demands of the users so many of the current problems of Haydarpasa port are associated with inefficient management, low productivity and decreasing competitiveness as a result.

Problems of the Port Infrastructure and Superstructure: Infrastructural facilities in Haydarpasa are numerously less than other private ports around Istanbul and than other TCDD ports. The quays are shorter, shallow and CFS are smaller. Port development projects are inadequate therefore the port has problems to compete with other ports around. As a result of these problems, the average annual rate for general cargo in Haydarpasa performs only 10% while Turkey’s average is 20%. Ambarli Port (which is the other port in Istanbul) had achieved over 30% of increasing ratio every year last decade.

The biggest increasing ratio has been realized in Ambarli Port in 2001 and 2002 with the ratio of 60%. This was a reflection to the new infrastructure investments in the port. In 2005, total cargo volume was 3. 424. 098 tones in Ambarli Port and 1. 444. 128 tones in Haydarpasa Port. The statistics show that general cargo from or to Marmara Region is mainly handled by Ambarli Port. In the year 1996, when the Port of Ambarli was just established, the container volume occurred 200. 000 TEU and almost same with Haydarpasa. But the next decade witnessed the dramatic increasing of container volume in Ambarli. Ambarli became the biggest container port since 2002 and recently handling the 1/3 of container volume in Turkey.

After its expansion and modernization projects, Ambarli continued 161% enlargement of its container operations. If the total container volume handled in Turkey were acknowledged 100 units, by the year of 2006 it will be realized as 160 units. The container volume ratio of Ambarli continuous approximately the same in Turkey’s container market while Haydarpasa enlarges its ratio. But Haydarpasa performs a stabile container volume.

Project Remarks Two discrete reasons force for urban regeneration project organization in the Haydarpasa Port Region. The first reason is occurred by internal needs and the second reason is occurred by external needs. The first reason is below: The competition in the market makes Haydarpasa’s situation quite hard, since there hasn’t been a comprehensive waterfront development and expansion area. The expansion of Haydarpasa Port to be able to deal with increasing container cargoes is almost impossible because of its location near the city center in Eastern side of Istanbul. The lack of expansion area disables ports development. Due to its location in the city, Haydarpasa is the best place where the Historical Peninsula is viewed and perceived.

Ancient Khalkedon, one of the oldest settlement sites of Istanbul, now called as Kadikoy, forms the southern border of the project area while Harem, the transfer point with intense traffic load with the ferry port and bus terminal, defines the northern border. Haydarpasa is the arrival point of the railroads coming from Anatolia in Istanbul. The main station was designed by German architects Otto Ritter and Helmut Cuno in 1908. There are also other historical buildings in the area such as Selimiye Barracks and Haydarpasa School of Medicine which was designed by Raymondo d’Aronco and Alexander Vallaury. Connection with the European side is provided by ferries. The second and the external reason is the need of Istanbul’s eastern side public space.

Istanbul Metropolitan Area is divided by Bosphorus into two parts, East and West, because of its natural structure. Commercial, industrial, cultural, administrative, residential and recreational areas have not developed homogeneously on both parts. Especially, central business districts and workforce distribution dependent on them have concentrated on the Western part of Istanbul Metropolitan Area. 15 While activity ratio of service sector on Western part is 0. 40, it is around 0. 15 on the Eastern part (in which Haydarpasa Port exists). This concentration is creating pressure on historical areas and Bosphorus coast and with the skyscrapers built it disrupts the Bosphorus silhouette.

Since the number of the workforce is higher on the western part, there is daily commuting from east to west and this causes heavy traffic circulation. All of these concentrations and pressure are the sources of the imbalance between Eastern and Western parts of the city. In eastern part, there is only one 1st degree service centre; Kadikoy. The Haydarpasa Port is inside of Kadikoy as well. Eliminating the imbalance between two parts in terms of commerce and service sectors and developing alternative centres has become inevitable for Istanbul Metropolitan Area. If any regeneration project would have been occured, the port area would become a great potential for a public space.

So, the aim of the regeneration project might be: “to develop a design that transforms the area of the international container port in Haydarpasa into a centre of recreation, tourism, business and culture to serve 3 million people in its hinterland, revealing cultural continuity, having a distinct identity, respecting Istanbul’s historical values and natural environment, and highlighting urban aesthetic and landscape values”.

Two main points would have been considered in an urban regeneration project for the port area: Expropriation of the few privately owned areas or sharing with private landowners. When the warehouses, maintenance and improvement facilities of the General Directorate of Turkish State Railways are removed, this area will continue to maintain its functional relations with Kadikoy Central Area in city scale and will undertake new functions such as ervices, culture and commerce. However, it should be noted that the area has served as a green area throughout its history (Former Haydarpasa Promenade Field).

This character of the area should be preserved. Harem Area currently serves very complex functions such as an intercity bus terminal, a ferry port and commuter transfer point. Despite the removal of the port facilities and the bus terminal, the area will continue to be an urban transfer centre. Gradual removal of the warehouses and maintenance and improvement facilities in Haydarpasa is planned and expected that Haydarpasa Train Station would carry on its function as an intercity passenger station.

Salacak Woodland is the primary green area in the area. The Beach which is called as Salacak was announced as a Natural Site Area in 1977 since it makes up one of the most beautiful nature pieces of Istanbul and the Bosphorus. Currently in Kadikoy, Haydarpasa and Harem areas activities are performed in local, urban, and international levels simultaneously. Those activities are reflected in the spatial structure as well. Bus and minibus terminals that serve the districts and one of the biggest port facilities in the Mediterranean lie side by side. One of the objectives should be to give Haydarpasa-Harem coastline and axis a new functional and spatial size and scale.

One of the projects including the port area is below in Figure 8. In this project Harem Region is designed as a recreation centre instead of transfer centre. The old and new parts of the Haydarpasa Port have been separated from each other. Railway terminal would be redesigned to be more effective transportation mode. Kadikoy Square would be arranged. A 16 Modern Art Museum would be built. Haydarpasa-Harem Coast Park would be used by public after the project.


In Turkey, maritime sector has a growing increase rate year by year. This growth is more than expected so that causes some problems in the space. Generally ports in Turkey face with problems such as port management system, port infrastructure and superstructure, location and port charges. Haydarpasa Port is a typical model for Turkish ports regarding these problems. C Two discrete reasons force Istanbul city for urban regeneration project organization.

The first reason is formed by internal needs: Haydarpasa Port is losing its competitiveness power year by year. Besides any other competitive criteria, the main problem is that the port is located in urban area that precludes further expansion. Haydarpasa Port is established in the middle of the Istanbul and across to the “Old Town” where three former capital cities heritage which were settled down by Roman, Byzantium and Ottoman.

The second and external reason is the need of public space for Istanbul’s eastern side. Istanbul Metropolitan Area is divided by Bosphorus into two sides: East and West. Commercial, industrial, cultural, administrative, residential and recreational areas have not developed homogeneously on both sides. Especially, central business districts and workforce distribution dependent on them have concentrated on the Western part of Istanbul Metropolitan Area. Therefore the eastern side need be projected for public spaces. An urban regeneration project concerning with this port area, has a chance to develop a “growth pole” for not only in Turkey but in the world.

High visibility operations, a showcase for city, will successfully concentrate the energy and resources necessary to establish 17 conditions for job creation, improved quality of life and Istanbul’s recognition as a world city, owing to the competition inter cities, besides inter-ports. To enlarge competitiveness of Istanbul as a city, Istanbul needs sustainable public places that build to eliminate the necessities of urban citizens. Therefore, urban regeneration studies must have been projected for the port area. Besides all these reasons, Istanbul is going to be cultural capital of Europe in 2010. According to the above mentioned perspectives, three major outcomes are expected from Haydarpasa regeneration project.

These are economical outcomes, social outcomes (related with urban development) and environmental outcomes. 1. Economical Outcomes of the Project: Market research, promotion, communication and prospecting to make Istanbul appealing, to attract new businesses, investors and international organisations and create new employments. The new urban functions would make great deal both in Istanbul and Turkey’s economy besides gaining new public spaces for recreation, art, culture etc. Logistics functions are realized inside city area and this situation decreases productivity. There is no expansion area for these functions. These activities need to be restructured considering sector and its needs.

Because of this Haydarpasa Port will be regenerated to meet logistics demands of the east and west side of the city. 2. Social Outcomes (Related with Urban Development) of the Project: Urban planning and major transformations of infrastructure (roads, networks etc. ) and facilities (sports, cultural complexes etc. ) and public space (squares, parks, pedestrials etc. ). Working with promoters and investors to plan and launch operations to construct or regenerate offices, shops, hotels and cultural and recreational facilities. Transforming large region situated between Kadikoy (Eastern Side’s centre) and commercial port would extend the city centre and open the city to Bosporus.

If it would have been looked through from transportation side, nested structure of the passenger traffic and freight traffic has negative affects on urban life quality in Istanbul. Regeneration project of the port area will improve both the quality of port functions and transportation issues within the area and thus will increase the quality of life in the region. Also after the project public spaces will be improved, sport facilities will be built, neighbourhood services will be developed and some other service areas like these will be constructed in the project area. 3. Environmental Outcomes of the Project: Port functions, foremost the transportation activities, have negative affects on environment.

Regeneration projects will help to decrease these negative affects by designing these functions with a qualified planning process in the other sides of the city that have high standards. These projects will also provide advantages in redesigning these areas as habitable social areas in point of environment. The Turkish government, the city, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality would be financing the budget of this public entity, allowing it to conduct research, buy property, commission work and launch promotional and communication initiatives. Authorities must have been aware of 18 the strengths of the largest city. Istanbul is affirming its role as a city between east and west (or Europe and Asia) by welcoming international organisations and hosting events that boost its visibility as an economic, cultural hub.

So, Istanbul will have a role as a regional capital by enlarging its functions and attracting international organisations. New development should give opportunity to an elite formation for both trade, financial and tourism sectors.

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