Monday, June 17, 2024

Maersk discontinues Blue Nile express service, minimal impact on port operations assured


By Muluken Yewondwossen

Maersk, one of the leading global shipping companies, has made the decision to discontinue its Blue Nile Express (BNX) service, which traverses the Red Sea en route to Djibouti. However, the Doraleh Container Terminal Company (SGTD) assures that this move will not significantly impact the operations of the port.

The container shipping business, headquartered in Denmark, announced recently that it would temporarily halt reservations for its BNX service to Djibouti from Asia, the Middle East, Oceania, East Africa, and South Africa due to maritime security concerns.

Abdillahi Adaweh Sigad, CEO of SGTD, emphasized that Maersk is a major client of the largest container terminal on the East African coast. He noted that both commercial and security perspectives should be considered in these matters. While Maersk has discontinued one of its services, the CEO of SGTD questioned the reasons behind their actions. He explained that Maersk claims they do not want to be targeted for security reasons, and considering the political motives of those obstructing traffic, it is understandable that they are among the primary targets.

However, the CEO assured that Maersk’s decision would have minimal impact on the port of Djibouti, located on the outskirts of the capital. He acknowledged that incidents have occurred in Somalia before reaching the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. Therefore, Maersk wants to prioritize the safety of its sailors and avoid any risks associated with these areas.

Adaweh Siga clarifies that the discontinuation of the Blue Nile Express service is just one of the services offered by Mediterranean-born cargos. The majority of their cargo, particularly from Asia, remains unaffected.

He assures customers not to worry, as shipping lines are professional and will transship the cargo using feeder vessels. Additional vessels will be rented from third parties to ensure the continuation of activities. Although there may be a delay of one or two weeks, the cargo will ultimately arrive.

The CEO highlights their partnership with other major shipping companies for alternative solutions. Customers can request to have their shipments carried by these companies in the future. He emphasizes that the operations of the port, serving multiple shipping lines, and the clients of the liner will not be impacted.

Maersk has also stated that the security situation in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden remains unstable. To address this, they will be changing their MECL service, avoiding the Red Sea and instead going around the Cape of Good Hope.

SGTD, a container terminal in Djibouti, is one of the port facilities used by Ethiopia. With recent expansions, including a new stacking yard and gantry crane, it is becoming one of the largest alternative transshipment hubs in the region.

Maersk’s decision would exclude Jeddah and King Abdullah Port in Saudi Arabia, in addition to Djibouti. The Blue Nile Express service connects ports in Saudi Arabia, Oman, India, Djibouti, and the United Arab Emirates.

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