Khartoum reviews Port Sudan contract after protests

Last year, a Philippino company was informed that it had won a bid to operate the terminal under a 20-year concession.
A Sudanese docker stands in front a US ship carrying humanitarian aid supplies provided by the US development agency USAID, at Port Sudan on the red sea coast on June 5, 2018. – The United States is the largest single donor to the world food program in Sudan and regularly distributes food aid to the East African country. This shipment will be distributed to over a million Sudanese who are in need of assistance. (Photo by ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP)

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir Friday said that a deal to transfer the container terminal at Port Sudan to a Philippines company is under review after workers held a strike against the contract.

Hundreds of workers at Port Sudan, a vital economic hub of the east African country, went on strike for days last month to oppose Khartoum’s decision to transfer control of the terminal to the foreign firm International Container Terminal Services Inc (ICTSI).

“We have already ordered a review of the contract with the Philippines company to ensure that it is a fair contact for Sudanese people,” Bashir told a gathering of people from east Sudan at his residence in Khartoum.

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The presidency’s media office also confirmed that Bashir had ordered a review of the contract.

In July 2018, ICTSI informed the Philippines Securities and Exchange Commission that it had won a bid to operate and manage the terminal under a 20-year concession.

The company said on its website that the tender process had been led by Sudan’s state-run Sea Ports Corporation (SPC) and had attracted bids from several international operators.

SPC builds, maintains and governs Sudan’s ports, harbours and lighthouses.

Port Sudan workers have opposed the contract and hundreds of them went on strike last month at a time when nationwide demonstrations have rocked Bashir’s rule stretching back three decades.

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Protesters have taken to the streets, accusing his administration of mismanaging the country’s economy.

Sudan’s economic woes have long caused popular frustration, but anger spilled on to the streets in December after the government tripled the price of bread.

Soaring inflation along with acute foreign currency shortages have severely impacted Sudan’s economy, especially after South Sudan won independence in 2011, taking with it the bulk of oil earnings.

Officials say 31 people have died in protest related violence so far, while Human Rights Watch has put the death toll at at least 51.

Bashir has imposed a slew of tough measures, including a year-long state of emergency across the country, to quell the protests after the initial crackdown failed to suppress the movement.

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