Abandoned wheat shipment faces contamination
Despite the country facing shortages in wheat supply, 2300 metric tons of wheat import stored at the Port of Djibouti for more than five months, has been exposed to contamination, The Reporter has learnt. The import is thought to be worth around USD one million.
The wheat, which is still now stored in DP’s warehouses, was supposed to be loaded on time and transported to Ethiopia. This is happening despite the fact that the country is experiencing a nationwide wheat shortage for months.
However, this is not the first time where concerned government bodies failed to load the wheat from the port of Djibouti. Back in April, a same bulk of wheat amounting to 24,250 metric tons of wheat was stored in a warehouse and was exposed to contamination. In this regard, the latest 2,300 metric tons of wheat is part of the aforementioned supply which was not properly loaded from the port.
At the time when the report was obtained, according to a copy of the loading document, the government which was supposed to transport 4,000 metric tons of wheat per day to the country was handling no more than 1,000 metric tons per day. And that has caused a significant delay in the transportation of the wheat to the country, and risking even contamination.
The wheat was procured by the Ethiopian government from a supplier – Promising International DMCC, a Dubai based company which is a major supplier of wheat to the Ethiopian market – which has shipped 75,000 metric tons of wheat back in March 2019, and has delivered it at Djibouti’s port, according to the same report.
Since then, at the rate of 4,000 metric tons of wheat per day, the government would have finalized the transfer and distribution of the wheat but has failed to do so.
The wheat was part of a 200,000 metric ton purchased at the total cost of 1.56 billion birr in an open international tender by Promising. From the total amount, the company has already delivered half of it to the government.
For the 2,300 metric tons which is yet to be transported to Ethiopia, the company said that the whole cost of is USD 940,935.82 and yet because of the failure to unload the bulk from the vessels, Promising claims to have spent a total of USD 1.4 million.
Furthermore, for the 2,300 metric tons, the company has also spent USD 82,436 for fumigation process (a process of treating grains with chemicals to avoid contaminations) in order to kill insects that might have contaminated the wheat.
In a letter issued by the Ethiopian Trading Business Corporation, the client Promising was asked to fumigate the 2,300 metric tons of wheat covering the cost from its own pocket. However, the Corporation has said that it will reimburse the cost later.
A company source said that, “We did the fumigation recently but still they (the Corporation) are not doing anything,” adding, “The reason that the transporters failed to load the wheat and bring it to Ethiopia is because priorities were given to deal with fertilizer shipments only, the same source indicated.”
“Why is this no coordination between fertilizer shipment and wheat shipments becoming an issue?” asked a senior manager from Promising. “This is a mess and surely a loss for the country”
It is to be recalled that the tender process of fertilizer shipment was stuck, following months of delay by the government’s side, to process payments to the awarded companies to supply the fertilizer. Following the early rainy season, the government was also forced to prioritize the fertilizer shipment, according to sources.
The extensive fumigation process, which might stop possible contaminations, yet is feared that it will affect the content or substance of the wheat which will be expected to be made available for human consumption.