Suppliers fear wheat contamination at port storage
24,250 metric tons of wheat imported from abroad and stored in the Port of Djibouti for weeks, has suppliers fearing it might be exposed to contamination if it is going to stay there any longer, The Reporter has learnt.
The wheat, which is now stored in port 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.
According to a copy of the loading document,at the time when the report was obtained, 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 product to the country, and risking even contamination.
It is to be recalled that,following recent wheat shortages across the nation, well-known bakery shops like Shoa Bakery,were accused of doubling the prices of bread at the retail end of the market.
According to a report by Fana Broadcasting Corporation, the bakery,until recently, was getting its wheat supply from the government of Ethiopia at a subsidized price. However, following the failure of the government to supply the wheat on time, the company, in the interest of guaranteeing continued supply of bread in the capital,has decided to look in to the private sector for sustainable wheat supply. And as a result, the change of a supplier has resulted in a significant cost escalation for bakery and hence the doubling of the price of bread.
Following a pressure from the government to supply the wheat, the supplier – Promising International DMCC, a Dubai based company which is major supplier of wheat to the Ethiopian market – has shipped 75,000 metric tons of wheat back in March, 2019 and delivered it at the Djibouti 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 bulk.
“We have managed to bring the wheat at the DP port on time,” said company sources.
According to same sources, the reason that the transporters failed to load the wheat and bring it to Ethiopia is because they were ordered to deal with fertilizer shipments only.
It is to be recalled that the tender process of the fertilizer shipment was stuck following months of delay from the government to process payments to the awarded companies to supply the fertilizer. It is to be recalled that the government finally managed to get a price cut from the fertilizer suppliers, and it was just a few weeks back that the suppliers began to supply the aforementioned fertilizer.
Following the early rainy season, the government was also forced to prioritize the fertilizer shipment, according to sources.
“We know about the risks associated with the delay in loading the wheat consignment,”Wondimu Felatie, communication director at Ministry of Trade & Industry, told The Reporter.
Based on the complaints, a letter is being issued to the Ministry of Transport to assign trucks in order to load the wheat, he added.
The wheat was part of 200,000 metric tons which were purchased at the total cost of 1.56 billion birr in an open international tender from Promising. From the total amount, the company has already delivered half of it to the government.