By NY Sraff
As a prelude to its departure from Yemen, the Dubai Port Company – now-former operator of Aden’s container port – has withdrawn all signs and visual reminders of its period of ownership from port buildings. The global marine operator and Yemeni parties earlier reached an amicable settlement to end their business arrangement.
The agreement to end the contract was signed by Transport Minister Dr. Waed Abdullah Batheb and Minister of Legal Affairs Dr. Mohammed Al- Mikhlafi. This agreement served to end protests by local communities who felt the business arrangement with the Dubai Port Company failed to serve Yemeni interests.
In this regard, the Office for the Yemeni Revolutionary Youth honored Transportation Minister Dr. Waed Abdullah Batheb for his efforts to recover Aden Port. Dr. Batheb said activists and revolutionary youth played a great role in returning the port to Yemeni ownership.
“Because of concerted efforts and activities carried out by the youth, the port agreement was canceled,” Dr. Batheb said.
After the Anti-Corruption Commission directed the Dubai Ports Company to renegotiate its contract to run the Aden and Mukalla stations, doubts on the part of many began to materialize. The Anti-Corruption Commission said the company had failed to fulfill its contractual and financial obligations.
Aden Port, a historic site, was once prosperous due to its strategic location near the entrance to the Red Sea and the Bab Al-Mandeb Straits but has passed through difficult times since the arrival of the Dubai Port Company. Hopes rose that the Dubai Port Company would restore past glory with its expertise in managing international ports – or at least stem the deterioration.
But Yemeni officials were left disenchanted in response to unmet promises in the contract which included increasing the capacity of containers from 500,000 in 2008 to 900,000 containers. In reality, traffic was reduced to 140 thousand in 2011.
An official source said that although the convention ruled to invest nearly $220 million to develop the port’s infrastructure – including the construction of a new 400-meter pier to expand Aden Container Terminal within five years and the implementation of an international promotional campaign to attract global shipping lines of the Yemeni port – nothing had been done along these lines from the time the company began operating the port in November 2008.
News of the contract’s cancellation brought crowds in Aden to delight; they celebrated the news as a victory, one in which the poorest state in the Arab world rid itself of part of the previous regime’s economic legacy.