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Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Service Enterprise (ESLSE) is undertaking a study to introduce new routes for its vessels with the arrival of the newly purchased ships.
In November 2012, the enterprise formed with the amalgamation of three public enterprises has received one multipurpose cargo and oil tanker vessel from the total of its nine vessels, two tankers and seven multipurpose cargo vessels, constructed in China.
According to Chief Engineer Alemu Ambaye, deputy CEO of ESLSE, the enterprise will also receive another batch of two vessels, in mid January 2013 from the Chinese manufacturer.
The deputy CEO told Capital that the enterprise is undertaking a study to add more destinations with the increment of the number of vessels it operates. Previously the flag carrier had been calling ports in Europe and Asian countries. Now it is focused on routes to Asia only as the country’s market link is mainly in these areas. The flag carrier had cut its route to Europe and uses slot charter scheme from other shipping companies to serve the country’s import and export activities with these areas.
According to Alemu the enterprise will disclose the new destinations when the study is fully completed. But he implied that the transportation to Europe will be included based on the new study. “We may not commence our operation to routes that we were reaching previously but we will travel to other new ports where we have never travelled,” he explained.
Currently, Ethiopia’s market linkage with Eastern Europe like Turkey is growing, while market links with other European countries has shrunk especially with regards to agricultural products, mostly coffee.
Based on the new study, other major markets even those that have no major market link with Ethiopia will be included on the new routes, according to sources at the enterprise.
The enterprise, the sole maritime operator in Ethiopia, has also planned to expand the country’s cargo transportation coverage up to 50 percent from the current 20 percent when it acquires the vessels it ordered. Previously the enterprise used to cover ports in Italy, France, England, Belgium and The Netherlands. It currently focuses only on ports in China, India and United Arab Emirates.
The purchase of vessels that are worth 293.5 million dollars were facilitated by the Export-Import Bank of China, which agreed to finance 80 percent of the cost, two years ago.
The seven 28,000 tone heavy lift multi-purpose vessels cost 32.5 million dollars each and the two tankers cost 37 million dollars each.
About six years ago the enterprise had also bought two multi-purpose vessels from China that are known as Shebelle and Gibe.
Meanwhile the enterprise sold two of its old vessels, Abay Wonz and Abyot, to the Metal and Engineering Corporation. Currently ESLSE has six general cargo vessels.