07 Feb 2011 – Port Planning and Environment
The Wikileaks cable reveals that the DPI award of the Port of Aden was awarded on the “whim” of Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
A new Wikileaks cable reveals that Yemen’s President personally intervened during the Port of Aden tender process
DPI was awarded the tender, even though Kuwait Gulf League made a bid of “approximately the same financial terms”
Wikileaks have released a cable that reveals the decision behind DPI’s aquisition of The Port of Aden was awarded after personal intervention from the country’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Released last Thursday, the cable shows that the decision process was tampered with, leading to DPI being awarded the 35-year concession for terminal operations at Aden.
The 2005 deal was shrouded with controversy after DPI was awarded the Yemen port, despite the Kuwait Gulf League (KGL) offering as reported in the cable “approximately the same financial terms,” according to the Wikileaks cable.
“Three days prior to the announcement ceremony, Kuwait sent a royal delegation to petition President Saleh directly on behalf of KGL. Saleh reportedly told the Kuwait officials, “My hands are off this project. I’m going to let the tender committee decide on technical merits.” By his own admission, Saleh did not keep his hands off, however, his direct intervention was, in fact, to ensure the ROYG’s choice was based on merit,” the cable states.
The document continues: “A hopeful sign that Saleh is beginning to understand that the choice of Aden’s port operator should not be influenced by corruption. That the tender committee did not adopt transparency or international standards as advised by the WB, however, is yet another indicator that Yemen’s institutions remain weak and implementing important political and economic reforms is still ultimately decided according to the President’s whims.”
The Port of Aden had a distinct advantage over DPI’s flagship Port of Dubai, due to its location along international shipping routes. The thought of selling to the Port of Aden’s largest competitor some 1600 miles away, seemed crazy as DPI would not only be removing its main competitor but taking it over.
American journalist Jane Novak expressed her concern back in 2005 and noted how Lufti Shatara, head of a Yemeni group in the UK, believed the DPI award contravened Yemeni interest in a letter she wrote to the World Bank in 2005:
“With Dubai now involved in Jebel Ali, Fujirah, Djibouti and Jeddah, and about to sign a concession to take over container operations in Aden, the question must be asked, which of these ports will Dubai favor when it comes to investment and marketing to maximize their business? If Dubai’s recent announcement that they will invest in new berths at Jebel Ali to reach a throughput capacity of 55 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) by 2030, while Aden is promised a capacity of 3.5 million TEU by 2035, the answer seems very clear”.
Managing Director of DPI Mohammed Sharaf, after acquring the Port of Aden, told ArabianBusiness in 2005:
“The Port of Aden has for centuries been one of the world’s leading shipping hubs, serving as the gateway to the Red Sea and strategically positioned to support shipping moving to and from the Suez Canal. I am delighted that our proposal has been so well received by the Government of Yemen and the Yemen Ports Authority and we look forward to working with the authority to finalise the management contract.”