Kocaeli, also called İzmit, one of Turkey's major industrial cities, has been named one of the largest port cities in Europe. The Gulf of Izmit, located to the east of the Sea of Marmara, plays an important role in opening up the goods produced in surrounding industrial enterprises to global markets. Harboring an average of 10,000 ships annually in the ports it hosts, Izmit maintains its position as one of the main cities that has been steering world trade since ancient times.
The Izmit port region is one of the biggest port venues in Europe in terms of the gross weight of cargoes handled.
According to the 2017 data released by the European Statistical Office (Eurostat), Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg on the North Sea coast were named the top three ports in Europe in terms of the gross weight of goods handled.
Among the 20 largest ports in Europe, Turkey is represented by Izmit, Botaş port in southern Hatay's Iskenderun and Aliağa in western Izmir province.
Izmit, which harbors 35 large and small port facilities, is the seventh-largest cargo port in Europe after Marseille with 72 million tons of cargo handled, while Botaş ranks eighth, Iskenderun 11th and Aliağa 13th on the list.
Ayhan Zeytinoğlu, head of Kocaeli Chamber of Industry, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that there are 35 port facilities around the Gulf of Izmit and that these ports operate with 50-60% capacity.
Zeytinoğlu stated that they want to ensure that the ports in the city are managed like those in Rotterdam, continuing, "As the Chamber of Industry, we want to create the perception of the 'Izmit Port' like Rotterdam. The cargo handling capacity here could go up to 150 million tons without much investment."
Underlining that ports' connection to railways is not at the desired level, Zeytinoğlu noted, "Even though the railway passes through the borders of almost all of our ports in the north, they are not connected to the railway line. After connection to Dilovası, Körfez and Derince is ensured in the upcoming days, the amount of cargo handled in Kocaeli could increase much more without intensifying vehicle traffic. If we can transfer this transport to the railway, then the amount of goods carried at the Gulf of Izmit will increase, leading to a decline in truck traffic."
Emphasizing that it is a great opportunity and that the İzmit Bay is a natural harbor, Zeytinoğlu said, "We are even more happy that Izmit has been named the seventh-largest port in Europe."
Indicating that it is easy for them to render ranking even this higher, Zeytinoğlu continued, "I think we will do that by ensuring railway connections in the upcoming period. There is currently no railway connection to the south of the bay. We believe that it will be good to have a railway to the Free Zone and Ford Otosan. If these are done, cargo tonnage will rise much higher."