Somalilandsun-The recent events in Berbera regarding DP world and the privatization scheme of the Port of Berbera has revealed new twists and turns to an already murky deal. DP world has taken over at the beginning of March without any fanfare and without the presence of any senior Somaliland government official in sight. The bunch of representatives from various nationalities, including Thailand(1), India(2),Egypt(1), UAE(2) and a few from African Countries, took charge without any hitches or hurdles- having familiarized themselves unimpeded with the whole network of operations and having taken possession of the books (fully) in the last two or three months. The recently appointed Port Manager, Ahmed Yusuf, was but too anxious to accommodate the DP world eager demands for want of winning favors with them, jeopardizing national and local community interests.
The takeover does not follow the procedure for a takeover process: no formal intro of workers to their new employees, no formal documentation of property – fixed and non-fixed assets- with the latter being offered as a gift, a pauper offering meagre belongings to filthy rich Arab oil tycoons. Those pick-up trucks and land-cruisers could have better served our ill-equipped police force and security personnel serving the community whose vehicles and equipment are in tatters.
The privatization of the Port of Berbera, whose new owners remain wrapped in secrecy, has also exposed yet another mysterious scenario: inquiries about what happened to the proposed new company that was to be constituted jointly by the Berbera Port Authority and DP World? That formation, mentioned in the half-baked draft sheets, with some articles conveniently removed, presented to Parliament last year, itself is not being applied. Expectations that it would call itself the Berbera Port Management is no where to be seen. DP World and its staff are thrust as being singly in charge.
The labor unrest yesterday was a demonstration of lack of public relations and failed communication. Ahmed, the supposed Port Manager was hiding in his place of residence when the turmoil began and never appeared till dusk.. Local personnel payments are extremely low and benefits and other amenities including health benefits are absent. Pay and other benefits for workers should be made at par with similar ports at the Red Sea, now that Berbera Port is privatized. The workers insist repeatedly in their demands that they sacrificed for the sake of the nation in the past but that the gains of the private owner has to account for the needs of its work force in good wages and benefits.
One Government Official, an assistant minister, retorted that ‘Farmajo’ was behind the unrest. What an insult ! He should be ashamed of himself.
Berbera, march 15, 2017