Ports & Ships Maritime News

Feb 3, 2006
Author: P&S


  • Strike ends, for now

  • UN says more money is needed to feed Africa’s starving

  • New fuel shortage threatens

  • P&I Club issues warning on befriending stowaways

  • Mailbag – letters from the readers

  • Clipper Race – into clear water

    EMAIL: jhughes@hugheship.com
    WEB SITE: www.hugheship.com

    Strike ends, for now

    As three days of strike action came to an end at the ports of Durban and Richards Bay (and also the rail and commuter services in KwaZulu Natal), shippers were left counting the cost and wondering if there was more in store for them.

    The four Transnet unions, Satawu, Uasa, Utatu and Sarwhu have already gone on record that strike action will continue on a rolling basis around the country, with the Eastern Cape (port of East London and Port Elizabeth) next to be targeted on Monday 13 February, followed by Western and Northern Cape (Cape Town and Saldanha) on Tuesday 14th and then Gauteng (Johannesburg and Pretoria) and the remainder of the country on 20 February.

    If by that time no satisfaction is achieved in talks with Transnet then the whole country is set for a mass strike on Monday, 6 March. Initial reaction to talks held yesterday between the warring parties do not look hopeful!

    When the embattled port terminals reopened to business yesterday morning the Durban Container Terminal experienced severe congestion outside the gates, with trucks backed up along the roads leading to the terminal. Inside work quickly returned to normal with the full number of gangs at work but the backlog of road vehicles and accumulated containers left tempers outside the gate short as the hot sun blazed down.

    But some media reports of a fleet of waiting vessels outside were wide of the mark – it is true that early yesterday morning there were 11 ships outside in the outer anchorage, which is not abnormal for Durban, but of importance is that only three were container ships – MOL Bravery, Trave Trader and MSC Antwerp. Most of the other vessels were tankers. However it is likely to be several days before the backlog of road vehicles waiting to deliver and collect containers can be fully cleared as others will continue arriving as fast as these are handled.

    Meanwhile shippers will be wishing that Transnet and the unions will look for a fresh approach with their discussions and that progress towards bridging the impasse will soon be achieved.

    UN says more money is needed to feed Africa’s starving

    As James Morris, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa makes his way around the region – his sixth trip here – the UN announced it needed an additional US million to help avoid starvation in six of the southern African countries.

    The six countries are Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe although the UN will also be distributing food to Namibia mainly for sufferers of the HIV/Aid pandemic.

    Speaking in Johannesburg, Morris said the humanitarian and development challenges facing southern Africa were not going to be countered by one good harvest. This was an obvious reference to an excellent harvest achieved in Malawi and some of the other regions.

    “A better harvest will not reduce HIV/Aids rates, or provide education or supply clean water to an orphaned child, or ensure kids get vaccinated against simple childhood diseases. The humanitarian sector and donors all need to focus on the broader and deeper issues facing the region, regardless of what happens with the next harvest,” he observed.

    Dr Eddie Maloka of the Africa Institute in Pretoria said that of particular concern was the impact that political instability and weak government capacity was having on the ability of some administrations to meet the demand of their people. He cited Malawi and Zimbabwe as examples of this, as both countries have experienced serious food security problems coupled with political instability.

    “Even in instances where you have strong democratic and governance cultures, where there’s a lack of state capacity, then there’s a problem. You still have to inject capacity to enable these states to move to a certain level of self-reliance.”

    - source IRINnews.org

    New fuel shortage threatens

    Sasol has acknowledged that mechanical problems at its crude distillation unit at Natref makes it impossible for the company to process crude oil. Natref is one of five South African refineries and one of the two based inland and the breakdown is causing fears of a shortage at least in the Gauteng area.

    Meanwhile the Durban-based refinery Sapref, operated by Shell and BP is running at lower than normal capacity (about 65%) because of what it calls ‘minor problems.’ It hopes to have production up to normal levels within one week.

    Sapref also announced it will be replacing 12 km of pipeline leading from the Durban refinery to the port at a cost of R340 million. Sapref had earlier begun repairing the 40-year old pipeline after numerous leaks occurred, including some in the midst of housing on Durban’s Bluff and Wentworth areas. At the time Sapref claimed that tests had shown it was not necessary to replace the pipeline in its entirety but has since had a change of heart which has been welcomed by environmentalist groups and people living in the area.

    A second Durban refinery, Engen which is also in the same area says it will continue repairing its system of pipes leading to the harbour, claiming that the pipes are not as old as those of Sapref’s and probably in a better condition.

    P&I Club issues warning on befriending stowaways

    Stowaways will always seek to befriend the crew in the hope that the crew will feel sorry for them. They will tell the crew gruesome tales of life in the home countries and that the reason that they are stowing away, is to get to Europe or North America in order to seek out a better life for themselves.

    Crew’s should be advised not to befriend stowaways, as stowaways are not their “friends”. The case of the vessel at Durban is such an example.

    The crew felt sorry for the stowaways and the master failed to report the presence of stowaways on board the vessel to the Owners. Had the Owners been aware of the fact that stowaways had boarded the vessel they would have reported the matter to their P & I Club who in turn would have contacted the local P&I Correspondents to assist in having the stowaways removed from the vessel and arranging for their repatriation.

    When the vessel arrived in Durban, the stowaways were…

    Read the full story of the Durban stowaways by Michael Head, attorney with P&I Associates in Durban in our LEGAL NEWS & OPINION section. Go to http://ports.co.za/legalnews/articles.php

    Mailbag – letters from the readers

    I am a South African resident in Japan. I recently learned that the MY Farley Mowat has been impounded at the Port of Cape Town and members of her crew detained. I am writing to express my dismay at the insensitivity of Cape Town authorities towards the mission of the Farley Mowat's organisation, Sea Shepherd. Cape Town authorities are obviously acting under pressure from the Japanese and/or Canadian governments.

    Sea Shepherd has been operating in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary, upholding the internationally recognized CITES charter protecting whales. Japan's actions in this sanctuary are illegal. The whaling they are carrying out is commercial, not scientific, and they are thus violating an internationally recognised charter. They are killing protected species. Their actions are affecting whale populations that breed in South African waters and this could damage South African ecotourism.

    The actions of the crew of the Farley Mowat, though deemed unsafe, were actually in the interests of South Africa and ultimately World Heritage.

    By failing to recognize the bigger picture, Cape Town Port Authorities are hindering an operation that was actually protecting our natural heritage while implicating themselves in the crime of breaching an internationally recognized treaty, not to mention the rampant ecological damage that the Japanese fleet is causing. One of the Japanese vessels intentionally collided with MY Esperanza, causing structural damage and endangering her crew. Why was the Japanese vessel not impounded?

    I implore you to release the crew of the Farley Mowat and allow the vessel to continue its mission. I don't want to live in a world where the only people trying to do anything about protecting it are arrested.

    Dylan Lawson Brown B.Soc.Sci (Hons) UCT

    Note: Ports & Ships is an independent news and information service and has no connection with the ports of southern Africa.

    Comment: As far as we are aware the Port of Cape Town is not involved with the detention of the Farley Mowat – this was handled by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) on grounds that the vessel was not in possession of the correct certification. The inspection of the vessel’s credentials had been made at the request of the Canadian authorities where the vessel is registered. According to Captain Paul Watson of the Farley Mowat, South Africa has classified his ship as a commercial vessel whereas in Canada it was classified as a pleasure craft. As a pleasure craft his vessel would not require the full security clearance certificate as required by South African authorities for commercial vessels. But according to the Canadian transport department the nature of the Farley Mowat has since changed without the Canadian transport authorities being advised. Watson claims that what he is doing is for pleasure and he and his organisation, Sea Shepherd, now accuse both South Africa and Canada of ‘bureaucratland, and say that the Farley Mowat now has to endure …’the Slime of Red Tape in Cape Town’. They accuse SAMSA of delaying the Farley Mowat in Cape Town only so that it cannot return to harassing the Japanese whalers.

    What do other readers think? Express your views on this and other matters by emailing to info@ports.co.za

    Clipper Race – into clear water

    As the yachts head into clear water away from the shoals through which they have had the thread, Westernaustralia.com has opened a clear lead of 12 miles and appears to have the bit between its teeth. Durban holds second position and is currently sailing a more easterly course. With less than 1500 miles to go the race is now ‘hotting’ up as the yachts approach colder waters.

    The race position at 05.00 today was (with distance to finish)

    Westernaustralia.com (1448)
    Durban (1460)
    Jersey (1466)
    Liverpool (11467)
    Victoria (1468)
    New York (1469)
    Singapore (1473)
    Qingdao (1488)
    Cardiff (1495)
    Glasgow (1508)

    - source http://www.clipper-ventures.co.uk

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