Ports & Ships Maritime News

May 27, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Renewed threat to cancel Rift Valley Railway concession

  • Three men in a boat – how to make your escape from Mauritius

  • Queen Modjadji 1 arrives in Simon’s Town

  • Korean fishing vessel sinks after fire

  • New tug for port of Tanga completed in Cape Town

  • SOUTH AFRICA: African governments begin repatriating their nationals

  • Pic of the day – QUEEN MODJADJI 1


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    Renewed threat to cancel Rift Valley Railway concession

    The Kenyan government is reported to be seriously considering ways of cancelling the 25-year concession held by Rift Valley Railway (RVR), headed by South Africa’s Sheltam Railway, because of what is claimed to be a lack of improvement in railway operations since the concession was awarded in November 2006.

    According to the newspaper East African an extraordinary meeting chaired by Prime Minister Raila Odinga was held last Thursday (22 May 2008) to look into the allegations and examine possible ways of cancelling the concession.

    Other top government personnel attending the meeting included Finance Minister Amos Kimunya, Transport Minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere and senior management of the Kenya Railways Corporation. The newspaper claimed that sources had disclosed to them that the main purpose of the meeting was to look at the legal implications of cancelling the concession.

    The gathering also looked at alternative methods of operating the railway network thereafter, including the introduction of an ‘open access system’ in which the government-owned Kenya Railways Corporation or some other organisation of government would maintain the permanent way, while multiple private sector operators would be granted trackage rights.

    At present this is similar to an arrangement involving Magadi Soda which runs the railway between Konza and Mombasa.

    According to the East African, the Kenya Railways Corporation has directed its management to issue a ‘notice of default’ against RVR on account of unpaid concession fees for the period October-December 2007, amounting to USD1.98 million). The amount was due to have been paid by 30 January this year. Concession fees amounting to USD1.74m have also not been paid for the following period January-March 2008, which was due on 30 April.

    RVR has responded to these allegations by means of a newspaper advertisement saying that a Political Risk Event has been invoked following the political riots earlier this year which led to the temporary closure of rail operations and a sever backlog in cargo.

    In addition to its financial concerns the Kenyan government is said to be also concerned with the poor performance of the railway, in which it is claimed there has been very little if any operating improvement since RVR took up the concession.

    This concern is heightened in the knowledge that new stricter axle-loading regulations on road transport are expected to force more traffic from road to the rail in the near future.

    Three men in a boat – how to make your escape from Mauritius

    report by Alain Malherbe (AeroShip - Port Louis)

    Port Louis, 23 May - Although a firm ‘Objection to departure’ was lodged against three men out (of jail) on bail, they succeeded in leaving Mauritius recently by sea without being worried by the authorities.

    The question now being asked is what is the use of all precautionary measures instituted at the airport when it appears that one can fraudulently leave the country by sea? The answer is that there is just no strict control over pleasure craft leaving the country.

    In theory any craft entering and leaving Mauritius should by law report to the Harbour Master via the Port Louis port control and the National Coast Guard (NCG). When any boat/craft circulates within the local waters, prior authorisation from the NCG has to be obtained. When navigation is within the port area, Port Louis Harbour Radio must be informed. In addition, any cruising craft must report to Port Immigration of the presence of any passenger embarking or disembarking.

    The problem is that authorities have presumed that pleasure craft operating outside the port area never embark passengers. It also appears that the authorities just never considered that foreigners might disembark onto a Mauritian beach in a clandestine manner, just as they never considered that someone might leave the island in the same way.

    A spokesman from the NCG has confirmed that requests made to have a NCG station based in the south of the island at the place called ‘Le Morne’ have always been rejected, despite there being several hotels situated in this area – an area where criminals in the past made use of the sea to burglarise the hotels.

    The three men escaped from this region and headed for La Reunion Island situated approximately 135 nautical miles from Mauritius. It appears that on arrival even the authorities on La Reunion were unable to identify the stolen boat and the three men.

    Two types of license

    A spokesman from the NCG explained that discussions have been opened with the Tourism Authority to have all boats equipped with a monitoring transponder - an electronic device which emits signals to alert the authorities on the position of each boat.

    However, this equipment costs approximately USD 1500 and it is doubtful that ordinary fishermen can afford such an expense and this new measure may finally apply only to boats licensed to leave the lagoon.

    There are two types of licenses provided by the authorities. The pleasure boat owners apply to the Tourism Authority and the fishermen to the Ministry for Fishing. But the coast guard, despite having 800 officers assigned to it is not adequately equipped to protect Mauritian territorial waters.

    “The radars are not powerful enough, the boats not sufficient and the helicopters are not suitable. How do we protect the coast in this case?” asked an officer of the NCG.

    There is no way of enforcing that boats leaving the country inform the appropriate authorities, even though they are supposed to. There is just no form of control. At the airport, on the other hand, safety and security measures are becoming increasingly constraining.

    Queen Modjadji 1 arrives in Simon’s Town

    The South African Navy’s third new submarine, SAS Queen Modjadji 1 (S103) arrived in Simon’s Town last Thursday having sailed from the shipyard in Germany with a SAN crew which had also completed its training in Germany.

    The submarine is the last of seven new ships to be delivered to the SAN, all from German builders. Four frigates and three submarines, which have added considerable menace and capability to the navy.

    The three Type 209 submarines were acquired from the German Submarine Consortium, having received government approval in 1999 (not without considerable controversy, both then and now). The three boats were built in Kiel by the Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG (HDW), TNSW and Kockums with a first delivery date in 2005.

    The following pictures were taken by photographer Clinton Wyness who flew to Simon’s Town from Durban specially to witness the arrival.


    Accompanied by a welcoming group of navy ships, Queen Modadji 1 makes a regal first appearance in False Bay, en route for the Simon’s Town Naval Base. Picture Clinton Wyness


    The calm waters of False Bay last Thursday morning must have been a welcome sight for the sailors on board the navy’s latest ship. Not only a calm welcoming sea but that’s home and loved one’s on the horizon. Picture by Clinton Wyness


    The Naval Base harbour tug keeps company with S103, with Simon’s Town only moments away. Picture Clinton Wyness


    Coming alongside at last after the long journey from Germany, much of which was spent submerged. All three subs are now home. Picture Clinton Wyness

    All pictures by Clinton Wyness / cwyness@hotmail.com

    Korean fishing vessel sinks after fire

    The South Korean fishing trawler Ocean 8, which caught fire in Berkley Sound (Falklands) earlier in May, has finally sunk.

    Despite the efforts of the crew who were later forced to abandon the burning vessel, and those of the fire crews from the island, the fire spread and the vessel was eventually left to burn itself out.

    By late last week authorities were announcing they intended to board the hulk once it had cooled down sufficiently to assess the damage. Then came news that the vessel had gone under.

    The Falklands Conservation Officer is visiting the area where the vessel sank to inspect for environmental damage. - Falklands Island News Network

    See related article HERE

    New tug for port of Tanga completed in Cape Town

    Picture by Aad Noorland

    Like a fish out of water, Tanzanian Ports Authority’s newly built tug ELIZABETH LUHIGO stands on blocks in Cape Town, awaiting the appropriate entry into its correct element before being delivered to the port of Tanga, Tanzania where the tug will go into service.

    The 20m long, 6m wide harbour tug was built to a standard 2006 Damen design at Damen Cape Town’s shipyard, formerly known as Farocean Marine.

    SOUTH AFRICA: African governments begin repatriating their nationals

    Johannesburg, 22 May 2008 (IRIN) - The governments of Mozambique and Zimbabwe have begun the ‘voluntary repatriation’ of their citizens, in the wake of ongoing xenophobic violence in South Africa that police say has claimed 42 lives, displaced more than 16,000 people and led to 400 arrests.

    The violence, which has seen some foreign nationals necklaced - a throwback to a horrific practice used during the apartheid era, when suspected police informants were killed by placing a burning tyre around their necks - has spread throughout Gauteng and into other provinces since it first broke out in the Johannesburg township of Alexandra 12 days ago.

    Johannesburg's mayor, Amos Masondo, invited all foreign diplomatic missions to a meeting on 23 May, “to discuss xenophobic attitudes in Johannesburg”, a spokesperson for the Mozambican consulate told IRIN.

    “Plus or minus 10 buses left on 21 May and there were about 10 buses leaving the following day for Mozambique. We are doing our best to take our people home,” the spokesperson said. About 1,200 people have been repatriated by the Mozambique government and many other Mozambique nationals were making their own way home.

    The Mozambican daily newspaper, Noticias, reported that about 10,000 Mozambique nationals had fled South Africa since the violence began, but this did not include those without legal travel documents, which was thought would add thousands more to the number.

    The consular spokesperson said the Mozambique government would provide transport for as long as there was a demand, as “it is not just illegal immigrants that are being attacked, even those who are legally here [in South Africa] are being attacked.”

    Chris Mapanga, of the Zimbabwean consulate in Johannesburg, said his government was “organising voluntary repatriations and the work is in progress. We are at a very advanced stage.” He declined to reveal the numbers of those requesting repatriation or when the repatriations would begin, and what type of transport would be used.

    “It is not like an instant lightning strike. Xenophobia starts at 1 p.m. and then the buses [for those wanting to be repatriated] leave at 1.30 p.m.,” he told IRIN.

    Mapanga said research indicated that there were about 800,000 to one million Zimbabweans in South Africa; other estimates have put the number of people who have fled the eight-year (Zimbabwe) recession at more than three million. Annual inflation in Zimbabwe is unofficially estimated at 1,000,000 percent, with severe shortages of food, fuel and energy.

    Widespread reports of violence ahead of Zimbabwe's second presidential poll on 27 June - scheduled after neither President Robert Mugabe, of the ZANU-PF party, nor opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai achieved the required 50 percent plus one vote majority - is also believed to have increased undocumented migration to South Africa.

    The 29 March poll saw the ruling ZANU-PF party lose control of parliament for the first time since winning independence from Britain in 1980.

    Xenophobic violence spreads

    Outside the epicentre of xenophobic violence in Gauteng Province, in the last few days reports of further mayhem have come from KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Mpumalanga provinces. The government has announced that army resources would be available to police to try and end the violence.

    Opposition parties in the South African parliament welcomed the decision, but criticised President Thabo Mbeki's slow response. Democratic Alliance Chief Whip Ian Davidson said in a parliamentary debate on 22 May that the government had only agreed to deploy the army after 42 people had died, when his party had made such calls after the deaths of 12 people.

    Xenophobia in South Africa was expected to be discussed during the seventh Nigeria/South Africa Bi-national Commission in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.
    Kingsley Mamabolo, head of the South African delegation to Abuja, reportedly said: “Of course, there will be explanations and discussions about it [xenophobia], and the commission will have to find the best possible way to address the problem.”

    The News Agency of Nigeria has reported that dozens of Nigerian-owned shops have been attacked in Johannesburg, while a Nigerian-owned tavern in the Durban suburb of Umbilo was attacked by a mob.

    A few weeks before the xenophobic violence erupted, Nigerian authorities voiced concern their nationals were being targeted by criminals after arriving at Johannesburg's international airport.

    South Africa's shame

    The violence has been condemned by the government, trade unions, church and community organisations, as well as individuals on local radio talk shows.

    Imtiaz Sooliman, chairman of Gift of the Givers, a South African humanitarian organisation, reportedly said an appeal for assistance had generated an overwhelming response, comparable to donations after the 2004 Asian tsunami, which killed 220,000 people. “People are saying they are ashamed of what is happening to South Africa,” he said.

    The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has begun distributing 2,000 ‘dignity packs’, containing basic sanitary and nutritional items, mats and blankets to meet the immediate needs of displaced people.

    The IOM has also joined forces with Metro FM, one of South Africa's largest commercial radio stations, to launch a campaign to “educate the public about foreigners’ and locals’ rights and responsibilities, in a bid to forestall more attacks and to pave the way for reconciliation and integration,” the IOM said in a statement.

    Chief Justice Pius Langa told local media: “It is abundantly clear that if we, as South Africans, fail to take immediate and effective action to these attacks we are heading for a bleak future indeed.”

    (This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations)

    Pic of the day – QUEEN MODJADJI 1

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    another view of SAS Queen Modjadji 1 (S103), the third and final Type 209 submarine to be delivered by a South African Navy crew to Simon’s Town, on 22 May 2008. In the background is one of the other submarines. Picture Clinton Wyness

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