Port takes step to solve problems fast

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(Photo: Anteneh Aklilu)

Port actors in Djibouti and stakeholders in Ethiopia agreed on the formation of a technical committee that shall solve problems immediately they happen.
The Doraleh Multipurpose Port (DMP), the modern port facility in Djibouti that handles both containerized and bulk cargos, officials met stakeholders from the freight forwarding and transport partners of Ethiopia with the goal of talking about areas considered as a problem on the operation and introduce new changes that the port applies to improve the sector.
At a discussion held on Wednesday and Thursday at Ethiopian Skylight Hotel the DMP CEO Wahib Daher, explained the operation and improvement that the port, which was inaugurated just two years ago, is undertaking. He has also disclosed that since the port commenced operation the logistics charges have been reduced significantly.
In her presentation Elizabeth Getahun, President of Ethiopian Freight Forwarders and Shipping Agents Association, proposed that the formation of a technical committee with the goal of bypassing problems in the sector between the two countries.
Wahib told Capital that the idea raised by the president of the association is very crucial in order to close the gaps.
“If we continue to meet every two months in Djibouti and Addis it will be very important on to have the milestones and action plans. So on the technical committee will be very important because it will allow having institutional mechanisms in order to tackle all the problems,” he added.
The port has improved but Ethiopians claim that there are several problems in the sector. Ethiopian actors claimed that a delay of cargo mainly when wide bulks like wheat and fertilizer arrives at Djibouti have a problem in their operation.
Freight forwarders have also said that in the region competition is coming so Ethiopia might expand its access to sea via different countries in the region. They said that due to the coming competition the Djibouti sides should have some tariff changes.
“Regarding the port cost I would like to remember that in 2018 we decreased the charge from 20 to 40 percent that has been reported by the Ethiopian media. We are really aware of the competition in the region so we want to be chosen by best services under the competition,” the DMP head responded.
The port officials said that the grain or fertilizer arrival does not have any problem on the port activity it is all about the trucks.
Eyob Tekalegn, State Minister of Finance, mid of the week told media at the press conference that the government is working to harmonize the procurement and arrival of bulk commodities unlike the previous poor operation. “The new operations will easy the activity at the port since products will arrive at the port on different timeframe,” he added.
“Logistics is a total of whole issues unless we solve the road transport problem we cannot solve the issue of lead time,” one of the participants said.
Roba Megerssa, CEO of Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Services Enterprise (ESLSE), on his part said that there are challenges everywhere but the consequences and impacts shall differ. He said that the there are problems in both sides.
He criticized the Ethiopian side with lack of effectively communicate with stakeholders let alone Djibouti. “We have no common platform on the logistics service that is now improving,” he said.
He said there is so many challenges on the sector that will be solved on the team work.
Currently the railway line is currently connected with the port inside at DMP that has easy the port activity by easy loading cargos to the rail to transport with smaller period than truck transport to the central part of the country.
“For the last two months the railway has launched and so far seven trails have been operated, while it has managed three trains at the trial stage” Wahib told Capital.
“A single tingle train shall manage the volume that 70 trucks transport so the service will be daily after the discussion with the Ethio-Djibouti Railway operators and ESLSE,” He added.
Recently the Ethiopian stakeholders that included officials from Maritime Affairs Authority and the Ethio-Djibouti Railway visited the port and agreed to transport at least 2,000 tones of fertilizer per day via the rail.
On the other hand one of the major discussions point has been the challenges of the unseasonal rain in the region that is even unusual for Djibouti.
Roba said that the rain in Djibouti that seen in the last few weeks posing serious challenge for the logistics service provision.
The DMP CEO said that the meeting with the stakeholders is crucial and very pertinent questions raised the idea to form the committee is the right decision that both sides will work hard to make real.
The committee is expected to comprise relevant actors from the government private countries from both sides.
At the two days conference Warsama Guirreh, CEO of Djibouti Port Community System (DPCS), a subsidiary of Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority through Great Horn Investment Holding, has been also introduced the operation of the DPCS that established about a year and half to harmonize the logistics activity with latest platform that the world using now.
DPCS aims to coordinate the different processes linked to importing/exporting through the ports, airports, rail and corridor. Its product, the Port Community System aims to leverage technology to simplify, connect and streamline those processes.
Warsama told Capital the company is working on the implementation of integrated system of the Djibouti logistics and also Ethiopian logistics. “We have started with the implementation of all the vessel management for the shipping agency in Djibouti where everything is automates,” he said.
The agencies are able to send all the regulatory documents online to different authorities and DPCS noticed increase efficiency and that has reduced the time for the process to a single hour for berth response time that was 72 hours before.
For the freight forwarders also at this point in time able to book online the slots, containers slots, and to get port invoices online that has help them save four hours were they used to go to port premises to get the invoice with other process but now it shall be done online.
“Now they can do all online and they can print pre gate/ certificate from the system that allow the driver to get at the port,” he added.
“This will enable the Ethiopian logistics community to follow from Ethiopia the operation and process of their cargo transit in Djibouti so that is the importance of this conference,” Warsama explained.
So what is available at this point in time Ethiopian freight forwarder and transporters are able to follow the Ethiopian trucks coming in Djibouti. They will know: what time it has arrived in Djibouti, what time it has gone to the port, what time the booking has been done, what time it is has come out from the port and what cargo the truck is carrying. For instance what used to happen is that a lot of forwarders complained about being unable to know where the trucks were or even if they were in Djibouti or not. Now the new scheme will make it easier to follow up not only for the agents but for exporters or importers who shall also follow their cargo, Warsama said adding that the system has improved the logistics sector.