Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jan 8, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Kenya: Tension eases and transport begins to move

  • Tackling the congestion at Dar es Salaam port

  • Mozambique: fears of a repeat of 2007 flooding

  • Hout Bay fishing trawler towed to safety

  • South Africa and China to discuss economic, trade relations

  • Pic of the day – BAHIA CASTILLO


    Kenya: Tension eases and transport begins to move

    With tensions beginning to ease yesterday as political parties appeared to step back from the confrontational stance previously adopted, Kenyan transport systems began to slowly move again.

    The crisis arose over a disputed presidential election with opposition parties claiming the vote, which returned President Kibaki to power, had been rigged. By yesterday close to 500 people had lost their lives and much of Kenya had ground to a halt while neighbouring countries reliant in Kenya for commodities like fuel were also feeling the effects.

    Kenya Ports Authority managing director Abdallah Mwaruwa confirmed that the congestion situation in the port of Mombasa had begun to improve. "The situation, due to holidays and the aftermath of election, has started improving gradually despite the slow clearance of the containers," he said.

    According to Mwaruwa, Rift Valley Railways was able to deliver only 41 containers a day at present, which is well below the average and the port, was delivering only 36 a day, which he hoped would increase to 500 per day within the next week. Among the measures being undertaken is to move some boxes to container freight stations (off-port depots) although he expressed fears that attempts to de-congest the port could be hampered if the transport situation upcountry did not improve.

    Inland it was being reported that petrol stations had begun to reopen for business and that taxis and buses were again moving. However the country faces a shortage of essential food including fish and meat, while those traders with stocks had increased their prices.

    The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said it is responding to the crisis in Kenya and will shortly provide food through the Red Cross for 100,000 people displaced in the Northern Rift Valley.

    The body said the Kenyan government was providing assistance in the region – enough to feed 120,000 people for a month, and WFP would provide additional aid from its warehouse in Eldoret, a Rift Valley town, where WFP had sent additional teams to reinforce its personnel.

    The UN organisation said the biggest problem is the difficulty for trucks carrying food to reach areas in western Kenya where the entire region, including Uganda, Sudan and the (eastern) DR Congo, had become frozen because of insecurity. Kenyan security forces had begun escorting food aid trucks in areas where they had been unable to penetrate.

    ”A total of 200 WFP-contracted trucks were loaded with WFP food in Mombasa from a ship that arrived over Christmas carrying of 30,000 metric tons of WFP food - enough to feed 1.5 million people for a month - for Uganda, southern Sudan, Somalia and the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The food for Somalia will be sent by sea (from Mombasa), and the rest has to go by land. Some of those trucks left Mombasa but then were stranded because of insecurity on main roads and checkpoints set up by vigilantes in western Kenya. Some drivers failed to return to work in Mombasa since leaving to vote in the election and transporters in Mombasa refuse to move more trucks out of the port without escorts,” said the WFP.

    It said that some trucks with WFP food have reached Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps and Lokichoggio for Sudan and the border checkpoint of Malaba for Uganda and DR Congo, but 15 trucks loaded with WFP food were stranded in Nairobi, 60 in Mombasa, and a number in Mariakani and Athi River near Nairobi and in Eldoret.

    Each truck carries 34 tons of food. WFP is holding urgent talks to resolve this issue and get food to those who need it in Kenya and elsewhere.

    A subsequent report by the UN said that the first convoy of trucks from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) left the Kenyan port of Mombasa on Sunday bound for Nairobi and Eldoret, where thousands (of people) displaced by the recent post-election violence had arrived.

    The UN estimates that some 250,000 Kenyans have been displaced, and 350 reportedly killed, as a result of the violence (this figure has since been revised by other reporters to nearly 500).

    The UN body said that to respond to the current crisis WFP has been forced to draw on stocks from its other operations in Kenya - feeding 700,000 people hit by drought, a country programme for 1.1 million children in 3,800 schools, and an HIV/AIDS project in Nairobi and Eldoret. "But the borrowed food will need to be repaid," it added.

    Tackling the congestion at Dar es Salaam port

    Tanzanian port stakeholders are demanding demanded an end to congestion at the port of Dar es Salaam, which they claim is handling 60 percent more containers than its design capacity.

    Addressing the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA), Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA- Customs), Tanzania Bureau of Standards and Tanzania International Container Terminal Services (TICTS) as well as clearing agents and shipping lines, the stakeholders representing more than 50 major port users said that the port required better working tools to become more efficient.

    According to the stakeholders customs clearing should take place up to 21 days ahead of the cargo arrival instead of the current practice of cargo clearance shortly before the ship arrival.

    According to TPA director-general Ephraim Mgawe, cargo clearance is normally made immediately prior to the ship’s arrival at the port and only 40 per cent of cargoes transported through the port are cleared within the required period.

    The stakeholders highlighted the lack of a one-stop facility which could reduce the time spent by having to shuttle between one office and another while clearance procedures are completed.

    They suggested that there was a need to take ownership of the port’s problems instead of passing the blame elsewhere, saying that the TPA blames the Revenue Authority, which blames the shipping lines and agents for creating the congestion.

    Meanwhile it is reported that container flow at Dar es Salaam could improve following the designation of three inland container depots (ICDs). The Tanzanian government has given the go-ahead to Tanzania Road Haulage (TRH), Container Logistics and MOFED (T) Limited to run inland depots with the aim of relieving pressure on the Tanzania International Container Terminal Services (TICTS) facilities, where container ships have had to be diverted to Mombasa because of delays at Dar es Salaam. This has in turn added to congestion problems at the port at Mombasa.

    The arrangement allows for containers to be moved immediately to the ICDs where they can be cleared through customs. With a capacity for 400,000 containers the depots are expected to have a dramatic and immediate effect on congestion at Dar es Salaam.

    According to Tanzania Ports Authority director general Ephraem Mgawe, congestion at Dar es Salaam is a result of a worldwide increase in container volumes. He said the port authority had plans to build new modern ports at Tanga, Bagamoyo and Mtwara, where land has been acquired for US$12.5 million.

    sources - The Citizen (Dar es Salaam) and East African Business Week

    Mozambique: fears of a repeat of 2007 flooding

    The 2007 floods were the worst experienced in Mozambique for six years. Note the long railway bridge with missing railway tracks on the approaches and abandoned railway wagons. Picture IRIN

    Johannesburg (IRIN) - As water levels continue to rise in Mozambique's main river systems, aid workers have expressed fears of a repeat of the 2007 flooding, the worst the country had experienced in six years.

    "The water levels in four of the main river systems are way above the critical level," said Paulo Zucula, National Director for the Disaster Management Institute (INGC), told IRIN. The main river valleys Zambezi, Pungue, Buzi and Save - all in central Mozambique - which have already flooded and affected more than 50,000 people, have been put on red alert.

    "We still need to rescue between 10,000 and 15,000 people from the affected areas," he added.

    "Our other immediate concern is that the Cahora Bassa Dam [on the Zambezi River in the Tete Province in the northwest] has been forced to increase its discharges from 4,500 to 5,100 cubic metres a second to cope with a massive inflow of water into Cahora Bassa Lake from Zambia and Zimbabwe," said Zucula.

    Controlled releases from the Cahora Bassa dam which increase the flow downriver were partly responsible for the floods in 2007, in which 29 people were killed and 60,000 evacuated from the central Zambezi basin to higher ground.

    Chris McIvor, country director of Save the Children UK pointed out, "With heavy rains forecast for Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi in the next few weeks - the situation could worsen [in the Cahora Bassa Dam]."

    source - IRIN

    UN prepares to help

    Meanwhile the UN reported yesterday (Monday) that it and non-governmental partners are gearing up to launch an emergency relief operation in central Mozambique where flooding has affected nearly 60,000 people.

    “The humanitarian community stands ready to support the Government in the ongoing response,” UN Resident Coordinator Ndolamb Ngokwey said. “Over the past few months, we have been working closely with national authorities to put in place contingency plans to ensure that needs of those affected by the flooding are met expeditiously.”

    Over the past few weeks, heavy rains in Mozambique and neighbouring countries have sharply swollen the Zambezi, Pungue, Buzi and Save rivers. The country’s disaster management agency estimates that so far some 56,000 people have been affected, including 13,000 who have been relocated to resettlement centres.

    UN teams deployed to the affected regions are undertaking a rapid assessment of the flood’s impact on various key areas – agriculture, water and sanitation, nutrition, education and child protection.

    They are working with national disaster management authorities, the Red Cross and non-governmental humanitarian partners on the ground to carry out a rapid assessment and identify the most urgent needs. The (Mozambique) government is planning a more detailed multi-agency vulnerability and food security assessment for the coming week.

    In anticipation of this year’s rainy season, emergency supplies have already been pre-positioned in several strategic locations in flood-prone areas. The supplies for distribution include shelter and non-food items, to enable a quick first-line response.

    Localised flooding is common in Mozambique during the southern Africa rainy season from November to March. Last year, an estimated 285,000 people were affected along the Zambezi River Basin. As rising water levels from heavy rains flooded low-lying areas, over 100,000 people took refuge in temporary accommodation centres.

    Hout Bay fishing trawler towed to safety

    Hout Bay, 6 January 2008 -

    Brad Geyser, NSRI Hout Bay Station Commander reports on a difficult technical rescue:

    At 19h04 NSRI Hout Bay were activated by the National Ports Authority following a request for assistance from the 20 metre, 71 ton fishing trawler, SULAIMAN, registered to Kalk Bay harbour and berthed at Hout Bay harbour, reported to be adrift with rope fouled around her propeller, 25 nautical miles South of Cape Point, with 20 crew on-board, in 2 to 3 metre swells and 15 to 20 knot North Westerly winds.

    The vessel and her crew reported to be in no imminent danger but in need of assistance with the vessel drifting without engine power due to rope fouled around her propeller. The skipper of the vessel had looked at all possibilities to free rope tangled around the propeller but sea conditions were not conducive to any safe option and a rescue was requested.

    NSRI Hout Bay launched our deep sea rescue craft MTU Nadine Gordimer and NSRI Table Bay launched their deep sea rescue craft Spirit of Vodacom while NSRI Simon’s Town placed their deep sea rescue craft Spirit of Safmarine III on alert.

    A National Ports Authority tug boat was also placed on alert.

    On arrival on-scene, at approximately 22h50, the crew aboard the two NSRI rescue craft found all crew aboard Sulaiman safe. A tow-line was rigged from the rescue craft Spirit of Vodacom and the casualty vessel was taken under tow and towed towards Hout Bay harbour while the second rescue craft escorted the tow.

    Maritime Radio Services posted an all ships alert via the emergency Maritime VHF Radio Frequency warning other vessels in the area of the rescue operation in progress in order that other vessels steer clear of the difficult and technical towing effort.

    At 05h00 this morning the Sulaiman was safely towed into Hout Bay harbour and berthed. No further assistance was required and no injuries to any of the casualty vessel crew were sustained.”

    Note The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) is manned by 840 dedicated volunteers. NSRI comprises 72 rescue craft and 21 rescue vehicles at 29 coastal rescue stations and 3 inland rescue stations. NSRI's R15 m annual running costs are achieved through sponsorships and donations. The rescue organisation was started in 1967 and last year celebrated 40 years of selfless volunteer service. Its mission - Saving lives at sea and on inland waters.

    South Africa and China to discuss economic, trade relations

    By Michael Appel (BuaNews)

    Pretoria, 7 January 2008 - Economic, trade and political matters between South Africa and China were discussed between Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and her Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi on Monday (7 January).

    The two foreign ministers met for bilateral discussions within the context of celebrating 10 years of diplomatic relations between South Africa and China.

    It is anticipated that South Africa and China will this year establish a Strategic Dialogue that will serve as a mechanism to enhance cooperation between the two countries. China is [one of] South Africa’s largest trading partners.

    According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, discussions will also focus on cooperation in the arena of international affairs and peacekeeping in Africa and China's involvement in these missions, cooperation in capacity building and human resource development in support of the objectives of the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa.

    The establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries has resulted in an exponential increase in political, economic, trade and multilateral cooperation.

    Exports to China grew from R7.85 million in 1996, to well over R8.5 billion in 2005. Imports for the same period surged from R2.4 million in 1996 to R31.5 billion in 2005.

    South Africa, on the other hand, has the potential to export commodities ranging from energy, mining and mineral related technology, financial services, biotechnology, infrastructure development and construction, to agro-processing and tourism to China.

    South Africa also plans to participate in the 2010 Shanghai Expo, which is one of the largest in the world.

    According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the partnership between South Africa and China continues to strengthen through frequent meetings as well as high level visits in both directions.

    South Africa's business entrepreneurs will also have the opportunity to exhibit and participate in the World Expo, giving them access to the world's biggest market.

    Chinese investments into South Africa are currently tabled at US$130 million, mostly in a chromium mine, while South Africa's investments in China are totalled at $400 million.

    This includes investments by Anglo American, SAB Miller and a $120 million investment by property group LRPS.

    Cabinet has also identified the clothing and textiles industry, chemical, mineral beneficiation, agro-processing, business process outsourcing, tourism, arts and crafts, automotives aerospace, marine and rail transport industries as priority sectors for investment.

    Mr Yang's visit to the country will span only two days, thereafter, he is set to visit the Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday.

    While in South Africa, Minister Yang is also expected to pay a courtesy call on President Thabo Mbeki.

    Pic of the day – BAHIA CASTILLO

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    Hamburg Sud’s container ship BAHIA CASTILLO seen at Port Elizabeth harbour. Picture by Alvin McLoughlin

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