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ESLSE refloats bid for its cold chain logistics

The state multimodal monopoly, Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Services Enterprise (ESLSE), refloats the procurement of its first set of refrigerated (reefer) containers.
The logistics giant which had earlier attempted to buy 30 forty feet reefer containers during the past budget year through multiple bidding, had paused the process due to technical failure of those who had shown interest to be part of the supply.
As a result, the enterprise has been thoroughly engaging on the revision of the bid document before another round on invitation.
According to the information Capital obtained from ESLSE, this time around the international bid has been refloated as of few days ago.
The long established logistics company and the sole owner and operator of commercial vessels in the continent, excluding the South African container shipping company, Safmarine, which is owned by the Danish global giant Maersk Line, has not had its own reefer containers throughout its close to seven decades of service.
The current move is stated as an attempt to stride forward to include new business lines to its operation by expanding the shipment of perishes through sea by its vessels.
According to Wondimu Denbu, Deputy CEO for Corporate Service at ESLSE, the number of reefer containers the enterprise is eying to buy is very limited since cold chain logistics is a new business venture for ESLSE.
“This time around, we want to buy a limited number of reefer containers since it is a trial period that would be expanded in future,” the Deputy CEO said.
During the initial bid floating stage, companies had shown their interest to supply the cold containers; however, the process had been annulled at the technical evaluation stage.
“Companies’ which participated in the bid did not meet the technical specification the enterprise had set as a result the bid was canceled,” Wondimu reminded.
He added that on the fresh bidding a team from ESLSE had revised the bid document as per the experience observed in the previous bid.
As per the bidding document, interested suppliers are expected to come up with the rate for the 40 feet MGSS reefer containers and mounted generators.
The generators are the equipment that will be fixed on vessels to support the cooling process on the voyage of reefer containers to their destinations.
The public logistics giant is currently using leased reefer containers for commodities, mostly those at the trial stage.
Recently, Roba Megersa, CEO of ESLSE, told Capital that the enterprise is opting to buy the reefer to support the export rather than for revenue-oriented purposes, “this initiative is not for profit-oriented purposes but we want to support the export of perishables.”
He told Capital that ESLSE has already facilitated two hectares of a dedicated terminal at Mojo Dry Port for reefer cargo handling and power plug-in service.
“As per our plan, in the short term we will have a dozen reefer containers to accelerate the export of agro-industry products,” Roba added.
The consignment of reefer cargo is limited in Ethiopia to which experts said that Freighters International, one of the well-known private logistics companies in Ethiopia with long-term agent partnership with the leading containerized cargo operator of Maersk, is widely operating in Ethiopia’s logistics sphere.
Ethiopia has set a target to expand its export of fruit and vegetable which is expected to be backed by sea freight.
The consignment of perishable cargos through vessels is highly recommended since it has a competitive advantage in the global market. The issue has been frequently raised by Ethiopian fresh producers and exporters like fruit and vegetable sector actors.
On similar efforts, the government has been carrying out different initiatives and several pilot operations to export perishable commodities through vessels that are packed with reefer containers. For instance, recently, Ethiopian avocados have been exported through the new initiative to the European market.
Recently, Tewodros Zewdie, Executive Director of EHPEA, told Capital that the lack of reefer containers is the weakest link for the sector business and its supply chains.
He said that next to flower, the export of fruits and vegetables is the country’s competitive advantage on the global market.
He said that the cost of reefer containers and the availability of the box are pivotal to expanding the fruit and vegetable export.
Experts said that using vessels means a less costly mode of transport besides enabling to manage the shipment of bigger size of cargo other than airfreight.
They added that cool logistics investments, by drastically reducing transport costs and lead times, can unlock Ethiopia’s perishable industry.
Ethiopia is working to strengthen the cool logistics corridor that links farms with dry ports and railway network system up to sea port at Djibouti. The cool supply chain at Mojo is part of the new initiative.
ESLSE has also expanded its container ownership from about 3,000 to close to 14,000 different sizes of containers in a very short period.

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