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Somaliland’s Berbera port to serve Ethiopia as alternative port in 16 months: Official

Nearly 98pc of Ethiopia’s import and export cargo is shuttled via the ports in Djibouti with less than two per cent of this cargo, largely of food aid, come through Berbera, with only five berths, compared to Doraleh’s 15 and Djibouti’s 18.

By Muluneh Gebre

ADDIS ABABA – Somaliland has said that it will open the old port of Berbera, which is currently undergoing renovation to be an alternative port for Ethiopian container traffic within a maximum of 16 months.

Somaliland foreign minister Dr. Saad Ali Shire on Thursday said that the developer redesigned the port to have modern facilities and changed the previously general cargo terminal to container terminal.

Last year, DP world, Dubai’s biggest port developer won a deal to jointly undertake the expansion work for the port of Berbera with Somaliland, at a cost of $442 million.

“The port is an excellent opportunity for Ethiopia to use for import and export. Because the distance from Berbera port to Addis Ababa is the same as Addis Ababa far-off from Djibouti port. The road, which links Berbera to Addis Ababa, is an advantage,” the minister said.

Though Ethiopia already employed the port, according to him, the volume shuttled is insignificant and it is mainly being used for import of food aid.

“The main barrier is the facility at the port; the port has not been built to handle container traffic. It has been mainly designed to handle general cargo. And most of the traffic today is containers. That is why the Dubai developer comes in to expand it to be container terminal. We agreed with the developer to make it container terminal and able to handle container traffic from Ethiopia,” he explained.

The price of the port will be competitive and based on free market in which any Ethiopian businesspersons could choose Berbera or Djibouti port depending on the “economics”, the minister said.

He, however, said Berbera will adjust itself to be competitive to attract container traffic from Ethiopia.

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