Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jul 3, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Feature: Stronger regions before integration - SADC

  • Erwin puts a dasher on hopes of an upgrade for East London’s main line

  • Sailors Society marks up 130 years of dedicated service

  • Inhaca quay back in service

  • Pic of the day – LOUIS

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    Feature: Stronger regions before integration - SADC

    BuaNews, 2 July - The Southern African Development Community will be pushing for stronger regional integration, before a unified government can take shape, as the African Union's Heads of State and Government take part in the Grand Debate, writes Lavinia Mahlangu.

    “The SADC member states sat in a special session and adopted a common position in this regard. We believe that as much as we'd like to get to a unified, integrated government, we need a foundation and that will need to come from stronger Regional Economic Communities (RECs),” Ambassador Lazarous Kapambwe, Permanent Representative of Zambia to the United Nations told BuaNews on Sunday.

    SADC's 14 member countries are Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

    Before taking up his post in New York in June, Ambassador Kapambwe was Zambia's ambassador to Ethiopia, and was extensively involved with the SADC mission's discussions towards an AU government, which have been taking place across the continent, with the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, being a focal point.

    The theme of the summit, namely the Grand Debate, is an exploration into which of the three possible options put forward could make for a unified, integrated continent.

    The ‘Union of African States’ is a view led by South African President Thabo Mbeki, proposing the gradual strengthening of regions and AU institutions including the executive, judicial and financial/technical institutions.

    The former Nigerian President Olesegun Obasanjo has suggested an ‘African Union Government’ and advocates taking 15 continental institutions created under the AU and transforming them into the 55th state in Africa, by 2015.

    The ‘United States of Africa’ model is being led by the Libyan President Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who wants an African government now.

    “Our position is to strengthen SADC and the other regions. We have to be realistic in our goals towards a unified government,” Ambassador Kapambwe said.

    SADC's vision is one of a common future, in a regional community that will ensure the economic well-being, improvement in the quality of life, freedoms, social justice and peace and security for the people of Southern Africa.

    “Our countries throughout Africa do not have the same level of development and it will take some time before we have the proper infrastructure in place to make that integration which we all agree upon, possible.”

    Africa's RECs, many of which have overlapping memberships, consist primarily of trade blocs and, in some cases, some political and military cooperation.

    These are the SADC, Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS/CEEAC), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Union du Maghreb Arabe (UMA) .

    SADC has done much towards regional integration, says Ambassador Kapambwe, such as establishing the Southern African Customs Union, and abolishing the need for visas amongst countries such as South Africa, Zambia and Mozambique.

    The nations in the region however, will still need some time to synchronise their essential functions in areas such as economics and governance.

    “We need to reach a certain level of conformity in a number of elements and this can be further extrapolated to be the case with Africa's integration,” Ambassador Kapambwe said.

    He explained that compounding the infrastructure gaps within regions and across the continent, were cultural gaps which reached into many aspects of how countries are run, and would need to be harmonized before such countries share a government.

    “In Africa we have two main groups of cultures, the Black African and the Arab cultures, which are divided mainly into the Christian and Muslim faiths. These often have a direct correlation to the legislation and governance of countries, such as the case where many Muslim areas operate under Sharia Law and Christian countries would adopt Dutch-Roman or English common-law,” he explained.

    “Going in at this point or in a matter of years and hoping to meld these nations under one banner is not feasible in SADC's view.”

    This accord had to be reached in many other areas, Ambassador Kapambwe said, so that a unified Africa could become a reality.

    “We need to ensure that our regions and eventually our continent have consensus and harmony regarding issues such as human rights, selection procedures to run for office, legislation, governance, distribution of resources and many others, before we have a unity government.

    “A unified Africa is an ideal to which all the leaders in the session over the next three days aspire. It will strengthen Africa's economic position and contribute greatly towards internal conflict resolution and many other challenges which currently face us.”

    Erwin puts a dasher on hopes of an upgrade for East London’s main line

    The East London – Gauteng railway line is under-utilised and there is therefore no justification in spending money on upgrading it, says Public Enterprises minister Alec Erwin.

    The minister was responding to a written question from DA member of parliament Eddie Trent. Erwin said that because of the line’s under-utilisation there was ample scope to accommodate additional traffic if the need arose.

    He added that forecasts indicated static growth for the line for the period until 2011 or 2012. According to the minister the line is currently carrying a maximum of eight trains a day in each direction, with maize for export and cement from Lime Acres to East London among the principal cargoes.

    For a number of years business interests at East London have requested government to increase the capacity of the railway line and to improve facilities at the port of East London to enable it to handle more cargo. The motor industry in particular has been identified as a potential area for growth and an Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) developed on the West Bank which so far has attracted little in the way of interest from the industrial sector.

    In the past financial year the port of East London handled a total cargo of 1.6 million tonnes. Included in this figure is a total of 41,836 containers, expressed as TEU. Of the 1.6mt of cargo, bulk cargo constituted 1.196mt, breakbulk 0.347mt and the balance was in containers. The port handled 316 ocean-going ships during the year, with a gross tonnage of 8.177mt.

    In this past year East London slipped below Mossel Bay in terms of cargo handled – the latter port handling a total of 1.755mt for the fiscal year and leaving East London as the least utilized port in South Africa.

    In the previous financial year 2005/2006 East London handled 1.82mt of cargo including 42,500-TEU.

    Sailors Society marks up 130 years of dedicated service

    Barry Haley, national chairman of ISSA receives a cheque for R175,000 from Grindrod’s Craig Robertson

    report by Yvonne de Kock (ISSA)

    The International Sailors’ Society of South Africa (ISSA) took advantage of their 130th anniversary by launching a DVD at a function held at the Sharks’ Board on 27 June 2007. Attending were members of the shipping fraternity, the consular corps, organisations with ties with the Society as well as Sailors’ Society members.

    The DVD which depicts the vital work of the Sailors’ Society traces the birth of the Society, its role during many occurrences and disasters at sea as well as it’s current role in the shipping industry. The DVD will be used to increase awareness of the Society at various events in South Africa.

    Craig Robertson, Company Secretary of Grindrod, who was the main speaker at the event handed over a cheque for R175 000 to National Chairman Barry Haley and CEO Revd Boet van Schalkwyk. The donation will go towards the many core projects planned over the next three years. Grindrod has been a long-standing supporter of the Society, and Robertson acknowledged the work done by the Society in the shipping industry.

    “Grindrod has always appreciated the work done by the Sailors’ Society in the shipping industry and we will continue to support the Society”

    The Society provides a free service for the well-being of over 300,000 seafarers who visit South Africa’s ports annually, irrespective of their nationality, gender, culture and faith. These services are as much in demand now as they have been during the last 130 years.

    The shipping industry plays a vital role in international trade and with an increase in the number of vessels with accompanying increased volumes of cargo entering and departing the ports an increasing number of seafarers visiting ports is also expected.

    These aspects will place increasing demands on the Sailors’ Society. Ships’ crews who enter ports represent a variety of cultures and speak many foreign languages and constantly require a broad spectrum of help, ranging from assistance in hospitals, contacting their families in their respective countries, and assistance with financial problems, to name but a few. Sailors’ Society chaplains and staff are always ready to help.

    The Society is a Non-Profit Organisation and a Public Benefit Organisation, which derives its income from investments, donations and fundraising.

    The Society is affiliated to the Sailors’ Society in the United Kingdom and all Sailors’ Society’s world wide and is also a founder member of the International Christian Maritime Association, a group of like-minded organisations which are represented at the United Nations.

    Inhaca quay back in service

    Good news for the residents of Inhaca island in Maputo Bay and also for thousands of visitors who travel by ferry to the island every year. At the weekend the Maputo City Council handed over the island’s landing quay which has undergone a rehabilitation costing US $ 125,000 and made possible with finance raised by Italian interests.

    The 175m long quay which juts out into the Bay of Maputo was originally built in 2000 but took considerable damage from a number of storms, rapidly becoming unsafe for use.

    According to Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo) the two metre wide quay now has a ramp for use by disabled persons in wheelchairs and adequate lighting has been provided. The report said the concrete quay stands on piles sunk deep into the bay which should withstand future storms and high swells.

    Inhaca Island is a popular visiting place for cruise ships during the summer – MSC MELODY which is homeported at Durban between December and April each year makes multiple calls and it is understood that another cruise ship, the RAZZMATAZZ (former Madagascar, former Stella Maris II) will also include Inhaca as a destination when she enters service from September this year.

    Pic of the day – LOUIS

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    As a lone fisherman looks on, the freighter LOUIS of 10,224-gt moves sedately down the Esplanade Channel in Durban harbour for another location to begin loading cargo, after discharging her import cargo at Maydon Wharf. Picture Terry Hutson

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

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