Al-Ahram Weekly Online   25 October - 31 November 2012
Issue No. 1120
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875


Sokhna Port saga ongoing

ALTHOUGH more than 82 per cent of Dubai Sokhna Ports workers signed a memo to protest the continuation of a full strike that started 13 October, work at the port is still at a standstill.

"Out of 1,143 workers in the port, 946 said they want to return back to work, but they are afraid of the reaction of their colleagues who refuse to end the strike before the management annuls its previous decision to dismiss eight of their colleagues," said a senior official in Dubai Sokhna Ports.

He added that for their part, both the management of the company in Cairo and the mother company in Dubai insist on not reinstating the eight workers because they allegedly insulted management several times in addition to inciting protests.

According to the official, the company was put on a blacklist of unreliable ports after many shipments were rerouted to other maritime ports after the full strike began.

Loading and unloading activity at the port, considered Egypt's main trade window for the Far East, slowed down in early September in the wake of disputes between workers and management related to workers' stake in the company's distributed profits.

The confrontation escalated 11 October when management decided to dismiss the eight workers.

The company puts its daily losses since the beginning of the slowdown at LE2 million. Meanwhile, government coffers are stripped of around LE15 million in lost tariffs.

Wheat is safe

EGYPT's wheat stockpiles are sufficient to meet in-country demand for another six months, Minister of Supply and Internal Trade Mohamed Abu Zeid said this week.

There is currently five million tonnes of wheat in storage, Abu Zeid said. Egypt's total consumption of wheat is 18.8 million tonnes annually, half of which is imported from abroad.

According to Salah Abdel-Momen, minister of agriculture and land reclamation, Egypt can stop importing some 9.6 million tonnes annually of wheat used for subsidised bread if it has enough storage silos for locally produced wheat.

This year the total lands cultivated for wheat are estimated at 3.1 million feddans, producing 9.5 million tonnes of wheat. Last year, Abdel-Momen explained, the government was able to store only 3.8 million tonnes for subsidised bread while the remaining amounts of locally produced wheat were sold to private sector bakeries. The government plans to double the capacity of wheat silos during the coming four years.

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