Khartoum — Many Sudanese are gratified upon the recent development in which the Government is bent on plans to revive the Sudan Shipping Line after the once lucrative flag-carrier was neglected and eventually disappeared from the overseas.
The last of a fleet of 20 vessels was carelessly sold out to a foreign buyer: The 12,100-dwt general cargo ship Darfur (built in 1979) was sold for demolition in India in August 2014.
As the defunct regime was carelessly selling out the ships, Sudan had continued to pay in hard-won foreign currencies for the shipping of its imports and exports.
But after the downfall of the regime a public and official outcry had it that the shipping line, Sudan Line, should be resurrected under the motto: "The national Carrier Is The Pillar of Development."
Specialized cadres and experts in shipping in July 2019 aired the initiative that "The National Carrier Is To Return By The Order Of The People."
The first step in this drive was the convening of a workshop to weigh the steps for restoring the shipping line.
In keeping with this move, member of the Sovereignty Council General Ibrahim Jabir announced the return of Sudanline as the country's national carrier.
In an address during the workshop, Jabir said Sudanline had been a shipping giant that contributed to the activation and the enlivening of the economy of Sudan. It had played a worthwhile role in the development of Sudan, he said.
Jabir then indicated the ruinous situation of the company due to the "malpractices of the defunct regime that drove qualified cadres out of the country."
He urged the bodies concerned to speed up the process of restoring the company to meet up the requirements of the coming stage in which the Sudan is opening up towards the World economy.
Last October the high committee digging into the corruption of the defunct regime decided to restore the shipping line. It directed the Ministry of Transport to put the decision into force.
The committee foreseeing the initiative continued its contacts with the transport and finance ministries with a view to launching the shipping line's board and appoint the company's executives. The Ministry of Transport has recommended last month formation of the board of directors and named its members.
Nobody can imagine the destruction caused by the defunct regime to the infrastructure of Sudan in all domains. The regime had turned every aspect of Sudan's interests towards its own interests in a manner tantamount to high treason.
Among this was what they had done to Sudanline. They first privatized it in 1996. Then corruption used its sharp tools in the new agency until it collapsed. Consequently they dissolved it altogether in 2016. Nothing had remained of the Line that once owned 20 vessels calling at all ports of the World, in Europe, Asia, the Far East and America.
The company had earned a reputation of discipline and commitment to the conditions of navigation.
As early as its first independence day, the Sudan had grasped the importance of trade exchange among nations and the need to develop its exports and imports.
This had prompted the launch of the Sudan Shipping Line as a national carrier in 1958.
According to sea transport expert, former Sudaline Manager, Alnawrani Yousif Dafa'allah steps moved quickly in the 1960s during which time Sudanline obtained a 15 ship fleet, all depending on its own resources.
The Sudanline then secured the position of best carrier in the Red Sea and the Middle East regions," said Dafa'allah.
According to him also the company had scored a lot of successes and realized the economic and social objectives behind its launch. The national carrier had contributed quite a lot in the ferrying of Sudan's agricultural products to Europe.
This effort of Sudanline had secured the competitiveness of Sudan's exports on the World markets.
The regular presence of Sudanline on many of the marine routes had qualified it to become part of and influence the outcome of any shipping conferences on sea transport rates and policies. This was sure to avail Sudanline to garner a share in marine transport revenue. It had also allowed Sudan to save a lot of foreign exchange, thus easing the pressure on the government coffers.
Another advantage was the stable transport operations Sudanline had made available for the country under all conditions.
Sudanline's preparedness to carry the cargo of other countries had earned it a lot of foreign finance, thus enhancing the nation's trade balance.
The existence of a national fleet like that of Sudanline had helped open up specialized job opportunities in sea transport.
Thus the situation, Sudanline was able to create a lot of highly qualified cadres in all aspects of sea transport and shipping in general, a matter that opened up job opportunities for Sudanese cadres on the World shipping market.
Captain Dafa'allah is also of the view that the restoration of Sudanline can also open up jobs for Sudanese youths. It can also help in the transfer of technology and open up chances for the progress of the national industry.
Captain Dafa'allah is also of the view that a national carrier can reduce reliance on ships of other countries and thus beef up the revenue of the country's exports.
The national carrier is a strategic reserve for the country, in particular in times of crises and wars. This was evident during the Yemen war and during the Gulf war when thousands of Sudanese were ferried home.
The fleet can also contribute to the ferrying of armaments that need a high degree of secrecy and care.
Captain Dafa'allah, in a paper he presented during the recent national economic conference, proposed for Sudan to join other countries in strategic partnerships or firms to build sophisticated harbors like when the Sudanline was launched in cooperation with Yugoslavia.