Alternative to the Bosphorus Strait? The answer seems to be Yes – by Andrei Mirauta, Reinsurance Director & Director of Marine Insurance
Although the idea a new route for vessels linking the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara has been around for almost half a century (introduced first by Suleiman the Magnificent and re-visited quite a few times since), it seems recently this gained some traction with establishment of an exact route for this new waterway. The 45-kilometer route will enter Küçükçekmece Lake and reach the Black Sea through the Sazlıdere Dam from east of the Terkos Lake.
In terms of traffic and more important, in terms of safety of citizens of Istanbul, this new corridor can mean an improvement. Currently, with the alternative North-bound and South-bound traffic and the +55k vessels transiting the Bosphorus every year, the wait at either end of the straight causes serious delays for the vessels which in turn translates into hundreds of millions of USD in costs which in theory can be saved if there was an alternative route.
Of course, with a realistic price-tag of USD 20bn for the new waterway, Turkey will definitely impose high transit fees and this will reduce the advantages of having an alternative to the Bosphorus. But if this saves time, it can still be a good thing. In order to reduce traffic through the Bosphorus strait, Turkey would have to increase the currently subsidized transit fees so that at least oil/chemical tankers and LNG/LPG carriers would decide to choose the alternative route.
From an insurance point of view, reducing the current heavy traffic through the sinuous Bosphorus strait will have an instant positive effect on reducing collisions, fatalities and environmental issues. Currently, with +55k vessels transiting a waterway of approximately 1km wide while hundreds of water taxis, water busses, ferries, water ambulances, pleasure crafts, fishing vessels carry on with their normal activity, is becoming a very dangerous situation.
Despite the clear advantages of this alternative route, this is seen by some as a way to bypass the 1936 Montreux Convention and to allow Turkey greater autonomy. Historically, few mega-projects have been without some controversy, but in the end and apart from money, isn’t this what makes the world go round?
Andrei Mirauta – Reinsurance Director & Director of Marine Insurance