Demands against Port Sudan privatisation grow
Numbers of cargo port workers in Port Sudan gathered in front of the harbour's southern and northern ports on Thursday, to escalate their demands against the privatisation agreement which the management has struck with a Philippine company.
Reportedly thousands of workers gathered in front of the Office of the Ports Department to demand the return of the dismissed director, Abdelhafiz Saleh.
Port workers told Radio Dabanga that the southern port personnel has launched a full-scale strike and they have laid down their tools for four days in a row, to demand the cancellation of the privatisation contract with the Philippine company International Container Terminal Services Inc (ICTSI).
“Hundreds of workers in the ports went out in a unified march that toured all sections of the ports,” an eyewitness told this station yesterday. “They were shouting slogans against the privatisation, “no for sale” and “hundred percent Sudanese”.”
The crowd gathered again to listen to speeches of leaders of the movement, who demanded the immediate cancellation of the contract. Several witnesses said that security forces detained strike leaders Sami El Sayegh and Mohamed Awad after their speeches and took them to the port's security office.
Subsequently, a crowd of workers gathered in front of the office to demand their release. This continued until late Thursday evening.
The Committee against Privatisation, which was set up on Monday, issued its second statement which attacked the presidential committee and called on its members to deal with the effects of privatisation.
In January, workers barred entrance to a delegation of ICTSI on a visit to the southern port. The ongoing strikes have paralysed the southern port: in January, more than 1,000 containers were packed together, and a number of ships remained in the port awaiting to be unloaded.
ICTSI has signed the concession agreement with Sea Ports Corp. of Sudan (SPC) to operate, manage and develop the South Port Container Terminal (SPCT) at Port Sudan. The transfer of the facilities to ICTSI management will take place in the first quarter of this year.
ICTSI was already granted management rights of the container terminal at the southern port for four years. Opponents have explained that many workers reject the new contract because they claim ICTSI has been operating there in previous years without making any developments.
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