Again, relations between the Djiboutian President Ismael Omar Guelleh and France have become strained over the Heron Island. French Armed Forces which have stationed in Djibuti for many years might be summoned to leave the place very soon.
Even if the President Guelleh hides behind a nationalist and anti-colonial speech, the truth is more simple : President Guelleh wants to replac e the French soldiers in charge with the security of this region, with Chinese investors, who promised him a lot more money.
The China Merchant Group, a port management company already settled in Djibouti, is now trying to take over the Heron Island to expand its lucrative activities, with the help of Aboubakar Omar Hadi, the boss of the Djiboutian port authority.
Beijing is dreaming big and planning the construction of a marina, hotels, luxury homes and a tourist area, similar to the artificial islands of Palm Island in Dubai! These infrastructures will be very expensive, and only the wealthiest will benefit from these very expensive infrastructures paid by Djiboutian taxpayers’ money!
Besides, the Chinese despise and abuse of the Djibouti blue-collar workers, who are only used for the chores and then laid off with no explanation. But the worst is the complicity of the government, which turns a blind eye on the practices of China, and even support them. Indeed, on June 4th, 2019, when 200 dockers of the port of Doraleh started a strike to denounce their work conditions, the Police violently repressed the demonstration, and shot into the crowd. China might also import hundreds of Chinese blue-collar workers to the Heron, like they do elsewhere in Africa, since the government overlooks the violation of the laws imposing a quota of Djibouti workers on the building sites.
The government does not learn from its mistakes and, for the second time, is engaged in an unrealistic project which won’t bring any benefit for Djibouti. There are plenty of other examples of this irrational policy, such as the projects of the Djibouti International Free Trade Zone (DIFTZ), currently running into the sand, and of the railroad connecting Addis Ababa, for which Djibouti has a 600 million dollars debt at the Chinese bank Eximbank and already has a delay of payment of 60 million dollars.
By selling the Heron island to the Chinese predators, Djibou ti is becoming even more dependent to China, which holds already 60% of the country’s debt and continues its neo-colonial project in Africa. After the French, let’s welcome the Chinese !