Cablegate: Port of Matadi Misses Imo Deadline

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. SUMMARY. During the first quarter of 2004, the
International Maritime Organization (IMO) mandated that all
ports worldwide improve their facilities and security
measures to come in line with new International Ship and Port
Facility Security (ISPS) code standards. The Port of Matadi,
DRC has not met the July 1 deadline and may now face IMO
sanctions. The port has completed approximately 85 percent
of the changes and improvements required by the IMO. Post is
not yet certain of what action the IMO will take. GDRC has
until July 15 to respond to the IMO and request a grace
period. END SUMMARY.

2. Upgrades to the Port of Matadi are approximately 85
percent complete, according to ONATRA (Congolese port
authority). The main components still missing are the main
access gates, CCTV network, and some equipment for the
security and control offices. However, the security wall
around Zone A (primary entry zone) has been completed and
access to the Port is limited to only authorized shipping
companies and government workers. Consultants from the port
authority of Antwerp are still in the DRC to help complete
the process.

3. Although ONATRA has not met the deadline, it expects to
escape serious sanctions by the IMO. ONATRA has until July 15
to request additional time to repair the Port of Matadi. It
will attach its plan for completing the rehabilitation of
Matadi, which estimates a total cost of slightly over USD 4
million, of which USD 2 million comes from the World Bank
Emergency Multisectoral Rehabilitation and Reconstruction
Plan. ONATRA continues to work with the consultants from
Antwerp to expedite the completion of security and
infrastructure upgrades.

4. However, ONATRA may find itself in a difficult spot if an
employee strike continues. The strike was originally to
protest the taking of a tract of land which held ONATRA's
only locomotive workshop in Kinshasa by the Ministry of Land
Affairs for the purpose of residential construction. The
Minister of Transportation and ONATRA moved to gain the
support of Vice President for Reconstruction and Development
Yerodia. The land was returned to ONATRA before any work
could be done to transform it to residential property.
However, the lost workhours due to the strike cost ONATRA
approximately USD 380,000. Meanwhile, it only recently paid
the workers' salaries for May. The workers are now protesting
for the immediate payment of their June salaries.

5. COMMENT. Although ONATRA has made a strong effort to
improve security and port operations at Matadi, they still
fall short. Furthermore, financing from the GDRC to help
complete the repairs is not coming as fast as is necessary.
It is not clear what sort of action the IMO will take.
Consensus opinion is that the Port will evade closure,
however, lesser sanctions are possible. A grace period to
complete the repairs and upgrades is certainly likely. As is
the case with all Congolese government agencies or state
owned enterprises, ONATRA is publicly assuming a best case
scenario of no sanctions and a grace period. However, they
are extremely concerned about the lack of funding from the
GDRC and the looming possibility of sanctions. Nevertheless,
ONATRA continues to have financial difficulties and the
current strike only exacerbates its situation. The
consequences of a closure of Matadi or of a sharp decline in
traffic to the economy in the Western DRC would be serious as
it is the DRC's only large international maritime port. END


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