Ports & Ships Maritime News

Sep 5, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • First meeting for Mpumalanga freight logistics forum

  • Angola to focus on improving container flow at the ports

  • Mbeki, Putin to strengthen SA-Russia trade relations

  • SWAZILAND: Small business training undermined by fraud

  • SOMALIA: Talks between gov't, Islamic group under way

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    First meeting for Mpumalanga freight logistics forum

    The introductory meeting to the Mpumalanga Provincial Freight Logistics
    Forum (MFLF) is to take place this morning (Wednesday) at 10:00 am at the Parks Board Auditorium in Nelspruit.

    The MFLF, under the auspices of the Province of Mpumalanga Department of Roads and Transport, will be a multilateral, multi-modal freight and corridor stakeholder' forum within the Province of Mpumalanga. The focus will be on the main transport corridors, between industrial locations, sea ports and transit corridors for purposes of implementing the National Freight Logistics Strategy in the Province of Mpumalanga. The Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative will be appointed as secretariat for the MFLF.

    The MFLF falls within the ambit of the National Freight Logistics Strategy, namely, integration with the development of rural freight corridor systems from a freight system perspective and an approach to corridor development along certain defined critical national, regional and continental corridors.

    - issued by the CEO of the Maputo Corridor Liaison Initiative

    Angola to focus on improving container flow at the ports

    Angola’s Minister of Transport, Andre Luis Brandao that the country’s container imports have risen by 43.5 percent over the past four years. This is in contrast to exports which have not shown any appreciable growth.

    Angola’s Press Agency in Luanda reported the minister as having made the comments while opening a conference to address the challenges of containerisation in Angola. It quoted Brandao as saying that 70 percent of containers remained idle at Luanda port for abnormally long periods, which then led to logjams and was a major cause of delay.

    He said that as a result of the overstay penalties were being imposed, leading inevitably to an increase in the cost of goods to the consumer.

    Brandao said the government intended focusing on port rehabilitation and development during 2005/06 and this included improving the handling of containers at Angola’s ports. A number of dry ports would be created to help alleviate the congestion in the harbour.

    A series of surcharges are in force by many of the shipping lines calling at Luanda (see our News Bulletin for yesterday).

    Mbeki, Putin to strengthen SA-Russia trade relations

    Pretoria (BuaNews) - President Thabo Mbeki and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin meet this week to discuss issues aimed at strengthening relations between South Africa and the Russian Federation.

    Mr Putin's visit, scheduled for today and tomorrow (5-6 September), is the first ever by a Russian Head of State to South Africa.

    Presidents Mbeki and Putin will among others, discuss the status of bilateral political and economic relations between both countries, including endeavours to promote economic relations through the Intergovernmental Trade and Economic Committee (ITEC).

    The promotion of the African agenda, including a follow up of the G-8 Summit; regional developments in the Southern African Development Community (SADC); conflict resolution and peacekeeping in Sudan and Ivory Coast as well as the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will also be discussed.

    Other issues include the non-proliferation and peaceful use of nuclear energy with respect to the situation in Iran; the Middle East since Russia is a member of the quartet and co-sponsor of the Roadmap and the reform of the United Nations ahead of the General Assembly scheduled for later in September.

    It is anticipated that the two will also sign a number of agreements, including an agreement on co-operation in the field of health care and medical sciences; exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes; aviation and water resources and forestry.

    An agreement on the reciprocal protection of intellectual property rights related to defence, industrial co-operation as well as protocol on co-operation in the fields of arts and culture are also expected to be signed.

    South Africa and Russia already enjoy healthy economic relations with South African exports to Russia reaching US $106.5 million while imports from Russia stood at US $18.2 million in 2005.

    The bulk of South African exports are made up of vehicle engines (18.8 % of exports); machines and mechanical appliances (14 %); fresh grapes (13.8 %); flat-rolled products or iron (10 %); pears (6.8 %) peaches (3.4 %) - amounting to almost 70 percent of all exports to Russia.

    The major import from Russia, which accounts for over 65 percent of SA imports, is made up of the nickel group of minerals.

    The Russian Federation adopted a Decree in March 2003, following South Africa's recognition of Russia as a market economy in support of their World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership, to include South Africa in a list of developing countries that would enjoy preferential trade tariffs and duties with regard to exports to Russia, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

    It said bilateral relations between the two countries also expanded significantly under the umbrella of the ITEC.

    "Strategic direction and a structured and disciplined policy framework have resulted in substantive action taken by the respective governments in the strategic minerals and energy sectors through inter alia the establishment of a joint Task Force on Minerals in support of BEE objectives.

    "Solid progress in the field of science and technology relations, especially in terms of the Presidential policy objective of establishing South Africa as a key player in international astronomy and deep space research, also characterises the relationship," the department said.

    Russian tourists to South Africa totaled 7,473 in 2004 while the number of South Africans visiting Russia is growing steadily.

    SWAZILAND: Small business training undermined by fraud

    Mbabane, 4 Sep 2006 (IRIN) - An initiative to kick-start Swaziland's struggling economy resulted in the government coffers being defrauded of R50 million.

    A small business training scheme designed to nurture Swazi entrepreneurs has instead seen parliament appoint a commission of inquiry to trace the missing millions and test its recently declared anti-corruption drive.

    The commission heard that the initial sum for the courses ballooned five-fold to R50 million without the authority of the finance ministry, despite two cabinet ministers being aware of the cost inflation, and several well-connected people becoming "overnight millionaires".

    Some individuals and companies awarded tenders to conduct the training sessions were unqualified to do so, while others inflated the number of students attending the courses, and one company claimed R1.5 million (4,000 students) for training what amounted to "ghost students".

    The government committed R10 million to training people to run businesses after King Mswati III set a goal of stimulating the economy by creating a class of small and medium-sized enterprises.

    Swaziland's economy has been in a steep decline for the past three years. Tens of thousands of jobs in the garment industry have disappeared and an annual growth rate of 3.6 percent has dropped to 1 percent. Once a net exporter of food to the region, two-thirds of its one million people now live below the poverty line, according to the United Nations Development Programme.

    Musa Fakudze, principal Secretary for the ministry of finance, said political pressure had forced her to release additional funds, even when these surpassed the allotted R10 million, because parliamentarians were anxious to show they were doing something to create businesspeople in their constituencies.

    At a job summit last year, financial institutions backed the king's call to develop entrepreneurs and pledged to make R1.6 billion available as loans to small and medium entrepreneurs after they qualified. The trainees, mostly from rural areas, received certificates after the crash course, which they believed would entitle them to bank loans.

    Stanley Maphalala, a director of Swazi Bank, told the commission that men armed with traditional fighting sticks had descended on branches of the financial institution demanding loans. "They said it was the 'king's money', and they were entitled to it."

    However, Central bank governor Martin Dlamini told the commission that "the programme was not in line with what banks required from entrepreneurs", and normal banking practices had to be followed, such as collateral for loans and business plans, before money could be borrowed.

    The scandal is seen as a litmus test of Prime Minister Themba Dlamini's stated "zero tolerance" for corruption. According to one businessman, "The culprits are known. If prosecutions are not forthcoming from the commission of inquiry's investigations, this will send a strong signal that 'it's business as usual'."

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

    SOMALIA: Talks between gov't, Islamic group under way

    Khartoum, 4 Sep 2006 (IRIN) - Talks aimed at reconciling Somalia's fledgling transitional government and the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), were continuing on Monday in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, under the mediation of the League of Arab States.

    At the same time Kenya announced that President Mwai Kibaki would on Tuesday chair a special summit of the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which will discuss the Somali crisis.

    IGAD, which comprises Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda and Somalia, mediated the reconciliation talks that culminated in the formation of the transitional government in Kenya in October 2004.

    "We are brothers, we can achieve a lot. We want to focus on ways and means to take Somalia out of its current debacle," Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, speaker of Somalia's transitional parliament and leader of the government delegation, said at the opening of the Khartoum talks.

    A high-level delegation of Somali government leaders and members of the UIC first met in Khartoum in June, but the talks collapsed as the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) accused the UIC of grabbing territory and enforcing a strict version of Islamic law in a direct challenge to its authority.

    The UIC, for its part, accused the TFG of inviting foreign troops into Somalia.

    "Foreign interference and the presence of foreign forces on Somali soil, some of whom are already there, is a recipe for another civil war, instead of the pursuit of reconciliation and reconstruction," said Ibrahim Hussein Addow, leader of the UIC delegation to the talks.

    Neighbouring countries have backed a proposal to send a peace-support mission to Somalia, but the UIC continues to object to any foreign troops.

    Speaking at the opening session on Saturday, the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Representative for Somalia, François Lonseny Fall, urged both sides to engage in constructive dialogue.

    "We believe that resolving problems through mutual consultation and dialogue is the best way forward at this point in time," said Fall.

    Meanwhile, the UIC chairman Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, and several of his colleagues held talks in Nairobi at the weekend with Kenyan government officials and western diplomats. It was not immediately clear what issues were discussed but several sources said the UIC officials wanted to explain their opposition to the deployment of an African peace-building mission to Somalia.

    Somalia has been without a functioning national government since the overthrow in 1991 of the administration led by the Muhammad Siyad Barre. While enjoying widespread international support since its creation in 2004, the TFG has been struggling to overcome internal divisions that have prevented it from establishing its authority in the country.

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

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