Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jul 19, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • Green light for concessioning of Cape Town ship repair facility

  • Government wants to regauge Nigeria’s railway

  • ’Poor people’s summit’ slams G-8 policies

  • Ondangwa railway opens in Namibia

  • Mozambique gets tough with log exporters

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    Green light for concessioning of Cape Town ship repair facility

    Private ship repairers are about to get a foot in the door of ‘owning’ their own dry ship repair operation at Cape Town following the acceptance by the National Ports Authority of a preferred bidder for a new synchrolift. The process has taken several years to come to fruition.

    The facility will be built in the Elliot Basin of the Ben Schoeman Dock well removed from the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront area, where complaints have been leveled against the amount of noise and dust generated by the Robinson dry dock and Cape Town’s other synchrolift.

    Although the ship repair facilities have been located at the Victoria & Alfred basins for many years, the development of hotels and apartments as well as other recreational facilities at the world-famous waterfront in recent years has brought with it increased pressures for a ‘cleaner’ environment.

    This is despite this being something of a contradiction in that the success of the waterfront has been largely built on it being a working waterfront, with real ships and genuine maritime activity taking place in amongst the tourist activity consisting of thousands of visitors.

    The new synchrolift will be operated by a BEE consortium and including DCD Dorbyl and is expected to help relieve pressure on the Sturrock dry dock by absorbing much of the smaller craft that have been forced to use South Africa’s only post-panamax dry dock facility.

    Government wants to regauge Nigerian Railway


    Nigeria’s Council of State has recommended that the country’s railway be rebuilt to standard gauge at a cost of US $ 2,5 Billion.

    According to the reports the Council has recommended that Nigeria’s railway be converted to allow trains to travel at high speeds of up to 150km. The proposal also calls for a double track between the main centres with the Lagos – Kano section to be completed within four years thanks to a so-called ‘soft’ loan from China which will have to be matched by Nigeria.

    The recommendation comes after a team of UK consultants submitted their report to government on means of revitalising the rail network and speeding up the movement of cargo to and from the harbours.

    Nigeria currently has a rail network consisting of 3,557 km of railway, of which 3,505km is built to Cape Gauge (1067mm or 3ft 6ins) – the same gauge used throughout southern Africa.

    While it makes good sense for Nigeria’s railway to be ‘straightened’ and double-tracked, eliminating many of the sharp curvatures, there does seem to be a fixation in Africa with rebuilding railways to the wider 1435mm gauge as used in Europe and North America. In South Africa there has been talk at senior government level that the railway between Durban and Gauteng should be regauged to allow for faster trains, as though running trains at 150 km an hour would solve the country’s congestion problems.

    It’s been demonstrated many times that delays such as those that occur between Durban and Gauteng are not the fault of trains getting ‘lost’ along the way, or taking too long to arrive once they have set off, but are usually a result of problems at either end.

    Recently the chief executive of Transnet repeated statements that have also been uttered in South Africa’s parliament when she complained that trains travel too slowly between Durban and Gauteng. Maria Ramos talked of trains having to exchange locomotives in section, ‘up to three times between Durban and Johannesburg’ because of changes overhead power supply, she claimed.

    Several years ago this excuse was trotted out about the railway from East London to Gauteng.

    What nonsense is this that keeps recurring! Someone at Spoornet should tell the boss of Transnet that the line between the country’s main port and the industrial heartland of South Africa has been fully electrified with a uniform electrical current since the early 1960s and that trains have been running through without any need to change engines along the way. The crew is exchanged en route, on several occasions, but that takes minutes as it is done in section, not hours, and no journey need take more than 12 or 14 hours. If it does then Ramos should have a serious talk with the Operating Department.

    Now the same rubbish is coming from Nigeria, which is talking of a loan of billions of dollars from the Chinese to change its gauge. Why? Doubling the track obviously makes lots of sense, as is having a single gauge for all sections, but wanting to operate trains at 150 km/hour instead of say 60 or 80 km/hour and having to increase the gauge to do so doesn’t.

    South African Railways has proved many times over in the past (the Richards Bay coal line and Sishen – Saldanha ore line are two examples, and the Durban – Gauteng main line is another) that heavy and frequent trains can operate efficiently and successfully without resorting to high speed. Or having to change locomotive types.

    It’s what you do with the trains at each end that makes the difference.

    ’Poor people’s summit’ slams G-8 policies

    Gao (Mali), 18 July 2006 (IRIN) - As the G8 summit of the world’s economic powers wound up in St Petersburg, Russia, a “Poor People’s Summit” in Mali slammed global institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF, and demanded immediate debt relief for developing nations.

    Several hundred people, mostly from Africa but also from Europe and North America, trekked to this far-off dusty corner of Mali for the three-day event, taking place more than 1,000 kilometres from the capital, Bamako. About 60 non-governmental organisations took part.

    “I learnt here that this world is not just,” said Coumba Diallo, an elderly farmer from Guinea, after she attended a lecture on privatisation and debt. “I learnt that our leaders are not free, that they have masters elsewhere who give them orders.”

    Held for the 5th year running, the forum discussed issues such as debt and privatisation. It also examined immigration, GM foods and conflict.

    “GM foods must be banned from Africa,” said Tamadaho Emilie Atchaca, who heads a sustainable development group known as CADD in Benin. “If they’re introduced here we’ll lose our seeds and westerners will seize control of our seeds.”

    Mali’s Barry Aminata Toure, who heads a coalition on debt and development (CAD-Mali), said: “We refuse to be the rubbish-bin of the world. We want just international rules for fair trade.

    “The international community should recognise our right to maintain, protect and develop our food production in respect of the diversity of our cultures and our products.”

    Current moves to fortress Europe against illegal immigration by switching to selective migration also came under attack at the forum. “How can men and women who emigrate to help the survival of their families be considered to be ‘public dangers’?” said a group of Malian deportees.

    In a final statement, participants called for “the suppression of the World Bank and of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the creation of new institutions that are democratically controlled by states and by citizens.”

    Likewise, debt relief was a matter of urgency, the summit stated. Debt must be cancelled totally and unconditionally because it stunted productive investment and closed the door to basic social services such as education, health and water. Despite the G8’s pledges in 2005 to cancel debt for the world’s 35 poorest countries, only 17 countries had been targeted so far, participants said.

    “We want to build a world of justice and solidarity,” the summit slogan said.

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

    Ondangwa railway opens in Namibia

    Namibia’s new railway to Ondangwa has been opened – the first new railway project in southern Africa in many years and phase 1 in a project to extend Namibia’s logistics links with neighbouring countries.

    The 246.5km section between Tsumeb and Ondangwa was completed in four years at a cost of N $ 841 million.

    The new railway will not only handle freight trains but passenger traffic as well – Namibia showing a strong interest in redeveloping its rail transport for passenger purposes. According to Transnamib it will take about ten hours to complete the journey between Windhoek and Ondangwa, which is in the far north of the country not far from the Angolan border.

    During its construction phase almost 20,000 people were employed while another 44,000 volunteers answered the appeal of former president Sam Nujoma to offer their services. New stations were constructed at Oshivelo, Omuthiva and Ondangwa.

    The second phase of the railway construction which will involve building a new line between Ondangwa and Oshikango is due to commence soon, according to Namibian government officials. A branch from Ondangwa to Oshikati is also planned.

    Ultimately the railway is intended to connect with the Benguela railway in southern Angola which will also reconnect with Zambia and the DRC.

    Finance for the current railway construction came from Middle East banks.

    Mozambique gets tough with log exporters

    According to a media release issued by the Mozambique Customs some 20 containers of hardwood logs have been seized at the port of Nacala.

    The containers were loaded with 232 logs of umbila and panga-panga which under Mozambique forestry legislation are classified as grade one timber, which can only be exported if processed within Mozambique.

    The consignment was destined initially for Singapore. An attempt to confuse any inspection was made by the exporter who mixed other timber species among the containers. The exporter was issued with a fine of US $ 4,400 (110 meticais).

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