By: Yusuf M Hasan
Somalilandsun – The long discussed issue of which firm is to undertake the uplifting of Berbera port to international standard might be a foregone conclusion.
According to unconfirmed media reports in circulation the Somaliland government is in moves to award Dubai World Ports-DP an Emirates government owned firm the much awaited Berbera port development contract.
In this pursuit the government is said to have or in the process of dispatching the duo of Presidency Minister Hirsi Haji Ali and his public works and Transport colleague Abdirizaq Khalif Ahmed to the UAE for purposes of signing the Berbera port contract with DP CFC.
If it be so the DP contract shall be serviced by The Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation (PCFC) with on the ground works undertaken by its recently launched subsidiary P&O Ports which according to the UAE government is designed to support sustainable development in emerging economies through its specialization in developing and operating marine and inland ports in markets with a need for well-managed trade and logistics infrastructure.
While no official report as pr the alleged contracting of Emirati firm by the government in Hargeisa snippets of advanced discussions and some agreements were divulged during launch of P&O Ports in Dubai Last month by the PCFC chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem who stated that “We are pleased to announce that P&O Ports has signed MoUs to enter into preliminary discussions in with the governments of Madagascar, the Port of Berbera in the Republic of Somaliland and Albania to enhance their port infrastructure”
A month ago president Ahmed Mahmud Silanyo in his annual state of the nation 2015 revealed that his administration in pursuit of enhancing the operational capacities at the Port of Berbera, had and was in consultations with four foreign firms interested in the contract namely Bollore (France), DP World (UAE), Prime Africa (KSA) or Kuwaiti Logistics (Kuwait).
Though the government is determined in initiating its ports infrastructural development with assistance from reputable firm’s the issue of such a move at the port of Berbera has generated a lot of debates within the citizenry and political spectrum equally divided on the merits and demerits.
Last to chip in was the Somalia Federal government – SFG which stated that it is the only authority allowed (by whom?) to enter into contracts with foreign firms as pertains to the port n question as it informed the Somaliland government that its purview in this matter is confined to revenue collection while warning that any contrary action shall result in legal action.
To Somalilanders neither the jurisdiction of the Mogadishu based SFG which is as minute as described by Somaliland information minister Abdilahi Ukuse who termed the claim and subsequent warning as “not only a futile transgression of Sovereignty but an absurdity as well” that might result in dire consequences if pursued nor the alleged award to DP.
Of import is the awarding process that has ensued with the selection of P$O ports over the other three mentioned by the president without tendering the contract publicly as is the norm and legally correct fashion more so for this important infrastructure in Somaliland.