Ports & Ships Maritime News

Mar 6, 2006
Author: P&S


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  • Transnet strike on hold

  • South Africa: Trying to keep pace with power needs

  • Big powers abusing Africa - Pope

  • Namibia: Ships, trucks, clubs and HIV/Aids

  • Illegal fishing costs billions - report

  • Eastern Africa: Drought affecting millions of children, says NGO

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    Transnet strike on hold

    Today’s national strike by members of the four Transnet trade unions, which also expected support from members of SAA’s trade union, has been placed on hold for one week.

    Officially the reason is the allow workers in the Gauteng region to show ‘solidarity’ with the former deputy president Jacob Zuma, when he appears in the High Court this morning on a charge of rape.

    Unofficially it is speculated that there are other reasons for the postponement – such as making time for the newly appointed mediator to bring about a possible compromise that is acceptable to both sides.

    Either way it is work as usual today, much to the relief of port users and to commuters who rely on the trains to get to work or school. But if a solution is not found within the next five days the national strike will go ahead next Monday, 13 March 2006.

    South Africa: Trying to keep pace with power needs

    JOHANNESBURG, 3 March 2006 (IRIN) – Amid growing frustration and anger from consumers, South Africa’s power utility, Eskom, has announced plans to address the blackouts that have hit the country over the last few months.

    Eskom Chief Executive Thulani Gcabashe said the fault at the Koeberg nuclear power plant, responsible for the disruptions in power supply, was to be fixed in the next four months.

    The power station has been shut at least four times since last November, initially because of technical problems on transmission lines, but subsequently due to damage to one of the reactors.

    French utility Électricité de France (EdF) has agreed to lend spare parts to fix the damaged reactor, which should be operational by May.

    The power cuts have reportedly so far cost businesses in Cape Town, the capital of Western Province, at least USD 81 million in lost revenue.

    Rolling blackouts continued to plague the province on Friday, and experts are questioning whether, beyond problems with the Koeberg reactor, Eskom has the overall generating capacity to keep pace with South Africa's growing economy.

    While Eskom said it has made provisions to keep up with power demands, business and experts have claimed that the parastatal's growth plans were "unrealistic".

    Eskom spokesman Fani Zulu said South Africa had four power generators in the pipeline, two of which were to be set up by the private sector. "In the next five years, we also have plans to revive three other power plants, which were mothballed in the 1980s," he added, which should take care of the country's needs until 2010.

    Zulu said Eskom had projected an annual growth in demand at "two to three percent" - half the economic growth rate of between five and six percent forecast by most experts.

    Economist Jac Laubscher said if the economy was projected to grow at six percent a year, "the demand for electricity would increase by around the same percentage."

    He said the accelerating economy had exposed serious constraints in the power sector's ageing infrastructure. "The economy is 35 percent larger than 10 years ago and you are still running on the same infrastructure, then you are heading for trouble."

    Eskom said it was planning to spend at least USD 940 million on improving generation and transmission in the next five years.

    The business sector said they appreciated Eskom's efforts, but warned the plans were "too little and too late".

    Peggy Drodskie, a spokeswoman for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of South Africa said, "It takes at least 10 years to get a power plant operational and reviving mothballed plants is an expensive and long process."

    [This article does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.]

    - source http://www.IRINnews.org

    Big powers abusing Africa - Pope

    Pope Benedict says that large political and business interest have continued abusing Africa and are responsible for many of the continents economic problems. These organisations go as far as fermenting strife on the continent, he said in a transcript issued by the Vatican on Friday.

    “Africa continues to be the object of abuse by the big powers, and many conflicts would not have reached their current state if the interests of the great powers was not behind them. Africa is always a continent that needs – after the destruction that we brought from Europe – our brotherly help,” he said.

    In May last year the pope accused Europe of being responsible for many of Africa’s problems, including encouraging corruption, violence, arms trafficking and environmental pillage.

    Namibia: Ships, trucks, clubs and HIV/Aids

    Lusaka: 3 March 2006 (IRIN) - After spending months at sea or cooped up in a truck for several days, young men working far away from home, arrive in the port city of Walvis Bay with money to burn, helping to fuel HIV infection.

    Strategically located half way down the coast of Namibia, with direct access to principal shipping routes, the deep-sea port of Walvis Bay is dominated by the fishing industry. Commercial fishing and fish processing is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the Namibian economy.

    The Trans-Caprivi and Trans-Kalahari highways link Botswana, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe - countries with HIV infection rates that are among the world's highest - to Walvis Bay.

    Inevitably, this highly mobile environment has made fishermen and truck drivers particularly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. Relatively well paid, these two population groups are at the centre of the commercial sex industry in the port city, which has an HIV prevalence rate of between 25 and 30 percent.

    But while truck drivers and sex workers have been targeted by countless AIDS awareness initiatives, fishermen tend to be overlooked.

    A recent study conducted by Namibia's Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR), found that foreign fishermen working on large fishing vessels are even more marginalised. Trawlermen from European and Asian countries with low HIV prevalence were particularly at risk.

    The study showed that foreign fishermen were the bridge linking high and low risk regions of the world, potentially connecting Chinese housewives with commercial sex workers and her clients in Walvis Bay, according to IPPR research associate Christiaan Keulder.

    Having received no HIV/AIDS education prior to their arrival or during their stay in Namibia, most of these fishermen have low levels of HIV/AIDS knowledge. They were also more likely to engage in unsafe sex with commercial sex workers, Keulder told a workshop on 'HIV/AIDS in the Fishery Sector in Africa' held in Lusaka, Zambia last week.

    In addition, the inability of the foreign trawler men to communicate in local languages, made it even more difficult for sex workers to negotiate condom use, while local AIDS educators were unlikely to use their limited funds on foreign nationals or to negotiate entry onto international ships.

    According to Keulder, local fishermen were also vulnerable, as HIV/AIDS education efforts among this group were generally inadequate. Distrust of vessel owners and management caused Namibian trawlermen to be wary of such initiatives.

    "Those who are supposed to give us that [HIV] information are our bosses, the boat operators. They are all foreigners, so they don't really care about us. Their concern is just work and their fish. As you know, those foreigners are still having that wish that we should suffer so that they can come back in our country," the study quoted a local fisherman as saying.

    The high levels of alcohol abuse within the local communities, and their risky lifestyles, have contributed to high HIV prevalence rates among local fishermen.


    Commercial sex work is illegal in Namibia, and nightclubs have become an important link between sex workers and the foreign trawler crews.

    "Entertainment is perceived to be the main business but commercial sex workers are [in fact] the main business," Keulder pointed out. The study found that club owners liaised with harbour authorities to find out the schedules of ships arriving in Walvis Bay and relayed this information to sex workers.

    "The symbiotic relationship between clubs and commercial sex workers is not as accidental as it seems ... it is a planned thing," Keulder told PlusNews.

    The study found that there were two categories of sex workers in Walvis Bay: the "upper end" women whose clients tended to be foreign fishermen and businessmen, and would get called by club owners when foreign fishermen arrived at the clubs; the "low end" sex workers operated mostly in unlicensed bars or as street walkers, with local fishermen and truck drivers as clients, and were sometimes even paid in alcohol.

    Nevertheless, sex workers were the most informed about HIV/AIDS, having received extensive HIV education and access to condoms, as well as exposure to testing.
    But the high levels of violence they experienced, and alcohol and drug abuse, put them at risk of infection, Keulder said.

    [This article does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.]

    - source http://www.IRINnews.org

    Illegal fishing costs billions - report

    Illegal fishing worldwide is costing an estimated USD 9 Billion a year, of which sub-Saharan Africa loses about USD 1 Billion, an international fisheries organisation has concluded.

    A report in Saturday’s The Guardian says the High Seas Task Force, which counts among its members representatives from Australia, Canada, Chile, Namibia, New Zealand and the UK as well as the WWF, the World Conservation Union, and the Earth Institute at Columbia University in the USA, says the illegal trade in fish is undermining the economies of developing countries while placing pressure on fish stocks and sustainability of marine wildlife and habitats.

    The organisation has called on developed countries to commit funds and personnel to international monitoring, control and surveillance of these activities, including collating information and data on every fishing vessel active in deep sea operations. It also calls for better policing of existing agreements such as the 1995 UN fish stocks agreement.

    Meanwhile a report in the weekend’s EP Herald newspaper says that poaching off the Eastern Cape coast is costing hundreds of millions of rand a year in direct trade and even more in respect of economic and environmental sustainability. The report cites the case last year of a Korean skipper who was fined R50,000 for illegal shark fishing in South African waters, but was allowed to continue his activities after paying his fine, without having his licence rescinded or his boat escorted out of South African waters.

    - source The Guardian and EP Herald

    Eastern Africa: Drought affecting millions of children, says NGO

    Nairobi, 3 March 2006 (IRIN) – At least three million children are facing severe food and water shortages in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, the nongovernmental organisation Save the Children (UK) said.

    Launching an appeal for GBP 400,000 (USD 700,870), the charity said up to 42 percent of the children and adults were at risk of malnutrition in the most severely affected areas of the eastern Africa region, which is experiencing its worst drought since 1993.

    "This food crisis is the result of a massive drought hitting families living in chronic poverty," Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of Save the Children, said in a statement on Thursday.

    "It is vital that relief efforts are targeted towards children, as they are always the most vulnerable to food and water shortages in such emergencies," she added.

    The agency said it was concerned that the needs of children in eastern Africa were not being addressed and called on the public to help.

    According to aid agencies, more than 11 million people are facing serious food shortages in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.

    Meanwhile, the heads of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), James Morris and Ann Veneman, respectively, have called for a stronger focus on the catastrophic impact of the drought in Kenya.

    The two met Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki on Thursday night to discuss the situation.

    According to WFP, drought resulting from consecutive seasons of failed rains has affected some 3.5 million people in 25 districts in Kenya, including 500,000 schoolchildren who require food assistance.

    A joint statement by WFP and UNICEF on Wednesday said more than USD 240 million is needed to help the Kenyan government offset food shortages until the end of the year, while more than USD 11.7 million is required to support emergency health, nutrition and water services and to keep schools open.

    "With forecasters suggesting that the April rains will also be poor, the number of families needing assistance could grow in the coming months," Morris said. "Without adequate emergency food aid, we fear for the worst."

    "We must be prepared for a worsening drought," Veneman said. "Children are especially vulnerable to malnutrition and disease, and the burden on already overstretched health, nutrition and water services will be even greater."

    [This article does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.]

    - source http://www.IRINnews.org

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