Ports & Ships Maritime News

Aug 30, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • Stowaway’s family demands compensation from ship owner

  • Nigeria steams ahead with new standard gauge railway

  • US warns of more Nigerian kidnappings

  • SA needs to translate productivity into more jobs, says Mdladlana

  • Africa: Stronger Port Security Key to Fight Against Illegal Fishing

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    Stowaway’s family demands compensation from ship owner

    According to Kenyan reports the family of a stowaway who lost his life in Durban harbour is demanding compensation from the ship’s owners.

    The stowaway was one of a group of seven East African’s who hid away on board the freighter African Kalahari in Mombasa shortly before the ship sailed for Durban earlier this year. It was later reported that the stowaways had been thrown overboard shortly before the ship sailed from Durban, but evidence later in a Durban court revealed a different story.

    It transpired that the crew became aware of the seven stowaways shortly after the vessel sailed from Mombasa and made the mistake of befriending the men, feeling sorry for their plight. They consequently arranged to help smuggle the East Africans into South Africa once the ship reached Durban.

    Evidence was led that they had given the men money, clothing and cigarettes which were wrapped in plastic bags and taped to their bodies before they were helped overboard down a rope and into the water at Durban’s Maydon Wharf. The seafarers said they were not trying to harm the men but to assist them ashore and lowered them overboard on the side facing away from the wharf because this was the only way of escaping detection.

    However, two of the stowaways got into difficulties and drowned, possibly because they couldn’t swim. Shortly after the others reached the shore and became aware that two of their colleagues were missing, they handed themselves over to the authorities to raise the alarm.

    When the police arrived the stowaways concocted a story of having been ill treated on board the ship and then thrown physically overboard, resulting in two of them going missing and feared drowned.

    In the trial the master and two of his crew were found guilty of having assisted the stowaways to remain on board the ship and of smuggling them ashore. Suspended sentences and fines were issued and paid and the seafarers subsequently left South Africa. The surviving stowaways meanwhile were also deported back to East Africa where the family of one of the deceased is now demanding compensation.

    The family says it wants compensation from the ship’s owners for their loss as well as expenses for the collection of their relative’s body from Mombasa Airport and transport to the district where the burial took place. They also want to be paid for the 90 day vigil that was observed.

    Nigeria steams ahead with new standard gauge railway

    Showing his determination to press ahead with the building of a new standard gauge railway linking the country’s port with its hinterland, President Olusegun Obasanjo has met with stakeholders including governors of several states to find ways of removing obstacles affecting the right of way.

    The obstacles occur mainly in the built-up areas around the cities and towns. Obasanjo wants ways found to move ahead as speedily as possible, hoping to see much of the project in hand before he leaves office.

    He also urged stakeholders to help in paving the way for the signing of the loan agreement and the ceremonial launch of the project.

    Nigeria’s Federal Government has committed itself to establish a new wider gauge railway which it believes is essential for the country’s economic growth.


    The Cape Gauge (3ft 6ins) railway has been the standard in much of southern, central and west Africa and has usually proved to be more than up to the task. Where it hasn’t has invariably been the fault of poor maintenance and lack of investment and not for any other reason.

    South African Railways (now Spoornet) has more than amply illustrated over the years that the Cape Gauge is capable of handling huge volumes of traffic in an efficient and less costly manner. For example, the Richards Bay coal line, which handles about 80 million tonnes of cargo each year – much of it coal, is equal or superior to many railways found in Europe or the United States.

    So also is the Sishen-Saldanha iron ore railway which carries close to 30 million tonnes of ore each year and utilises even longer trains. It is the norm on both these railways to operate with trains well in excess of 200 wagons each and trains of nearly 350 wagons are soon to be introduced.

    But suddenly there appears to be a belief that Africa’s railways, which since independence in each respective country have almost always suffered from a lack of maintenance and poor management, must now be ‘modernised’ by widening the gauge to 4ft 8 ˝ ins. It is not only in Nigeria but also in South Africa that reports have surfaced of politicians coming to the conclusion that to create an efficient railway requires it to be rebuilt to the wider gauge.

    Given the awareness that this is not so, one is left to wonder the origin of this advice, and to ponder who is likely to benefit by such an exorbitant waste of resources. While there is no question that a wider gauge railway can be made to operate efficiently, so too can the well tried and proven Cape gauge.

    US warns of more Nigerian kidnappings

    The US says it has credible information of an impending threat to attack or take hostages from a number of areas in Nigeria.

    “At this time, there is no information regarding when the threat may subside. The Consulate advises all American citizens to practice extreme caution in their daily activities and to avoid travel to the region. Americans in the area should limit their travel, particularly at night, and should avoid public venues whenever possible.

    “Americans should review their security procedures, remain vigilant to their surroundings, and report specific incidences of targeted violence to the US Consulate in Lagos.”

    According to the US Consulate the areas most likely to be targeted for attacks and/or hostage taking are Intels camp, Kilometre 16, Aba Road; Orlando Courts behind Hotel Presidential; Prodeco Camp, Onne; Wilbros Site II, Rumuelimeli; Daewoo, Bonny Island, Rivers State; Eket, Akwa Ibom State.

    “The Consulate advises all American citizens to practice extreme caution in their daily activities and to avoid travel to the region. Americans in the area should limit their travel, particularly at night, and should avoid public venues whenever possible.

    “Americans should review their security procedures, remain vigilant to their surroundings, and report specific incidences of targeted violence to the U.S. Consulate in Lagos at 01-261-0050. You may also email the Lagos Consular Section at lagoscons2@state.gov.

    There has been a spate of hostage taking in Nigerian this year, with oil workers the most targeted, including those working on offshore installations and on boats and ships operating off the Nigerian coast. Hostages of every nationality have been taken and in almost every case have eventually been released unharmed, although there are reports of ransoms having been paid.

    SA needs to translate productivity into more jobs, says Mdladlana

    Zibonele Ntuli, (BuaNews)

    South Africa has to translate its productivity gains into more jobs to improve the standard of living of its entire people, Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana said on Monday.

    Minister Mdladlana was speaking at the start of a week-long conference in Johannesburg, for the promotion of the productivity movement in Africa.

    The conference is being hosted by the National Productivity Institute, Pan African Productivity Association (PAPA) and the Asian Productivity Organisation (APO).

    Quoting the recent Competitiveness Report, the minister said South African multifactor productivity had increased by a "healthy" 3.5 percent.

    Within the first decade of democracy, the South African economy grew by 3 percent. Since then, it has exceeded 4 percent per year, reaching 5 percent in 2005.

    "I am not suggesting that we remain complacent. We still have a challenge to translate these productivity gains into more jobs and improved standard of living for our people," said Mr Mdladlana.

    He said looking at the strides South Africa had taken since 1994, he was confident that government would achieve the goals to reduce unemployment and poverty, and increase economic growth by six percent.

    However, he added that high levels of poverty in the country were not challenges that were only echoed in Southern African communities, they affected communities throughout Africa and other developing countries.

    He said they reflected a social system, which for many years perpetuated gross injustices to fundamental human rights - the right to work, and the right to dignity.

    Mr Mdladlana explained government's interventions saying youth development had become an integral part of addressing the challenges of post apartheid South Africa.

    He said he was worried at the huge number of unemployed youth in the country - something he described as a time bomb.

    Nevertheless, as part of youth development, young people needed to be placed within companies for experience.

    By doing this in the broader context of reconstruction and development would encourage common developmental goals and a spirit of co-operation and co-ordination.

    It is also expected that by building the productive capacity of the youth, whether through mentoring or formal training, entrepreneurship would flame a vibrant SMME sector, he said.

    "We have introduced new interventions and approaches in our learnerships, apprenticeship, internship and bursary programmes for our young people and I still believe we can do more. We have done all this because at the core of our concerns is the challenge of creating a solid foundation for a productive nation," he said.

    He explained that government had generated policies and programmes aimed at providing opportunities for productive work and a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection.

    "As part of our 'decent work' agenda, we believe that workers' rights are human rights. A happy and a skilled worker is an asset in any organisation that wants to achieve maximum productivity, growth, best service delivery standards or profits.

    "We have also attempted to provide our people with better prospects for personal development and social integration."

    The Minister paid tribute to the workers, adding that "their contribution to economic growth is often unrecognised.''

    He told delegates that government had committed more than R370 billion under the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (AsgiSA) over the next three years, towards infrastructure projects such as roads, schools, and municipal infrastructure.

    "Through this initiative, we are hoping to accelerate the growth of our economy by at least six percent," he said.

    Africa: Stronger Port Security Key to Fight Against Illegal Fishing

    Rome, 28 August 2006 – Press Release Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

    In a crowded fishing port, a uniformed inspector climbs the gangplank of a rust-speckled ship moored at dock.

    The crew silently watches. A raucous crowd of gulls reels overhead. The wind carries the smell of diesel fumes and the shouts of workers loading fresh tuna into an ice-filled truck further down the quay.

    The inspector moves amidships, where a large metal hatch sits, tightly shut. He gestures to the crew, who scramble to open it. He leans over, peers in, and in the darkness there glints...
    ...a silvery pile of fish.

    Sardines, to be precise. Which is just as it should be: the hold's contents match the catch logbook and what the ship radioed in to port authorities requesting permission to dock.

    The inspector makes a tick on his clipboard and moves on to examine the boat's permits.

    He looks at its fishing gear, as well. The boat has reported catching fish in waters where regulations require that gear be of a specific type and gauge to avoid captures of smaller juvenile fish that have not yet reproduced. This way local breeding stocks are preserved, meaning that fish catches should remain abundant and stable.

    Scenes like this hypothetical one are played out daily in ports across the globe -- but not nearly as frequently as FAO would like.

    The UN agency believes that the future of the capture fisheries sector -- which produces over 105 million tonnes of food each year, provides jobs for some 40 million people and generates crucial export revenues for many developing countries -- depends to no small extent on wider implementation of stronger and more effective port controls.

    That's because they offer one of the best ways to combat what is known as illegal, unreported or unregulated fishing (IUU): fishing without permission, catching protected species, using outlawed types of gear or disregarding catch quotas, to name the most common offenses.

    "By frustrating responsible management, IUU fishing damages the productivity of fisheries -- or leads to their collapse. And that's a problem for the people who depend on those fisheries for food or income," says David Doulman, an IUU fishing expert at FAO.

    "The idea behind management controls is not to stifle fishing but to preserve it, to fish sustainably, so that 100 years from now there'll still be a global fishing industry," he adds.

    Boosting port security, one region at a time

    IUU fishing is particularly problematic in the developing world, where limited funds and expertise mean that oversight of fishing activities in coastal waters is often lax and port controls are weak, providing a convenient entry point for illegal catches.

    "These countries need better-trained people, better equipment, and more funding for fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance -- what we call MCS," says FAO's Judith Swan, also of the agency's Fisheries Department.

    "Surveillance on the dock is important, we need to shut out illegal fishers in ports, where they stop to refuel, take on supplies, make repairs or offload their catches in what are now more commonly known as 'ports of convenience'," she stresses.

    This is why FAO's Fisheries Department, through its FishCode Programme, is organizing a series of hands-on workshops for fisheries authorities in different world regions in order to strengthen their IUU fishing control strategies and train them in best practices in fishing boat inspection. The workshops are also aimed at improving communication among authorities at the regional level, so they can compare notes and warn each other about chronic offenders.

    The first workshop, supported financially by the Swedish government and organised in collaboration with the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, is being held this week in Fiji.

    In advance of the event FAO conducted a survey of IUU fishing and existing port state controls in the Pacific Islands region. Participants will review and update this documentation and will work together and with FAO staff and other experts to identify areas for improvement as well as opportunities for harmonizing control standards across the region.

    "This has never been done before. There's a real need for a program of workshops like this -- port State controls are so important in stamping out illegal fishing," says Swan. "We're getting requests from around the globe to hold more workshops."
    Currently, however, funding for the workshop series is limited; FAO is seeking additional support from donor nations.

    FAO model scheme points the way

    In 2005 FAO developed a model scheme for better port state measures which recommends steps that should be taken to improve port controls and stem IUU fishing.

    "The scheme serves as a guide and sets a minimum standard for countries which wish to develop new port state controls or strengthen those already on the books," says Swan.

    The FAO scheme also calls for training of inspectors to improve their effectiveness and for the harmonization of controls and reporting standards among countries in order to facilitate crossborder information sharing about offenders. This would allow authorities to run a background check on boats requesting docking privileges; vessels blacklisted as involved in IUU activities would be turned away.

    "The idea is that as ports expand their roles and deploy better trained people to undertake their operations, and as regional fisheries bodies share information about illegal activities, IUU fishing operations will be forced to go longer and longer distances looking for ports of convenience that will accept them," Swan explains. "As they have less and less access to port services -- and to the markets reached through ports -- profits will drop, and the incentive to perpetuate illegal activity starts to disappear. We need to hit IUU fishers in the pockets and this is one of the more effective means of doing that"

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