The Treasures Of Mogadishu Port

WFP teams in Somalia have been working hard these past couple of months to rehabilitate the port in - Mogadishu, Somalia. Considerable progress has been made with removing the debris left after years of conflict and by the destructive force of storms including the 2004 Tsunami. Vessels sunk in the harbor are being raised and channels choked with silt are now being dredged. New bumpers have been installed and repairs are bringing the piers back into working condition.

The project has had to overcome serious security concerns and logistical obstacles. The loss of four WFP staff since August last year prompted WFP to take a hard look at activities in the country and the issue of piracy has also proved an significant challenge. On the funding side, the Mogadishu port project is facing a shortfall of roughly $2.5M. Even with all these challenges the WFP team on the ground has managed some incredible feats of logistical ingenuity. Currently, the team is scouring the bottom for wrecks on the seafloor and, when they come across one, winching the remains to the surface.

One of the most fascinating finds has been whole sections of a tugboat that sank years ago along the dockside. The images below show that even after years of saltwater corrosion the debris was still a hazard to vessels attempting to navigate through the harbor. The remnants of the tugboat were lifted from 10 metres of water and are the first of several salvage operations planned for the port. Several other vessels are embedded in silt at the same dockside and will require additional efforts to free them from their watery graves.

New navigation lights will also help to ensure that vessels entering the port in the future will not suffer the same fate as the sunken tugs. Training of port operators and pilots will help to further increase safety along the port's waterways.

It is an impressive salvage operation that deserves recognition for its daring. Certainly the people of Mogadishu and Somalia as a whole stand to benefit greatly from the team's efforts.

All photos copyright: WFP

Special thanks to the WFP Somalia country team and all individuals involved with this Special Operation!