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Sep 27, 2007
Author: P&S





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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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  • Green light for Cape Town terminal may have consequence in Durban

  • ANGOLA: WFP Bridge Building Project Opens Road to Isolated Region in East

  • Oil rig PRIDE SOUTH SEAS arrives at Cape Town

  • Great Lake News: Livelihoods hit as water hyacinth takes over Lake Victoria

  • AFRICA: Food production to halve by 2020

  • Pic of the day – AL MAREEKH





    Green light for Cape Town terminal may have consequence in Durban


    CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
    Cape Town Container Terminal, which faces ‘vertical expansion’ rather than being extended into Table Bay on the right of the picture. Picture Terry Hutson

    The news that environmental issues preventing the expansion of capacity at Cape Town’s Container Terminal (CTCT) have been bypassed with an alternate operating method will be welcomed by all port users, but the methodology proposed to circumvent the objections could raise interesting considerations for other terminals – not the least being the Durban Container Terminal (DCT).

    Environment Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk last week released his Record of Decision on the matter of CTCT – this after he halted expansion at the terminal a year ago that would have seen the stacking area being extended into Table Bay by 300 metres.

    Instead of continuing in that direction and facing the objections of environmentalists and residents of beach properties facing the harbour, who expressed concern for an altered wave action on their beaches (among other factors), Transnet has now been authorised to go ahead with ‘maximising existing infrastructure and buildings’, resurfacing the existing terminal area to provide an increased stack capacity, and demolishing ‘non-essential infrastructure and buildings.’

    Transnet boss Maria Ramos said a week ago that an amount of R4,2 Billion will be spent in the port of Cape Town, much of which is obviously intended for the container terminal expansion programme.

    The go-ahead for this expansion has connotations for other affected port users, including ship and boat repair.

    Included in the plans for CTCT is the conversion to an RTG operation – rubber tyre gantries, enabling containers to be stacked much higher than is possible at present using a saddle carrier process.

    This makes Cape Town the third terminal in South Africa to utilise RTG’s – acknowledged as being more efficient and productive for busy terminals. The other terminal undergoing conversion is the Pier 1 Container Terminal in Durban, which is nearing completion, while the new Ngqura Container Terminal at Coega in the Eastern Cape will include RTG operation from the outset.

    The problem facing Transnet at the Durban Container Terminal lies with the huge capital investment of recent years, that has seen Transnet Port Terminals acquire more than 100 new two-high straddle carriers along with other infrastructure including super post-panamax ship-to-shore cranes.

    The stacking area of DCT, like that of Cape Town Container Terminal was constructed for low stacking of boxes using a straddle carrier operation and any conversion to RTG’s, which also offers vertical expansion, ie being able to stack boxes five, six or even seven high, requires reconstruction of the entire concrete slab – both costly and inconvenient to continued terminal operation.

    Some will argue this should have been considered before the large straddle carrier order was placed.

    The conversion at the Pier 1 Container Terminal is ongoing, with a new 400mm concrete slab having already been thrown which replaces the former concrete block base. This process is due for completion by the end of 2007 but no such plans have been mooted for the larger neighbouring DCT.

    The relevant question now facing Transnet is whether the proposed dig-out container terminals at either Bayhead or the present airport site to the south of the city are immediately necessary in the light of the possibility of converting DCT for vertical expansion, in much the same manner as at Cape Town.

    This is a question that will most likely be raised when the delayed environmental impact assessment gets underway for the Bayhead dig-out proposal.

    It is interesting to recall that when representatives from Hutchison Whampoa visited Durban in the late 1990s with the view to the concessioning of DCT, the noted that there was no need for expanding the terminal, which they pointed out compared favourably with Hong Kong. All that was required, they said, was to convert to a RTG type operation and expand vertically.



    ANGOLA: WFP Bridge Building Project Opens Road to Isolated Region in East

    Luanda, 26 September 2007 (WFP) - After decades of isolation, a huge swathe of Angola's eastern Moxico province is once again safely accessible by road following the completion of a two-year bridge building project conducted by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

    Begun in January 2005, the US$8 million project has finally reopened the main road to Lumbala N'guimbo, which had been closed for most of Angola's 27-year-long civil war when it was heavily mined and every one of its bridges destroyed.

    "This road is a vital lifeline for the entire region and tens of thousands of people will now be able to move around freely again – to take their children to clinics and their goods to market," said Bradley Guerrant, WFP Country Director in Angola.

    "Families and communities in this part of eastern Angola have been cut off for years but now they have the opportunity to start rebuilding their lives, boosting the socio-economic development of the entire region."

    From the outset, the project involved cooperation with the government, donors and non-governmental organisations. All the planning and implementation was done in very close consultation with the Road Agency of Angola (INEA), while the road itself had to be de-mined by the Mine Advisory Group (MAG) before any bridges could be built.

    The project was funded by a variety of donors, including the European Commission, United Kingdom, Sweden, Switzerland and Norway.

    By the time the road was officially reopened last month, 5 wooden bridges and 11 steel bridges had been built by WFP's implementing partner, Swedish Rescue Services Agency (SRSA).

    "WFP could never have succeeded without the support of the Angolan government and our donors and the technical expertise of our NGO partners in the field," said Guerrant.

    While the project was focused on Moxico Province, WFP was also responsible for building 10 bridges in Lunda Sul Province, which have helped families in previously inaccessible communities to travel freely at long last and to start enjoying the benefits of peace.

    The bridges in Lunda Sul were constructed with the cooperation of the government, donors, SRSA and the de-mining NGO, Halo Trust.

    "With our partners, WFP has helped to open up large parts of Moxico and Bie provinces as well as paving the way for international traffic to resume between southeastern Congo and Zambia, which will hopefully encourage development across the region," said Guerrant.



    Oil rig PRIDE SOUTH SEAS arrives at Cape Town

    A docking with a difference is to take place for Cape Town harbour today, when the oil rig PRIDE SOUTH SEAS arrives and will be taken to A berth.

    The docking remains conditional on weather conditions and the port authority says it hopes to keep shipping delays to a minimum during the operation.

    Having recently been released from drilling in West Africa, Pride South Seas is arriving in Cape Town to undergo maintenance and repair that will take an estimated three months after which the rig is to go to an eight-well drilling programme with Petro-SA off the South African coast.

    The Japanese-built 30-year old semi-submersible rig is owned by Pride International, a Texas-based oil drilling company and can operate in waters of 300m depth and drill to approximately 7,500m.



    Great Lake News: Livelihoods hit as water hyacinth takes over Lake Victoria


    CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE (Pic courtesy IRIN)

    Kisumu (IRIN) - Titus Mula, a fisherman, watches apprehensively as the floating weed draws nearer to the shore, carried by the waves.

    "If this continues, in a couple of weeks the entire bay will be covered by the weed," Mula said.

    The water hyacinth, a free-floating perennial aquatic plant native to tropical South America, is suffocating Lake Victoria, the second-largest fresh-water lake in the world.

    "When the weed first appeared on the lake people were not concerned," he said. "We did not think the weed could pose any serious danger because of its beautiful flowers."
     
    However, the effects started being felt in 1997 when the beaches of Dunga, Kichinjio and Hippo point in Kisumu, in western Kenya, were rendered inaccessible to fishing boats, Mula said.

    The water hyacinth moves seasonally with the waves from bay to bay blocking water-ways and affecting aquatic life as it sucks oxygen from the water.

    "Whenever the weed lands on our bays, our catches decline," Mula said, "The weed also entangles nets, making it difficult to fish. It becomes harder for us to catch the Nile Perch as the fish moves into the open waters away from the oxygen-deprived waters near the weeds,” he said. Tilapia is also affected, he said, with the decomposing hyacinth blocking breeding grounds.

    Due to decreasing catches, the price of fish routinely goes up, he said. Early this year, the price shot up from 40 shillings (US 60 cents) to 120 shillings ($1.80), with middlemen taking advantage of the shortage to further hike prices, he said.

    Blow to livelihoods

    It is estimated that at least one-third of the populations of the three East African countries of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania derive their livelihoods from the lake through subsistence fishing and agriculture.

    Despite its adverse effects, the water hyacinth has, however, led to the flourishing of other fish species better adapted to less oxygenated water, including cat fish and lung fish.

    The weed also provides a "closed season", preventing over-fishing in the bays it clogs up, allowing for the regeneration of the lake's fish stock as some species hide within the hyacinth.

    However, according to Mula, the adverse effects of the weed far outweigh its benefits.
     
    The weed often blocks water-intake points, affecting supplies to Kisumu and other towns on the shores of the lake, according to the regional manager of the Lake Victoria South Water Regulatory Management Authority, Margaret Abira.

    "The water quality may also be affected due to the decomposition of the plant," Abira said, "which releases nutrients into the water leading to the blooming of algae, which may produce some toxic substances. This makes the treatment of water more costly as normal procedures are not as effective."

    Pest control

    It is estimated that the River Kagera in Rwanda carries two hectares of the weed to the lake daily, along with nutrient-rich waters from degraded catchment areas.

    According to Mwende Kusera of the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), unusually heavy rains in the catchment areas in 2006 brought in a lot of nutrients, encouraging the germination of water hyacinth seeds - hence the resurgence. The seeds can survive for at least 15 years.

    At the height of the water hyacinth problem in 2001, when the weed covered an estimated 12,000 hectares on the Kenyan and Ugandan sides of the lake, KARI, through the Lake Victoria Environmental Management Programme, carried out mechanical harvesting and biological control of the weed using weevils.

    There was a 90 percent success rate by 2005, said Jane Wamuongo, the national coordinator of the project.

    However, those gains appear to be dissipating. "This is not unexpected due to the migratory nature of the weed," she said. Local community involvement in the release of the weevils has also waned.

    Without project funding, it is also difficult to carry out monitoring for control, she said, adding that there was a need to reduce dependence on donor funding for sustainability.

    According to Wamuongo, intervention measures need to be basin-wide, with better methods of effluent treatment and the restoration of degraded catchment areas to reduce the levels of nutrients and pollutants reaching the lake, along with harvesting and biological control.

    "The water hyacinth problem is not a one-person, one-sector approach," she said.

    While a long-term solution to ridding the lake of the water hyacinth is still being sought, local communities need to look into alternative uses for the weed, which could be used to generate bio-gas or as weaving material, according to an environment officer with the National Environment Management Authority in charge of Kisumu, Wilson Busienei.

    "If there is a commercial use for the weed, then maybe its levels can be brought under control," he said.

    [This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]



    AFRICA: Food production to halve by 2020

    Johannesburg, 25 September 2007 (IRIN) - Food security in Africa is likely to be "severely compromised" by climate change, with production expected to halve by 2020, according to climate change experts.

    The projections are contained in a report launched last week in London by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was followed by an experts' panel discussion.

    "The discussions concluded that Africa is likely to be the most affected [by climate change] partly because of the increasing aridity in the north [the Sahel] and Southern Africa: and these are the most populous parts of the continent," said Martin Parry, the co-chair of the IPCC’s working group which authored the report. He also listed the lack of technology available to adapt to environmental change as increasing the region's vulnerability.

    About 25 percent of Africa's population, or nearly 200 million people, do not have easy access to water; that figure is expected to jump by another 50 million by 2020 and more than double by the 2050s, according to the report.

    Over 95 percent of Africa’s agriculture depends on rainfall, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). "Models indicate that 80,000 square km of agricultural land in sub-Saharan Africa currently deemed constrained will improve as a result of climate change. However, 600,000 square km currently classed as moderately constrained will become severely limited," said the FAO.

    Even with a minimal rise in global temperatures, crop production in the southern hemisphere - where rain fed agriculture is the norm - will probably decline, the FAO predicted.

    This year drought-affected parts of southern Africa - Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Lesotho - experienced a 40 percent to 60 percent reduction in maize production, for which global warming was partly to blame, noted the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

    But the IPCC report was more cautious. "The contribution of climate to food insecurity in Africa is still not fully understood, particularly the role of other multiple stresses that enhance impacts of droughts and floods and possible future climate change".

    However, the report warned that crop revenues in Africa could fall by as much as 90 percent by 2100 and predicted that wheat production was likely to disappear from Africa by the 2080s.

    Mitigate

    "It is too late to avoid all climate change impact", warned Parry. "Our choice now is between a damaged world and a severely damaged world...and if we do not restrict carbon emissions now then we may well embark on a pathway to [a global warming] well above two degrees Celsius".

    Scientists have speculated that even holding the temperature increase to two degrees Celsius, a target adopted by the European Union, was too high and would be enough to trigger melting of the Greenland ice sheet.

    Human activity in Africa was also affecting ecosystems; low-income households in rural areas depend on wood and charcoal for about 80 percent to 90 percent of their energy needs. Fire incidents also represented a huge threat to tropical forests in Africa, according to the IPCC report. "An estimated 70 percent of detected forest fires occur in the tropics, with 50 percent of them being in Africa."

    Parry called on the industrialised countries participating this week in a historic UN's general assembly debate, 'Responding to Climate Change', to help the developing world by providing them with technology to develop greener energy alternatives such as solar power.

    Build resilience

    Faced with extreme poverty and lack of resources, African countries should also concentrate on building their people's resilience, said Parry. "Countries must attempt to reduce the vulnerability of their people and draw up adaptation plans".

    The IPCC report suggests water-harvesting system to supplement rain-fed farming, weather insurance, national grain reserves, cash transfers and school feeding schemes as adaptation measures. It also highlights the benefits of biotechnology research in Africa if it could lead to drought and pest-resistant rice, drought-tolerant maize and insect-resistant millet, sorghum and cassava.

    A summary of the IPCC report was published in April this year.

    The IPCC set up by the WMO and the United Nations Environment Programme in 1988 is the world's most authoritative voice on climate change. The panel comprising leading world experts assesses scientific, technical and socioeconomic information to understand the risk of climate change and draws up options for adaptation and mitigation.

    [This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]



    Pic of the day – AL MAREEKH

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice



    The reefer vessel AL MAREEKH seen passing the end of the T jetty on her way up to the port's dry dock for a period of maintenance. She now flies the Saudi Arabian flag (managed by London Ship Managers) but was previously Safmarine's reefer ship PACIFIC UNIVERSAL built in 1984 in Japan but flew the Sri Lankan flag.
    In 1997 she was sold to a Saudi Arabian company and renamed LINDEROS under the Bermuda flag. In 2006 she was acquired by another Saudi Arabian company who gave her her present name. She follows her sister ship AL MOSHTAREE ex ATLANTIC UNIVERSAL which also drydocked, etc in Durban recently. Photograph copyright SHIPHOTO INTERNATIONAL (Email:
    shack@iafrica.com)




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