Ports & Ships Maritime News

Mar 14, 2006
Author: P&S


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  • Strikers go back to work, but unions threaten further action

  • Mauritius signs trade accord with India

  • Rains cut northern Mozambique railway, isolating Malawi

  • Mombasa needs urgent dredging

  • Unicorn introduces new bunker coaster to coast

  • CAMEROON: Bird flu confirmed in fourth African country

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    Strikers go back to work, but unions threaten further action

    The one-day national Transnet strike went off yesterday with mixed results and no clear indication whether the next step is to be backward or forward.

    In Johannesburg marching workers at least had the satisfaction of handing their memorandum to Transnet chief executive Maria Ramos (she was not available on a previous occasion), although her response was non-committal. Elsewhere striking workers brought train services to a halt, making thousands of workers late for duty and leading to largescale traffic congestion in places.

    For the ports it was a very mixed package, with the Durban container terminals operating on a skeleton staff with only three of the container cranes manned and operating (roughly one sixth of the total). However, as a SA Port Manager pointed out, the terminal was quiet anyway with few ships so the effect on overall operations was much less than perhaps the unions might have hoped.

    The SA Chamber of Business however forecast that the strike would cost the economy up to R200 million, which seems high and will be disputed by Transnet.

    According to Jane Barrett, spokesperson for the four unions, train services on the Sishen – Saldanha iron ore railway came to a complete stop and those on the Richards Bay coal line were severely disrupted with train drivers being forced to take their trains back to their home depots. She said there was no activity at Spoornet’s Kazerne yard in central Gauteng and none at Freightdynamics’ City Deep depot also in central Gauteng.

    “Trains stations throughout the country are absolutely dead, despite Metrorail’s claim that 30 percent of trains are operating,” she said.

    Barrett said that a memorandum had been delivered to various Transnet representatives in Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, Kimberley, and Cape Town. “The same memorandum was delivered personally to Maria Ramos at the headquarters of Spoornet in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.”

    “Management will be given 48 hours in which to respond to the demands. Should the response simply repeat the same arrogant intransigence that we have experienced before, we will not hesitate to call on our members to embark on more protracted action.”

    Meanwhile a glimmer of hope came from yesterday afternoon’s meeting between the minister of Public Enterprises Alec Erwin and the four unions. According to Erwin’s spokesperson government will bring about a resolution to some of the pension issues relating to the transfer of Metrorail. Government would respond to the unions by 20 March after which the unions would meet to decide which way ahead.

    Mauritius signs trade accord with India

    Mauritius and India have concluded an extensive economic co-operation agreement after three days of joint meetings between a top level delegation from India led by the country’s president, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and the Mauritian prime minister, Dr Navin Chandra Ramgoolam.

    India has agreed to increase its imports of garments from Mauritius as the first step but is also due to sign agreements over the exploration of oil and gas in Mauritius’ exclusive economic zone and to expand the Pan-African communication network to include Mauritius. India will also assist the island in areas of medical care including the opening of a hospital run by an Indian medical group. Certain matters concerning the security of the island were also discussed and co-operation agreed.

    Rains cut northern Mozambique railway, isolating Malawi

    The heavy rains that devastated parts of central and northern Mozambique in the past week have now cut the railway between the port of Nacala and the Malawi border.

    Ballast under the lightly laid track has been washed away on the section between Malema and Nataleia, leading to the cancellation of all train movements from Friday (10 March). It is not known how long it will take before repairs can be completed and the line reopened.

    This is the third time the line has been cut this year.

    Mombasa needs urgent dredging

    The Kenyan port of Mombasa faces the risk of being relegated to the status of a feeder port unless the money is found to increase the draught of the port channels, says the transport ministry’s permanent secretary.

    Gerishon Ikiara told a Kenya Maritime Authority workshop that the port authority would have to find the money to fund regular maintenance dredging alongside the port’s berths but said government was negotiating with international donors for assistance in dredging the entrance channels to cope with the larger ships now coming into service.

    He said that the Kenyan government might have to fund the project itself if outside donor assistance could not be found. Government was aware of the project’s urgency.

    - source The Nation

    Unicorn introduces new bunker tanker to coast

    A small tanker in Durban harbour has been undergoing a steady transformation in recent weeks following her arriving from North Africa.

    The vessel, the 4,700-gt former Marbella and now renamed Oribi is Unicorn Tankers latest acquisition and is the replacement for the 30-year old Durban-built tanker Oranjemund, which has been relegated to a layby berth at the Bayhead Marine Industrial Park pending her sale.

    Already Oribi is resplendent in the red and blue colours of Unicorn, with a distinctive Unicorn Tankers badge on the funnel. The ship is capable of carrying 5,800 tonnes of heavy fuel oil and will be employed on the South African coast on behalf of the oil majors. It is expected that much of her work will involve running bunker fuel between Durban and Richards Bay with occasional trips to other ports.

    The ship was built in China ten years ago and meets with new requirements by being double hulled. However when built for the Asian trade the ship had Spartan accommodation facilities and during her time in Durban has been undergoing a major transformation of this area to render her more suitable for a South African crew.

    She is the second ship to carry the name Oribi in Unicorn service. The first was built in Scotland in 1949 for a Norwegian company and was sold in 1958 to the Point Shipping Company of Durban for trading along the South African coast. Unicorn Shipping purchased this company in 1966 and took the Oribi into its service with the same name. In 1971 the 2,032-dwt ship was sold and went to South East Asia where she was eventually scrapped about ten years later.

    An Oribi is a small African antelope common to large parts of southern Africa.

    Cameroon: Bird flu confirmed in fourth African country

    By Claire Soares/IRIN

    YAOUNDE, 13 Mar 2006 (IRIN) - Tests on a dead duck from a small village in the far north of Cameroon confirmed the country’s first case of the deadly H5N1 virus, said a government statement released on Sunday.

    "Bird flu has been detected in Cameroon. A duck was detected positive with bird flu among 10 birds which died recently in Maroua," said the statement read on state radio and television. Officials said the birds died between 12 and 21 February.

    Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Cameroon's Minister of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industries Aboubakary Sarki said that all fowls in the three poultry farms where the birds died have been slaughtered.

    Cameroon shares a 1,600-kilometre border with Nigeria, in early February the first country in Africa to register a case of the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus. By late February authorities had confirmed bird flu in Egypt in northern Africa and in Niger, which also borders Nigeria.

    The government of Cameroon promised ‘to take care of’ affected poultry farmers, though it did not give any figures. Sarki said that the government will also carry out a culling and vaccination programme and that some 700 veterinarians are being trained to fight the virus.

    "We envisage slaughtering and destroying all birds from the infected region of the country, but we also aim to vaccinate chickens nationwide to prevent the H5N1 virus from spreading," Sarki told reporters.

    However, Sarki said the government did not have a store of vaccinations at the ready and would have to rely on donor contributions in order to buy them.

    State-run Cameroon Radio-Television (CRTV) reported on Monday that poultry farmers and chicken vendors across the north of the country were confused about what to do with their stock. Some vendors have begun slaughtering their chickens and other livestock to sell it for meat, the CRTV report said.

    The bird flu outbreak in Africa has dealt a serious blow to the poultry industry in northern Cameroon where many people have stopped eating chicken and the price of meat and fish has shot up, said the report.

    The H5N1 strain of bird flu can pass to humans from animals and has killed nearly 100 people worldwide since the virus re-emerged in 2003, according to the World Health Organisation. Experts are concerned that the disease could mutate and spread between humans causing a global pandemic that could kill millions.

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

    - source http://www.IRINnews.org

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