Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jul 18, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • Salvors in a race against time to clear Safmarine Agulhas

  • Motor industry lobbies for better port terminals

  • G8 makes further commitments to develop Africa

    EMAIL: jhughes@hugheship.com
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    Salvors in a race against time to clear Safmarine Agulhas

    Its become a race against time to get all cargo cleared from the stricken container ship Safmarine Agulhas, aground off the western breakwater outside East London harbour.

    That much has become clear after heavy seas and windy conditions on Friday night (14 July) further damaged the ship, causing her to swing wildly before the buffeting waves.

    Yesterday a thin sheen of diesel oil was spotted in the sea leading south along the coast away from the shipwreck and the oil pollution vessel Kuswag IV was dispatched to begin breaking it up. There is still about 20 tons of heavy oil on board the ship along with about 170 containers.

    Salvage crew on board the vessel trying to clear the remaining containers from the flooded holds 2 and 3, which also contain an amount of oil from the damaged engine room, were forced to flee the vessel as conditions worsened. While some managed to get ashore using the rope bridge between the ship and the breakwater, others had to be lifted off by the mobile crane after the makeshift bridge snapped.

    By Saturday conditions had improved slightly for the salvage team to return to the ship and continue their work but progress is desperately slow owing to the dangerous conditions amidst the oil and water in the holds.

    The concern now is that ship may begin to break up before all remaining containers have been taken ashore, leaving them to spill out into the ocean where they would create a hazard to navigation along the coast.

    Safmarine Agulhas has now been aground for exactly three weeks after losing engine power shortly after sailing from East London bound for Durban.

    Meanwhile Safmarine has chartered another container ship from a sister company, Ocean Africa Container Lines, to help out in place of Safmarine Agulhas. The vessel is Sezela, which is normally deployed on the South African coastal service.

    Motor industry lobbies for better port terminals

    The Port Elizabeth newspaper EP Herald reports that a group of stakeholders from the motor manufacturing industry met in Port Elizabeth on Friday to examine ways of improving efficiencies at Port Elizabeth harbour.

    The meeting was held under the auspices of the Automotive Industry Development Centre’s (AIDC) technical action group and aims at benchmarking South African facilities against international ports and harbours, with the objective of achieving parity with international ports.

    Chairman of the AIDC Zirk Jansen said the perception was that South Africa’s ports were not up to international standards and were slightly more expensive.

    The technical action group intends establishing relationships with the shipping lines and car manufacturers independently, but would jointly take proposals to government.

    It was not yet clear whether an approach would be made to SA Port Operations, the National Ports Authority or to Transnet. SAPO was however present and hosted the meeting.

    - source EP Herald

    G8 makes further commitments to develop Africa

    The G8 Summit has committed to further working with Africa with a special focus this year on tackling infectious diseases, strengthening education and enhancing energy security.

    The Summit of the world's top eight industrialized nations concludes in St Petersburg, Russia today.

    The G8 consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. These nations represent about 65 percent of the world's economy.

    The pledges to Africa follow commitments the G8 made last year in Gleneagles, Scotland, to among others, relieve some African countries of heavy debt, write off the debt of 18 of the world's poorest countries, with 14 of them African.

    In this regard, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Development Association (IDA) have implemented the proposal to cancel 100 percent of the debts owed by eligible Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) and the African Development Fund (ADF) is expected to implement it soon.

    The summit yesterday adopted a document on the African Agenda, ahead of a joint working meeting of the presidents of South Africa, China, Brazil, Mexico and the prime minister of India this morning.

    Topping the agenda at the meeting, is the need to promote economic growth in poor countries through a fair global trading system.

    In the adopted report, the G8 reported that 15 African countries had already benefited from debt stock cancellation at the IMF and IDA.

    Up to 24 more countries will also qualify for the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) when they complete the HIPC process.

    A deal resolving 100 percent of Nigeria's US 30 billion Dollar debt to Paris Club creditors had also been agreed and delivered.

    Adopting a document entitled Update on Africa, the leaders of the top industrialised nations said since the late 1990s, G8 Summits had "given Africa a high priority".

    "We are continuing to work in partnership with Africa, in particular in support of the AU [African Union] and NEPAD, with a special focus this year on infectious diseases, education and energy security," they said.

    The leaders added that the report reviewed progress on G8 commitments on Africa since the last G8 Summit, while respecting the critical role of African ownership of the reform process.

    In cooperation with the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN) and other partners, they said they would continue to assist the AU and African sub-regional organisations in further developing the African Standby Force including transportation and logistics support arrangements.

    They would also tackle the undesirable illicit proliferation of conventional arms including by strengthening existing mechanisms; working towards ratifying the UN Convention Against Corruption as soon as possible, with successful discussions on monitoring and implementation mechanisms at the Conference of State Parties later this year.

    They would continue to support the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) while respecting African ownership.

    Of the most importance to Africa, the leaders said they were "urgently" stepping up efforts to achieve an ambitious and balanced outcome for the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) Doha Round which gives developing countries - especially least developed countries - improved access to global markets, builds trade capacity and allows developing countries to decide, plan and sequence their own economic policies.

    They would further work on Aid for Trade to help ensure that African countries are better able to participate in and benefit from the multilateral trading system.

    "We will review progress, and identify the next steps to support Africa's successful development, at the 2007 G8 Summit in Germany. Our goal remains a democratic, prosperous and peaceful Africa. We will continue to give our full support to African efforts to secure this," they said in the report.

    Regarding progress made on peace and stability in Africa, they said work was on track to deliver the Sea Island commitment to train 75 000 peacekeeping troops worldwide by 2010, with a sustained focus on Africa.

    "At Gleneagles, we noted the importance of peace as a condition for development and agreed to help Africa's fragile states to emerge successfully from crisis and conflict."

    Progress in Africa has been significant in this regard.

    "We have taken steps to help countries emerging from conflict and strongly supported the successful establishment in December of the UN Peace building Commission.

    "We have facilitated a faster and better response to humanitarian crises caused by conflict through the launch in March of the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund with pledges of 264 million US Dollars from some G8 and other donors; 92 million US Dollars has already been disbursed to emergencies in the Horn of Africa, Darfur, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad, Niger, Cote D'Ivoire and Burundi."

    Donors' efforts over the past year, in partnership with local leaders and the international community, have helped avert famines in East and Southern Africa, where more than 26 million people had been at risk.

    Regarding Promoting Good and Responsive Governance: "We have, with our international partners, secured the entry into force of the UN Convention against Corruption in December 2005."

    For this reason, 22 African and three G8 countries are among those who have ratified the Convention. About 25 African countries have signed up to the African Peer Review Mechanism and three have completed the process.

    Good progress has also been made in improving transparency and accountability including in the oil and gas industries through the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), in which 15 African countries and 23 companies take part.

    "We have successfully completed work at the OECD to strengthen significantly anti-bribery requirements for those applying for export credits and credit guarantees.

    Building on the commitments made last year, the G8 and other international partners agreed a Political Declaration at the UN High-Level meeting on HIV and AIDS in June.

    This commits to pursue all necessary efforts to scale up towards the goal of universal access to comprehensive prevention programmes, treatment, care and support by 2010; and to take measures to ensure that additional resources are made available to tackle AIDS, in view of the UNAIDS estimate that 20-23 billion US Dollars is needed annually by 2010.

    "We are working to deliver the Global Plan to Stop TB, launched in January 2006, and the Global Strategic Plan to Roll Back Malaria, launched in November 2005. We have committed 210 million US Dollars to fund Polio Eradication in 2006.

    If the remaining funding gap can be filled, transmission of polio should end in Africa, the report said.

    On education, the report said the G8 was working with our African partners on their commitment to provide free primary education for all African children by 2015.

    "We support an effective implementation of the EFA Fast Track Initiative, as detailed in our Summit paper on Education. We welcome the Plan of Action for Science and Technology agreed by African ministers in September 2005, to help ensure skilled professionals for Africa's private and public sectors.

    In Promoting Growth, the G8 said they had sustained efforts to help Africa trade its way to sustainable prosperity.

    "We agreed at the WTO Ministerial in December 2005 to eliminate all forms of export subsidies on cotton in 2006, to end all forms of agricultural export subsidies and to discipline all export measures with equivalent effect by end 2013, to deliver duty and quota free access for at least 97 percent of products from Least Developed Countries, subject to successful conclusion of the Doha Round; and to provide support for developing countries' efforts to build trade capacity."

    With regard to providing finance for development, the G8 was working "hard" to deliver on the substantial aid commitments which, with those of other donors, will lead to an increase in Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Africa of 25 US billion Dollars a year by 2010, out of an OECD estimated 50 billion US Dollars worldwide aid.

    The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimates that ODA from Development Assistance Committee members rose 31 percent to US 107 billion Dollars in 2005, 75 percent of which was from G8 members.

    "We will review progress, and identify the next steps to support Africa's successful development, at the 2007 G8 Summit in Germany. Our goal remains a democratic, prosperous and peaceful Africa. We will continue to give our full support to African efforts to secure this," said the Summit's report on Africa.

    - source BuaNews

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