Ports & Ships Maritime News

Mar 13, 2006
Author: P&S


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  • Transnet unions on strike today - latest

  • Kiperousa’s cargo continues interrupted journey

  • Dubai Ports gives up on US

  • Sudden resignation of Maersk Odense MD

  • Eni awarded deepwater exploration rights off Mozambique

  • Gotheborg arrives in PE to big welcome

  • Egypt: Ship Disaster compensation inadequate, say activists

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    Transnet unions on strike today - latest

    Transnet unions are again exercising a national strike today with focus on the port container terminal operations at Durban and Cape Town and rail commuter services in the main cities.

    Members of Satawu, Utatu, Uasa and Sarwhu said in a statement on Friday afternoon that 50,000 workers were ready for united action following the breakdown of talks between the four unions and Transnet.

    They described today’s strike a further effort on their part to get Transnet management to seriously reconsider its position over the transformation of Transnet

    “Our members have been further incensed this week by intimidatory letters which have been pushed under the noses of Metrorail workers, giving them an ultimatum to resign from their defined benefit pension fund. Transnet has once and for all exposed its lies. For workers being transferred there are no guarantees of their conditions, contrary to the statements management has been making to the public.”

    In their statement the unions said there can be no settlement until the 1 April deadline for the transfer of Metrorail workers is lifted. The demands stated that Transnet would also have to lift the 24 March deadline for transfers between group companies and instead agree to consult this issue at the Transnet Restructuring Committee, and Transnet should engage on the so-called non-core business units including Freightdynamics, Viamax, Autopax and Housing. They also require Transnet to abide by existing agreements including consultation over Spoornet’s low and light density railway lines (branch lines) and the transfer of Blue Train workers (Lux Rail) to the private sector.

    In addition the joint unions said they had met with the minister of Public Enterprises, Alec Erwin to discuss the issues relating to the dispute. Erwin would be meeting again with the unions this afternoon (Monday). There were hopes that this meeting might lead to a resumption of mediation which had been disrupted before it was able to begin by Transnet’s announcement of the signing of the transfer of Metrorail.

    Kiperousa’s cargo continues interrupted journey

    Salvaged logs from the ill-fated bulker Kiperousa, which went aground off the Eastern Cape coast last year, are being loaded this week on board a ship in East London harbour which is bound for China.

    The Maritime Master is currently loading in East London where the salvaged logs – the entire cargo except for approximately 1000 logs which remain missing – were accumulated at the harbour for an auction held recently under the hammer of Durban auctioneer Roy Martin (Admiralty Sales).

    The consignment was eventually knocked down for a low bid of USD 1.8 million – considerably less than the USD 30 million value given for the original cargo.

    The successful purchaser was a Seattle-based company named Susheen Timber Trading Company, which has resold the timber to Chinese interests.

    One has to wonder whether the same original Chinese cargo owners are now repurchasing the salvaged logs, after presumably having been paid out in full for the insured value lost at sea? If so then good luck to them – such are the tricks of trade.

    Spare a thought too for the approximately 1000 missing logs, either remaining on board what’s left of the wrecked Kiperousa or afloat somewhere in the Indian or Southern Ocean. Those afloat pose a navigational hazard and will continue drifting for years mostly submerged below the surface of the water. For any vessel colliding with one of these it can bring disaster – especially a small craft such as ocean-going yachts.

    Dubai Ports gives up on US

    Dubai Ports Worldwide (DP World) has given up the unequal struggle and will sell of its American assets acquired with the sale of P&O Ports.

    This follows fierce xenophobic opposition from US legislators against the sale of a number of US port terminal operations to the Dubai company. A statement last Friday (10 March) said “DP World will transfer fully the US operations of P&O Ports North America to a US entity.”

    The sale will be made on condition of DP World does not suffer financial loss.

    While the decision will defuse the heated debate over the sale, its long term effect on US – Arab relations will still have to be measured but will no doubt prove embarrassing to the Bush administration. But equally important will be its long term effect on US port efficiencies, which don’t exactly enjoy the reputation of being among the best run of operations. One also has to assume that the former P&O Ports terminals will now pass into American-owned hands and not another international (foreign) company.

    Sudden resignation of Maersk Odense MD

    Odense Steel Shipyard announced that managing director Torben Anker Sørensen has resigned, and will withdraw from his position by mid-April 2006. His replacement is Finn Buus Nielsen who will take over the position as MD for the Yard. Finn Buus Nielsen is currently MD for Maersk Container Industri A/S.

    “The conditions at the Yard have developed in such a way that the substantial tasks and challenges the company faces today require a different profile than mine. I therefore seek new challenges,” said Sorensen.

    The Odense Shipyard has a full orderbook till 2010 with at least 17 containerships on order or building, but has a low productivity level and has enjoyed little in the way of profits. In its 2005 annual report AP Moller admitted that the shipyard had failed to meet profit and productivity targets.

    Eni awarded deepwater exploration tights off Mozambique

    Italian energy company Eni has been awarded the right to explore the offshore area known as Block 4, which lies off the coast of northern Mozambique in the area of the Rovuma Basin

    The area covers approximately 17,500 square kilometres and lies at a water depth of up to 2,600 metres.

    Meanwhile Stolt Offshore has announced it has won a contract worth USD 125 million for a deepwater SURF installation off the coast of Angola, which will be carried out by the Polar Queen from the second half of 2007.

    - sources Rigzone.com and Stolt SA

    Gotheborg arrives in PE to big welcome

    The Swedish replica sailing ship Gotheborg arrived in Port Elizabeth at the end of last week following a successful visit to Cape Town. The ship was welcomed by crowds waving Swedish flags and singing South Africa’s unofficial anthem Shosholoza.

    Gotheborg (see our report in News Bulletin dated 27 February 2006) is a replica of an East Indiaman that sank outside its homeport in 1745 after completing a two-year round voyage to China. Following the discovery of the wreck in 1985 Swedish enthusiasts began a project of building a replica that could be sailed to China and back.

    Following her visit to Port Elizabeth the 41m long ship sets out across the Indian Ocean bound for her next port of call in Fremantle, Western Australia.

    Egypt: Ship Disaster compensation inadequate, say activists

    CAIRO: 12 March 2006 (IRIN): Compensation offered to survivors and families of victims of the Al-Salam Boccaccio 98 ferry disaster, in which more than 1,000 people died on 3 February, is being inadequately distributed, according to Egyptian human rights activists.

    To date, the Al-Salam company, which owned the vessel, has promised the families of victims USD 26,170 each and survivors USD 2,617 each.

    "We may be a developing country, but the compensation on offer is still far from sufficient," said Moataz Billah Osman, researcher at the Arab Organisation for Human Rights.

    The passenger ferry sank in the Red Sea while on route from the Saudi Arabian town of Duba to the Egyptian port city of Safaga, located some 450 km southeast of the capital, Cairo. Of the 1,414 travellers on board, only 387 survived the disaster.

    Activists blamed both insurance companies and the Al-Salam Maritime Transport Company for failing to consider victims' particular economic requirements, and called for a larger government role in monitoring the companies' progress towards a settlement. They maintained that Egypt was compelled by international agreements to do so.

    "The Al-Salam company is bound by international treaties to duly compensate the victims," said Yasser Fathi, a lawyer representing victims' families.
    Fathi noted that the current compensation programme did not take into account individual needs of families or cover losses caused by the deaths of migrant workers.

    "The very nature of compensation requires that it should cover losses incurred by an accident," he said.

    "The company's strategy doesn't take individual factors into consideration," Fathi stressed. "Instead, it indicates that the insurance companies covering it have merely split an available budget at random over the numbers affected." Such distribution, he pointed out, fails to take into account several relevant factors, such as the number of dependants of a given victim.

    Critics also point to the fact that, under the scheme, female members of victims' families will receive less than male members. "Nowhere in Islamic [law] or Egyptian civil code does it stipulate that compensation handed to a given family be split along gender lines," said Fathi.

    At the same time, however, activists commended recent government promises of additional financial assistance. Based on a presidential decree announced on Saturday, victims' families will be given USD 6,316 each, while survivors will receive USD 3,158 each.

    According to Osman, the government is not bound by law to hand out such assistance.
    "President Hosni Mubarak's decision must be qualified as a positive step," said Fathi.

    Nevertheless, he added that the Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs had not yet ordered a full investigation of the Al-Salam Maritime Transport Company, even though such a move constituted a fundamental right of survivors and families of victims. "The insurance ministry hasn't yet fulfilled its role," Fathi said.
    Ministry officials were unavailable for comment.

    (This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations)

    - source http://www.IRINnews.org

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