The Lower House Monday declared DP World and UAE government threat to the country’s sovereignty and banned the ports operator from the country immediately putting in the balance the fate of Berbera and Bosaso port concessions.
The move by the House to consider the port issue as item number one after resuming from recess is a welcome move. The currency and gravity of the matter cannot be gainsaid. In the last forth night alone, the rift between Mogadishu and Hargeisa has widened and fault lines fast developing.
It is incumbent upon the legislative body to seek answers to the myriad of questions Somalis have over the port deal which also involves the neighbor-Ethiopia. But even as this public discourse ensues, questions remain as to whether this debate will extend to other deals signed in various parts of the country.
Parliament should go beyond the Berbera port question and find answers on similar other deals. DP World’s P&O Ports inked a $336 million deal with Puntland last April to run the port for the next 30 years. To date, there is no public information on the shareholding agreement yet both Parliament and Government have significantly gone mute about it.
In South West state, a multimillion dollar free zone investment project to be developed by the Dubai based First Hectare Capital came into being last year. Erik Prince of the infamous Black Water private military outfit had his Frontier Services Group appointed to be the project management organisation.It is perhaps one of the deals most shrouded in secrecy should a pegging be established.
In Mogadishu, two Turkish companies operate both the seaport and the airport with reports of Barawe and Kismayu ports being up for grabs by foreign investors. The contracts extend beyond ports to include mining, oil and fishing deals.
To gain public confidence and support, the government and parliament must be willing to go the extra mile and put the record straight on these contracts failure to which the whole exercise could turn out to be a half spirited fight.