Ports & Ships Maritime News

Feb 10, 2006
Author: P&S


  • Blair to fly in for trade summit near Pretoria

  • Kenya appeals for drought relief to feed millions

  • New Namibian railway nears completion

  • Saldanha port security comes under scrutiny

  • Suez Canal back in business

  • No trace of crew on submerged yacht

  • Clipper Race – Leg 6 abandoned

    EMAIL: jhughes@hugheship.com
    WEB SITE: www.hugheship.com

    Blair flies in for trade summit near Pretoria

    This weekend’s Progressive Governance Summit being held at a private Hammanskraal game park outside Pretoria is expected to include opportunities to discuss how to break down trade barriers between developing countries and those in Europe and North America.

    There is a growing movement in Africa that regards the development of open trade with the first world as a more preferable solution to many of Africa’s economic problems and the eradication of poverty, instead of cancelling debt. However trade barriers including farm and other subsidies make these trade opportunities an almost impossible task and India, Brazil and South Africa have sided together to help bring about the eradication of these barriers.

    Among those attending the summit are Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair and Brazil’s President Lula da Silva, who together with South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki will hold separate meetings on finding ways of tearing down trade barriers. The meetings will also be attended by Peter Mandelson, the European Trade Commissioner who assisted with organizing the summit. Mandelson is in attendance in an official capacity.

    The summit is also expected to consider whether the time is right to take the matter of trade barriers up a level by making it a political issue.

    Before arriving in South Africa Lula da Silva is visiting several other African countries to discuss business, economic and political matters. He began his African journey by visiting Algeria on Wednesday and will also have visited Benin and Botswana by the time he goes home.

    The Progressive Governance Summit was created in 1999 with the encouragement of Tony Blair and then US president Bill Clinton and will be meeting for the 7th time. Member states are Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Germany, Hungary, India, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and Uruguay.

    Blair has come under criticism from the opposition Conservative Party for his intention of attending this meeting at taxpayer’s expense, which they say is a political event. He will be cutting short his visit to return to the UK in time for Monday’s vote in the British House of Commons on ID cards.

    Kenya appeals for drought relief to feed millions

    Kenya has made an official appeal for assistance in feeding about 3.5 million of its citizens affected by the ongoing drought in certain parts of the country.

    A report issued by the Kenya Food Security Steering Group said that vulnerable populations were running out of options after five years of poor or failed seasons.

    “A total of 396,525 tonnes of additional food aid assistance, valued at US1,536,211 will be required to avoid mass suffering for the next 12 months. In addition, there is a need to support health, nutrition, water and sanitation and education sectors.”

    The organisation noted that pastoralists’ food security system, their animals, were dying in unprecedented numbers due to a lack of water and pasture.

    “Incidence of malaria, diarrhoeal diseases and acute respiratory infections are on the increase in some areas. Water is scarce and schools are closing down due to lack of water. Children are dropping out from schools as families migrate or they are expected to take up other chores,” it added.

    Adding to the problems, Kenya’s approaching rainy season due between this month and June is expected to be well below normal and might even fail in the eastern half of the country.

    As a result of the latest forecast food aid shipments to Kenya will probably increase proportionately this year. South Africa has a large surplus and normally the food aid organisations would attempt to purchase as much grain and other foods from this source because of lower transport costs compared to shipping grain from North and South America. However this would depend on the ruling price that South African farmers would be expecting this year. Earlier indications were that South African farmers had priced themselves out of this market.

    - source IRIN and P&S

    New Namibian railway nears completion

    A new railway being built in Namibia from Tsumeb to Ondangwa is now less than 30 km from its destination and the consulting engineers say they expect the first train to run along the route by mid April.

    The railway is being built as part of a project aimed at linking Namibia with its northern neighbour Angola. The section now nearing completion is some 250 km in length and has cost a total of N850 million. The next phase, which is due for completion in December next year, is for a 59 km section to take the railway from Ondangwa to Oshikango on the Angolan border. From there and with the co-operation of Angola the railway could run north-eastwards to Ondjiva and then to Chiange, where it would link with a branch of Angola’s Namibe railway. However no plans for this have so far been announced.

    The Namibian’s also plan to extend the railway from Ondangwa to Oshikati, a distance of 58 km by the end of 2008.

    Saldanha port security comes under scrutiny

    Bimco has issued a warning to ships to take additional care when docking at Saldanha Bay, following an incident during the past two weeks when a stowaway made two separate attempts to stow away on different vessels.

    In both cases the man, a Kenyan in possession of South African residential documents was apprehended after he had found his way on board the ship after evading port security. He was discovered on board and taken into custody after the first attempt but was either released or escaped from police custody and nine days later made another attempt on a different vessel. This time he was found hiding in the ship’s funnel.

    Bimco says the case raises the issue of adequate security at the port of Saldanha Bay and asks ship owners to report such activity in order that other members can be warned of vulnerable regions.

    Those who know Saldanha may wonder how it was that a man could twice escape notice and find his way on board two different ships at this port. The port itself consists of a single long jetty with the iron ore terminal at the base followed by a lengthy section before the fenced-off multi purpose terminal is reached. Even further along this long finger jetty lies the ore berths, also under security. Visitors arriving at the main gates, which are some distance from the terminals, have to go through a full screening process, at least on the occasions that Ports & Ships has visited the port.

    - source Bimco

    Suez Canal back in business

    The Suez Canal was reopened to shipping on Wednesday night after being blocked by the OOCL Qingdao, a 8,063-TEU container ship (see News Bulletin for yesterday, 9 February 2006).

    The ship effectively blocked the canal to all traffic when it veered at right angles across the canal during a sand storm and strong winds. Tugs successfully pulled the ship clear at 20.30 local time that same night and by yesterday morning convoys were able to operate normally with no further delays.

    No trace of crew on submerged yacht

    Divers operating from the salvage tug Smit Amandla yesterday found no bodies inside the capsized yacht Moquini, which disappeared five months ago while competing in a Mauritius – Durban yacht race.

    A widespread air and sea search was carried out without success between the southern tip of Madagascar and the southern African east coast and the search was eventually called off, with families and friends of those who were on board the yacht finally coming to terms with their loss and arranging memorial services – in some cases months later.

    Now these wounds have reopened with the discovery this week of the capsized yacht wallowing in the Indian Ocean about 500 miles east of East London. The yacht’s keel is missing, giving an indication as to what might have happened (see our News Bulletin dated 9 February 2006).

    A decision still has to be made whether to tow Moquini to Durban or East London, assuming that it can be righted.

    Clipper Race – Leg 6 abandoned

    With the current leg abandoned following the discovery of keel problems on eight of the yachts taking part in the Round the World Clipper Race, reporting has also been suspended. Readers can stay in touch with day-to-day developments by going to the following site: http://www.clipper-ventures.co.uk

    Ports & Ships lists ship movements for all ports between Walvis Bay on the West Coast and Beira on the East Coast.

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