Djibouti(Mogadishu24)-Djibouti’s Minister of Infrastructure and Equipment, Mr. Hassan Houmed, and the Chairman of Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority, Mr. Aboubaker Omar Hadi, welcomed a high-level Ethiopian delegation led by the Vice Chairman of Ethiopia’s ruling Prosperity Party at the Red Sea World in Djibouti, on Saturday.

The Ethiopian delegation included the Minister of Transport and Logistics, Dr. Alemu Sime, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Girma Amente, the Minister of State for Transport and Logistics, Mr. Dhenge Boru, and Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador Mr. Berhanu Tesgaye, along with other official Ethiopian delegates.

The primary focus of this meeting was the finalization and analysis of the road construction progress on National Route 1 (RN1). While there have been difficulties in constructing the segment Yoboki-Galmo due to climate change, heavy rains, and related interruptions, there was positive news about the progress of bridge construction in this regard.

The Chairman emphasized that both physical and non-physical challenges act as trade barriers. Additionally, he mentioned that the physical barriers will be swiftly resolved.

“Through the Djibouti terminal, 7,000 tons of goods are transported to Ethiopia daily. This is the first shipment of its kind. We are currently experiencing the same rainy season, and it has impacted the transportation of goods via vehicles. Once we resolve the vehicle issues, we anticipate transporting 12,000 tons of goods to Ethiopia daily,” stated Aboubaker Omar Hadi, Chairman of Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority.

Discussions during this meeting revolved around enhancing general logistics and transit services between the two countries, particularly the movement of commercial vehicles and optimizing logistical operations.

The discussions also focused on public cross-border trade and transport, people-to-people connections (Galafi-Hawli via road, Balho-Elidar via road, Galilee-Dewenleh via rail and road), the creation of shared parking facilities for heavy trucks in Djibouti and Ethiopia, and the improvement of empty container management for export.

“Our delegation held a B2B meeting with Hassan Houmed, Minister of Infrastructure and Equipment of the Republic of Djibouti, focusing on a pivotal step towards the Dikil-Yobek-Galafi Corridor reconstruction and improving road conditions along with the transport of a significant volume of bulk cargo to Ethiopia,” said Ambassador Berhanu Tesgaye.

Djibouti recently launched the fertilizer operation for the year 2023/24, which involves the transportation of more than 2.3 million tons of fertilizer through Djibouti’s ports, transported via both road and railway networks to Ethiopia.

Four days ago, a delegation from Ethiopia’s Afar region visited Djibouti on a four-day official visit aimed at strengthening cultural relations between the Afar region and Djibouti.

The Federal Republic of Ethiopia has been seeking access to the sea through multiple countries, including Somalia, Djibouti, and Eritrea, although talks have been halted following a statement by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, which has raised concerns.

“If we don’t talk about the Red Sea issues, we will as much not talk about wheat, green legacy, tax collection…[if we have accomplished all these] and lose it due to [not discussing] the Red Sea, it’s meaningless. So let’s discuss it,” said Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister.

Following the Prime Minister’s statement, the Eritrean government announced the suspension of official maritime bilateral talks to grant landlocked Ethiopia access to the sea.

“In the event, the Government of Eritrea repeatedly reiterates that it will not, as ever, be drawn into such alleys and platforms. The Government of Eritrea further urges all concerned not to be provoked by these events,” the statement from Eritrea’s Ministry of Information read.

Somaliland leaders have collectively opposed Ethiopia’s claim to access the sea through any means and their assertion of having controlled Saylac during the pre-colonial period.

Ethiopia has recently increased its involvement in regional issues, focusing on signing agreements with its neighboring countries to access natural resources like the sea.

Last month, finance ministers from Horn of African countries approved the completion of the Djibouti-Addis corridor, which will cost $750 million, during the 18th Horn of Africa Initiative ministerial meeting held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Ethiopia, along with Djibouti, South Sudan, and Uganda, signed an agreement on the finalization of the Djibouti-Addis-Juba-Kampala corridor during the 9th Single Window Conference held in Djibouti.

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