According to a directive from the Ministry of Trade, Industries and Tourism and signed by Minister Mohamoud Hassan Saad (Saajin), the Somaliland government has revoked the operating license of Integrated Shipping Services, a subsidiary of Laas Group. Somaliland’s largest bottling plant that produces Coca-Cola and other beverages is also a subsidiary of Laas Group.
The Ministry accused Integrated Shipping Services of breaking the law by bringing the Head of Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Service Enterprise to Berbera Port without the knowledge of the Somaliland government. In addition, the license revocation notice from the Ministry adds that the operating license of Integrated Shipping Services has expired on February 23rd, 2021 and that the request to revoke the company’s license is from Somaliland Port Authority. The Ministry did not specify what specific laws were broken.
On July 6th, Gibe, a large Ethiopian-flagged cargo ship owned and operated by Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Service Enterprise docked at Berbera Port. This was a highly publicized event that was hailed as historic, as this was the first time in 20 years an Ethiopian ship has come to Berbera. Another cargo vessel serviced by Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Service Enterprise, the Shebelle is expected to arrive in Berbera Port soon.
Sources close to Laas Group allege that the Minister of Trade, Industries, and Tourism Hon. Mohamoud Hassan Saad (Saajin) is acting on behalf of a private company with close ties to the Somaliland Presidency whose interest to represent Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Service Enterprise in Somaliland was rejected by the Ethiopian company due to its existing relationship with Integrated Shipping Services.
The Chairman of Laas Group, Mr. Ahmed Osman Geele had previously locked horns with the current government of President Muse Bihi Abdi over an alleged extradition request from Djibouti.
Sources have dismissed the allegation leveled against Integrated Shipping Services and say that the Somaliland government was well aware of ESLSE officials and their visit to the Berbera Port and that the Ethiopian officials have met with multiple government officials including the head of Somaliland’s Chamber of Commerce, as well as DP World officials.
Minister Saajin was accused by DP World recently of playing favoritism among businesses when he intervened on behalf of a private company.
It is unclear how the revocation of the company representing the largest Ethiopian shipping company will impact the Berbera Port and its service to Ethiopia or if Integrated Shipping Services have any appeal or recourse.
Efforts to reach the Minister of Trade, Industries, and Tourism Hon. Mohamoud Hassan Saad (Saajin), the Chairman of Laas Group Chairman Mr. Ahmed Osman Geele were unsuccessful.