Federal officials still in Djibouti
A high level government delegation has been in Djibouti for over a week to diffuse cargo transportation bottleneck that occurred over the past eight months at the port of Djibouti.
Since then reports indicate that the number of trucks moving goods from the port to Ethiopia has increased. “They travelled to Djibouti to find a solution and now the congestion is easing,” a source at the Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Services Enterprise (ESLSE), who was at Djibouti a week ago told Capital.
According to this source, up to 150 trucks have been transporting containers from the port every day. “Previously, trucks had to wait for several days at Djibouti until customs completed clearance for the import items. But based on the current trucks’ movement the congestion will be resolved in the near future,” the source said.
Local importers who complained that their goods have been stacked at the port for several months said that more trucks are needed to accelerate the movement significantly.
Following the new through bill of lading scheme endorsed by the Ethiopian government, there has been confusion about its implementation that led to the slow movement of containers from Doraleh Container Terminal (DCT), sources say.
They say, the ESLSE having carried out a multimodal scheme to handle the import and export of the country, has led to this massive congestion at the port of Djibouti. Hence about 22,000 containers and several vehicles have been stranded in Djibouti over the past eight months. “The current container congestion at the port is a significant indicator of the severity of the problem,” industry experts said.
“For instance in the 2010/11 budget year the total Ethiopian container traffic, including import and export was about 110,000; which makes these 22,000 stranded containers a significant amount,” the expert said.
“Now”, the source added, “there is even a scarcity of empty containers because of the snag at the port”; which indents heavily into Ethiopian exports. In addition to lack of empty containers, Ethiopian export also suffers because of lack of space to conduct stuffing and un-stuffing operations.
“Insufficient transporting trucks and slow custom clearance are the major reasons the import items were held at Djibouti,” complain importers.
This problem has been magnified since the government decided to put the multimodal scheme under the mandate of the state owned ESLSE that was formed with the alignment of Ethiopian Shipping Lines, Ethiopian Maritime Services Enterprise and Ethiopian Dry Ports Enterprise in the beginning of the past budget year.
Based on the new scheme the enterprise has exclusive control not only of the state import/export activities but also the private sector’s however private freight forwarders complain that they are required to be part of the new arrangement.
Sources at Djibouti said that the congestion of dry ports in Ethiopia, Mojo and Mille, due to a customs clearance delay has also exacerbated the congestion in DCT.
According to them, the Port of Djibouti Administration is working to ease the congestion at the PAID (Port Autonome International de Djibouti) by moving all vehicles from the main port to an area previously known as DAEZ or PK13 and all containers from DCT (Doraleh Container Terminal) to DDP (Djibouti Dry Port).
This move is made to vacate space for incoming imports. However this scheme will translate into additional moving cost that will ultimately be transferred on Ethiopian importers.
Meanwhile, transportation of goods categorized as dangerous merchandise, goods for projects, factory raw materials, pharmaceuticals and perishable cargoes already have a waiver and their clearances from Djibouti port has been expedited. All bulk cargos also do not face the same situation as vehicles and other containerized imports.
The government officials who travelled to Djibouti on Saturday July 28 with the aim to accelerate the transportation of imports are still there.
According to sources, Mekuria Haile, Minister of Urban Development and Construction and board chairman of ESLSE and Diriba Kuma, Minister of Transport, together with Ahmed Tusa, CEO of ESLSE and Mekonnen Abera, director of the Ethiopian Maritime Authority have been in Djibouti for the past week, while Gebrewahd W.Giorgis, Deputy Director General of the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority has been there but it is not confirmed if he is still there or not.