Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jun 27, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • Strong winds disrupt KZN ports

  • SOMALIA: Islamic courts establish consultative council

  • Richards Bay smelter looks set to go

  • NIGERIA: Worsening violence in Delta could force foreign intervention

  • ZAMBIA: Fear of bird flu panics Zambians

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    Strong winds disrupt KZN ports

    A strong southwesterly wind accompanied by squalls of rain struck the KZN coastline on Sunday bringing disruption to port operations and small craft activity at Richards Bay and Durban.

    The bad weather arrived off Durban mid-morning on Sunday but apart from preventing one ship from entering port there were no further disruptions.

    However at Richards Bay where winds and rain also struck rather suddenly the port had to close to incoming ships for several hours, reopening later in the day.

    One of the vessels affected by the sudden change in the weather was the dredger Pinocchio, arriving off Durban from Richards Bay in glorious early morning sunshine but being beset by strong gusting winds and rain by the time it was towed into port.

    Two port tugs came out to assist the Pentow Service with the dredger, which was seen to be pitching and rolling in the now heavy swell outside the narrow port entrance. Eventually the procession made its way down the entrance channel accompanied by a small service tug that appeared suddenly around the headland of Bluff from the SBM at Isipingo and a trawler also making a dash for the shelter of the port, making for six vessels in the channel together. Closing rapidly from the stern of all this was a container ship making for the port.

    - acknowledgements to various eyewitness reports

    SOMALIA: Islamic courts establish consultative council

    Nairobi, 26 Jun 2006 (IRIN) - The Union of the Islamic Courts (UIC) which controls Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, has set up a consultative council which will act as the advisory body of the Islamic group, an official said on Monday.

    The UIC leadership also appointed controversial cleric, Shaykh Hassan Dahir Aweys, to head the council. "We have set up a shura (council) as an advisory body to enable us to streamline our work," said Shaykh Abdulakdir Ali, vice-chairman of the UIC. He added that Shaykh Hassan Dahir Aweys had been appointed chairman of the council, while dismissing allegations that Aweys was a hardliner.

    "This is cheap propaganda pedalled by our enemies and intended to solicit monetary and political support from the west. The world will see through our deeds that all this propaganda is baseless," he added. Shaykh Aweys is suspected by Washington of having links with the extremist organisation Al-Qaeda.

    The council will enable UIC to speak with one voice, Shaykh Ali said. "There won't be contradictory statements coming out of the UIC," he claimed, adding that the council would have 90 members when fully constituted. Day-to-day affairs of the UIC would continue to handled by the executive team, led by Shaykh Sharif Shaykh Ahmed, its chairman.

    Shaykh Ali said that the creation of the council was the first step towards bringing order and stability to Mogadishu. "In the near future we expect to have a council that will have representatives from all sectors of society in Mogadishu," he added.

    The Islamic courts militia has seized control of much of southern Somalia, including the capital since 4 June, when they drove out a group of faction leaders who had controlled Mogadishu since 1991 following the fall of the Muhammad Siyad Barre administration. The UIC has vowed to restore order in Somalia and has started creating Islamic courts in the areas it controls.

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

    Note : Aweys is reportedly on a US list of people with alleged ties to international terrorism – P&S

    Richards Bay smelter looks set to go

    Professor Gabriel Ndabandaba, the KZN MEC for Agriculture and Environmental Affairs, has dismissed the appeal of three environmental organisations and has given the go-ahead for Phase 1 of the R650 million Tata ferrochrome smelter project in Richards Bay.

    The project has been in suspension for several years while environmental issues were resolved. These included the site being moved to a new location to accommodate the requirements of other industry in the affected area.

    The latest decision dismisses that claims of three environmental groups – the Richards Bay Clean Air Association, the Wildlife and Environment Society of SA, and Groundwork.

    Concerned organisations claim the air over the Richards Bay industrial zone is heavily polluted and in particular over Alton North where the Tata smelter will now be built. But the MEC said in his dismissal report that none of the environmental organisations had produced independent scientific evidence backing up their claims of aerial pollution.

    He said there was a need to strike a balance between job creation and potential health risks and that he was satisfied that the Tata smelter did not pose a health risk to the Richards Bay community. Nevertheless his department would continue to undertake air quality studies in the area.

    Phase 1 of the smelter will produce 134,000 tonnes of ferrochrome annually for export to the Far East. Tata says it hopes to commission the smelter by the third quarter of 2007 with Phase 2 being commissioned in 2010.

    NIGERIA: Worsening violence in Delta could force foreign intervention

    Lagos, 26 Jun 2006 (IRIN) - In the first half of this year an average of more than four hostages have been seized monthly in the Niger Delta, an unprecedented rate of kidnappings since the first stirrings of violent protest in the early 1990s in the region that produces most of Nigeria’s oil.

    The two Filipino hostages freed on Sunday by armed militants in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta brought to 29 the number of oil workers seized and released since January in the increasingly volatile region (the two Filipino hostages were released at the weekend – Ports & Ships).

    Armed and equipped with speedboats, militants operating by surprise have blown up pipelines and installations and seized foreign oil workers in the last months before retreating into the maze of creeks and rivers that make up the 70,000 sq km delta.

    Nearly all onshore operations to the west of the delta, one half of the entire oil region, have been shut down. The attacks have cut Nigeria’s daily exports of 2.5 million barrels by 500 million barrels or 20 percent of total production.

    Instability in the Niger Delta of Nigeria, the world’s seventh largest oil exporter, is a contributory factor in record breaking high oil prices which this year tipped US $ 70 a barrel for the first time.

    Recent attacks by the militant Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which have claimed most but not all of the attacks, have focused on the east of the delta. The group aims to force a slash in oil exports by one million barrels a day until impoverished delta residents win access to oil resources.

    Billions of dollars of oil are pumped from the Niger Delta every year, but the people who live atop that wealth live without mains electricity and clean running water.

    Onshore oil facilities have been worst hit, as they are most easily accessible, with oil giant Royal Dutch Shell bearing the brunt of the assault. But even the offshore oilrigs that in recent years have sprung up in Nigeria’s waters in the Gulf of Guinea have not escaped the gunmen’s reach.

    In May armed militia fighters in boats attacked a rig 60 km off the Nigerian shore. They seized eight foreign oil workers including six Britons, one US national and a Canadian. The hostages were freed days later.

    According to Rose Umoren, an independent analyst who has written extensively on the Niger Delta, the rise in violence is a huge concern that is worrying both for President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government and for Western countries with huge investments in the region.

    “Militants in the Niger Delta are capturing expatriate [oil] workers at will - even planting a bomb right in an army barracks,” said Umoren.

    The inability of the government to check the situation might tempt Western countries to intervene militarily to protect their investments, she said.

    Already the US government has provided support to the Nigerian Coast Guard. In 2004 the US provided special boats to help tackle piracy, arms and oil smuggling. And a joint military training exercise by US and Nigerian troops in the southeastern city of Calabar focused on fighting in a water environment.

    But lessons imparted have so far failed to translate into effective control of the difficult delta terrain.

    As the US increasingly looks outside of the troubled Middle East to feed its growing thirst for oil, African governments will face increased pressure to resolve such security problems, says John Bellamy Forster, professor of the University of Oregon, US.

    According to Forster, “the major US and Western oil corporations are all scrambling for West African oil and demanding security.”

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

    ZAMBIA: Fear of bird flu panics Zambians

    Lusaka, 23 Jun 2006 (IRIN) - The mysterious death of wild birds this week has panicked Zambians, fearing the arrival of avian influenza in a country long-recognised as vulnerable to the deadly H5N1 virus.

    Poultry Association of Zambia executive director Mathews Ngosa said a delay by the government in confirming whether Zambia had become the seventh African country to suffer an outbreak has "killed our industry as people are now avoiding eating chickens".

    Over 40 wild birds were found dead in Livingstone, southern Zambia, on Wednesday, a major nesting area for migratory birds. Some of the birds were eaten by villagers, but samples were collected and sent for testing in the capital, Lusaka.

    On Thursday state television broadcast footage of dead crows, with others gasping for breath, a few kilometres east of the capital. Chicken traders at the sprawling Soweto market in Lusaka said the news reports had seriously dented sales.

    "My chickens are now growing thin or falling sick and three of them actually died yesterday because of overstaying [in their cages]. I have not sold any since yesterday but in the past, I could sell over 20 every morning," Jennifer Mwale told IRIN on Friday.

    Ministry of Agriculture epidemiologist Christian Chisembele said preliminary investigations suggested the dead birds from Livingstone were H5N1 negative, but tests were continuing "until we are satisfied".

    World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative Stella Anyangwe appealed for calm while the tests were being conducted. She said there were some 120 viruses that killed wild birds, but only the H5N1 was of concern because of its ability to infect humans.

    "There is no need for people to panic just as yet because the birds could be dying from a different type of flu. We can only worry, especially over the people who have consumed the dead birds, if the disease suspected to be killing these birds is proved to be H5N1," said Anyangwe.

    The UN's Food Agriculture Organisation has sent some of the samples to South Africa for further examination and the results are expected to be in over the weekend.

    Migratory birds are believed to be the main carriers of the H5N1 virus. In recent months five African countries have confirmed the presence of the H5N1 virus in poultry, but so far an outbreak has not been detected in southern Africa.

    Bird flu has claimed over 50 lives since the beginning of this year, with 26 deaths recorded in Indonesia alone, according to WHO.

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

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