Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 3, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • Kenya goes on high alert along coastline

  • China takes up option to operate a provatised Tazara railway

  • New Indian rolling stock for Mocamedes railway (CFM)

  • Mbeki, Singh hold bi-lateral talks

  • Mozambique: Donor confidence continues despite corruption

  • Angola: Unresolved issues pose risk to new democracy, warn NGOs

  • Picture of the day

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    Kenya goes on high alert along coastline

    Kenyan armed forces have gone onto high alert in the face of a worsening security risk along its border with Somalia.

    As a 24-hour surveillance was instituted along the border, Kenyan new reports this weekend reported a government foreign affairs spokesman and the Mombasa District Commissioner discussing perceived risks on Kenya’s border with its north eastern neighbour.

    In addition to the army being placed on a 24-hour alert, the Kenyan Navy, Kenya Ports Authority and Marine Police have been instructed to monitor all shipping in territorial waters, keeping a lookout for terrorists and pirates but also for refugees fleeing from southern Somalia by sea.

    At least 25,000 refugees fled into Kenya recently after a wave of violence spread across southern Somalia.

    According to the Mombasa District Commissioner, Mohammed Maalim, only authorised shipping will be allowed in Kenya’s territorial waters and the country’s intends expanding those boundaries from 200 to 350 miles.

    "In this era of terrorism and piracy, we want all stakeholders to join hands with the Government so that we can make our sea waters safe," Maalim said during celebrations marking Maritime Day.

    The unrest comes as the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) seized the southern port of Kismayo and posed an increased threat on the so-called Somali government’s seat of power at Baidoa.

    The UIC has taken control of large portions of Somalia including the capital Mogadishu, having ousted many of the warlords who have held ‘control’ of Mogadishu and much of the country’s coastline for the past decade.

    Somalia’s transitional national prime minister Ali Mohamed Ghedi claimed on the BBC that both Kenya and Ethiopia were prepared to help the official government if it came under attack at Baidoa, but this has not been confirmed by Kenya’s foreign affairs department. The assistant foreign minister did however say that Kenya had a moral and legal authority to ensure the survival of the Transitional National Government of Somalia. It is thought that he was referring to the sending of peacekeeping troops to the war-torn country, something which the African Union is understood to have agreed on.

    Meanwhile the UIC has issued a statement denying that it is linked to the terrorist group al-Qaeda.

    China takes up option to operate a privatised Tazara railway

    A private Chinese entrepreneur is to be appointed to operate the troubled Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (Tazara), in a joint partnership with the Tanzanian and Zambian governments.

    The only thing holding up the appointment is the word from the Chinese government, says Tanzania’s Minister for Infrastructure Development, Basil Mramba.

    The move to privatise the Tazara operation followed recommendations from the World Bank and acceptance by both governments. However, it was agreed that China, because of its long history and support of Tazara, would be given first right of refusal. China has since taken up on the offer and will appoint an operator who will take over the management and operation of the railway.

    China, which built the railway in the 1970s, has continued funding Tazara to the tune of more than US $ 2 million according to a protocol agreement. The railway, which is constructed to Cape Gauge (3ft 6ins – 1067mm) as opposed to the standard metre gauge used elsewhere in Tanzania and East Africa, extends from the port of Dar es Salaam into Zambia and connects with the Cape Gauge railway network coming in from South Africa that goes on into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

    The railway was in the past often referred to as the ‘Uhuru Railway’, meaning ‘Freedom Railway’ in Swahili, and refers to it having been constructed as an alternative route to the sea for landlocked central southern African countries which were otherwise dependent on South African rail links during the years of apartheid.

    New Indian rolling stock for Mocamedes railway (CFM)

    Angola expects to take delivery of new rolling stock including locomotives and carriages from India within the next month for the Mocamedes Railway (CFM).

    The rolling stock, which is being financed by India, will arrive at the port of Namibe for service on the refurbished railway from the port to Lubango. The line will later extend to Kuanda Kubango, some 926 km from Namibe.

    The refurbished railway is expected to carry up to one million passengers a year as well as general freight. It is also hoped to link the railway with Zambia via a new connection coming in from that country.

    Mbeki, Singh hold bi-lateral talks

    by Nozipho Dlamini, BuaNews

    Durban - President Thabo Mbeki and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held wide-ranging talks in Pretoria yesterday (Monday), to strengthen ties between the two countries.

    Dr Singh arrived in South Africa on Saturday to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Satyagraha and hold discussions with President Mbeki as the two seek to increase bilateral trade between their countries.

    Bilateral trade between India and South Africa stands at 4 billion US dollars, but the two countries wish to further increase this figure.

    In this regard, the two leaders are expected to sign agreements in areas such as railways, education and science and technology.

    Mozambique: Donor confidence continues despite corruption

    Maputo, 2 Oct 2006 (IRIN) - Donors have again pledged massive support to Mozambique's state budget but lack of progress in implementing the anti-corruption strategy remains a concern.

    At a recent press conference Deputy Finance Minister Pedro Couto said progress had been made in implementing "some elements" of the strategy, and the government was strengthening the Criminal Investigative Police (PIC) and the Anti-Corruption Unit of the attorney-general's office, the Mozambican news agency, AIM, reported.

    Developing and respecting new administrative financial procedures was also a major step in the right direction to fight corruption, he said.

    According to Jolke Oppewal, who represents a group of 18 donors providing direct budget support, these financial procedures were commendable but, she warned, both the government and donors acknowledged that the anti-corruption strategy needed to be put into action. "At present, corruption cases are not visible - there is no publication referring to the number of corruption cases."

    Mozambique has one of the largest coordinated aid programmes on the continent: the latest round of meetings between the Mozambican government and its main donors succeeded in securing around US $ 583 million for 2007. The 18 donors who provide state budget support, known as "Programme Aid Partners", include the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the European Union, and most individual EU member states.

    Total aid to the country, including the US and Japan, which don't channel their aid as direct budget support, is about US $ 1.2 billion dollars - almost half of the state budget.

    Donors have been generous to Mozambique because, according to Oppewal, they are seeing results from their investments. "There has been positive development for a sustained period in Mozambique, so it is better for the donors to invest more aid here than in some other African countries. Dialogue with the government is constructive, and we see that the country is on track to a more efficient use of aid," Oppewal told IRIN.

    Donor confidence has also been strengthened by lasting peace since the October 1992 peace accord, which brought an end to a 16-year civil war that left half the population dependent on food aid, destroyed much of the infrastructure and cost thousands of lives.

    Mozambique has seen impressive economic progress. According to the African Economic Outlook 2005-06 report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, growth reached 7.7 percent in 2005.

    But observers say more is needed for a real transition out of poverty. Expansion has been driven mainly by foreign-financed "mega-projects" and large aid inflows, but "unemployment and poverty remain critical problems", the report acknowledged.

    Mega-projects like the US $ 2 billion Mozal aluminium smelter, principally owned by Australia's BHP Billiton, triggered further interest in the country as a destination for foreign direct investment. It was followed by a $ 1.2 billion pipeline by South African oil company, Sasol, to deliver natural gas from Mozambique to the neighbouring country, and a new $ 450 million titanium smelter in Moma, south of Angoche. But with 70 percent of the population living in rural areas, mega-projects alone are not enough to hit poverty where it hurts.

    Nonetheless, Rachel Turner, head of the Mozambique office for Britain's Department for International Development (DFID), said DFID was encouraged by the "mutual accountability framework" set up between the 18 donors and the government. "This is a critical step towards creating the space for citizens to hold government accountable to them," she told IRIN.

    Donors also acknowledged the progress in decentralisation and efforts to reduce regional differences. Last year the central government gave $ 300,000 to each of the country's 128 districts, to be used for investment in small economic activities. After criticism that some of the funds were used to improve housing for local officials, the consensus amongst donors was that more needed to be done. According to Oppewal, "lack of human capacity in the districts is one of the main challenges" in the decentralisation process.

    Justice and governance issues remained the biggest concern. Public-sector reform has been slow, and Oppewal commented that the current system was bureaucratic, complicated and slow. Donors and the government also acknowledged that access to justice for ordinary citizens was poor.

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

    Angola: Unresolved issues pose risk to new democracy, warn NGOs

    Luanda (IRIN) - Although Angola is benefiting from a post-war economic boom, far more needs to be done to ensure the benefits are felt by all Angolans, warn humanitarian workers.

    The 27-year conflict killed one million people and took a massive toll on human development. Since the end of the civil war in 2002, Angola has undergone a massive petrol-driven boom. The economy rocketed by 18 percent last year and more growth is expected as oil production continues to rise from its current 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) to around two million bpd by 2007.

    Despite massive oil revenues, not enough has trickled down to its people

    The UN, donors and NGOs have closed the humanitarian chapter and are focusing efforts on longer term development including capacity building in public administration and supporting the growth of private Angolan businesses.

    But they say this stage of the country's evolution presents a new set of challenges.

    "Humanitarian solutions are kind of easy – you put food or resources in the hands of international NGOs or UN agencies in order to save lives," said Allan Cain, who heads the NGO Development Workshop.

    "But in this phase of the post-conflict period, it is far more complex. The skills needed are very different. The real problems in this phase lie in the fact so much has been eroded during all those years of war," he added. "It's a time when Angola needs a lot of help – not necessarily financial, but smart help. Even with the oil wealth there is such a huge backlog of destruction."

    Without real efforts made to redistribute wealth more equitably and provide people with access to education and employment, some warn the country could face tensions in the future.

    "I believe Angola won't go back to war. But there are lots of conflict risks. Issues that took Angola to war in the sixties and fuelled it for all these years haven’t been resolved, things like land, regional disparity, massive poverty," said Cain.

    "Those problems are all papered over now because people are so exhausted by war. But the problems that provoked violence and conflict haven't been resolved," he added.

    Pierre-Francois Pirlot, UN Development Programme's resident representative in Luanda agreed. "This is a potentially explosive situation in the medium or long term. The battle needs to be fought on many fronts at the same time which is normal after a war. But it needs to be approached systematically."

    But the government says ordinary Angolans are starting to feel the benefits of changes.

    "What is trickling down to people, and in the next couple of years person on the street will see, is big state investment projects," said a senior state official. "Things like new roads, hospitals, schools, airports, the infrastructure as a whole."

    Donor funds to Angola have slowed since the end of the conflict, but NGO workers insist there remains a lot of work for them to do.

    Angola, sub-Saharan Africa's second biggest oil producer after Nigeria, has been busy disbursing a multi-billion dollar oil-backed credit facility from China, mainly on its infrastructure. Besides bilateral deals, there is no shortage of private money being invested in the country by Angolans and foreigners alike, as entrepreneurs eye it for its wealth of opportunities, particularly in the oil sector.

    Reconstruction efforts have been massive and are increasingly visible in the capital, Luanda, where the city's horizon is marked by cranes and buildings under construction. While developments outside the capital have been markedly slower in coming, there are mega-projects to rebuild roads and railways across the territory.

    Despite ongoing allegations of massive corruption and mismanagement of funds by the country's leaders, some say ordinary Angolans are starting to feel small improvements in their lives.

    But critics say not enough has trickled down, and not quickly enough, with most of the population still living in dire poverty and Angola one of the lowest scorers on the UN’s Human Development Index.

    With the country likely to hold its first elections since 1992 next year, there is no doubt that the government is out to impress the electorate with palpable developments they can feel.

    But for these to be positive and long-lasting, observers say more money needs to be spent on consolidating the health and education sectors as the backbone of sustainable growth.

    "Education and health are the key," said Pirlot. "We know from experience you need to invest heavily in these during the period immediately after war - between 12 to 15 percent of budget on each."

    Questions are also being raised over the long-term sense behind some of the large-scale projects underway. "There's an obsession with bricks and water and not enough attention on systems," said a western diplomat. "They're building more schools and health posts but not necessarily putting money into training (teachers and nurses). Basically, there's not enough forward thinking."

    (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

    Pan Ocean’s Auto Atlas discharging motor vehicles at Durban’s car terminal. Picture Terry Hutson

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