Ports & Ships Maritime News

May 22, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • AU meeting to discuss economic integration of African states

  • US Coastguard AMVER award for South African ship

  • Shipping line news

  • Cargo mounts in Mombasa after rail closure

  • Tanzanian introduces pollution prevention plan

  • UN agencies deplore South African xenophobic attacks

  • Yemen praised for protecting people fleeing Somalia

  • Pic of the day – FRONTIER


    Watch a short 4.5 minute video clip about ship stowaway searches CLICK HERE and follow the link

    AU meeting to discuss economic integration of African states

    by Bathandwa Mbola

    Pretoria, 21 May - President Thabo Mbeki is to attend the first meeting of the Committee of Twelve African Union Heads of State and Government, set to discuss the political and economic integration of Africa.

    The President will be accompanied by Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad at the meeting scheduled for Thursday (22 May) until Friday in Arusha, Tanzania.

    “President Mbeki will attend the meeting within the context of ongoing discussions within the AU regarding the political and economic integration of Africa in establishing the Union Government,” the department of Foreign Affairs said.

    The meeting is expected to consider the report from the AU Executive Council of Ministers following their deliberations in Arusha earlier in the month.

    It will also include the report of the Ministerial Committee of Ten on the Union Government.

    The Ministerial Committee of Ten was mandated by the Assembly at its Summit in Accra, Ghana in July 2007, to consider the following issues pertaining to the Union Government and report thereon to the AU Summit in February 2008.

    The issues included:

    * The content of the concept of the Union Government and its relationship with national governments.

    * The domains of competence and the impact of the establishment of the Union Government on the sovereignty of Member States.

    * Defining the relationship between the Union Government and the Regional Economic Communities.

    * Elaborating on the road map together with the time frames for establishing the Union Government.

    Following the presentation of the report and recommendations, of the Ministerial Committee of Ten to the AU Summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in February 2008, the department said the Assembly agreed to expand and elevate the Committee of Ten to a Heads of State level that would also include the immediate past Chairperson of the Union as well as current Chairperson of the Union to consider the matter further.

    The Ministerial Committee of Ten was composed of the following member states: South Africa and Botswana (Southern Region), Libya and Egypt (Northern Region), Gabon and Cameroon (Central Region), Ethiopia and Uganda (Eastern Region), and Nigeria and Senegal (Western Region). - BuaNews

    US Coastguard AMVER award for South African ship

    From left to right at yesterday’s award function which was held in the Durban offices of Unicorn Shipping - Unicorn Shipping SHEQ Manager Rory Boardman; US Consul General Eugene Young; Unicorn Shipping director Robert Young; and Unicorn Shipping Fleet Superintendent Dick Young. Picture Terry Hutson

    Durban, 22 May – The US Consul General in Durban, Eugene Young yesterday congratulated South African shipping company Unicorn Shipping for its participation in a US Coast Guard worldwide search and rescue programme known as AMVER. Mr Young handed over a certificate and letter to the company for making its ships available in search and rescue incidents on the high seas.

    The award was made on behalf of the US Coast Guard as a mark of its Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System (AMVER), a US Coastguard safety programme.

    Consul General Young said that the Amver programme represents the best of international relations. “It is a humanitarian system operated for, and depending on, the co-operation of all the seagoing nations of the world, regardless of flag or nationality.

    “The maritime industry of South Africa is to be commended and admired for its support of this truly vital system which is on guard around the clock, around the globe, protecting lives in the air and on the seas.”

    He explained that some 17,000 ships from over 155 nations participate in the computerised system. Each day Amver tracks an average of 3,200 ships on voyages all around the world. If a ship reports an emergency, rescue co-ordinators can query the Amver system and identify other Amver ships in the areas which can be diverted to assist. Oftentimes in the middle of the ocean, another ship is the only rescue resource available.

    From a business standpoint, South African companies involved in the Amver safety network are providing additional ‘free’ insurance for their vessels, since the Amver computer’s sophisticated software can determine their position at any given time, he said. “It may be that a South African ship is in distress, or in turn it may be a South Africa ship that is requested to divert and provide assistance.”

    The ability to identify several ships in the area of a distress allows rescue co-ordinators to select and dispatch only those in the best position to assist, thus releasing other ships to continue on their voyage, saving time and money in fuel and crew salaries. Amver data is protected from disclosure as sensitive commercial information and is only provided to search and rescue agencies during bona fide emergencies.

    On an annual basis the Amver system is called upon an average of more than 200 times and amounts to a saving of at least 300 lives. The type of emergency includes fire and medical evacuations.

    The Commandant of the United States Coast Guard provides each company with a letter of appreciation, and each ship receives a certificate. Other awards are given based upon the number of consecutive years a vessel has participated.

    Yesterday’s award referred to the 25,400-gt Unicorn-owned products tanker Stena Tiger, formerly named Oliphant.

    Unicorn director Robert Young said Unicorn ships have been participating in the AMVER programme since the 1980s.

    Maersk Constantia scrapping confirmed

    Maersk Constantia on her final call in Durban last month – see our reports of 24 April 2008 and 21 April CLICK HERE Picture Terry Hutson

    Europe-based news service AXS-Alphaliner has confirmed a report published last month in PORTS & SHIPS that the 3,102 teu Maersk Constantia, one of the original four Safmarine ‘Big Whites’ (ex SA Waterberg), has been sold for scrap.

    The Big Whites were built in France in 1977-79 and were part of a group of nine ships ordered for the Europe-South Africa trade by the partners of the newly founded SAECS consortium.

    The Maersk Constantia is ending its last rotation on the Maersk Line - Safmarine Safari loop 2, after which she will head to Bangladesh for scrapping.

    Cargo mounts in Mombasa after rail closure

    Mombasa, 21 May – Rift Valley Railway (RVR) and the Kenya Ports Authority say they have plans of dealing with cargo delayed in the port of Mombasa following the collapse of culverts across a swampy area near Jinja in Uganda.

    According to Kenyan reports the harbour at Mombasa is coming under renewed strain as cargo intended for rail has been prevented from moving out of the port. Earlier reports suggested as much as 20,000 tonnes of cargo for neighbouring countries was stranded after heavy rains resulted in several culverts close to Jinja collapsing.

    RVR says it has introduced plans of diverting certain traffic, mostly liquid bulk cargo, to the eastern lake port of Kisumu, with lake ships transhipping the cargo onward to Port Bell for Kampala. Dry cargo can still be railed as far as Iganga which is where the current railhead is and then roadfreighted the 80km to Kampala.

    Kenya Ports Authority meanwhile has agreed to waiver storage charges on cargo affected by the railway being closed. After just five days over 1,200 containers have backed up in the port.

    RVR estimated it may take four weeks to complete repairs to the railway.

    KPA’s Operations Manager Capt Twalib Khamis said it was hoped that by waving storage charges some relief will accrue to cargo owners. However he appealed to owners and forwarders to co-operate and move their cargo as soon as possible.

    Tanzanian introduces pollution prevention plan

    by Pius Rugonzibwa (The Citizen, Dar es Salaam)

    A national plan to prevent and contain massive pollution resulting from oil spills is underway, Tanzanian authorities have said.

    The Surface and Marines Transport Regulatory Authority (Sumatra) said yesterday stakeholders were working on the strategies that would among other things consider ways of effectively responding to oil spills.

    Speaking during a workshop on the proposed ‘National Marine Oil Spill Contingent Plan’ (NOSCP), Sumatra director general Israel Sekirasa said the national plan would provide a comprehensive system of accident reporting, spill containment and clean- up.

    It would also see the establishment of a response headquarters, a national reaction team and regional reaction teams, especially for lakes Victoria, Tanganyika and Nyasa.

    Tanzania has a coastline that extends for approximately 1,000 kilometres with diverse ecosystems.

    But the country’s coastal wetlands have for a long time now remained vulnerable to environmental pollution resulting from mostly oil spills from the increasing shipping along the coastlines.

    A planned petroleum exploration offshore, stakeholders have said, would also pose a serious threat to the ecosystem.

    The situation has been worsened by the apparent lack of requisite strategies and plans to adequately handle oil spills.

    Marine stakeholders have in the past cited the unavailability of equipment and well-trained responders as major problems affecting efforts to avert the crisis.

    As a result, the more than 60 participants who attended this week’s meeting agreed that there was need for an effective national contingency plan that draws in the expertise of relevant stakeholders.

    An International Maritime Organisation official, Mr John Muindi, said pollution would continue to be a serious consequence of maritime transport.

    “But we believe in cleaner seas, safe shipping; and through closely working together, we can still reduce the risks. Ships need to have well trained crew to effectively deal with accidents that could lead to pollution,” said Mr Muindi.

    He said the ‘Safety of Life at Sea Convention’ had been accepted by more than 145 parties, whose combined merchant fleets represents 98.5 per cent of world tonnage.
    About 117 countries, whose fleets represent 95.9 per cent of world tonnage, were also said to have accepted the convention. – The Citizen (Dar es Salaam)

    UN agencies deplore South African xenophobic attacks

    Pretoria, 21 May – United Nations agencies operating in South Africa have expressed deep concern at the outbreak of violent xenophobic attacks in the province of Gauteng in the past week that has led to the deaths of several people and many others being left injured or homeless.

    In a statement issued yesterday (Wednesday) in Pretoria by the Office of the Resident Coordinator in South Africa, UN officials said they were equally disturbed by the violence and xenophobia that has been occurring across the country in recent months.

    “Most of the victims are law-abiding migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers seeking a safe and better life for their families among South Africans,” the statement noted.

    “We remain gravely concerned at the prospect of [a] further escalation in violence, especially against the most vulnerable, including women, children and poor families.”

    The officials said they welcomed the deployment of more police to affected areas to restore order, as well as the condemnation of the attacks by senior figures in the Government and public life.

    “The United Nations organisations in South Africa stand ready to provide assistance and support for immediate humanitarian needs faced by the victims of attacks, as well as to find medium and long-term solutions to the unfolding developments.” – UN News Centre

    Yemen praised for protecting people fleeing Somalia

    Sana’a (Yemen), 19 May 2008 – The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) António Guterres today praised Yemen for providing protection to people making the dangerous Gulf of Aden crossing from Somalia, and called for more international support so the country can assist the refugees.

    “The Yemeni Government has shown leadership in responding to the protection needs of individuals in the migratory movement,” Mr. Guterres said in an address at the opening of a two-day regional conference on the issue in the Yemeni capital Sana’a.

    So far this year, more than 18,000 people have made the perilous Gulf of Aden crossing aboard smugglers’ boats, double the number for the same period a year ago. More than 400 people have died trying to make the voyage this year.

    Yemen, despite meagre resources, has maintained an open-door policy to refugees, but it has been calling for more support from the international community, a call which Mr. Guterres echoed.

    “While the Government continues to scale up to meet the challenge, it will not be able to do so alone,” he said. “I strongly appeal to all countries that have the capacity and resources to do so in the region and beyond, to fully support Yemen in its generous hospitality to many refugees from Somalia during more than 15 years.”

    UNHCR and other international agencies have stepped up their efforts to assist Yemen and other countries in the region, and are jointly calling for global action to better address the challenges.

    The Sana’a conference brings together high-level government officials from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Yemen and the Gulf Cooperation countries as well as representatives of civil society and international organisations.

    Its main objective is to establish a regional mechanism and a longer-term plan of action on refugee protection and mixed migration in the Gulf of Aden region.

    Pic of the day – FRONTIER

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The Ocean Africa Container Line general cargo container ship FRONTIER seen in Cape Town in this 2007 image. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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