Ports & Ships Maritime News

Sep 8, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • Seychelles introduces ballast water restrictions

  • Cote D’Ivoire cabinet resigns over toxic fumes scandal

  • Coega set to score from Russian visit

  • Senegal: “They tricked us”

  • World Bank, IMF to cast spotlight on developing nations

  • South Africa rated for ease of doing business

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    Seychelles introduces ballast water restrictions

    The Seychelles has identified a ballast water exchange points for vessels approaching Port Victoria in an effort to protect the archipelago from invasive species.

    According to Seychelles maritime safety authorities three new marine invasive species have been identified which can only have been introduced into the area by visiting ships’ ballast water. In future these ships will have to adjust their ballast at a position 80 miles from Port Victoria. The identified zone has been marked on paper and electronic charts which are available to vessels calling at the islands. A set of penalties for offenders is currently being drawn up.

    It is thought that the Seychelles, being an importing country rather than an exporter, is not as yet badly affected by invasive marine species, as the majority of ships arrive fully laden and take on ballast in port once their cargo has been discharged.

    - source East African Standard

    Cote D’Ivoire cabinet resigns over toxic fumes scandal

    Abidjan, 7 Sep 2006 (IRIN) - President Laurent Gbagbo has accepted the unprecedented resignation of Cote d’Ivoire’s cabinet as anger mounts over the dumping of toxic waste in the main city, Abidjan, that left hundreds ill.

    Charles Konan Banny retains his position as prime minister. Gbagbo asked him to propose a new government as soon as Thursday.

    “You need to understand that nothing is above the health of Ivorians. You need to understand that we cannot kill Ivorians just like that. Death has been sown in a voluntary or involuntary manner - justice will decide," Gbagbo said after an emergency meeting in the capital, Yamoussoukro.

    The waste, which was discarded in various residential areas, is residue from a gasoline cargo shipped to Abidjan's port last month. The health scandal adds to an already tense atmosphere in Cote d’Ivoire as talks on Tuesday to break a deadlock over the country’s peace process failed.

    On Wednesday and Thursday, hundreds of people in Abidjan threw up barricades in protest over the toxic waste, brandishing placards accusing the government of negligence.

    Hubert Oulay, presidential spokesman, announced on Wednesday the provision of safe water, better security around the contaminated sites and free medical treatment for people who had fallen ill from the waste.

    Hundreds of people have sought treatment in Abidjan hospitals after breathing the noxious, toxic fumes. The Health Ministry said three people had died and 1,500 others had suffered ill effects from the waste.

    In a bid to reassure the population, authorities have begun locating the dumping sites. So far, nine spots have been identified, including drains, diplomats said.

    Aid workers told IRIN that Cote d'Ivoire has appealed for six billion CFA (US $11 million) to deal with the situation. But United Nations agencies and Western embassies said they first wanted to investigate the polluted sites before committing further. Teams from the UN and World Health Organisation have begun visiting the dumps. France plans to send six experts to Cote d'Ivoire on Friday, Western officials said.

    "The humanitarian community is ready to intervene, but for a start we need to know the results of the experts’ investigations. Nothing has been done so far and we do not have information on which drugs are needed," a humanitarian source said.

    After gasoline from the Netherlands-based commodities trading firm Trafigura Beheer BV, specialising in petrol, gasoline and base metals, was unloaded two weeks ago a local company was charged with discarding the residue, according to Trafigura.

    In July, the Netherlands refused to accept the waste, which contained the noxious chemicals hydrogen sulphide and mercaptan, because of their toxicity and the cost of clean-up, according to media reports in Europe.

    A report by the Ivorian Anti-Pollution Centre (CIAPOL), says hydrogen sulphide is "a toxic substance that can lead to immediate death when inhaled".

    "We do not know yet the extent of the catastrophe, but what the politicians understand is that the consequences on the population are very serious," a Western diplomat said. “There is a gap between the politicians and the population. They feel utterly helpless, abandoned by the authorities who do nothing for the country, only for themselves."

    It is increasingly unclear who will lead Cote d’Ivoire after 31 October when presidential elections had been scheduled. UN officials say the polls will likely be postponed.

    Cote d'Ivoire has been split in two since an attempt to topple Gbagbo failed in September 2002. Some 10,000 UN and French peacekeepers monitor a ceasefire and a buffer zone between the rebel north and the government south. Three million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.

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

    Footnote: President Laurent Gbagbo accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Konan Banny but has also asked Banny to form a new government.

    The noxious chemicals were discharged from the vessel Probo Koala, a handysize bulk/ore carrier which is registered in Panama and which docked at Abidjan on 19 August, sailing again two days later.

    The ship is owned by a Greek company, Prime Marine Management and was under charter to the Dutch company Trafigura which is claiming that the discharge to an Ivorian company in Abidjan was completely legal. Technically that may be so, but morally is another matter. Once again Europe seeks to dump its waste in other parts of the globe.

    Coega set to score from Russian visit

    At last it looks as though Coega Industrial Development Zone and the new port of Ngqura may have a genuine and meaningful tenant, which can become the spark needed to end years of fruitless endeavour and to justify the huge outlay in the Eastern Cape.

    Agreements signed on Wednesday will see the Russian firm of Renova investing up to R1 Billion in a manganese processing plant and export facility at Coega. From the South African side Transnet has committed to transport the manganese ore from the new United Manganese of Kalahari mine near Kuruman in the Northern Cape to the new port.

    The mine is to be a joint venture between United Manganese and Renova, with the latter developing a ferro-alloy smelter at Coega. Transnet’s commitment is to upgrade the railway leading from the Eastern Cape to handle the increased volumes including manganese, coal and other raw materials while Eskom has signed to supply energy in the form of electricity to the smelter.

    In another development two Russian companies Sual Holdings, which is also owned by Renova, and Rusal have expressed interest in developing an aluminium smelter at Coega subject to Canada’s Alcan opting out of the project. Alcan acquired an option to build an aluminium smelter at Coega when it acquired French company Pechiney, but has yet to decide whether it will go ahead with the South African operation.

    Senegal: “They tricked us”

    Dakar, 6 Sep 2006 (IRIN) - A record number of illegal migrants reached the shores of the Spanish Canary Islands last weekend. Authorities reported that between Saturday and Sunday, 1,400 migrants, mainly from West Africa, arrived in eight canoe-style fishing boats that they believe left from Mauritania.

    Traditional fishing canoes, or pirogues, packed with illegal migrants brave the seas for Spain – picture Julie Vandal/IRIN

    The longer and riskier maritime route to the Canaries became increasingly popular this year after the shorter route through Morocco was cut off by increased patrols. Another route from North Africa into Sicily was stymied by Italian navy patrols.

    The journey from Senegal to the Canaries is approximately 1,500 km and can take anywhere from five to 20 days. Upon arrival, dehydrated and exhausted, those who have made the crossing face the possibility of repatriation to their respective countries.

    Yet despite the risks, many young West Africans, frustrated by the limited opportunities at home and tempted by the stories of those who have made it, borrow from friends and family to pay for their passage.

    The sandy alleys of Yarakh, an old fishing quarter in Dakar, are dotted with modest houses of varying styles. In front of the homes, women tend to small businesses and unemployed youths loiter about. With the waters depleted of fish, few young Senegalese consider following in the footsteps of their fathers as fishermen.

    They do, however, look to the sea.

    This is the first of a series of three profiles of Senegalese migrants.

    Galass Lette, 26

    Galass Lette had heard the stories. The risk, he decided, was worth it. In Tenerife, they told him, there was plenty of work and banana fields as far as the eye can see. If not on the fields, then perhaps he could get a job on one of the many construction sites. In Spain, he was told, there is work to be had.

    If he could get a job, he thought, he could help his mother with money. Then, he thought, he could go beyond the Canary Islands, onward to more opportunity, to the United States.

    “When your mother’s means are very limited, and she is supporting children who barely knew their deceased father, it begins to weigh heavily on you, especially when you are the eldest,” he says. “Without any assurance of work there is nothing left to do. And I’ve always wanted to go to the United States, and barring that, Europe, to make my life there,” he said.

    Word eventually reached Galass that some men were organising a boat trip for the Canary Islands. Galass lacked the means to pay the fare but his family got together to help him. An aunt had put aside nearly US $ 2,000.

    “It was enough to send three of us,” he said.

    Galass, his younger brother and cousin paid traffickers for a place on a boat to the Canary Islands. In preparation, Galass said the traffickers consulted a clairvoyant to ensure a safe trip.

    “Everyone departing does this to see if the conditions for the voyage will be favourable. But what we didn’t do was consult the internet to really understand what the conditions would be like,” he said.

    Although the voyage was rough, Galass and his companions made it. But the journey ended there.

    “The Spanish police were sympathetic towards us,” he said. “They said that they would prefer it if we Senegalese stayed and worked to help them catch up economically, the way Italy did using illegal migrants. They advised us that the minute we got out, to just work and not get involved in anything shady. They told us that we were qualified professionals and could succeed here,” he said.

    Galass was among the first 99 Senegalese to be repatriated this year. He and the others were put on a plane that they believed was bound for Madrid or Malaga, but that landed in Dakar instead.

    “We started to realise that the flight was too long, and that the Spanish might have tricked us, which turned out to be the case,” he said.

    Galass said the migrants heckled Senegalese authorities when they arrived. “I don’t trust them anymore, especially since all their promises meant nothing. The minister of National Solidarity promised us money but the hoops you had to jump through to see the money discouraged us,” he said.

    Although Galass failed in his journey, his brother and an uncle eventually succeeded and now live in Barcelona. “They have already sent home their first shipment of money so that we can pray for them and make offerings to bless their stay,” he said.

    Galass works in Dakar making deliveries for a local business but is paid daily and some days there is no work. Otherwise, an uncle gives him a bit of work at a sugar processing company.

    “I don’t think about becoming a fisherman,” he said. “If that was an option, you wouldn’t have all these boat owners going over to Spain.”

    Galass says he is prepared to make the journey again, even though his cousin died attempting the trip.

    “How else can I help my family? And what about my aunt who paid for my trip? Nothing can hold me back,” he said. “I’m just waiting for the next departure.”

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

    World Bank, IMF to cast spotlight on developing nations

    by Thapelo Sakoana (BuaNews)

    Johannesburg, 7 September - The forthcoming annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank is expected to vigorously discuss the economies of developing countries as well as global imbalances in the international economic outlook, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel said.

    Briefing the media on Thursday about the IMF meeting scheduled for 19 and 20 September in Singapore, Mr Manuel said for developing economies, governance reform, aid for trade and policy conditionalities remained critically important.

    Further to this, proposals for improvement in financial instruments for low-income countries and emerging markets; and the improvement of the "international financial architecture" and more rigorous surveillance of developed economies would be discussed.

    The Minister will lead the South African delegation accompanied by his deputy Jabu Moleketi and the Director General in the National Treasury Lesetja Kganyago, among others.

    Before the annual meeting takes place, the IMF's Committee will meet on 17 September and is likely to discuss the major downside risks of the global economic outlook, which intensified over the past few months, said the Minister.

    These risks include surging inflationary expectations, which could force central banks to raise rates - driven partly by "the recent jump in oil prices to new heights".

    South Africa's own central bank, the Reserve Bank, has recently raised its lending rate to commercial banks (the repo rate) by 50 basis points for the second consecutive time, bringing the rate up to 8 percent.

    The IMF has been under pressure to reform and make itself more relevant to the current global economy.

    As a result, a new medium term strategy was presented at last year's annual meeting followed by various documents presenting ideas for implementation.

    These related to the Fund's role in emerging market economies, its role in low income countries and the issue of quota invoices, among others.

    The Minister said South Africa supported the idea of enhancing the effectiveness of the IMF's surveillance role while promoting global policy coordination to ensure the stability of the international financial system.

    "On multilateral surveillance, the Fund has already initiated a policy dialogue between China, Europe, Japan, Saudi Arabia and the US on the issue of global imbalances, and it tends to convene more such dialogue as new issues arise," said Mr Manuel.

    South Africa rated for ease of doing business

    According to the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation, South Africa is the easiest country in Africa in which to do business with Mauritius ranked close behind.

    A total of 175 countries were ranked according to the ease of doing business and South Africa was listed at number 29, just ahead of Mauritius which is ranked 32. Generally the report found business to be easier in Africa than in previous years as a result of the reform policies taking hold across the economies of many African states. Africa was rated as one of three top reforming regions in this regard.

    The 30 top economies ranked on the basis of ‘ease of doing business’ are (in order), Singapore, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, Hong Kong (China), the United Kingdom, Denmark, Australia, Norway, Ireland, Japan, Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Lithuania, Estonia, Thailand, Puerto Rico, Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Korea, Latvia, Malaysia, Israel, St. Lucia, Chile, South Africa, and Austria.

    However South Africa did not fare well among the list of countries ranked according to how the World Bank sees them reforming themselves from regulatory malpractices. According to the bank South Africa’s reform was deemed to have been ‘not deep enough.’ By contrast Ghana and Tanzania were listed among the top ten reformers worldwide.

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