Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jan 31, 2007
Author: P&S


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  • South African fruit exports to China looking up

  • Kenya does about turn on port privatisation

  • ITF says fatigue is a ‘clear risk’

  • High rating for Africa’s economic status

  • Pic of the day – DELMAS KOMATI

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    South African fruit exports to China looking up

    The prospects of meaningful exports of South African fruit to China will benefit from the visit next week of Chinese President Hu Jintao when he holds talks with President Mbeki and other South African government officials.

    Among the several agreements and protocols to be signed are those concerning Phytosanitary requirements for the export of fruit into China (see our previous news report dated 11 August 2006 headed ‘Chinese market opens for South African citrus’).

    South African fruit exports into China have increased steadily in recent years and the fruit industry has been hopeful that the country will become a major new market for South African citrus, table grapes and apples.

    In 2006 South Africa exported a mere R25.5 million worth off fruit to China, but this was a considerable increase on the previous year.

    In our news report yesterday we incorrectly described the Chinese president’s visit to South Africa as beginning this week (Tuesday 30 January) whereas his visit is due to commence next Tuesday. President Jintao arrived in Africa yesterday on an eight-nation visit that seeks to further cement economic ties with the continent.

    Kenya does about turn on port privatisation

    In a reminder of South Africa’s about face on port privatisation a couple of years ago, Kenya’s minister of tranport Chirau Ali Mwakwere has announced that his country’s container terminal at Mombasa is to remain in government hands.

    He said the plans to privatise the container terminal was unrealistic and had no justification, particularly as the port was making a profit.

    "We have found the push for privatisation to be unnecessary, unjustified and counterproductive," he said.

    An inter-ministerial committee was appointed last year to look into the concessioning of the terminal in Kilindini harbour at Mombasa and recently came up with recommendations that it remain in government hands.

    It is thought that strong union pressure may have played a role in the latest decision. The Dock Workers Union is strongly opposed to the move and has threatened industrial action that could have crippled the port for lengthy periods.

    Others suggest that as this year is an election year politics may have played an important role.

    As with most container terminals the container terminal is the ‘cash cow’ for Kenya Ports Authority and the reality is that without this facility the KPA would be forced to seek heavy subsidies from government to keep operating the other terminals and ports. The Kilindini container terminal earns KPA $ 142 annually which is about two thirds of the organisation’s revenue for the port of Mombasa.

    ITF says fatigue is a ‘clear risk’

    Accoording to a report published by the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), fatigue plays a significant role in endangering the safety of crew and ships.

    According to the ITF the maritime industry remains far behind in dealing with the problem posed by seafarers having to work excessively long hours while endangering themselves, their ships and the marine environment.

    The report – Adequate Manning and Seafarers’ Fatigue: the International Perspective – reveals how far behind the industry is in tackling the problem.

    It confirms what we already know, said John Bainbridge, assistant secretary of the ITF’s Seafarers’ Section. “Seafarers are routinely working excessively long hours, endangering themselves and the marine environment. It’s time to stop putting seafarers at risk and to learn from the examples of best practice in other industries.”

    The new report compares the maritime industry with civil aviation, in which flight time is regulated with a limit of between 70 and 100 hours of flight time permitted over a one month period, whereas maritime regulations allow 98 working hours a week for seafarers.

    In addition there is the long time spent away from home and the “clear risks to the long term health of seafarers and the evident association between fatigue and accidents at sea”, in which scant progress has been made to regulate and enforce hours of work in the industry.

    The report also highlights the worrying phenomenon of false record keeping, where seafarers are bowing to pressures that undermine onboard safety and health. It calls for a holistic approach to maritime fatigue, encouraging the development of an onboard safety culture underpinned by realistic levels of manning, and a more robust approach to regulation.

    source MGN and ITF

    Africa earns high economic rating

    by Themba Gadebe, BuaNews

    Addis Ababa - African economies continue to sustain their growth momentum, which has built up in recent years, a United Nations official told the African Union's Executive Council recently.

    The UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Abdoulie Janneh to the African minister of foreign affairs who make up the council, that the overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2006 increased by 5.7 percent from 5.2 percent in 2005.

    "This momentum continues to be underpinned by the improvement in macroeconomic management in many countries and the strong global demand for key African export commodities that resulted in high export prices," Mr Janneh said, adding the GDP was expected to grow by at least 5.7 percent again this year.

    The commodities in question are crude oil, metals and minerals.

    The UN expert said despite this trend, evidence showed that the continent was unlikely to meet its Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by 2015 unless new approaches were adopted.

    The eight MDGs were agreed upon in the Millennium Decleration by UN member states in 2000 with a target date of 2015.

    Some of the MDGs aims are to:
    * eradicate extreme hunger;
    * achieve universal primary education;
    * promote gender equality and empower women;
    * reduce child mortality by two thirds;
    * improve maternal health;
    * combat HIV and AIDS and other diseases;
    * ensure that environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development.

    In order to achieve these goals, a conference involving the participation of Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development would be held from 29 March to 3 April 2007.

    "This conference is devoted to the theme of accelerating Africa's growth and development to meet the Millennium Development Goals: Emerging challenges and the Way Forward," he said.

    To further enable growth, Mr Janneh called for the promotion of intra-African trade, the fair utilisation of Africa's resources and the provision of adequate infrastructure.

    He urged for the empowerment of women and the youth, as the continent would benefit from using the talent and skills that abound here.

    Mr Janneh told the delegation that he had discussed the stalled Doha Round of trade talks with the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Pascal Lamy.

    "We agreed on the need for speedy resumption of the talks as Africa stands to gain the most from a fair and equitable global trade system," he said.

    The Doha talks collapsed last year after Europe and the United States failed to agree on cutting agricultural tariffs and subsidies for their own producers.

    Last year the South African Government cautioned that further delays to resume the negotiations would be a source of growing instability in the global trading system.

    It viewed the suspension of the talks as a "serious setback" for multilateral rule-making.

    Mr Janneh further revealed that a forum known as a "Big Table" is to be organised with the African Development Bank, immediately after the AU Heads of State Summit, to discuss the continent's natural resources.

    The meeting is expected to take place next week under the theme: Managing Africa's Natural Resources for Growth and Poverty Reduction.

    Mr Janneh said this year's AU Heads of State Summit, under the theme "Science, Technology and Research and Climate Change" reflected elements vital to Africa's development.

    He said innovations in these fields had proved to be the driving force for economic growth, and added that there was strong a correlation between a country's scientific and technological status and its economic performance and wealth.

    "This is as true for [countries in] Africa as it is and has been for all other parts of the world," he said, going on to urge African countries to increase their investment in science and technology to accelerate development.

    He advised the Executive Council that Africa needed to undertake major science and technological initiatives to generate, improve skills and deploy large numbers of engineers and technicians.

    "We also need a strong linkage between technology based industries, academia and governments, so that technologies appropriate to national needs are developed," the UN expert said, adding that promoting public-private partnerships in modern science and technology was essential.

    Pic of the day – DELMAS KOMATI

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The 8,200-gt container ship DELMAS KOMATI which has become a regular caller on southern Africa’s east coast with calls at Durban and at Maputo and other Mozambique ports as part of the French company’s India – South Africa – Mozambique service, is seen here discharging and loading containers at Durban’s Point City Terminal. An increasing number of lines make regular use of the City Terminal as an alternative to the Durban Container Terminal. Picture Terry Hutson

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

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