Ports & Ships Maritime News

Sep 12, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • Nacala railway blames delays on lack of direct shipping

  • India, a strategic partner for SA: Mlambo-Ngcuka

  • SENEGAL: No shame in failing

  • COTE D IVOIRE: Thousands seek treatment from toxic waste exposure

  • DRC: Mbeki, Solana bolster process for second-round polls

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    Nacala railway blames delays on lack of direct shipping

    A lack of direct shipping services between Central America and in particular the Panama Canal and Mozambique ports is holding up the delivery of four urgently needed diesel-electric locomotives for the Nacala corridor railway.

    That’s according to a report in Maputo’s daily newspaper ‘Noticias’ and quoted by Mozambique news service AIM.

    The four locos are required by the privately-operated Northern Development Corridor (CDN) which operates the port of Nacala as well as the railway network leading westwards into Malawi. The article quotes CDN director Fernando Couto as saying, "We are now trying to find a specific ship, with a capacity to carry this cargo, which is extremely heavy, and that will agree to make this journey."

    It had been hoped to have the four locos enter service during the first half of 2006 but they have yet to begin their journey to Africa. Both CDN and its sister company which operates the railway within Malawi are experiencing a critical shortage of locomotives, making it difficult to provide adequate freight and passenger services. Instead, cargo for export is being sent to South African ports by road.

    CDN says it is also hoping to complete the rehabilitation of the railway covering the final 77km section between Cuamba and the Malawi border at a cost of about US $ 10 million.

    In April this year this year Mozambique’s minister for transport criticised CDN for what he called a lack of delivery, saying that the government was dissatisfied with the rate of progress with the Nacala railway and port operation. He said the rail and port operations at Nacala had failed to meet the desired levels of efficiency and the results were far from satisfactory

    Earlier Spoornet, which had been awarded the concession for the refurbishment of the railway between Maputo and the South African border at Ressano Garcia, as well as its operation, was dismissed by CFM for non-performance and CFM has since undertaken to complete the repairs itself. CFM locomotives are currently being overhauled in Bloemfontein and in Maputo.

    - source AIM and Ports & Ships

    India, a strategic partner for SA: Mlambo-Ngcuka

    Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka says India is a key strategic partner for South Africa.

    The Deputy President said this while addressing a business forum on Sunday, the first day of her four-day official visit to the sub-continent.

    She is there to strengthen economic linkages between the two countries through business and governmental cooperation.

    Together with Brazil, South Africa and India are members of a treaty known as the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) tri-lateral agreement.

    The IBSA Summit is taking place in Brazil later this week. President Thabo Mbeki is leading the South African delegation there on Wednesday.

    "Our political and economic relations are sound and are based on mutual respect and concern for each other's development.

    "The strength of our economic relations is illustrated by the South Africa/India Chief Executive Officers' (CEOs) forum that has been in existence for the past two years," explained Mlambo-Ngcuka.

    The forum aims to smooth working relations and to create a conducive business environment between the two countries.

    She also placed emphasis on the importance of IBSA, saying it sought to "define a common economic democracy for all three developing states".

    "We share the same vision of democratic and economic freedom for our people, and indeed we are all driving programmes that will ensure that our economic growth is shared by all our people," the deputy president said.

    Total trade between SA and India in 2005 saw a considerable increase from 2004.

    Exports increased by 100 percent, while imports increased by 55 percent, and thus making India South Africa's 13th largest trading partner - in terms of both exports and imports.

    The increase in trade could be attributed to growing mutual awareness among the two countries, about each other.

    In addition, India is among the top 10 countries investing in South Africa, estimated to the value of R10 billion.

    Among the Indian companies with investments in South Africa are TATA, Mittal Steel and Sahara.

    TATA has also boosted South Africa's Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) by taking seven more trainees into a training programme that commenced earlier this year with 15 trainees.

    "You have been given this opportunity to learn from this experience. We know that you will be good ambassadors for our country and will contribute to the growth of South Africa upon your
    return. It is an opportunity many others would have liked to have. So make the best of it," the Deputy President told the trainees.

    Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka is scheduled to meet, among others, various Indian CEOs with a specific focus on tourism, metals and mining, IT and Business Process Outsourcing, Banking and Finance, pharmaceuticals, jewellery, agro processing and South Africa's business in India.

    SENEGAL: No shame in failing

    Dakar, 8 Sep 2006 (IRIN) - Spain recently provided surveillance boats and other equipment to help patrol Senegal’s waters because of a recent surge in illegal migration to the Spanish Canary Islands.

    More than 20,000 illegal migrants have turned up on the archipelago this year. The migrants board fishing boats to make the roughly 1,500-km journey, hoping eventually to reach mainland Spain and find work.

    This is the third in a series of three profiles on Senegalese migrants.

    Abdallah Diouf, 35

    When the sea was no longer providing him with fish to sell, Abdallah Diouf thought that maybe the sea could provide him with something else; a new life.

    “I had the opportunity to leave so I said 'Why not?' I told myself that whether I stayed or left on this adventure, it was all the same since it was in the hands of God,” he said.

    A pirogue or fishing boat, the type used by illegal immigrants to make their way across 1,500 miles of open ocean in search of a new life in Spanish territory. Picture IRIN

    Abdallah left his wife and children on 6 May in a fishing vessel along with 79 other passengers. After five harrowing days at sea, the boat neared the shores of the island of Fuerteventura in the Canaries.

    A helicopter circled above. Then a Spanish marine led them to the quay and from there they were taken to a holding camp.

    Originally, Abdallah thought that he would eventually make it onto the Spanish mainland and be able to call on friends settled in Barcelona. They had offered to take him in and help him out once he arrived.

    Instead, Abdallah remained at the holding camp for 40 days. Then he was repatriated.

    Since being back in Senegal, Abdallah has taken solace with others who have been sent back home, drinking tea with them and watching soccer matches on television. And, he says, his family has been a great comfort to him.

    “Our families didn’t turn their backs on us. On the contrary, they are trying to rebuild our confidence,” he said. “It is not shameful to make the trip and not succeed.”

    Still, Abdallah is not ready to recast his fishing nets. “Before, there were fish at here, but now you have to go further, sometimes as far as Guinea or Sierra Leone. You have to spend more days at sea and you’re bringing back less. You never get ahead, especially when you’re a father and you have a family.”

    Although Abdallah is uncertain about his future in Senegal, his experience as an illegal migrant left him with a bitter taste, and he has no plans to re-attempt the voyage.

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

    COTE D IVOIRE: Thousands seek treatment from toxic waste exposure

    Abidjan, 8 Sep 2006 (IRIN) - So far, some 3,000 people in Cote d’Ivoire’s main city, Abidjan, have sought medical treatment after inhaling fumes from toxic waste dumped in residential areas, according to the United Nations.

    The vile stench has caused a host of complaints, including intestinal and respiratory problems, nose bleeds, nausea and vomiting. Hospitals say three people have died and more patients are arriving at hospitals everyday.

    “We are inundated. We are not only dealing with those ill from the toxic waste problem, but our regular patients too; it’s not easy. The government has to find more personnel to help,” said Dr. Bernard Kouadio at the University Hospital Centre (CHU), in Cocody.

    Cocody is one of a number of mostly poor residential neighbourhoods permeated by the sharp fumes coming off dumped toxic residue from gasoline cargo, shipped to Abidjan's port last month.

    Though it is remains unclear what is in the waste, it is thought to contain acutely toxic, hydrogen sulphide, according to a report from the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

    If allowed to stay in the environment, hydrogen sulphide could permeate soils and seep into ground water causing long-term damage and pollution, according to environmental group, Greenpeace.

    The scandal has highlighted a global problem of waste control, according to Yannick Vicaire, Toxics Campaigner at Greenpeace, France.

    “In this case we are seeing the extreme impact [of waste dumping] where it has led to direct poisoning of hundreds of people and even killed some, but in other cases dumping goes on far out at sea, and in those cases we are not seeing the impact,” said Vicaire.

    An international agreement, the Basel Convention, was signed in 1989 to address hazardous waste disposal and included a special clause to protect poor nations that are less able to protect their environments from unscrupulous dumpers.

    It is not yet clear whether the waste dumped in Abidjan contravenes that agreement.

    Under the Basel Convention, the source country for any waste illegally dumped is held responsible for the clean up operation and must take back the waste, according to Greenpeace.

    But just as the make-up of the substance in Abidjan remains unknown, identifying the source is even more murky. The ship, the Probo Koala, that deposited the waste had been chartered by a Dutch company but was registered in Panama. However, its cargo could have come from another country entirely.

    Nearly three weeks after the waste was dumped, a full clean up operation has yet to begin and Abidjan's residents are still living with the vile and potential fatal stench.

    Public authorities authorised the dumping of the waste, saying they believed that it was sewage, according to OCHA.

    Some of the substance is thought to have been dumped in sewage systems and in the lagoon in the heart of Abidjan. Several of the suspected dumping sites are close to water sources, said OCHA.

    The lagoon in the heart of Abidjan into which toxic chemicals, shipped in by a Panamanian-registered ship sailing from the Netherlands, are thought to have been dumped. Picture Sarah Simpson-IRIN

    In meetings with the UN, the government, which ostensibly resigned over the scandal, has acknowledged that it does not have the capacity to assess or clean up the waste and has called for assistance from international partners.

    Cote d’Ivoire is a former beacon of stability in a region all too often beset by conflict. But that image was lost in 1999, when the country suffered its first ever coup d’etat. In 2002 it slipped into a civil war that has left the country divided.

    Rebels hold the north of Cote d’Ivoire, but Abidjan lies in the government-controlled and more industrialised south of the country.

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

    DRC: Mbeki, Solana bolster process for second-round polls

    Kinshasa, 11 Sep 2006 (IRIN) - South African President Thabo Mbeki began discussions on Monday with the two presidential finalists about the run-off election due next month in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

    Mbeki, whose country has been instrumental in guiding the DRC to democratic elections, met Joseph Kabila, president of the transitional government. He will also have talks with Jean-Pierre Bemba, Kabila's rival for the presidency and one of the four vice-presidents in the current government.

    Neither Mbeki nor Kabila made a statement after their meeting but vice-president Arthur Z'Ahidi Ngoma, whom Mbeki also met, welcomed the South African intervention. "I want to thank President Thabo Mbeki because each time there is a problem he comes to help solve it," Ngoma said.

    The European Union foreign policy and security chief, Javier Solana, also arrived in Kinshasa for a day-long visit aimed at shoring up the electoral process. "The purpose of Javier Solana's visit is to try to get the transition back on the rails," Bernard Piette, the first adviser at the European Commission in Kinshasa, said.

    In the same vein, Hilary Benn, the UK secretary of state for international development, is also in Kinshasa and has met President Kabila.

    Rivalry between Kabila and Bemba erupted in fighting in Kinshasa on 20 August shortly before the Independent Electoral Commission issued preliminary election results, and as Bemba was on his way to his television station to deliver a statement. The following day, members of Kabila's presidential guards attacked Bemba's home while he was meeting ambassadors.

    The pair face off on 29 October. Kabila won the first round with 44.8 percent of the votes and Bemba 20 percent, against the required 50 percent plus one vote to be declared the outright winner. Both men agreed to set up committees to investigate the fighting and to work out rules for a run-off.

    On Monday, Mbeki also held discussions with the chairman of the electoral commission, Apollinaire Malumalu. In addition, two of Bemba's television and radio stations returned to the airwaves, having been closed since 20 August, just before the release of the provisional poll results.

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

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