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Explosive equipment that was being transported to an Ethiopian dynamite supply company has been seized by the Greek Coast Guard under suspicion that the cargo was en route to Libya.
The issue has gotten traction in international media which reported that the vessel was transporting goods from port of Mersin in Turkey to Libya instead of Djibouti, according a statement from Greece.
The Tanzania-flagged cargo vessel Andromeda was seized by the Greek Coast Guard on January 7, 2018 as it was carrying materials used for making explosives from the Mersin and Iskenderun ports of Turkey to Libya. The ship’s papers indicated that the destination of the explosive goods was the Port of Djibouti, a major sea outlet for Ethiopia.
However the information Capital obtained indicated that the goods Andromeda carried were cargo for a local company called Zeta Construction Plc, one of the very few companies allowed to import and distribute dynamite in the country that are used for construction purposes.
A source told Capital that this was a routine order for the company and the explosives were for the local market, primarily construction companies. The company reportedly did not know if its products were seized.
Zelalem Hagos, General Manager of Zeta, told Capital he does not have any knowledge about the issue. He declined to comment further.
Reliable sources said that until recently only three companies were allowed to import the sensitive product into the country.
Early this week the Turkish Embassy in Libya confirmed that the product was actually being transported to Ethiopia as opposed to the Libyan port of Misrata.
“According to initial findings, we were informed that the ship would go to Djibouti Port [the country Ethiopia’s sea-transported imports come into] after departing from the [Turkish Mediterranean] Port of Mersin on Nov. 23, 2017, and it was also declared that the vessel carried 419,360 kilograms [924,530 pounds] of ‘dangerous’ materials in 29 full containers,” the embassy statement added.
The Greek security body suspected the cargo that would be an input for explosives would be transported to Libya which has been under an arms embargo since 2011 in relation to instability in the country.
Different reports from Greece indicated that a Greek man owns Andromeda and told media that the ship was on the way to the Red Sea in Djibouti, but the vessel was unable to enter the Suez Canal as it could not pay the toll but he gave no reason why it was unable to pay.