Ports & Ships Maritime News

May 10, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • Richards Bay railway reopens as derailment is cleared

  • Beit Bridge comes closer as a one-stop border crossing

  • Kenya ports boss wants unwelcome containers auctioned

  • Darfur has chance to ‘begin anew,’ as Pres Bush promises food shipments

  • SOMALIA: More deaths in third day of Mogadishu fighting

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    Richards Bay railway reopens as derailment is cleared

    The latest derailment along the Richards Bay coal line has been cleared and trains are again completing the journey to the coast carrying export coal (see our News report of yesterday).

    According to a Spoornet spokesman the latest derailment took place on Thursday last week (4 May) and has since been cleared sufficiently for traffic to continue.

    In 2005 the Richards Bay Coal Terminal achieved a record turnover of 68.35 million tonnes of coal exported, in spite of a number of delays with delivery caused by rail accidents. The railway itself has a design capacity of 72 million tonnes of coal annually and is to be expanded to take 92 Mt within the next few years, but has been hit by a spate of derailments in recent years, leading to accusations of poor maintenance of the permanent way and of trains travelling at excessive speed.

    Spoornet habitually declines any comment on the reason for each accident, saying that the matter will be the subject of an official enquiry. Unfortunately the results of these enquiries seldom find their way into the public domain, leaving the public (which theoretically at least is a shareholder in the railway) in the dark about what is going on with this strategic corridor.

    Beit Bridge comes closer as a one-stop border crossing

    The South African Development Community (SADC) expects to have its first one-stop customs and clearing border post in operation before the end of this year, with Chirundu and Beit Bridge crossing having been selected for the honour of being the first.

    The Beit Bridge/Chirundu border post between South Africa and Zimbabwe have been the bane of contention among importers and exporters over delays lasting several days and even longer in clearing cargo through the crossing. The new one-stop customs and clearing post aims to harmonise the bureaucracy, paperwork and other issues that cause delays at cross border operations across the entire SADC region.

    The one-stop operation will eliminate the duplication that now occurs. Other inefficiencies are believed to have been identified and will receive attention.

    Kenya ports boss wants unwelcome containers auctioned

    If the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) gets its way then the Port of Mombasa will soon be holding a massive auction sale of uncleared containers.

    The drastic proposal is a result of the frustration being felt by the KPA after it revealed a week ago that 12,000 containers were clogging the port’s container terminal and delaying ship and cargo movements.

    The decision to hold an auction would have to come from Kenya’s Revenue Authority but the KPA is busy urging its fellow parastatal to do just that, as the only way in which the boxes can be placed back in circulation and valuable port space freed up.

    According to KPA chief executive Abdullah Hemed Mwarura, the Kenya Revenue Authority has a statutory right, if not duty to conduct such auctions of over-stayed cargo

    A week ago Mwarura said that shippers were using the port as a storage facility and this was leading to congestion at the port. In addition he blamed the shippers of passing on to consumers the huge storage costs that they incur.

    Mwaruwa said there was an agreement between the Kenya Railways Corporation (now privatised as Rift Valley Railway) to facilitate the movement of containers between the port and Nairobi, the country’s industrial and commercial centre. He repeated a call made a week ago for shippers to make use of their Bills of Lading to divert cargo straight from the port to Nairobi where it could be cleared.

    - source The East African (http://www.nationmedia.com/eastafrican/current/)

    Darfur has chance to ‘begin anew’, as Pres Bush promises food shipments

    Food shipments to be sent

    by Charles W Corey, Washington File Staff Writer, US State Dept

    Washington : With the recent peace agreement signed in Abuja, Nigeria, Sudan's Darfur region has the chance to "begin anew" but the situation there remains "dire," President Bush warned 8 May, as he outlined new emergency food shipments and other steps his administration is taking to help those still suffering in Darfur.

    Bush spoke to reporters on Darfur at the White House flanked by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick, who just had returned from Abuja. Bush said Rice will address the UN Security Council at a 9 May ministerial-level meeting to discuss humanitarian and security issues in Darfur and will submit a resolution that would accelerate the deployment of UN peacekeepers to Darfur.

    The United States has circulated a draft resolution that would accelerate planning and assistance for both the transition period from the African Union force (AMIS) to a much larger and robust UN peacekeeping mission and the UN mission itself. The resolution also calls for expanding the mandate of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) to support the implementation of the new peace agreement.

    In New York, the US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton told reporters on 8 May that the United States sees the resolution as "a critical step to accelerate the transition to the UN peacekeeping force, given that the African Union Mission in Sudan force has basically reached its limit."

    "We want the deployment of the UN peacekeeping force as soon as possible," the ambassador said.

    The United States praised the Darfur Peace Agreement, signed 5 May in Abuja, between the government of Sudan and the principal rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), as a vital step in ending the suffering of the people of Darfur and providing an opportunity for national peace and reconciliation. The accord provides for detailed, verifiable steps to disarm and neutralise the Jingaweit and other armed militia groups, and opens the way for economic recovery and integration of the former combatants and people of Darfur into the political process.

    Bush announces additional food aid for Darfur

    President Bush also announced new emergency US food shipments to Darfur and said he has asked Congress to approve USD 225 million in emergency funding for food aid. "I hope Congress will act swiftly on this true emergency," he said, in which some 200,000 have died from conflict, famine and disease and more than two million have been displaced.

    The United States and other nations, Bush said, must act to prevent a humanitarian emergency and then help rebuild the Darfur region. He said the United States is the leading provider of humanitarian aid to Sudan and this year alone provides more than 85 percent of the food distributed by the World Food Program there.

    Despite this aid however, he warned the situation "remains dire."

    The World Food Program has issued an appeal for funds necessary to feed six million people over the next several months, he told reporters. While the United States has met its commitment, he lamented that other major donors have not yet come through. As a result, the World Food Program has been forced to cut rations by half.

    To get food to Darfur quickly, Bush said he has directed that five ships be loaded with food and proceed immediately to Port Sudan, and he ordered the emergency purchase of another 40,000 metric tons of food for rapid shipment.

    "These actions will allow the World Food Program to restore full food rations to the people of Darfur this summer."

    Bush called on the international donor community to do its part. "Moving forward, we cannot keep people healthy and fed without other countries standing up and doing their part as well. The European Union, nations like Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Japan, have taken leadership on other humanitarian issues and the people of Darfur urgently need more of their help now."

    The president called on the government of Sudan to allow all UN agencies to do their work "without hindrance … [and] remove the visa and travel restrictions that complicate relief efforts. And all sides must cease attacks on relief workers.”

    Bush pledged the United States will be an "active participant" in an "important" Dutch-led reconstruction and development conference that will take place in the next few months to help the people of Darfur.

    Increasing security in Darfur

    The United States and other countries must work to help increase security levels on the ground in Darfur, Bush said.

    "In the short term," he said, "the African Union forces in Darfur need better capabilities." As such, he said, the United States is working with its NATO allies to get those forces the immediate assistance they need in the form of planning, logistics, intelligence support and other help. Bush urged all members of the alliance to contribute further to this effort.

    In the longer term, Bush told reporters, the African Union forces must be the core of a larger military force that is more mobile and more capable, generates better intelligence and has been given a clear mandate to protect civilians from harm.

    Bush said his administration is working with the United Nations to identify countries that can contribute troops so "the peacekeeping effort can be robust."

    The president said he had just called President Umar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir of Sudan "to commend him for his work on this agreement, and to urge the government to express clear support for a UN force. The people of Darfur deserve more than sympathy. They deserve the active protection that UN peacekeepers can provide."

    Bush said Osama bin Laden, in a recent audiotape, attacked American efforts in Sudan and urged his followers to kill international peacekeepers in Darfur. "Once again, the terrorists are attempting to exploit the misery of fellow Muslims and encourage more death. Once again, America and other responsible nations are fighting misery and helping a desperate region come back to life. Once again, the contrast cannot be more clear," the president said.

    "America will not turn away from this tragedy. We will call genocide by its rightful name and we will stand up for the innocent until the peace of Darfur is secured," he said.

    The full text of a White House statement on the Darfur Peace Agreement and a transcript of Bush's remarks are available on the White House Web site. Facts sheets on the Darfur Peace Agreement and the Humanitarian Situation in Darfur are also available on the (US) State Department Web site.

    SOMALIA: More deaths in third day of Mogadishu fighting

    Nairobi, 9 May 2006 (IRIN) - The death toll continued to rise in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, as fighting between rival militias entered its third day, local sources said.

    "As of last night [Monday], the death toll stood at 41. It will get higher, since the fighting is still going on," said a doctor at Keysaney Hospital in the north of the city, where most of the injured were being treated.

    So far 113 people were receiving care in various hospitals in the capital. Among those were a two-year-old boy, his one-year-old sister, who were wounded when a mortar bomb hit their home on Monday evening in Yaqshid District. "The boy lost both legs, and the little girl has a serious stomach wound," said Awes Fodey, a local resident.

    "If the fighting continues, the hospitals will not be able to cope," the doctor said. "Some of the hospitals have already run out of medicines," warned the doctor.

    Somali militiamen in one of the armed vehicles known locally as ‘technicals’ – picture IRIN

    The clashes started on Sunday in the Si Si area of north Mogadishu, when armed groups loyal to Mogadishu militia leader Nur Daqle attacked militia led by the chairman of the Islamic courts, Shaykh Sharif Shaykh Ahmed. Daqle and Ahmed belong to the Agoon Yar subclan of the Abgal community. What started as an internal feud soon became a battle between the Islamic courts and the newly created Alliance for Peace and the Fight Against International Terrorism, which comprises several Mogadishu-based faction leaders.

    Hundreds of families fled their homes in the city's northern outskirts as the fighting entered its third day. "This is the biggest exodus we have seen since February [when the factional fighting began]," said a local observer.

    Another source, who requested anonymity, said the displacement was due to the indiscriminate use of mortar bombs. "They [the Alliance group] are using mortars and even shelling areas where there is no fighting. It is almost a deliberate attempt on their part to spread the fighting to all of Mogadishu," he said. "People living in Sanaa, Arjentiina, Obasiibo Yaqshid [all in north Mogadishu and close to the fighting] are leaving because they are terrified by this new tactic."

    As the violence continued, many families that had endured two days of clashes "had given up hope that the fighting would stop," said a local journalist. "Some have gone south, while many others are heading north to the town of Balad."

    Elders and civil-society groups that had tried to intervene had so far been unsuccessful, the journalist said.

    Any mediation efforts to resolve the conflict have been complicated by the public perception that "there is foreign involvement," said Abdullahi Shirwa, a member of Civil Society in Action, a local group. The impression that the fighting is being driven by outside influences is "making intervention by clan elders very difficult."

    (Source IRIN - this report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations)

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