Hodeidah’s Port Crying for Help [Archives:2000/03/Business & Economy]

January 17 2000

Jalal Al-Shar’abi,
Yemen Times
Hodeidah port has a high and special significance for being the important commercial outlet to the Red Sea which extends along the coasts of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Sudan. It also represents an important yield for the national economy by supporting development through its financial revenues in foreign currency.
Ships continuously land at this port either to unload its cargo or transport shipments of oil and other products. However, the role of Hodeidah port as a strong participant in development stops at certain limits. The port is suffering many shortcomings. Press reports disclosed some embezzlements incidents that occurred in the Port’s Corporation. Many workers in the port have also staged strikes demanding rises of their salaries and wages .
Hodeidah port encounters very clear flaws and its depth is decreasing day after day because of the wastes discarded by Grain Silos. Moreover, authorities in charge do not do any thing to put an end to these acts. If nothing were done, the port which supports the country with foreign currency would turn into a burden with the next few months.
The number of available launches and cranes is not sufficient and some of them are even having damage due to lack of care or maintenance. Now, the launches and cranes, which do the unloading, have become slow and lack many necessary equipment.
Businessmen complain about the old equipment and the procedures taken by Hodeidah port corporation, such as the Health Quarantine section in the port which is supposed to examine imported goods and check expired ones and those which do not meet the required standards. There are some bargains with traders which take place in the port to release some goods which are not suitable for human use.
Statistics for previous years show the following: 2541 boats, 6557 ships and 30782 cars arrived at the port during the preceding 8 years. The total number of goods which arrived at the port was as follows: (3974104) in 1990, (4505948) in 1991, (1992159) in 1992, (4888197) in 1993, (4552714) in 1994, (4057525) in 1995, (5223334) in 1996, (4985927) in 1997 and (5020896) in 1998 and the total of the 8 years is (42730804). This means that there is an increase in the number of imported foodstuffs which may provide 3 bags per citizen.
The summary of the Yemeni ports activities (Hodeidah, Mocha, Saleef and Ra’as Eesa) in exports and imports in Ton per year are as follows:
– Hodeida’s port: 4489107
– Mocha’s port: 710390
– Saleef’s port: 16366
– Ra’as Eesa; 6174640
– Total: 11390558
By comparing the exports and imports in Hodeidah port and its branches for the year 1999 we find: the exports and imports in 1997 of Hodeidah port (4628293), Mocha (472344), Saleef (26764) and Ra’as Eesa (7280661) summing up to a total of (12413062).
In the year 1999 the number of imports from January to September were divided as follows:
– Foodstuffs: 1311844 Tons.
– Building and construction material: 267721 Tons.
– Miscellaneous substances: 3903462 Tons
During these months it was also reported that 687 ships, 28271 containers, 3240 cars, 231 trucks and 60672982 tourists arrived at Hodeida’s port. Despite the vast amounts of different substances which arrive at the port, it still suffers from many shortcomings and carelessness which can be seen very clearly in the absence of necessary equipment.
Mr. Ahmed Jazim Sa’aeed, Regional Manager for Hayel Sa’aeed Ana’am Group in Hodeidah which owns a navigation company at Hodeidah port, said: “Concerning the navigation company, there is a special company which runs navigation activities through extending lots of international navigation lines to Yemen whether in Hodeidah, Mocha, Aden or Al-Mukla ports. We in our daily business encounter some difficulties that are part of the business of any corporation. If we were to compare between ports in other countries and Hodeidah port we would find there is a big difference. This is attributed to the capabilities, plans and policies which other ports have.
Mr. Ma’atouq Abdul-Bari who works in the port, for Hayel Sa’aeed Group for more than 20 years said: “Hodeidah port is one of the biggest ports in Yemen and perform several activities. However the carelessness prevails its facilities, or in other words there is a clear failure in the performance of the port. The absence of necessary equipment hinders the port from performing its work the way it should. There are also some measures in the port cause delays without any logical reasons. Hodeidah port represents a massive resource which supports our national economy. We hope the port would get suitable care so it would perform its task the way it should.
Mr. Sameer Abdul-Jaleel (holding a Masters Degree in International Marketing and Trade, US), the Deputy Manager for Hayel Sa’aeed Group in Hodeidah, said: “We know that any port in the world is of big importance and is usually given much care on part of governments. However, we can notice that Hodeidah port contains few equipment which in turn hinders the speed of loading and unloading works. In other words, the actions in the port have become slow and insufficient. You can see a big jam and some ships may not find a place where it could anchor and unload its cargo. The way in which the unloading process takes place is a very old and needs upgrading. We need to use suitable technologically developed equipment which concur with the approaching third millennium.
The Health Quarantine section in the port, which examines incoming goods’ validity, suffers some drawbacks. Newspapers have recently published some news about the arrival of large quantities of food substances which do not meet the standards in an illegal way. There was a big public dispute about a substance which is called “Dioxin”.
This substance is poultry fodder and laboratory reports have revealed that they contain substances which cause cancer and are communicable through poultry. The European Union has boycotted Belgium’s products after this news and France closed more than 135 poultry farms which were suspected of using this substance as poultry food.
After hearing all these news, the Yemen Times interviewed Mr. Yousef Ma’ajam, Director of the Health Quarantine in the port who said: “After traders ship their goods to the port, we opens a customs report. Then, we examine the products to check their validity. We open the containers to check the number of types they contain, production and expiration dates and also the type of the product and where it came from. If we find that there is any indication that there is a change in smell, color or taste we confiscate the whole quantity, destroy it or return it to the country of its origin. We have discovered many substances which were not good and confiscated others because of their expiration date. Now, we continue to destroy and confiscate substances which have been proved unsuitable for human consumption.
To come closer to the truth the Yemen Times met the Director General of Ports and Maritime Affairs Establishment in the General Administration in Hodeidah who said: “If we were to evaluate the former Administration, we would find that it has done a laudable work”As for the carelessness and burial of the port with with wastes of grain silos he said: “The preserving of depths is necessary and critical. I think what you are talking about quay No. 8 which faces the grain silos. As a result of deposits the depths change. However, this quay is being renovated in the meantime. Our engineers were able to make an entire underwater scan starting from quay No. 1 till quay No.8. We have also scanned the container and cleared the deposits. Now, the corporation has got 7 cranes in Hodeidah port and in reality we need more.”This was a brief account on the condition of Hodeidah port that faces many hindrances, so would authorities in charge interfere to save it from decadence.