Ports & Ships Maritime News

Dec 4, 2006
Author: P&S


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  • Gama to head Union of African Railways

  • GAC opens in Saldanha Bay

  • Good news for Ethiopia-Djibouti railway

  • Who’d be a master today

  • Pic of the day

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    Gama to head Union of African Railways

    Siyabonga Gama, Chief Executive of Spoornet, South Africa’s national railway company, has been appointed president of the Union of African Railways.

    The Union of African Railways is a body set up by the African Union to try and unify Africa’s railways.

    "My focus will be on the implementation of the Brazzaville Declaration adopted at the first conference of African ministers responsible for railway transport earlier this year," said Gama on his appointment.

    The Union has acknowledged that Africa’s railway networks are disjointed, disconnected and badly maintained, operating off separate gauges, which makes integration almost impossible.

    However, the union, given the huge costs associated with converting to a standard gauge, has recognised the following gauges as preferred in the following regions: North Africa (1435mm); South Africa (1067mm); East Africa (1000mm and 1067mm); West Africa (1000mm).

    Nigeria has begun a programme of converting its 1067mm gauge lines to 1435mm, which would allow landlocked countries without rail networks to build lines to connect West Africa to North Africa.

    Source – Business in Africa

    GAC opens in Saldanha Bay

    GAC Shipping South Africa has opened a new office at Saldanha Bay which it says is to better meet the demands of the increasing number of ship calls it handles at the port.

    Since the establishment of GAC Shipping (S.A.) (Pty) Ltd in 1998, the company has served vessels calling at Saldanha Bay from its head office in Cape Town, 150 km away.

    Managing Director, David Hitchman says that due to a significant rise in the number of vessels GAC deals with at Saldanha Bay, it was decided that now was the right time to open a branch office there. The commodities
    dealt with at the port include crude oil, iron ore, namaqua sand, steel products and fruit.

    Details of the Saldanha Bay office are as follows:

    GAC Shipping (S.A.) (Pty) Ltd.
    59 Bifolia Street
    Langebaan 7357
    South Africa.
    Tel: +27-22-772 0032, +27-22-772 0030
    Fax: +27-22-772 0049
    E-mail: southafrica@gacworld.com

    Good news for Ethiopia-Djibouti railway

    The governments of Ethiopia and Djibouti last week signed a contract agreement with the Halian consortium CONSTA Joint Venture providing for the rehabilitation of badly deteriorated sections of the Ethio-Djibouti Railway Line.

    Speaking at the signing of the agreement at Sheraton Addis, Minister of Transport and Communication Junedi Sado said that rehabilitation of Ethio-Djibouti Railway Line is an important project both for the Republic of Djibouti and Ethiopia which are mutually interdependent as it is expected to improve their major export and import route.
    Ethiopia also regards the project as a facilitation of regional integration, he added.

    Indicating his Company's desire to consolidate its presence in Ethiopia, CONSTA President Gioacchino Marabello announced a decision to invest over 110,000,000 birr for the construction of a factory that produces prefab concrete sleepers. "We are also including to acquire new machinery and special equipment for the laying of new rails employing local personal," he added.

    The rehabilitation of the railway with 50 million euros provided by the EC, is scheduled to be launched early 2007 and expected to be completed in 30 months time.

    Present at the signing of the agreement were ministers from Ethiopia and Djibouti, Head of the European Commission Delegation to Ethiopia Ambassador Tim Clarke and ambassadors.

    Source – The Ethiopian Herald

    Who’d be a master today

    Spare a thought for the former master of the container ship Zim Mexico III, Captain Wolfgang Schroeder who faces a likely four or more years jail time in an American prison because his ship’s bow thrusters malfunctioned at a critical time, resulting in the death of an electrician in the port of Mobile.

    The ship’s bow struck a ship-to-shore crane which crashed to the ground crushing electrician Shaun Jacobs. Schroeder was arrested and charged with misconduct and was found guilty, leaving him to face a possible four years in a federal prison with an outside possibility of receiving ten years.

    Now his employer, Rickmers Reederei has agreed to pay a fine of $ 375,000 for having a faulty ship. Observers say that the fine being paid by the company may help reduce the sentence that Schroeder faces, not that this helps the 59-yearold master who has been dubbed a ‘flight risk’ by the US judge and has been held in jail. Schroeder admitted in court that he knew the bow thrusters were unreliable but didn’t know they would fail to operate properly as the ship moved away from the berth. Neither he nor the port pilot insisted on a tug being in assistance and the court found the ship’s master responsible.

    In many jurisdictions today and the US in particular, for a seafarer to make a mistake or even step out of line is to find himself instantly criminalised. Seafarers from around the world have reacted with shock at the result of the Zim Mexico III case.

    Schroeder’s case is not unique. In recent years there has been the arrest and incarceration of Captains Mangouras (Prestige) and Spiropoulos (Erika) and salvage master Pappas held in Karachi over the Tasman Spirit grounding.

    Apart from its human tragedy and sense of unfairness, the story has a South African connection in that the Zim Mexico III is currently in service on the South African coast, renamed Peter Rickmers. Having undergone a dry docking in Durban before going on the new charter one assumes that the bow thrusters received appropriate attention.

    Picture of the day

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    This unusual ship, a cutter suction dredger, URSA entered Durban port recently arriving from Port Louis, Mauritius, for repairs/maintenance after which she is scheduled to proceed to Maputo, Mozambique, where presumably she will undertake some contract dredging. She is owned by the Dutch company Boskalis Westminster Dredging but flies the Panamanian flag. Built in Lubeck, Germany, in 1986 as BILBERG 1 for German owners, she was renamed URSA in 1990. 
    Picture copyright SHIPHOTO INTERNATIONAL email shack@iafrica.com

    NB Pictures submitted by readers are always welcome – email to info@ports.co.za

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