Ports & Ships Maritime News

Aug 29, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • Ferry fears in Red Sea

  • New options for Durban container terminals

  • SA, Angola and Namibia to sign agreement

  • Accolades for East London port terminal

  • AFRICA: WHO urges greater preparedness for avian flu

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    Ferry fears in Red Sea

    Fears of another Al Salam Boccaccio 98 ferry disaster raised its head yesterday (Monday) when the 12,200-gt Egyptian ferry Cleopatra 1, built in 1971, began transmitting distress signals.

    The ferry with about a thousand people on board, mostly Muslim pilgrims, lost part of its engine power as the ship headed for the port of Suez.

    Fortunately this story has a happy ending and the ferry was taken in tow and returned to the Saudi port of Jeddah from where it had sailed earlier in the day.

    The drama brought a reminder of another disaster involving an Egyptian ferry, Al Salaam Boccaccio 98, which took on too much water in February this year as crew fought a fire in the ferry’s lower vehicle deck area. Due to the ingress of water from the fire hoses the ship lost stability and began listing before eventually turning over and sinking with the loss of nearly one thousand lives – one of the worst maritime disasters in recent history.

    New options for Durban container terminals

    Durban’s port manager Basil Ndlovu has revealed a number of proposals aimed at extending the port of Durban’s container handling capacity.

    “We are looking at all the various options. The international trend is a growth rate of 8 percent – here in Durban it is double that at 16 percent. But the National Ports Authority (NPA) wants to be proactive, not reactive to these challenges. Therefore we’re looking at creating a new container terminal at Richards Bay and of course there’s one under construction at Coega, both of which will assist Durban and perhaps help keep Durban’s growth within the level of 8 percent.”

    Durban’s port manager Basil Ndlovu – we don’t have a choice

    The NPA intends handing over Pier 1 Container Terminal to SA Ports Operations (SAPO) as a going concern by 2008. “By then we need to have completed our studies into the options for digging out new ports, both for the Bayhead area and the airport site south of the city. The problem is that by 2010 we’ll have also run out of capacity at Durban, so therefore Richards Bay is going to have to grow concurrently while Coega will come into service by 2008.

    “It’s also true that market forces will determine where our future container growth is going to be. We’re very aware that by 2010 the airport site becomes available and that is also one option.”

    But the NPA is considering other ways to expand Durban’s capacity. One of these involves extending the Island View channel in the direction of King’s Rest marshalling yard and creating a new ‘face’ to the Pier 1 and Durban Container Terminals, creating additional berths on the new southern side.

    This would however require the relocation of some of the liquid bulk storage tanks to the DIA site and involves therefore a renegotiation of certain leases.

    Ndlovu indicated that the NPA’s thinking at present was to utilise the airport site more for ‘back of port’ functions than as a new dig-out port. He said the final decision would be determined by growth volumes and whether Richards Bay and Coega can absorb some of this growth from Durban.

    He said that Transnet was interested in acquiring the airport site from ACSA but not necessarily to build a new port on it immediately – although that may come later.

    “We have to plan for this and take into account its future use, so the object would be to secure the land in case we want to build there later. Therefore there’ll be no very long leases for its use in the meantime.”

    Ndlovu said that one option that is being keenly pursued by the NPA involves the development of an ‘inland dry port’ at Cato Ridge, halfway between Durban and Pietermaritzburg. This would involve all export containers from outside the Durban area having first to go to Cato Ridge for stacking ahead of the relevant ship. A shuttle train operation would then deliver the containers to the container terminals on a ‘just in time‘ basis, eliminating much of the road congestion now being experienced within Durban.

    Similarly import containers for destinations other than Durban would be shuttled by rail from the port to Cato Ridge from where they would be either railed or road-hauled to their final destination.

    The inland terminal would provide truck stop facilities for road hauliers, including repair and maintenance of the trucks (much of which now takes part on Durban’s streets). The terminal would also have container stuffing and unloading facilities for LCL boxes (less than a container load) as well as Customs offices for inspection, scanners etc.

    The Cato Ridge project would include not only containers but breakbulk, liquid and bulk cargo as well, with the facility acting as a truck stop for road-hauled bulk cargo destined for the port.

    Asked how likely it was for the Cato Ridge option to happen, Ndlovu’s answer was short and to the point.

    “We don’t have a choice,” he said.

    SA, Angola and Namibia to sign agreement

    Pretoria, 28 August 2006 (BuaNews): South Africa, Angola and Namibia will sign an agreement in Cape Town today (Tuesday) to officially establish the Benguela Current Commission.

    The Benguela Current Commission is a formal institutional structure that will facilitate the understanding, protection, conservation and sustainable use of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME).

    The Benguela current is the cold ocean stream that runs along the west coast of the southern African coastline.

    It is home to a marine ecosystem rich in economic potential. The fish stocks within the ecosystem move freely between the waters of Angola, Namibia and South Africa.

    For this reason, the Trade Law Centre of Southern Africa (Tralac) says given the mobile nature of the fish resource, it can only be adequately managed by joint and coordinated efforts from the three countries.

    Tralac said the wider aim of the BCLME project was thus to recommend to the governments how this could most effectively be done.

    South Africa's Environmental Affairs and Tourism Department said the establishment represented an important step in a decade-long process to build trust and cooperation between the three countries of the BCLME.

    According to the department, marine scientists from the three countries had been working together since 1995 when they began to share knowledge and understanding of the Benguela Current ecosystem through the regional fisheries science programme BENEFIT (Benguela Environment Fisheries Training Interactions Programme).

    "More recently, scientists and fisheries managers have been working together through the BCLME Programme, a collaborative initiative that is supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said the department.

    The launch will be jointly hosted by Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk, his Angolan and Namibian counterparts, Salomao Jos, Luheto Xirimbimbi, Abraham Iyambo and Mr Ad Melkert.

    "From a legal perspective the harmonisation of laws and regulations across the domestic legal regimes of the three countries will be a crucial method of conducting this joint management and conservation of the sensitive resource," it said.

    "Trade in fish and fish products is an integral part of this regime and this forms the main focus of the tralac contribution to the work of the BCLME consortium."

    Accolades for East London port terminal

    East London’s port car terminal has been awarded a Noscar rating by the National Occupational Safety Association (NOSA) for the third year running.

    The award was presented last week at a function held outside Pretoria with Nosa International officiating.

    The terminal, which caters almost exclusively for the DaimlerChrylser assembly plant in the city, has a design output of 50,000 motor units annually. Volumes at East London have however been down in the past year due to the changeover in specs for export models of Mercedes Benz cars.

    The terminal does have the potential to be extended to almost four times its existing capacity, says Pieter Klinkraadt, business unit executive for the terminal.

    AFRICA: WHO urges greater preparedness for avian flu

    Addis Ababa, 28 Aug 2006 (IRIN) - The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday warned that unless African countries are adequately prepared, a pandemic of avian influenza would remain a threat to the continent.

    "This potentially catastrophic situation requires strong government leadership for the finalisation and timely implementation of national multisectoral preparedness and response plans," Dr Luis Sambo, WHO regional director for Africa, told the WHO Regional Committee for Africa in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. "Government responses should be within a global partnership that is well coordinated, well resourced with adequate funding, and based on the principle of equity."

    Since Nigeria confirmed the presence of the H5N1 virus in February, an increasing number of African countries has noted the infection in birds.

    The regional director told the gathering of ministers that as at 7 April 2006, 36 countries in the region had confirmed the establishment of a multisectoral preparedness and response plan. "Also, 40 percent of member states have had the plans approved and shared them with development partners for resource mobilisation," he added.

    Lack of relevant standard operating procedures, weak transport and communication infrastructure, weak general administration and logistic systems, high rates of illiteracy, widespread poverty and huge economic losses due to disruption of trade are among the challenges the continent faces with regard to the pandemic.

    The regional director pledged that the WHO, with other development partners, would continue to help to mobilise the resources to fight the bird flu threat.

    The agency urged countries to take action in several areas, including enhancing preparedness and response coordination at the national and regional levels; reducing opportunities for human infection with H5N1, strengthening early warning systems; delaying and containing the spread of influenza at source and boosting national health systems.

    Meanwhile, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who also addressed the gathering, noted that HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases continued to cause unacceptable levels of suffering and mortality in Africa.

    "It needs little emphasis that the condition of our people in Africa in the health sector is extremely depressing, with both humanitarian and economic implications. The existing overall limitations in resources and capacity have meant that natural disasters such as the recent flood in Ethiopia usually cause massive humanitarian and health problems affecting thousands of people," Meles said.

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

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