Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 26, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • Rift Valley Railway on track as employees sign contracts

  • A different railway looks less likely

  • Cannery planned for Mossel Bay

  • Consultant required for Mombasa dredging

  • Bird flu fears leads to wholesale destruction of smuggled eggs

  • Picture of the day

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    Rift Valley Railway on track as employees sign contracts

    Next Tuesday’s handover of the Kenya and Uganda Railway networks to the South African-led consortium of Rift Valley Railways (RVR) came a step closer yesterday with the signing of 3,300 employee contracts by people who will transfer their skills from the parastatal to the new privatised company at the end of October.

    The number of people contracted by RVR has been increased by just over 100 additional personnel. They were due to sign contracts yesterday at Kenya Railway offices in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru and Kampala. With the signing it also means that about 5,000 other workers will be retrenched by Kenya Railways Corporation via a package agreed with the Kenyan government.

    Retrenched members occupying railway houses will be able to remain in residence for three months rent free, after which they must either move out or begin paying rent.

    This week Roy Puffett, managing director of RVR and CEO of Sheltam Rail, the lead company in a group of five making up RVR said that RVR was on course for the handover next week. Fears had been expressed earlier whether the consortium would meet the deadline.

    "We are on schedule to take over as planned on 1 November," he said, adding that the priority at the moment lay with signing on permanent employees. The company would attend to the matter of casual labour as and when the workload on the track requires it.

    A different railway looks less likely

    While it is all systems go further north in East Africa, reports coming out of Namibia in south west Africa suggest that the railway dream of former president Sam Nujoma is about to bite the dust of the desolate Skeleton Coast.

    A report in the Namibian says that a preliminary environmental assessment for the proposed railway linking Katima Mulilo in the Caprivi (and the Zambian border) with Cape Fria on the Skeleton Coast, where a port would no doubt be developed, is not considered viable.

    The report suggests the railway has no benefit for rural communities and will in fact have a negative effect on their lives. It adds that the railway will seriously affect the seasonal floods of the Kwando River in the Caprivi and Okanvango regions and will have a ‘devastating effect’ on the Kunene region as a tourist destination, while spelling doom to the future of Namibia’s famous desert elephants and black rhino.

    The proposed railway would extend 1,500 km from Katima Mulilo in the Caprivi via Okahao, Opuwo and along the riverbed of the Hoarusib River in the Kunene region passing Orupembe to Cape Fria on the coast. The railway would be accompanied by a road running adjacent to the track in the western parts of Kaokoland, where the elephant and rhino now roam freely.

    The railway would also cross conservancy areas from which nomadic Ovahimba people derive an income from tourists.

    - source The Namibian

    Cannery planned for Mossel Bay

    Mossel Bay is about to get a new R40 million pilchard cannery within the harbour precincts which will mean that fish catches can be processed at Mossel Bay instead of being transported 650km to the west coast.

    The new cannery, which will create an additional 270 jobs, will be developed on land adjacent to No.1 quay owned by the National Ports Authority. Mossel Bay catches of pilchards amount to about 100,000 tonnes annually, of which the new cannery will be able to process about 20,000 tonnes.

    The reason for building the cannery at Mossel Bay is that researchers are convinced of a permanent shift in a significant part of the pilchard population from west coast waters across to the Agulhas Bank on the east coast south of Mossel Bay.

    The cannery is being developed by Afro Fishing of Cape Town.

    - source EP Herald

    Consultant required for Mombasa dredging

    Plans to dredge the entrance channels to the port of Mombasa remain on course although the Kenyan government now wants fresh cost estimates.

    Although the dredging contract is due to begin in 2009 with a completion date set for two years later, so much time has since elapsed since the project was first announced that cost estimates will have to be reappraised.

    Transport ministry permanent secretary Gerishon Ikiara said this week that his department was in the process of appointing a new consultant to carry out a re-estimation of costs and to mark out areas of the channel floor that require dredging.

    While a European funding partner is also being sought, the Kenyan government has indicated it will go ahead with funding the project itself if necessary.

    Kenya is concerned with losing business to other ports such as Djibouti in the north and Durban to the south unless Mombasa’s entrance channels are deepened to allow access to larger shipping. The intention is to increase the entrance channels from the current 13 to 13.5m to at least 15m draught.

    Money will also be found to dredge alongside the port’s 15 berths. The last time the port was dredged was in 1997.

    - source East African Standard

    Bird flu fears leads to wholesale destruction of smuggled eggs

    Stone Town, 24 Oct 2006 (IRIN) - Authorities in Zanzibar have incinerated another consignment of chicken eggs smuggled from mainland Tanzania, in the hope of keeping their islands free of avian flu.

    "We seized the egg consignment of about 11 boxes imported from the Tanzanian mainland commercial capital of Dar es Salaam," said Kassim Gharib, the head of a task force formed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Natural Resources and Environment.

    The task force was established to ensure that bird flu does not spread to Zanzibar, two semi-autonomous islands that form part of the Republic of Tanzania.

    The consignment was seized after the importers disappeared, apparently fearing arrest, Gharib said on Tuesday. Gharib said the Zanzibari business community had continued to import poultry products despite a ban on them introduced in 2005.

    According to the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO), the H5N1 avian influenza virus can be found inside eggs, and on the surface of eggs laid by infected birds.

    There is, however, no epidemiological evidence to suggest that people have been infected with avian influenza through eating eggs or egg products. Thorough cooking of eggs can inactivate the virus, according to WHO.

    In August, Zanzibar's authorities incinerated 61,000 chicken eggs in a bid to check the threat of bird flu, but because of high demand during the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holidays this week, and the current high season for tourism in the islands, the price of eggs in Zanzibar has doubled.

    The deadly H5N1 strain of avian flu has been found in several African countries. The poultry industry in Asia and in a few European countries has been affected by the disease, which has claimed dozens of human lives, mostly in Asia.

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

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

    Ocean Africa Container Lines Umgeni, seen at the Durban Container Terminal. Picture Terry Hutson

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