Sudan’s main port, which consists of six specialised ports and the largest trader of Sudan’s exports and imports, has suffered the biggest setback in more than 100 years since its establishment during the period of English rule in Sudan.
Businessmen and companies that deal with Port Sudan suffered losses as a result of their global commitments, traders have begun diverting shipments to neighbouring countries after anti-government protesters forced closure of the country’s main port.
Some rerouted ships and containers to other maritime routes such as “Ain Al-Sokhna” in Egypt, a modern port known for the speed of handling and trading, and cheaper than Port Sudan by more than 30 percent.
Others opted for Benghazi, Libya, especially East Asian importers who deal in the sale of cars and vehicle spare parts.
Economist Abdul Wahab Juma told The EastAfrican that “This situation has cost the Sudanese Sea Ports authority millions of dollars in fees, as reflected in the lack of revenue for the Red Sea state, whose million residents depend on the port’s incomes”.
He added “On average, Port Sudan port deals with 400,000 containers in the port designated for container shipping, meaning loss of docking fees, steering services, shipping, which will have a significant impact on the local population”.
Juma said: “It is expected that the city of Port Sudan, the third largest commercial city in Sudan, will be exposed to a population migration after the cessation of shipping operations, where hundreds of thousands of the city’s residents work. The future of Port Sudan is close to the end of its historical role as the largest port for Sudan’s exports and imports, as companies abandon it”.
It suffers from “obsolete” handling equipment, which expired 20 years ago, causing “accumulation” of containers and goods for months, exposing importers and exporters to losses” he added.
It has also not reformed or restructured processes as well as the lack of investors in port works, which raised operational costs. The port still depends on more than 25,000 shipping workers at a time manual work in the ports has ended and global shipping depends on the system Containers.
It seems that decades of neglect, outdated mechanisms, and not modernising the port, and the four-week closure of the port and the Red Sea national road by locals, will end the port’s role as the largest and most important port as Sudan’s gateway, Juma added.
Mohamed Ali Fazari, a political analyst told The EastAfrican that “the government is exploring other options, particularly opening all borders and corridors with Egypt and South Sudan”.
He added that “the closure has cost the central government over $65 million per day and that is why most of Sudan’s cities witness price hikes particularly in wheat and food items.”
Port Sudan has been blocked since September 17 by eastern tribes who took to the streets to voice anger after being left out of an October 2020 peace deal signed by the government and rebels. The tribes are demanding cancellation the section relating to east Sudan, saying it does not represent them.