Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 23, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Namibia targets Zambia for rail expansion

  • Problems ahead for SETAs

  • Ghana projects 650,000 tonnes of cocoa

  • Kickstarting a school career in a container classroom

  • Pic of the day – SAFMARINE MERU

  • Namibia targets Zambia for rail exapansion

    Namibia’s resurgent railway network is to receive a further injection, according to a spokesman for the Walvis Bay Corridor Group, Johny Smith.

    The latest planned development is a 700km extension of the TransNamib Rail network through the Caprivi strip and into Zambia, connecting the Namibian port of Walvis Bay with the Zambian and DRC copperbelts.

    Smith said that a feasibility study was underway and should be complete by March next year. He said the focus was on creating a faster and cheaper route for exporters from Central Africa and the copper mines of Zambia were an obvious target as they imported a lot of heavy equipment and exported large volumes of product. There was also potential for agricultural traffic on the proposed railway, he said.

    The Namibian railway would run from the existing TransNamib line at Grootfontein to Katimo Mululo on the Zambian border, opposite Sesheke on the Zambian side of the Zambezi River, a distance of approximately 700km. To complete a rail connection would require Zambian authorities to also build a new line from Sesheke to link with the Zambian main line, the nearest connection being at Mulilo which is however only lightly laid to Livingstone.

    A road bridge over the Zambia linking Namibia with Zambia has opened in recent years, facilitating road traffic along the Trans-Caprivi Corridor.

    The Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG) is a Public Private Partnership involving various transport stakeholders, including Namibia’s national transport carrier TransNamib. WBCG is working towards developing the various corridor routes linking the port of Walvis Bay with other regions – notably the Trans Kalahari Corridor to South Africa through Botswana, the Trans Caprivi Corridor mentioned above, and the Trans Cunene Corridor connecting Namibia with its northern neighbour, Angola.

    TransNamib is currently building a railway that will connect the country’s network with the Angolan border.

    Problems ahead for SETAs

    The problematic sector education and training authority (SETA) system is facing a critical period pending a decision whether to place another three Setas under joint administration, according to the chairman of the National Skills Authority, Sekete Moshoeshoe.

    Earlier this month the Media, Advertising, Publishing , Printing and Packaging Seta was placed under administration, while the energy and transport Setas remain under discussion as to whether they should also be suspended.

    The transport Seta (TETA) has already been gone under judicial managership (curatorship) after charges of corruption involving alleged kickbacks of approximately R5 million were brought against the suspended TETA chief executive, Piet Bothma. TETA is also financially embarrassed after having invested heavily with the Fidentia Asset Management group which is under investigation of fraud.

    Government is said to be considering reducing the number of Setas from 23 to five clusters in an effort to help consolidate and clean up the inefficiencies and bloated bureaucracy.

    Ghana projects 650,000 tonnes of cocoa

    Accra, 21 October 2007 (BuaNews) - The 2007/08 main cocoa crop season has opened with the Ghana Cocoa Board, the industry regulator, projecting production of 650,000 tonnes for the period.

    "Our estimates are based on the projection of rainfall for the period and the figures may be revised in line with weather conditions," Isaac Osei, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Cocoa Board, said at a press conference in Accra.

    Provisional cocoa output for the 2006/07 crop season was 614,469 tonnes, down from 740,457 tonnes the previous season. The Board attributed the decline in production mainly to an unfavourable weather pattern.

    The Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Professor George Gyan-Baffour, which has oversight responsibility over the Board, said adequate materials and funds had been procured for a successful season.

    "We have sufficient jute sacks, twine, ink and tarpaulin needed for smooth purchasing operations and adequate funding to cover all cocoa purchases estimated to be 6.175 trillion cedis ( $ 1 = about 9270 cedis)."

    The Board had also secured a medium-term facility of $ 150 million, part of which would be used to expand and build new warehousing facility at Takoradi and Tema to avoid congestion at the take-over centres, he added.

    A new 50,000-tonne capacity warehousing complex at Tema is now in use while conveyor belts are being installed at the new warehouses to facilitate operations.

    In addition, the board is renting parking lots in Takoradi and Tema, where vehicles carrying cocoa would await their turn to be off-loaded at the take-over centres on the basis of time of arrival to ease congestion at the centres.

    To lower the financing cost of Licensed Buying Companies (LBCs), the Ghana Cocoa Board has reduced its interest rate on seed fund from 14 percent to 11 percent.

    The Board has further decided to make 70 percent down payment to LBCs on receipt of good quality cocoa beans while awaiting documentation on consignments received.

    Prof Gyan-Baffour also announced bonus payment to farmers for the 2006/07 main crop season totalling 160.24 billion cedis.

    The bonus would cover 581 779 tonnes purchased during the main crop period, which began in October last year and ended in May 2007.

    The deputy minister said the government would not relent in pursuing initiatives that had led to continuous improvements in the industry and boosted increased farmers' earnings.

    Among the initiatives are remunerative producer prices and payment of bonuses, effective diseases and pest control exercise, improving the agronomic practices on cocoa farms, increased value addition to cocoa and introduction of new and innovative methods of cocoa farming.

    He said the Board would continue to intensify education of farmers on the proper method of fermentation for six to seven days with two turnings to ensure that the country maintained its lead role in the production of good premium cocoa.

    "Our vision is to get the farmers to adopt new ways of farming that will enable them to increase their output without necessarily expanding the acreage under cultivation," Prof Gyan-Baffour said.

    COCOBOD had said that given the increasing concerns of key markets about chemical residue levels in food, it would equip the three-takeover centres with requisite equipment to undertake residue analysis and issue appropriate certificates.

    Kickstarting a school career in a container classroom

    Close up of the new Ginsberg Primary School container classroom, provided by Safmarine

    The school careers of more than 150 young pre-schoolers in the Eastern Cape village of Ginsberg near King Williamstown have been given a kick-start thanks to the donation of two shipping containers converted into a classroom and ablution block for Grade R learners.

    Staff from multi-trade shipping line Safmarine - which donated the two containers and paid for their conversion - joined school staff last Friday (October 19, 2007) in celebrating the opening of the new facilities.

    According to Safmarine’s Eastern Cape Area Manager, Dave Kirkman, Safmarine is delighted to once again support the Ginsberg Primary School, a facility which provides for the educational needs of more than 370 learners.

    According to Kirkman, Safmarine first supported the school in 2001 when it donated a container classroom for the Ginsberg Maranatha Educare Centre, which currently acts as a feeder for the Grade R section of the Primary School.

    Ginsberg Primary, which is known locally as ‘Sabatha’ (meaning ‘Seventh Day Adventist’) School, is equally proud of its association with Safmarine.

    “We’ve come a long way together,” says its principal, Mr Lindunda Wamunyima.

    “Safmarine’s support has made a significant difference to our school. Our school motto is ‘believe and conquer’ and the container classrooms for pre-schoolers will help these young learners to fulfill their potential.

    “By donating these shipping containers Safmarine has provided more than secure facilities; the company is helping us shape the minds of future generations.”

    Mr Mawunyima thanked Safmarine for its support, saying “Your gesture of benevolence has added immense value as we are now able to accommodate more learners”.

    The Ginsberg Primary School, which was founded in 1956, initially operated out of a church building until 1970 when new facilities were built. Educating in a church posed several challenges, least of which was the need to constantly re-arrange the pews (used as desks) in preparation for church services.

    Although the school is an independent church school, it follows the Eastern Cape Department of Education curriculum and the expansion of its facilities will take it one step closer to realizing its dream of becoming a fully-fledged GET school.

    Safmarine used local Ginsberg labour to convert the two 12 metre containers. The conversion was done by a local contractor, Mr Stanley Whiteboy of Stan-Can Building and Alterations cc, Port Elizabeth.

    Pic of the day – SAFMARINE MERU

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    Container ship SAFMARINE MERU, deployed on the SAFARI service between South Africa and the Far East, in Cape Town harbour. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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