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Mediterranean Shipping Company’s 8,402-TEU container ship MSC TOMOKO (108,180-dwt, built 2006), seen at the lock waiting to exit the port of Antwerp. MSC Tomoko is currently deployed on the northern Europe – South Africa service and has made several calls at South African ports. Picture by Anup Rampiar
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SHAMEFUL TREATMENT OF INDONESIAN SEAFARERS
Seventy-Five seafarers off seven Taiwanese fishing boats in Cape Town harbour were arrested at the weekend after having been abused for months as slaves on board the vessels.
According to the Apostleship of the Sea, the international seafarers chaplaincy which operates in the port of Cape Town, the manner in which the seamen were treated by the South African authorities was heavy-handed and ill-thought out.
Speaking from London, the Apostleship of the Sea (AoS)called for a major change in the way seafarers and fishermen are treated by government authorities when they are the victims of unscrupulous owners.
Local media reported on the slave like conditions endured by the 75 Indonesian fishermen stranded in Cape Town harbour for the last month, while the AoS South Africa said that many of the crew had not been paid for two years and were forced to continue to work.
Some of the crew said they were recruited with the promise of a fairly paid job, but once they were onboard they received no pay and little food, often working from 2am in the morning until 10pm at night.
One 44-year-old man said he had worked on various vessels for 37 months without pay, often transferred to other boats when his contract expired.
The Cape Town inspector for the ITF, the seafarers’ trade union, reported on the appalling living conditions onboard, saying that inside the vessel there was one toilet for 12 men and the seafarers were forced to drink out of a tap used to pump oil one day and water the next.
“The conditions were inhumane. None of these men have been paid a cent, despite working 20 hour days. It's slavery at sea,” said the ITF’s Cassiem Augustus.
The fishing vessels have been impounded in South Africa for illegal fishing, with the captain being arrested, leaving the crew dependent on the support of organisations like the AoS and the local community to survive and seek help.
With long experience of supporting the many Indonesian and Filipino seafarers who visit the Cape Town port, the AoS was able to act as a go-between liaising with the trade union and the Indonesian consulate. But by the fourth week in port the crew had no food or water which was not being supplied by the vessel owner but by the AoS, local churches and the ITF.
The on Sunday morning (1 December) at 3am the fishermen were woken up, arrested and taken to a detention centre to await deportation. This is being challenged and questions asked whether this action by the South African Home Affairs department to deport the crew is legal.
If the seafarers are repatriated with undue haste it is extremely unlikely that their wages will ever be paid. In addition they will be end being labeled as illegal immigrants rather than victims of modern day slavery.
“The application of immigration rules to these men has taken no consideration of their circumstances,” said Terry Whitfield, National Director of the Apostleship of the Sea. “In the twenty-first century it is appalling that overseas fishing crews who are stranded through no fault of their own are treated as illegal immigrants and subject to treatment that has demeaned and humiliated them.”
According to media reports, a maritime attorney acting on behalf of the crew, Alan Goldberg, has applied for the vessels to be sold at auction but says he doubts whether the run-down fibre glass boats will fetch a good price. He said it was suspected that the boats are owned by fishing cartels.
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MOZAMBIQUE GOVT DEFENDS TUNA FISHING DEAL
Ocean Eagle, one of the controversial patrol boats now under construction in France for a Mozambique company
The Mozambique Tuna Company (EMATUM) is not “a ghost company”, as claimed by Renamo, but has been legally set up, with offices, company bodies and a tax identification number, declared Fisheries Minister Vitor Borges on Thursday in the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic.
EMATUM is mired in controversy because of the purchase of 24 tuna fishing vessels and six patrol boats from a shipyard in Cherbourg, France. This was financed by EMATUM issuing bonds to the total value of US$ 850 million on the European markets. Repayment of the bonds, at 8.5 percent interest, has been guaranteed by the Mozambican government.
On the second day of a parliamentary debate on the matter, Borges said that, contrary to opposition claims on Wednesday that the state owns 85 per cent of EMATUM, in reality the figure is only 67 percent.
But the true shareholding structure of EMATUM can be readily found in the official gazette, the ‘Boletim da Republica’. The majority shareholder is the government’s Institute for the Management of State Holdings (IGEPE), with 34 percent. The fishing company Emopesca holds 33 percent. 80 percent of Emopesca is owned by the Mozambican state and 20 percent by the Fisheries Promotion Fund, which is a state body.
The third EMATUM shareholder, with 33 percent, is GIPS (Management of Investments, Holdings and Services), which is a limited company, but when it was set up in January 2012, 70 percent of its shares were held by the social services of the State Intelligence and Security Agency, SISE. A minority shareholder, Joia Haquirene, sold his 30 percent to GIPS itself in March this year.
Borges said that while the boats only cost US$ 300 million, the rest of the money would be spent on radar equipment, satellite communications, onshore installations, transfer of technology, licence fees, training, and the running costs and payment of interest on the loan for the first year.
He denied that there was any risk that EMATUM would default on its repayments and that the government would be obliged to bail it out.
A viability study had been undertaken which showed that the purchase of the boats was economically viable, the Minister stressed, From the second year of EMATUM’s operations onwards, the company would be able to pay for its own running costs and service its debt. Borges predicted that when the fleet is fully operational it will bring in revenue of US$ 200 million a year.
“We want to assure you that the fiscal risk has been taken care of,” he told the deputies.
Contrary to Renamo claims, there was nothing secretive about the deal, Borges added, since it was a public bond issue. Nor did it have anything to do with acquiring military equipment.
“Operations on this market do not provide military material,” Borges said, insisting that nothing in the bond issue was intended to purchase weaponry.
He said the patrol boats are not combat vessels, but would be equipped with state-of-the-art technology to provide early warning of any threats.
The opposition was not convinced. Jose Manuel de Sousa, of the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), said that while he was all in favour of tuna fishing being done by Mozambican rather than foreign vessels, he queried the legality of the government’s guarantee. He pointed out that it vastly exceeds the limits on government guarantees set by the 2013 budget law. Article 11 of that law sets a maximum limit to government guarantees of 183.5 million meticais (about US$6.1 million).
Sousa noted that the EMATUM bond issue was equivalent to six percent of Mozambique’s gross domestic product, and that the government’s Economic and Social Plan (PES) for 2013 did not mention acquiring a tuna fleet.
He added that the original bond issue was only for US$ 500 million. It was oversubscribed, and so EMATUM issued a further $ 350 million worth. He calculated that the annual payments to the bondholders, in interest alone, will be $ 53.6 million.
Renamo deputy Alberto Sabe claimed that EMATUM is run by SISE, and asked why an intelligence service should be involved at all.
Summing up the debate, Prime Minister Alberto Vaquina said the government was determined to diversify the economy. Its strategy was for “an integrated and balanced development of all the country’s resources, so that the economy will still be viable after the minerals have been exhausted.”
Currently tuna fishing in Mozambican waters is undertaken almost exclusively by foreign vessels. Of the 130 ships licensed to fish for tuna, only one flies the Mozambican flag. Furthermore, Vaquina believed that the catches by the 129 foreign ships are understated “because we are not able to undertake effective inspection.”
The only benefit Mozambique currently obtains from tuna fishing is the million dollars a year paid in licence fees.
Vaquina thought that the fears that EMATUM would not be able to service its debt were unfounded. He pointed out that there were similar fears when, in 2007, Mozambique took a majority stake in HCB, the company that operates the Cahora Bassa dam on the Zambezi. This involved debt of 700 million dollars to a banking consortium.
Six years had passed, Vaquina said, and Mozambican had proved they could run the dam. Since the takeover, “there has been an enormous improvement in HCB’s contribution to the economy. Mozambicans can do what others do just as well, or better.” source – AIM
CONSTRUCTION OF NEW NAMIBIAN PORT TO BEGIN IN 2014
The proposed Walvis Bay North Harbour, which aims at becoming the SADC Gateway Harbour
A new SADC Gateway port at Walvis Bay is soon to become a reality, with phase one expected to begin next year, reports the state-owned Namibian Broadcasting Corporation.
The report says the new port is expected to contribute significantly to Namport's intention of becoming the SADC regional logistics hub, which also ties in with Namibia's Fourth National Development Plan, NDP-4.
The new port will be built between Walvis Bay's residential area of Kuisebmund and Bird Island with facilities to enhance the existing capacity of the port of Walvis Bay.
Compared to the 105 hectares occupied by the current port, the SADC Gateway Port will occupy about 1,300 hectares of land.
It will also have a high capacity railway, road, pipeline and conveyer, linking it to the area behind Dune Seven.
The Trans Kalahari Railway Line, Botswana's coal export industry, Namibia's mega logistics parks, the local crude oil industry and coal exports are just some of the projects that have prompted Namport to fast-track the SADC Gateway Port project.
Namport's Chief Executive Officer, Bisey Uirab, explains that with the large economic projects Namibia and her neighbours are planning, there is a need for the execution of ventures that have been stuck in the pipeline.
The new port will cost about 30 billion (Namibian) dollars to build (R30-bn), with the first phase to be financed by the state. source - Namibian Broadcasting Corporation
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BENGUELA RAILWAY REACHES DRC BORDER
Map of Angola showing the CFB operating from the port of Lobito and now reaching the town of Luau on the border with the DRC. The green line indicates a proposed new branch line extending directly to the Zambia border where it will connect with a railway line coming from that country. Map: CIA Factbook with additions by P&S
The complete reconstruction of the Benguela railroad will make it possible to transport ore, minerals and other goods to and from countries in the Southern African Development Community, Angola’s Transport Minister said last week in Luanda.
Before leaving Luanda for Moxico, where he is due to take an experimental journey on the Benguela Railroad (CFB) on the Luena-Luau section, Minister Augusto da Silva Tomás also said that “Zambia, the DR Congo ad other countries in the region are interested in a rail link with Angola, in order to transport their mining products to the port of Lobito.”
“What is important to remember is that Angola is doing its part, our experimental journey ends in the Luau municipality, the last CFB station, which is expected to link the rail network to the Democratic Republic of Congo,” the minister told Angolan news agency Angop.
According to Augusto Tomás, the DRC is very interested in this railroad as it will help avoid a situation in which its mining products have to travel for thousands of kilometres to reach Mozambique, South Africa or Tanzania for export.
According to a statement from the Transport Ministry, the journey will begin at Luena station and end in the town of Luau some 334 kilometres away, with stops at seven other stations due to be inaugurated on the way.
The Benguela Railroad begins at the port of Lobito and extends over 1,344 kilometres to Luau. The train operated in Luau for the last time in 1983, two years after train journeys to the Democratic Republic of Congo border were brought to a standstill.
Construction of this line began on 1 March 1903 and was concluded on 2 February 1929. In August 2012 the link between Lobito and the city of Luena, the capital of Moxico province, was re-established. source – macauhub
BOLLORE TO DEVELOP DAKAR CAR TERMINAL
The Autonomous Port of Dakar in Senegal. Picture by Ji Elle
French Africa specialist Bollore Africa Logistics has been awarded a contract to develop a car terminal at the Senegalese Autonomous Port of Dakar, which it will later operate.
In terms of the contract, Bollore will invest €97 in the project over its 25-year term.
Dakar’s existing roll-on, roll-off (ro-ro) terminal quayside will be extended by 165 metres and the draught alongside deepened to 10.5m along with a 30,000m² area to park motor vehicles.
Bollore already maintains a strong presence in the port as in the mainly French-speaking West African countries. In a statement, Bollore president Dominique Lafont said that Bollore Africa Logistics’s already had a strong presence in the port of Dakar, which “demonstrates our desire to make Dakar's roll-on/roll-off terminal one of the best performers in West Africa.”
DP World operates the Dakar Container Terminal so the French company doesn’t have an overall dominance in the Senegal port.
KENYAN STANDARD GAUGE RAILWAY LAUNCHED
A diesel-electric locomotive No.9409 and passenger train of Rift Valley Railway, the private company that operates the existing metre-gauge railway in Kenya and Uganda
Construction of phase one of the standard gauge railway (4ft 8 1/2 ins) got underway last week with the section between the port of Mombasa and the capital of Nairobi.
Later phases will see the railway, designed to handle freight from the port as well as passengers, extended into Uganda and other neighbouring landlocked states. At present the only railway system in Kenya is built to metre gauge and is in poor condition due to a lack of general maintenance over the years since independence.
At the ground-breaking ceremony to mark the star of construction, President Uhuru Kenyatta it was an ’historic milestone’ which would turn East Africa into a competitive investment destination.
The railway is being built thanks to Chinese funding of US$13.8 billion.
“This will be a landmark project both for Kenya and east Africa,” said China's ambassador to Kenya, Liu Guangyuan.
The construction is being carried out by a Chinese concern, China Road and Bridge Construction (CRBC) and is due for completion (to Nairobi) by 2017. In August CRBC also completed work on a new berth at Mombasa’s container terminal.
Once complete the new line will be able to operate freight trains between Mombasa and the capital in eight hours, instead of the 36 hours at present. High speed passenger trains will complete the journey in four hours, compared with a minimum of 12 hours currently.
China is also building or refurbishing railroads elsewhere in Africa, including another colonial railway, CFB or Benguela Railway which fell into disuse during Angola’s civil war but has recently been re-opened to the DRC border (see story above).
MOZAMBIQUE DEFENCE MINISTRY INVESTIGATES PRESS GANG REPORTS
Beira port from across the river. Picture by Glen Martin
The Mozambican Defence Ministry has opened an investigation into the alleged compulsory recruitment of young people for the armed forces (FADM) in the central city of Beira, which sparked off serious rioting last week.
Deputy Defence Minister Agostinho Monjane went to Beira to head the investigation personally. Interviewed by the independent television station STV, Monjane said “I’m not going to put forward solutions now, because we are undertaking a detailed investigation to find out clearly what happened to make a large part of the population of Beira demonstrate in the way it did.”
He could give no date for the conclusion of the investigations. “If it was a matter that originated inside the institution (i.e. the FADM), it would be easier for us to set deadlines,” he said. “But now, in a situation when we’re dealing with an open environment like this, where the supposed cases of compulsory recruitment happened amongst the population, it becomes a delicate matter. But we will make every effort to clear up the case.”
Monjane admitted that the alleged compulsory recruitment was damaging the image of the entire government.
“We urge the population of Beira, and indeed the entire Mozambican people, to step up their vigilance in all senses, and denounce in due time any anomalous situation, in order to avoid disturbances,” he said.
He noted that rioting led to damage to property of innocent people “creating incalculable losses, which make more difficult our fight against poverty, which is our common enemy”.
He admitted the possibility that there had indeed been attempts at compulsory recruitment, not, he said, by the army, but by persons unknown.
He stressed that the law on military service does not allow the defence ministry or the army to pressgang people on the streets. “But there is the hypothesis that there are opportunists with other objectives”, Monjane said. “We are working to clarify this hypothesis.”
There are indeed signs that something illicit happened on Wednesday morning, and photos and videos are circulating on the Internet of vehicles supposedly involved in the compulsory recruitment. The clearest of these shows a man brandishing an AK-47 assault rifle bundling a youth into a pick-up truck.
The markings on the side show that this vehicle belongs, not to the FADM, but to the port and rail company, CFM. From the number plate, it should be possible to identify the vehicle fully and track it down.
In the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Thursday, Prime Minister Alberto Vaquina declared that there are groups interested in disrupting the relationship between the armed forces and the public by promoting rumours and agitation.
Asked by opposition deputies about the alleged recruitment, Vaquina declared that it was nothing to do with the government or the FADM, and suggested that the question would be better directed “at those who habitually act outside of the law” – a clear reference to the former rebel movement Renamo. source – AIM
This long metal pole washed up on a Bluff beach recently, displaying once again the strength of the ocean current and waves
Ordinarily, a lot of foreign matter gets washed up along beaches worldwide, and South Africa’s long coastline is no exception. One item that has excited some attention is this metal object that came ashore some distance north of Garvies Beach, which is on Durban’s Bluff, itself north of Anstey’s Beach.
Being some distance from the small car park and nearest road, any would-be salvor might have his work cut out uplifting this and taking it to a scrap merchant to realise some slight profit.
The size of the object can be judged by the footprints in the sand.
The picture was taken by Harry Etheridge who runs the African Peninsular Restaurant and Guest House on Marine Drive, overlooking Brighton Beach further south of Anstey’s.
EXPECTED SHIP ARRIVALS and SHIPS IN PORT
Port of East London, looking across at the West Bank
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PICS OF THE DAY – PACIFIC BANNER
Swire Pacific Offshore’s offshore supply and services tug PACIFIC BANNER (2067-dwt, built 1998), which arrived in Cape Town recently for bunkering. The vessel flies the flag of Singapore where the owner and ship management firm has its offices. Pictures by Ian Shiffman
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