Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 18, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • Piracy warning for Dar es Salaam

  • Further Coega complications

  • Sea Fisheries sells patrol boat to Cape Peninsular Tech

  • Question marks over Sheltam Railís ability to take over East African railways

  • Africa's EASSy fibre-optic cable moves two steps closer to completion

  • Bush Signs Port Security Act and Starts Clock Ticking On Provisions

  • Danish Navy research ship in port

  • Picture of the day

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    Piracy warning for Dar es Salaam

    Dar es Salaam may possess one of the best run container terminals in Africa, but the port has serious problems elsewhere. In the latest incident ships have been warned to stay further away from the port while waiting for a berth. The warning follows the latest piracy attack.

    The incident took place earlier this month when five men went on board a container ship lying in the anchorage area no.2 on the night of 7 October. One of the crew was tied up while the men robbed ships stores and personal property from the rest of the crew. Although the alarm had been raised the five managed to compete their Ďbusinessí on board and made their escape before authorities on land could react. According to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre the attack took place at the coordinates 06.45.1S, 039.19.9E.

    A second incident took place last Thursday, 12 October when three men armed with knives attempted to board a general cargo ship at position 06.42.7S, 039.28.3E, some ten miles east of the portís pilot station. The ship was drifting at the time when three men began scaling a rope thrown over the side attached to a hook.

    Fortunately crew were alerted and raised the alarm, causing the would-be attackers to abandon their attempt by jumping into the water and making their escape via a waiting boat manned by three accomplices.

    All piracy attacks including suspicious acts are supposed to be reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

    Further Coega complications

    Just as things were starting to go right for the embattled Coega Industrial Development and its adjacent port of Ngqura, another obstacle has reared its head.

    This time it is farmers in the Eastern Cape who are objecting to having pylons constructed across their farmlands that would bring electrical power to the region.

    The electrical power, to be provided from thermal power stations in Mpumalanga, is essential if the IDZ is to attract international investors interested in building an aluminium smelter. The smelters consume vast amounts of electricity, in fact more than is currently consumed by the entire Nelson Mandela Metropole (Greater Port Elizabeth).

    With no natural resources available at present, although there are thoughts of building gas fired power stations using locally sourced gas from Mossgas, the only answer is to bring the power in along overhead cables, a distance of about 1,000km.

    Reacting through a draft report dealing with the environmental impact of the project, farmers and environmentalist groups say they donít want the pylons and cables strung across Eastern Cape fields and valleys. There are fears that transmission lines may result in cancer among wild and domestic animals and that milk and crop production may be affected.

    Farmers and landowners are also worried that access to their farms will be restricted and that crop spraying will become more expensive.

    On its part Eskom is concerned about the long delay in getting environmental impact assessment approval for the project. Meanwhile the principal interested party, Alcan, has yet to give a commitment on whether it intends investing at Coega.

    Sea Fisheries sells patrol boat to Cape PeninsularTech

    Yesterday afternoon, the Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism (DEAT) handed over the fisheries research vessel 'Patella' to purchasers Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT): Department of Maritime Studies at an informal ceremony held at the CPUT Granger Bay campus.

    The upgrading of the fishery and environmental protection vessel fleet was completed in late 2005 with the commissioning of the 'Victoria Mxenge'. A key element of this programme was the phased decommissioning of the three older vessels * 'Jasus', 'Pelagus' and 'Patella'. 'Jasus' was sold in July 2005, the 'Pelagus' in September 2006 and finally, the 'Patella'. The reason behind the CPUT acquisition of the decommissioned 'Patella' by the Department of Maritime Studies of CPUT was, primarily, to enhance their existing Maritime Education and Training Development capability.

    Captain Dr Ed Snyders, Head of CPUT's Department of Maritime Studies notes: "Many of our learners, particularly those from the deep rural areas of South Africa, have never had the privilege of being near or at sea. This floating laboratory (nicknamed 'Flolab' and to be renamed 'Fathom10'), shall go a long way in complementing and enhancing the existing academic component and brining to life challenging abstract concepts".

    Like her consorts, 'Patella' was used exclusively in the near shore areas during her period of service to DEAT and played an important role in the inspection of rock lobster and line fishing vessels and was also active in the abalone poaching operations. Over the years, 'Patella' has operated around the South African coastline and did extended tours of duty on the south and east coasts. She was very effectively deployed from Hout Bay during 2005 and 2006 and did excellent work in monitoring the activities of the rock lobster boats. The vessel is ideal for a wide range of training applications, amongst others,
    - deck and engine room ratings (Able Seaman and Oilers),
    - Marine Engineering and Marine Navigation cadets,
    - Marine Engineering and Marine Navigation officers,
    - Oceanographers and sea fisheries inspectors and
    - Pilot boat skippers.

    The vessel will, in addition, be used for marine and instrument research and a host of other non-commercial academic applications and will be berthed and slipped at CPUT's own private harbour in Granger Bay. All of the operating/running costs are to be borne by CPUT's Department of Maritime Studies. CPUT has urged that this training vessel (perhaps the only dedicated training vessel on the African continent) must be viewed as a national training asset and notes that assistance from industry will be appreciated.

    "We, at CPUT's Department of Maritime Studies, hope that 'Fathom10' will serve the maritime industry well in her new capacity as a floating laboratory and that learners, henceforth, shall be more adequately prepared for the immense challenges of a seagoing career" - comments Capt Dr Snyders.

    - source Cape Peninsula University of Technology/DEAT

    Question marks over Sheltam Railís ability to take over East African railways

    Question marks are being raised as to whether South African-based Sheltam Rail will meet the deadline of 31 October when it is due to take over management and operation of the Kenya and Uganda national railways.

    The consortium headed by Sheltam Rail, in which Durban-based shipping and logistics group Grindrod holds a 50 percent stake, was awarded the concession to manage and operate the two railway networks earlier this year. The actual takeover has already been postponed once to allow Rift Valley Railway (RVR), as the concessionaire is named, time to prepare and meet all obligations.

    However there are now questions being raised in East Africa asking whether Rift Valley RVR will have raised all the necessary loans and closed the transaction by the end of the month. According to media reports in Kenya a letter has been sent to Roy Puffet, Sheltam Rail and RVRís CEO expressing the concern of both Kenya and Uganda.

    One of the concerns is that with only three weeks to go RVR had not yet put in place a transition team to ensure a smooth takeover.

    Africa's EASSy fibre-optic cable moves two steps closer to completion

    by Shaun Benton (BuaNews)

    Cape Town - The Eastern Africa Submarine System (EASSy) fibreoptic cable that will boost telecommunications activity in the region, has come a step closer to completion.

    On Monday (16 October), two more countries added signatures to the protocol.

    Zimbabwe's Minister for Transport and Communications, Christopher Mushowe, and Botswana's Minister for Communications, Science and Technology Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi added their two countries to a list of seven - including South Africa - that had signed at an earlier ceremony held in Kigali, Rwanda in August.

    The signatures of Botswana and Zimbabwe were important for work to commence on the terrestrial fibre-optic link that will work its way from South Africa through the landlocked countries up to Sudan, which will complement the 9900km submarine fibre-optic EASSy cable that is to be laid along Africa's east coast.

    Zambia - a vital element in the terrestrial component - was unable to sign as the relevant minister, who has only been in office for one week following recent elections there, stated that he wished to peruse the documentation more closely before adding his signature.

    Peter Daka, Zambia's new Minister for Transport and Communications, did however, express willingness to sign and said he needed to consult more widely beforehand.

    Four other countries that were also meant to have signed on Monday were unable to, citing mainly logistical reasons.

    South Africa's Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri said Mozambique for example, required "synergy" with the translations of the documentation into Portuguese.

    Dr Matsepe-Casaburri said she was "a bit disappointed but not unduly unhappy" at the failure to get the full seven signatures scheduled for Mondayís ceremony, but expressed confidence that the EASSy cable would be completed by the second half of 2008.

    With nine signatures collected so far out of a total of 23 African countries participating in the project, the deadline for the other 14 signatures has been set for 30 November, after which a deadline for June next year has been set for the countries to ratify the protocol.

    A first meeting of the shareholders in the project - who include up to 19 telecoms companies from the region - has been scheduled for December in Rwanda.

    Landlocked Rwanda, which has been successfully positioning itself over the past few years as the ICT hub of central Africa, is eager for the project to be completed soon.

    The country's information minister yesterday decried the current high costs of broadband, which he said were "completely outrageous" at between US $ 3 500 and $ 4 000 per megabyte per second per month.

    "We can't continue like that," said Minister for Energy and Telecommunications Albert Butare, adding: "I can't see any country that has sat and given this [EASSy project] some serious thought would not want to sign soon."

    Dr Matsepe-Casaburri also expressed enthusiasm for a timely completion of the project, saying that clarity on communications infrastructure was necessary as architects and engineers went ahead with designing and building stadia for the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

    "We want to make sure that communications infrastructure is being considered as the stadia are being built," the communications minister said.

    Referring to the terrestrial and submarine fibre-optic cables - known officially as the Nepad Broadband ICT Infrastructure Network Project - that will link up the countries in Africa's centre and its eastern seaboard and complete Africa's data highway, she said: "That linkage will be a linkage that will truly make the World Cup an African World Cup."

    The EASSy cable will be able to move a massive 320 gigabytes of data per second, with this upgradeable to 640 gigabytes per second, depending on demand.

    Not only will it bring easier internet and telecommunications connectivity but is expected, with its "open access" business model, to bring down costs, becoming, in the words of Dr Henry Chasia, the executive deputy chairperson of NEPAD's e-Africa Commission, an "enabler of economic growth".

    Bush Signs Port Security Act and Starts Clock Ticking On Provisions

    Washington, DC - President Bush has signed into law a port security bill authorising $ 3.4 billion over five years for security measures.

    Congress passed the bill on 30 September before adjourning to campaign ahead of November congressional elections.

    At the 13 October signing ceremony, Bush said, "Our seaports are a gateway to commerce, a source of opportunity, and a provider of jobs." But the ports could also be targets for terrorists, he said, and the US government is "determined to protect them."

    The new law codifies several security programs already under way, setting timetables for them in some cases. It places deadlines on the Department of Homeland Security for expansion of security programs with shippers and overseas ports -- the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism and the Container Security Initiative -- and requires the department to develop a plan to resume maritime commerce in the event of a terrorist attack on a US port.

    Within three months from the 13 October signing date, three overseas ports will be chosen for a pilot program in which 100 percent of cargo being sent to the United States will be scanned by radiation detectors. By six months from the signing date, pilot programs must begin to test the readers of biometric identification cards that port workers will carry.

    The bill will require the 22 largest US ports to scan all incoming cargo for radiological weapons by the end of September 2007.

    The bill was stripped of measures dealing with rail and mass-transit security before Congress passed it. But a ban on Internet gambling was added to it, which will harm the earnings of overseas companies that had offered online poker to US players.

    - source United States Department of State (Washington, DC)

    Danish Navy research ship in port

    The Danish Navy research vessel HDMS Vaedderen has been visiting Cape Town and is due to sail later today (Wednesday), bound for Australia on the next leg of her round the world journey.

    On board the ship, which has been berthed at the V&A Waterfront, are about a hundred researchers, students, journalists and crew. The ship, performing the Galathea III Expedition of research, will be away from Denmark for about 9 months while circumnavigating the globe.

    Picture of the day
    Click on image to enlarge Ė with some browsers click twice

    SS Wilson in Cape Town harbour, which together with SS Cleveland is a regular caller to African ports delivering US food aid parcels. Picture Ian Shiffman

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