Ports & Ships Maritime News

Mar 7, 2006
Author: P&S


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  • SA transport stares down the barrel of disastrous strikes

  • South Africa wins accolades at Miami boat show

  • Zimbabwe grabs the mines

  • Uganda: red light ahead for rail concessioning

  • Poaching figures down as hard line strategy bites

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    SA transport stares down the barrel of disastrous strikes

    Talks break down

    Transnet trade unions, Satawu, Utatu, Uasa and Sahrwu warned yesterday that next Monday’s national strike will be the start of a second round of mass action targeting specifically the ports of Durban, Richards Bay and Cape Town which can be expected to last for much longer than three days.

    Satawu’s Randall Howard says the unions were shocked to learn on Saturday (4 March), while in the midst of establishing a mediation process, that Transnet had gone ahead and signed an agreement to transfer Metrorail over to the SA Rail Commuter Corporation by the end of March. He said this was despite ongoing talks between Transnet and the unions and the appointment of a mediator late last week.

    According to Howard Transnet had been done this “behind the backs of labour despite vehement denials of unilateralism as well as media assurances that they (Transnet) were consulting fully with their counterparts in labour about the process of restructuring.”

    In addition he said Transnet had gone ahead and appointed financial institutions to advise on the disposal of non-core business units within Transnet, regardless of this being the subject of concern to the unions and the cause of the initial round of strikes.

    The unions that organise within Transnet were shocked to learn on Saturday even as they were briefing the mediator, Charles Nupen, said Howard. “As a result, labour has refused to continue (with the mediation process) and is seeking an urgent interdict to set aside this (sale) agreement. Labour is of the opinion that mediation can not continue while a spectre of the sale agreement hangs in the background and unilateral decision-making and implementation continues.”

    Howard said the way in which Transnet had handled the matter meant that if the process had not been discovered during last Saturday’s meeting, Metrorail workers would have woken up on Saturday, 1 April with a new employer and without any assurances of job security, guarantee and conditions of service and pension benefits.

    “We shall defend, mobilise and fight for the Trade Union rights to be respected just as we did in 1987 when we felt the right of black trade unions were not being recognised. We will fight against unilateralism with all our might.

    “The national strike action commences on 13 March, 2006. This will be a launching pad for the second round of strikes, commencing in the ports of Durban, Richards Bay land Cape Town, lasting much longer than three days.”

    Howard said the four unions would also declare separate disputes of mutual interest in specific business units and pursue strike actions in those.

    Transnet spokesman John Dludlu said shareholder approval (government) has been obtained for Transnet to go ahead with selling the non-core assets and there was no going back on the sale of the non-core units. He said further advisors for the sale of the remaining units would be announced.

    South Africa wins accolades at Miami boat show

    By Simon Barber - BuaNews

    South African boat builders won laurels and millions of dollars in orders, and established themselves as a force to be reckoned with globally, at the annual Strictly Sail international boat show held in Miami, Florida, last month.

    A luxurious 23 m Silhouette 760 catamaran built by Matrix Yachts of Killarney Gardens, Cape Town, was named ‘Star of the Show’ and sold for USD 3.95 million.

    South Africa for the first time had its own pavilion at the prestigious show. The pavilion received the Best of Show Award for the outstanding quality of its design and of the products exhibited.

    Another South African prizewinner was Woodstock-based Robertson and Caine, which won an innovation award for its 4000 class catamarans.

    The South African pavilion showcased eight South African boat builders displaying catamarans ranging in length from 12 to 23 m.

    The South African builders racked up sales during the show estimated at USD 13 million, with equipment makers taking in another USD 770,000. The firms involved more than 3500 inquiries and sales leads.

    Sponsors included the South African Boat Builders Business Council, the Department of Trade and Industry and the South African Consulate General in New York, with support from SA Tourism, SA Airways, Wines of South Africa and the David Frost winery.

    Opening the pavilion, New York Consul General Fikile Magubane hailed the South African exhibitors as "true examples of why we say that South Africa is alive with possibility.

    "This pavilion, the boats and products on display here, and the people behind them, tell an important story about today's South Africa.

    "It's a story of innovation, world-class engineering and design. It's a story of competitiveness, determination and capacity to find solutions."

    There has not been a year since 1997 when a South African boat has not earned or been nominated for one or another Boat of the Year awards in the US.

    The infrastructure is in place for the industry to keep growing, especially in the Western Cape where most of the builders are located. There is no shortage of labour and a new South African Boatbuilding Academy will soon be adding to the supply of skills.

    Builders are brimming with confidence. According to the latest South African Boatbuilding Industry Guide, nearly 90% of companies made significant investments in developing new designs, moulds and tooling and expanding capacity.

    Forward order books are healthy with some of the larger companies reporting advance orders of between 75% and 100% of their capacity.

    Zimbabwe grabs the mines

    Zimbabwe announced its intention at the weekend of taking a controlling ownership of the country’s coal and gold mines.

    The Zimbabwean government said it intends taking a 51 percent share in certain mines over a five year period. A 25 percent share will be taken up initially with the balance reverting to government over the next five years. It indicated the same approach would apply to other mining activities including platinum and diamond mining.

    According to a Zimbabwe newspaper report the government does not intend paying for the 51 percent share in each mining operation, on the basis that the mines belong to the state. Last year mining earned nearly 45 percent of Zimbabwe’s foreign earnings.

    Uganda: red light ahead for rail concessioning

    While the takeover of the Kenya Railways Corporation by Rift Valley Railway, a consortium headed by South African company Sheltam Rail, continues to move ahead smoothly, things are not going as well for the simultaneous takeover of Uganda Railways Corporation (URC).

    Uganda Railway Corporation has delayed signing its side of the concession because of outstanding legal issues concerning severance payments to URC workers. Despite a court order the Kenyan Railways Corporation went ahead with its part of the joint concessioning, while URC, which also has a court order standing in the way, has stood back to allow the legalities to run their course.

    In terms of the concessioning agreement both countries will be penalised if they delay the process. It would also mean both countries having to continue subsidising rail operations, particularly the passenger services.

    A high powered delegation from Kenya’s transport ministry has now delivered an ultimatum to their Uganda counterparts, saying that Kenya will go ahead with the concessioning with or without Uganda.

    Poaching figures down as hard line strategy bites

    by JP Louw : Chief Director: Communications, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism

    Following the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism's national enforcement conference aimed at strengthening environmental enforcement in South Africa, marine enforcement partners gathered at a two day anti-poaching summit to assess the success of its preventative enforcement strategy launched in November last year, ahead of the busiest fishing season during the year.

    In the Eastern Cape for example the number of abalone confiscated declined dramatically during the period October 2005 to January 2006. In October 2005 a total of 52,336 abalone were confiscated, at the end of November this figure dropped to 6,926, almost 600 percent decrease. The figure for December 2005 and January 2006 combined is 3,216, which represents a further 100 percent decrease. This indicates less abalone poaching occurred from the period October 2005 - January 2006. In addition a total number of 1200 alleged poachers were prevented from diving.

    The deployment of the environmental protection vessels resulted in one fine of R200,000 issued for contravention of maritime laws. In addition 130 on board inspections were carried out; a total of 334 permits checked and a total of 26 fines were issued. Vessels and equipment to the value of R1.5m were confiscated and illegally caught fish stock worth R1,5m was revered. The visibility of the environmental protection vessels and the deployment of navy divers in 'hotspot' poaching areas have contributed to substantial reduced number of divers and alleged poachers in the areas.

    In Cape Town, Overberg, East Coast and Border a total of 202 arrests were made, 33 vehicles confiscated and a total value R240,000 of fines were issued for the period November - January 2006.

    Other inspections carried out included restaurants, fish factories and shops, and commercial fishing boats, at landing sites and beach inspections.

    The summit consolidated working relations between the department, SA Police Services, SA Navy and the Scorpions.

    The challenges identified include the intensification of such operations throughout the year, strengthening engagements with communities to fight poaching and the need for continued consolidated coordination and cooperation between the different law enforcement agencies.

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