Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 12, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • Safmarine ship to the rescue of migrants in trouble at sea

  • Sale of Tazara awaits the nod of the cabinet

  • AgriSA speaks out for rail

  • Mozambique Malawi border opens 24 hours a day

  • Wanted: new warehousing for Takoradi

  • Namibia makes progress with grape exports to USA

  • Navy en route to Dar es Salaam

  • Picture of the day

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    Safmarine ship to the rescue of migrants in trouble at sea

    The Safmarine container ship Safmarine Nimba has just rescued 11 West African migrants from the sea about 120 miles from their destination in the Canary Islands.

    The migrants were from another group of hopeful people heading for the Canaries and the intention of making their way to Spain and thence into the rest of Europe. The boat, little more than a large canoe, broke in half and about 20 of those on board are reported to have drowned before the Safmarine ship came along.

    After picking up the 11 survivors Safmarine Nimba took them to Las Palmas where they were interviewed by Spanish authorities.

    A week earlier another Safmarine ship, Safmarine Soyo rescued the crew and passengers of a small vessel named Maresop which began taking water in its engine room while near the island of Sao Tome. Some 40 crew and passengers, including women and children took to the ship’s life raft in rough seas from which they were later picked up by Safmarine Soyo and taken to Sao Tome.

    Sao Tome lies several hundred kilometres off the coast of Gabon.

    Sale of Tazara awaits the nod of the cabinet

    The only thing now holding up the sale of Tazara, the railway network linking the port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania with Zambia, is the collective nod of the respective cabinets in the two countries.

    With studies by the World Bank and the Chinese government having been successfully concluded, its all systems go once the two governments sign the necessary papers. The Cape gauge railway can then revert to Chinese control for its operation and management – in a way a return to the people who built the railway and first helped operate it in the first place. China has continued to assist with funding for the maintenance and upkeep of the railway since its inception.

    A year ago China was given first refusal for a 12 month period in which to come up with a private operator for the railway.

    Tazara was once known as the ‘Freedom Railway’ for its role in providing an outlet to the sea for landlocked central African countries, a route that offered an alternative to dependency on the railways and ports of the then apartheid South Africa. For this reason the railway was built to 3ft 6ins or Cape gauge, as opposed to the metre gauge used elsewhere in Tanzania, which meant that Tazara could interconnect with the railways of the then Zaire (now DRC), Zambia and Zimbabwe.

    AgriSA speaks out for rail

    AgriSA, which represents a large segment of the South African agricultural community, says the planned injection of capital by Transnet aimed at upgrading its rail operations will help alleviate the burden on South Africa’s deteriorating road system.

    Transnet recently announced a R31.5 Billion upgrade of its rail assets over the next five years.

    The agricultural body said in an article in www.busrep.co.za that by upgrading rail services the agriculture sector might be encouraged to return to rail transport. Agriculture forms more than a third of South Africa’s economy and has been identified by President Mbeki as a sector that can significantly contribute to the government’s growth strategy.

    AgriSA infrastructure chairman Thinus Ferreira said that having an efficient rail system was vital for a competitive agricultural industry, which involves moving large volumes of food and agricultural products (such as fertiliser) over long distances.

    Ferreira drew attention to the need for an improvement in the effectiveness of rail operations, particularly on branch lines which have been neglected in the past. He said that if this was taken care of the agricultural sector would be encouraged to look at rail transport with a new interest.

    Meanwhile Transnet has told parliament’s Public Enterprises Committee that it intends raising R23 Billion over the next three years to fund part of its R64.5 Billion capital expenditure programme, announced earlier.

    Transnet will receive various amounts from the sale of its non-core assets, including the Transnet share in the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, but will need to raise loans to make up the shortfall. The so-called non-core activities are mostly companies within the Transnet stable involved with the moving of people, such as the rail passenger and commuter services and South African Airways.

    According to Spoornet’s CEO Siyabonga Gama, the rail company hopes to increase its share of the general freight market from the present 80 million tonnes annually to between 146 and 160mt annually.

    Mozambique Malawi border opens 24 hours a day

    Further easing of bureaucracy and hindrances to trade in Southern Africa comes with the news that the border between Mozambique and eastern Malawi at Zobue, in Mozambique’s central Tete province, is about to remain open 24 hours a day.

    The development has added importance for trade using the Tete Corridor between Malawi and Zimbabwe.

    Mozambique is holding talks with several of its neighbours with regards the easing of red tape on its border crossings, although the double customs entry at strategic crossings such as at Komatipoort remains a challenge to those encouraging the use of Maputo as an alternate port to Durban and Richards Bay in South Africa.

    Wanted: new warehousing for Takoradi

    The director of the port of Takoradi in Ghana has appealed to local and foreign investors to come to Takoradi and build new warehousing facilities for the handling of port cargo.

    Port director Charles Cyril-Nartey says that one of the major problems facing Takoradi over the past two decades has been inadequate warehousing both inside and outside the port.

    Cyril-Nartey was speaking to a meeting of stakeholders as part of Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority (GPHA) 20-year celebration. In 1986 Ghana Cargo handling Co and Takoradi Lighterage Co merged their operations to form GPHA.

    Takoradi lies on the Ghana’s west coast and was developed out of a surf port in 1928, becoming a proper sheltered harbour with its own breakwater and pier primarily for the export of bauxite and manganese. Exports of other commodities including cocoa and general cargo has since increased substantially, leading to additional development of the harbour’s facilities.

    Namibia makes progress with grape exports to USA

    Namibia has successfully negotiated entry into the US market for its table grapes, after a six year negotiation process.

    In an article in The Namibian the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service reports that it has amended its fruit and vegetable regulations to allow the importation of fresh table grapes from Namibia into the United States.

    The fruit has to be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate and must undergo cold treatment and fumigation with methyl bromide.

    Spokespeople for the Namibian grape industry welcomed the development saying that a huge market awaited. Exports to the US are expected to only commence from 2007 when Namibia could take advantage of having a late harvest season between December and March.

    South Africa is the only other southern African country exporting grapes into the United States, and those from a select region of the Cape only.

    Namibia’s exports of table grapes to the European Union currently total around 3.4 million cartons a year (each carton weighing 4.5kg).

    SA Navy en route to Dar es Salaam

    The three ship task force of the South African Navy was yesterday en route to Dar es Salaam, after concluding a successful visit to Maputo in Mozambique.

    The three ships, the hydrographic survey ship SAS Protea, and two strike craft SAS Galashewe and SAS Isaac Dyobha, sailed from Maputo from 06.30 in the morning. During their visit to the Mozambique capital and main port, the crew enjoyed the hospitality of their Mozambique counterparts and used the opportunity for sightseeing.

    But it wasn’t all fun and games and exercises were held with officers of the Mozambique Navy who took part in various Officer of the Watch manoeuvres. A courtesy visit was also made to the Governor of Maputo and the chief of the Mozambique Navy.

    Picture of the day
    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The Odfjell products tanker Bow Cecil in Durban harbour. Picture Terry Hutson

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