Workers at Port Sudan’s South Port Container Terminal (SPCT) have launched a strike protesting against a concession deal signed with Philippines-based International Container Terminal Services (ICTSI).

Works at SPCT were suspended due to the strike.

Last month, ICTSI’s subsidiary ICTSI Middle East DMCC signed a concession agreement with the Sea Ports Corporation of Sudan (SPC) to operate, manage and develop SPCT for a period of 20 years.

The move comes after SPC declared ICTSI as a preferred bidder in July to develop the terminal.

In a stock exchange announcement, the port operator informed that it would restart the operational and development responsibility for SPC’s existing container terminal infrastructure and handling equipment.

ICTSI is expected to take over the facilities in the first quarter of this year and workers fear job losses.

“Our message and our demand to the government is to refuse the privatisation and cancel the contract with the Philippine company to protect the country’s resources.”

SPCT, which had a throughput of 470,000 twenty-foot equivalent (TEU) in 2017, currently has a capacity of more than one million TEU.

The strike coincided with the visit by Sudan Prime Minister Moutaz Abdallah to resolve opposition to the deal.

Workers Union Leader Othman Taher was quoted by media sources as saying: “With the Prime Minister’s visit, all the workers in the container terminal in Port Sudan’s port carried out a full strike. They numbered 1,800 workers.”

“Our message and our demand to the government is to refuse the privatisation and cancel the contract with the Philippine company to protect the country’s resources.”