Jan 8, 2021
The head of Iraqi Ports within the Ministry of Transportation signed a contract Dec. 30 with the South Korean firm Daewoo for the completion of the Faw Port undertaking in Basra.
Faw Port is taken into account a strategic nationwide undertaking for Iraq, as it will likely be the one Iraqi port succesful of receiving giant ships, enabling Iraq to turn into a part of a brand new silk highway by way of the transference of items from east to west via its lands from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea.
The undertaking was raised for the primary time in 1978, however as a consequence of inner and exterior controversy, it solely started after the regime change in 2003. Kuwait later launched the development of the Mubarak megaport, which raised Iraq’s concern as the 2 ports are shut in distance and competitors may negatively have an effect on Faw Port. Kuwait introduced just lately it stopped constructing Mubarak Port till any additional announcement to guarantee it doesn’t have an effect on its neighbors and in addition as a consequence of financial hardship brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
Daewoo — a pacesetter in constructing ports — accomplished the primary two phases of the port. Then controversy erupted over which firm would possibly full the subsequent phases of the port, and demonstrations supported by Shiite militias befell in Basra, most just lately on Dec. 18, calling for Daewoo to get replaced by the Chinese firm CMEC.
The obstacles going through Daewoo started Oct. 9 when the physique of its supervisor was discovered hanged in Basra. Suspicions at the moment revolved round political events and armed teams being concerned in his loss of life, together with different assumptions.
A supply from the Ministry of Transport who requested anonymity informed Al-Monitor, “The Chinese company is not specialized in engineering the construction of ports, which prevents it from winning the contract, while there is political and parliamentary support for Daewoo, which is specialized in such projects.”
Iraqi Minister of Transport Nasser al-Shibli stated in a Dec. 19 assertion that “Faw Port will be the alternative economy for oil, and the ministry will continue to work with Daewoo if it is authorized during the Cabinet session.”
Mudhar al-Azirjawi, a member of the Parliamentary Services and Reconstruction Committee, informed Al-Monitor that “political forces need to impose their imaginative and prescient within the building of the port and even need to decide the executing firm itself.”
Parliament member Abdul Amir al-Taiban, from the Sadiqun bloc representing Asaib Ahl al-Haq, which is near Iran, stated Dec. 14, “An agreement between Faw Port and the Chinese company is a general public demand.” On the identical day, channels affiliated with the militias in Iraq reported protests in entrance of the Ministry of Transport that demanded “signing with the Chinese company to complete the project.”
Reports on Dec. 14 accused the pro-Iranian events of mobilizing protests in entrance of the Ministry of Transport in central Baghdad with a purpose to strain the federal government into assigning the rest of the port undertaking to the Chinese firm.
On Dec. 19, Hadi al-Amiri, head of the Fatah Alliance, sounded extra average when he referred to as for “resorting to investment since Chinese companies need four years to open the port with very limited management and very limited berths.”
For his half, Nouri al-Maliki, head of the State of Law Coalition, on Dec. 15 referred to as for “a transparent contract that opens the door for companies to submit their offers and removes suspicion of negative judgment about this or that company.”
Wael Abdul Latif, the minister of provincial affairs and a former deputy governor of Basra, informed Al-Monitor, “The Chinese company made offers and its representatives met with the Ministry of Oil in November, and it does not require advance payment, while the Koreans require that and have submitted six projects for completion but do not operate the ports. The Chinese company has promised seven projects, including power and desalination stations, railways and roads.”
Meanwhile, General Director of Iraq Ports Farhan Muheisen al-Fartousi informed Al-Monitor, “Daewoo will reduce the cost to $25 million, and it will also implement free projects for the port after introducing amendments to the contract in the interest of Iraq.”
On Dec. 19, John Huang, Daewoo’s director in Iraq, stated, “The company did not stop the work assigned to it even when the Islamic State invaded Iraqi areas in 2014. The breakwater is complete, and the port basin is almost 40% done, while the Mina Street project is 80% finished.”
Mazhar Saleh, financial adviser to Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, informed Al-Monitor, “It is necessary to decide on the suitable firms which might be capable of implement all phases of the Faw Port undertaking and its different annexes as an funding power to speed up the making of Basra the financial capital of Iraq, in line with Law No. 66 of 2017.”
Saleh added, “I expect the project to lead to regional maritime economic integration and make the northern Gulf region, Basra, and the free zone in Iraqi ports an area of economic prosperity full of international investments.”
He referred to as for “expediting the completion of the Faw Port so it can finally become the central port of the northern Gulf region and also to facilitate connecting Iraq to Europe and the developed northern countries.”
As the federal government has already gone with giving the undertaking to the South Korean firm, which means this strategic undertaking will likely be accomplished in 2023 and in line with plan.