An elephant in a room……..




In that location there is an elephant in a room, which almost everyone in the administration of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn pretends not to see, gossip noticed. Spare from the list Suleiman Dedefo, Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Djibouti, who had rung the bell way before the elephant grew to bloated, scandalous proportions, claims gossip.

No one in the administration appeared to have the political clout to tame the military brass at the state-owned Metal & Engineering Corporation (MeTEC), whose senior managers thought it the embodiment of Ethiopia’s industrial transformation, according to gossip. Collision with the military officers at MeTEC is feared by several in the administration, who see this as flirting with fire and an attempt at political suicide. Thus, many at the gossip corridor complain about unchecked power at the expense of transparency and accountability, albeit in a mutter.

Consider a second elephant in the room, as gossip points out. Nearly three years ago, the state-owned and now defunct Ethiopian Shipping Lines (ESL), wanted to discard two of its aging vessels – Abay Wonz and Abiyot – for the industrial consumption of scrap metal. The guys at MeTEC were on a shopping spree at the time and felt that they needed to hold a marine operation of their own, just as they supposed they should have their own hotels, claims gossip. The hotel property they had acquired near Gerji for over 60 million Br remains closed; what was then known as Imperial Hotel, has been out of service for almost three years now.

The two vessels inching towards 30 years, were bought from ESL for close to three million dollars, and docked at a port in Dubai, after they consumed additional costs estimated between six million and seven million dollars for overhaul, gossip disclosed. Never mind another close to 20 million Br spent to keep both vessels afloat for two years, unable to operate commercially or otherwise, entangled in a web of troubles such as failure to get licenses and registration, claims gossip. For no returns on its unwise and ill-advised investments, MeTEC seems to have no option but to continue paying for daily demurrage, industry jargon which means a parking fee, paying salaries for crew and all the carrying costs of keeping the ships’ engines running, according to gossip.

Ironically, the buzz among businesspeople in Djibouti, Dubai and European countries such as Italy, is about acquiring these vessels for shockingly discounted prices, gossip disclosed. MeTEC has reportedly expressed its desire to dispose of these vessels, gossip disclosed. And those in the maritime industry here and abroad predict that they can only be people interested in them for scrap metal purposes, who may end up acquiring them for no more than one third of the 10 million dollars the company has expended on them so far, claims gossip.



Published on Nov 02,2015 [ Vol 16 ,No 809]


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