One of the world’s biggest ports operators, DP World, has said that it has no intention of returning to Djibouti, as it turns its focus to the breakaway republic of Somaliland according BBC.
The Dubai-based company, which runs 78 operations for handling freight in more than 40 countries, has been engaged in legal action with Djibouti since the government passed a decree to seize its stake in the Doraleh container terminal.
“We are not going back to Djibouti,” DP World chairman and chief executive Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem told BBC World Service. “We are in a legal battle that they started,” he said.
Last month the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) ruled that the UAE company’s port container terminal contract in Djibouti was valid and binding.
DP World believes its plan to develop a new port in Somaliland will not be hampered by the fact that the former British protectorate in East Africa is not recognised as an independent country.
“It does not cause any legal problem because this is an economic activity and it’s a port that is going to create jobs,” says Mr bin Sulayem.
DP World has effectively given up on efforts to continue operating the freight hub in Djibouti and now intends to seek compensation for the loss of its 33% stake and any revenues it would have earned by running the operation for the next 20 years.
Mr bin Sulayem expresses regret, but also bitterness about the way the business has been seized from his company.
“When we won the legal battle that they started, they tried to make changes using the legal system, but it did not help them, so they started to make their own law,” he said.
“The minute they decided to change the laws, for me Djibouti is not worth investing in and I don’t want to go back,” he added.
Port de Djibouti has been owned by the Djibouti government, DP World and China Merchants Port Holdings Company, which owns a stake of about 20%.
DP World has tried to remain involved in running the port and last month it obtained an injunction from the High Court of England and Wales, that prevented the Djibouti government from pushing it out, removing directors, or interfering with the management.
That prompted a response from Djibouti Ports and Free Zones, (DPFZA) describing the ruling as “inconsequential.”