Dubai-based port operator DP World has said work at the Somaliland Port of Berbera will be complete in March 2021 dismissing claims by Djibouti President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh that no development had been taking place at the port.
Last week, in an interview published in Jeune Afrique and the Africa Report, President Guelleh hit at DP World work in Berbera claiming it was mere hot air.
When asked if his country was wary about the massive developments at the Berbera port which is expected to challenge the monopoly enjoyed by Djibouti port of Dolareh, Guelleh retorted: “Massive? I haven’t heard anything of the sort so far, other than project proposals. DP World excels at creating buzz, but then, in the end, nothing happens. You don’t even see the slightest crane in the sky.
But in response, DP World says the developments at Berbera Port have not gone unnoticed especially by the main players in the Horn of Africa.
“The claim made by the President that there is no development taking place at the Port of Berbera is false and not based on any reasonable insights the President could have. DP World has committed to investing up to $442m in improvements in Berbera which are 70 percent complete and will increase capacity by 500,000 TEUs per year,” DP World said in a statement.
“In August this year DP World completed a new 400 metre quay and a 25-hectare yard extension of the new container terminal. New harbour cranes have been installed. The terminal is on schedule for commissioning by the end of March,” it added.
Once complete, Berbera Port will compete for a large chunk of maritime business in the Red Sea currently dominated by Djibouti.
The Berbera port growth is said to be giving Djibouti some headache as it offers an alternative base for material and fuel supply chains for operators in the Suez Canal.
With the completion of the Berbera Port and the construction of the road between Berbera-Wajaale which is financed by the United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom, Djibouti’s share of Ethiopian cargo will be reduced to 30 percent, according to the 2016 Port Utilization Agreement between Somaliland and Ethiopia, in which Somaliland can handle 30 percent of Ethiopia’s cargo from Berbera.
Djibouti, Somaliland’s neighbor, has been an international theater for the strategic competition of the control of the Red Sea but Berbera is emerging as a serious threat to this dominance.