DP World has responded to scathing comments made by the Republic of Djibouti’s president, Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, about the Djibouti Port dispute and its investments at the Port of Berbera.
Guelleh, in an interview with Africa Today, claimed that DP World has refused talks with the Djibouti government and are not interested compensation for the seizure of Doraleh Container Terminal (DCT) in 2018.
According to him, DP world wants “their old monopoly status to be fully reinstated” and have a desire to “wield geopolitical control over all the region’s ports”.
“But Djibouti isn’t just another square on a chessboard: we will not go back to the way things were,” Guelleh added.
However, DP World has denied these claims and has stated that the company has never been contacted by Djiboutian authorities.
DP World stated that the government has not complied with any judgements against it, including one in which the government was ordered to pay US$485m to DCT for breaching its rights to exclusivity.
Under English law, which governed the concession, as well as international law the Djibouti government’s seizing of DCT from DP World was illegal.
There have been six substantive rulings made in DP World’s favour by tribunals at the London Court of International Arbitration and the High Court of England and Wales.
The rulings ordered Djibouti to restore the rights and benefits under the 2006 Concession agreement to DP World and DCT within two months or pay damages. At present, DP World remains the legal operator and concession holder of DCT.
The English court found DCT to have been a “great success” for Djibouti under DP World’s management.
The terminal operator invested hundreds of millions of dollars into the facility and has stated it returned a profit in line with the projected target each year of operation, thus providing a positive return for the country.
In a statement, DP World hit back at the president: “The comments made by President Guelleh shows a consistent trend in spreading rumours and false information, whilst completely disregarding international law.”
When asked about DP World’s investments at the Port of Berbera in Somaliland, Guelleh insinuated that there had been none – only project proposals.
“DP World excels at creating buzz but then, in the end, nothing happens,” he said. “You don’t even see the slightest crane in the sky.”
However, DP World responded that such a claim is “false and not based on any reasonable insights the president could have”.
The terminal operator has committed to investing up to US$44m in improvements in Berbera, which are 70% complete, that will increase capacity at the port by 500,000 teu per year.
In August 2020, DP World completed a new 400 m quay and a 25 ha extension of the new container terminal and new harbour cranes have been installed.
The terminal at the Port of Berbera is scheduled for commissioning by the end of March.