Ports & Ships Maritime News

Feb 12, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Asiatic SSI brings on fastest service between India and South Africa

  • CFM boss repeats concerns about Port Maputo and Nacala railway

  • SA bans poultry products from UK

  • SA needs determined drive to source goods locally

  • Clashes bring Guinea close to insurrection

  • Migrant ship adrift while governments argue

  • Pic of the day – CAPE TOWN V&A WATERFRONT

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    Asiatic SSI brings on fastest service between India and South Africa

    Asiatic Shipping Services Inc has announced a revision in its services from South East Asia to South Africa and West Africa.

    Effective with the sailing of the London Tower, voyage 0701 westbound, which is eta Durban 22 February 2007, Asiatic have added the Indian ports of Chennai (Madras) and Nhava Sheva (JNPT, Mumbai).

    Port Kelang (Malaysia) will be dropped from the schedule and the port rotation will be: Belawan (Medan) Indonesia - Chennai - Nhava Sheva (JNPT) – Durban - Pointe Noire - Lagos (Apapa) - Tema

    Leigh Walker, Country Manager for Hull Blyth South Africa, representatives for Asiatic SSI, said the line saw a need in the market for a fast transit time from India to Durban and West Africa.

    “Chennai to Durban will be 16 days and Nhava Sheva to Durban will be 10 days non stop. In addition, Asiatic intends adding a fourth 1200-TEU vessel to improve their frequency to 15 days from the current 23 days.”

    CFM boss repeats concerns about Port Maputo and Nacala railway

    Maputo, Friday 9 February: The chairman of CFM, Mozambique's public-owned ports and rail company, Rui Fonseca, has reiterated his unhappiness, first made public last year, with consortiums holding leases at the Port of Maputo and on the Nacala – Malawi railway, repeating his claims that they are failing to meet agreements in the lease.

    Fonseca’s concerns relate to Port Maputo, which is run by the UK-led consortium of Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC), and the American-led consortium operating the Nacala Corridor Development Company (CDN).

    Last year he stated in Mozambique’s parliament that MPDC owed the government US $ 10 million in unpaid fees. He also criticised CDN for not meeting certain operational obligations, suggesting that the American company was undercapitalised. At the time the railway admitted being under-equipped particularly regarding locomotive power and the company subsequently leased locomotives from South Africa’s Sheltam Rail.

    Last week Fonseca, according to the Maputo newspaper ‘Noticias’, accused the MPDC of still not meeting its financial obligations. He said that the MPDC is supposed to pay an annual rate indexed to the US Consumer Price Index, plus a percentage of pre-tax gross income (starting at 10 percent in the first year, and eventually rising to 15 per cent).

    Referring to the northern railway Fonseca said it remained weak in infrastructure due to a lack of investment.

    Fonseca suggested that the leases of both companies ought to be reviewed annually.

    "CFM believes that as a minimum measure there should be an imperative for coordinated, harmonious inter-institutional activity to ensure compliance with the lease agreements and to halt the current anomalies. We must strengthen the institutional power of CFM to monitor the leases, including by legislative means, since we act as the executive arm of our government in this matter."

    source - Noticias

    SA bans poultry products from UK

    Pretoria, 9 February (BuaNews): The South African government on Thursday announced a ban on all live poultry and poultry products from the United Kingdom (UK) until further notice.

    This follows an outbreak of a highly pathogenic avian influenza or bird flu in the UK at the (previous) weekend.

    The sickness is caused by the H5N1 virus which has the ability to kill humans.

    The virus killed about 1,500 turkeys on a farm in Suffolk, in the UK.

    "South Africa immediately placed an embargo on the importation of all live poultry and poultry products from the UK until further notice," the Agriculture and Land Affairs department said.

    However, the department said poultry products which are subjected to a process complying with international requirements to ensure the satisfactory inactivation of the avian influenza virus were excluded from the suspension.

    It said the consignments from the UK would be confined at the ports of entry and veterinary import permits had been cancelled.

    "South Africa has had an extensive surveillance programme in place since 2005 and all commercial and non-commercial chickens and commercial ostriches are regularly tested," the department added

    The department further added that South Africa remained free from the disease.

    "The poultry and ostrich meat that is available on supermarket shelves in the country is safe to eat. All poultry meat should always be cooked until the pink colour has disappeared," it said.

    The British authorities have since placed the farm on which the outbreak occurred and the surrounding areas under quarantine. The remaining turkeys were further destroyed in a bid to contain the disease.

    SA needs determined drive to source goods locally

    Cape Town, Friday 9 February 2007: by Shaun Benton (BuaNews) - South Africa needs to increase its national capacity to produce capital goods as the expanding economy throws up major challenges," said President Thabo Mbeki in his State of the Nation Address on Friday.

    He said the country needs to source many of the capital goods domestically in an effort to continue expanding the economy rather than importing them.

    Massive infrastructure spending programmes by Government, President Mbeki said, are currently under way with major investments being made in energy, transport infrastructure, communications infrastructure and 2010 World Cup-related expenditure in stadia.

    As much as R400 billion is being invested in infrastructure by government alone - not to mention private sector expansion.

    He said these projects "demand massive input of supplies and machinery".

    "But our international trade balance shows that we have not succeeded in building the capacity to produce the consumer and capital goods that our country needs," Mr Mbeki said.

    As a result, many of the consumer and capital goods required by such sudden demand are met by imports.

    This opens up vulnerability on the country's current account and causing many local businesses to lose out on the massive opportunities these demands present for future growth.

    To widen the scope for domestic industry and thus the economy and South Africans as a whole to benefit from such massive investment, the president announced that government is to speed up the implementation of the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa.

    This will happen within the context of a determined drive to increase our national capacity to produce capital goods", the president said.

    Such a drive will happen "over and above the multi-year programmes announced in the recent past", he added. He said government will be developing programmes to facilitate investments in sectors along the entire supply chain of South Africa's infrastructure programmes.

    These will include capital goods in information and communications technology, transport and energy.

    The government, he added, would this year focus on reviewing the country's experience of macro-economic indicators such as the exchange rate, inflation and interest rates.

    President Mbeki said this will help the government to put in place measures that will facilitate the growth of industries which produce tradables for both the domestic and export markets".

    These measures will also be designed to absorb large pools of semi-skilled workers, he said.

    With investment in mining on the decline, despite high current prices for commodities in global markets, the president pointed to the need for strategy that would prioritise key interventions in mining and mineral beneficiation.

    An example of such intervention, he said, will be the setting up of a State Diamond Trader that will purchase 10 per cent of diamonds from local producers and sell them to local cutters and producers - with a direct and powerful impact on the ability of South Africans to benefit by adding value to these resources.

    Diamond mining giant De Beers "has agreed to assist, free-of-charge, with management, technical skills and asset provision for a period of three years" for such an intervention, the president said.

    Likewise, in agriculture and agro-processing, the white goods sector - which includes durable commodities like household appliances - creative industries, community and social services and pharmaceuticals, there will be similar strategies to enhance domestic capacity.

    Eskom alone is spending just under R100 billion on infrastructure expansion in energy supply over the next few years to meet huge demand for energy as the economy expands. This investment will ensure "greater reliance on nuclear power generation, natural gas and the various forms of renewable sources of energy".

    In telecommunications, the president announced that the Department of Communications together with mobile telephone companies and Telkom is finalising plans "to address call termination rates this year for the benefit of all consumers".

    In addition, he said, Telkom will apply a special low rate for international bandwidth to 10 development call centres - each employing 1000 persons - as part of efforts to expand the business process outsourcing sector.

    "The special rate," he said, "will be directly comparable to those for the same service and capacity per month offered in any of the comparable countries [that also have a call centre industry]."

    The development of high-speed national and international broadband capacity is another imperative, he said.

    Massive investment is also being poured into public transport systems, which are perhaps the greatest legacy that government aims to derive from the hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

    Such programmes include the taxi recapitalisation programme and provincial initiatives such as the Moloto Rail Corridor in Mpumalanga, the Klipfontein Corridor in Cape Town and the Gautrain project.

    The R7 billion taxi recapitalisation programme that is putting modern and safer vehicles on to South Africa's streets will go ahead, he said, warning that government would not be "bullied" by resistance from the country's taxi operators.

    "We will attend to the urgent implementation of these programmes to improve the quality of life of especially the working people," said the president.

    Clashes bring Guinea close to insurrection

    Conakry (Guinea), 11 Feb 2007 (IRIN) - Mobs burned police stations, looted warehouses and attacked the homes of government ministers in Guinea on Saturday to protest President Lansana Conte’s choice of prime minister.

    At least four people were confirmed dead and scores injured during riots in the capital, Conakry, and several other towns around the country.

    The violence is the latest sign of deepening discontent over the rule of autocratic President Lansana Conte, who has ruled the resource-rich but revenue-poor country for the past 23 years.

    Conte, who refused to step down in the face of a crippling 18-day strike last month, announced late on Friday that he would appoint his chief of staff, Eugene Camara, as premier.

    Demonstrators say Camara is too close an ally to the president and is not the independent candidate Conte promised when he negotiated an end to last month’s strike. Security forces shot at least 59 people dead during those protests.

    Some of the worst violence on Saturday happened when stone-throwing rioters attacked a convoy they believed to be carrying Conte. His presidential guard fired into the crowd, killing three and wounding at least 20 others, according to an IRIN correspondent who witnessed the shooting.

    Residents in Conakry's sprawling suburbs also reported extensive looting of shops and rice warehouses. Mobs of stone-throwing youths smashed windows, threw garbage into the streets and set up roadblocks with burning tyres before clashing with armed police.

    Protesters also looted private residences belonging to Guinean government ministers in Conakry and Segre in the remote northeast. A mansion in Conakry that belongs to Guinea-Bissau's President Joao Bernardo "Nino" Vieira, a close ally of President Conte, was also looted, IRIN correspondents reported.

    Rioters also burned houses and offices belonging to local officials in Nzerekore, 1,000km southeast of Conakry, and in Labe in the centre of the country.

    Two police stations and two petrol stations in Conakry were burned during Saturday's violence.

    Clashes between civilians and police were also reported in Kankan, 500km
    east of Conakry, and unconfirmed reports said at least one Guinean soldier was burned alive. Protesters also attacked the city jail and released prisoners.

    Clashes were also reported by residents in Kissidougou in the Forest Region, Faranah, 300km east of Conakry, and Kindia, 100km north.

    On Friday, before Conte's announcement, clashes between anti-government protestors and police were also reported in Koyah in the west and Duinguiraye, 400km north of Conakry.

    On Sunday a tense calm had returned to the capital but new demonstrations were reported in Kankan.

    Union leader Ibrahima Fofana of the Guinean Workers Union (CSTG), one of the unions behind last month's strike, told IRIN the union was calling for a new strike starting on Monday (today), although the weekend's violence had already ground most of the country to a halt as people sheltered at home from the violence.

    But Bama Maddou, spokesman for a coalition of 14 opposition political parties, said it is too late to talk about a strike.

    "This is not a strike," he said. "This is an insurrection against Conte. The people are demanding his resignation."

    Communications infrastructure is poor in Guinea and hospitals are so under-stocked and expensive that most people prefer to treat wounded and dead at home.

    The United Nations last week appealed for US $ 4.7 million in emergency aid to stock hospitals with blood, trauma kits and oxygen to prepare for what diplomats and aid workers in Conakry expect to be an unpredictable and unstable period in Guinea.

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

    Migrant ship adrift while governments argue

    Nouakchott (Mauritania), 9 Feb 2007 (IRIN) - A disabled cargo ship packed with hundreds of would-be migrants to Europe has been drifting off the coast of Mauritania for more than two weeks because the Mauritanian government has refused to allow the ship to dock.

    The ship, together with a Spanish coastguard tugboat towing it, are currently sitting in international waters some 40km off the Mauritanian coast, while the Spanish and Mauritanian governments negotiate a solution.

    Aid workers estimate there are as many as 400 passengers onboard, about half on whom are from Pakistan, with the rest from African countries including Somalia, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast and Guinea Conakry.

    The exact number of passengers and their origins are not known because aid workers have not been allowed onto the ship. The Spanish Red Cross and the Mauritanian Red Crescent have jointly sent food and relief supplies by boat but these were transferred to the cargo ship by the Spanish tug.

    “We have only talked to passengers and crew by radio,” said Ahmedou ould Haye, the regional delegate for the Red Crescent in Nouadhibou. He said they seem to be coping but some have diarrhoea. “We are also worried about how long their morale will hold out,” he said.

    Government’s position

    Mauritania is a signatory to international conventions under the International Maritime Organization, which oblige governments to provide shipwreck survivors with “a place of safety (and to meet their) basic human needs (such as food, shelter and medical needs)”.

    The agreements, known as the 1974 International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea and the 1979 International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue, were amended in July to clarify government’s responsibilities.

    “While an assisting ship may serve as a temporary place of safety, it should be relieved of this responsibility as soon as alternative arrangements can be made,” the amendment states.

    The Mauritanian government has not yet made an official public statement on the issue, however Mauritanian officials told IRIN their government wants the Spanish rescue tug to either take the ship to the Spanish Canary Islands, which is where they believe it was headed, or back to where it came from.

    “Our government’s position is that the ship was in Spanish waters off the Canary Islands when the Spanish marine authority began towing it,” said a senior Mauritanian immigration official, who asked not to be named because he is not authorised to speak.

    “We have agreed to receive boats with illegal immigrants caught in Mauritanian waters, but we have not agreed to receive ships towed from somewhere else,” he said.

    Another senior official in a separate ministry who said he did not want to be named either confirmed this position.

    Humanitarian imperative

    Spanish Red Cross official Jaime Bara said the ship did indeed appear to have been heading for Spain’s Canary Islands, an entry point to Europe used by tens of thousands of Africans attempting to migrate illegally to Europe every year.

    “We know the ship last docked in Guinea Conakry but we are not sure where it was before then or how long the passengers have been at sea.” Bara said.

    “Clearly the governments of Spain and Mauritania have different views on which country is responsible,” he added.

    Spain’s secretary of state for foreign affairs Bernardino Leon Gross flew to Mauritania on Thursday and met with President Ely Ould Mohamed Vall, but no decision was announced following their meeting.

    The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said humanitarian concerns should take priority over legal matters.

    “At this point in time, the main priority should be to help these people and not let them drift on the high seas in precarious conditions,” George Okoth-Obbo, Director for Protection of the United Nations Agency for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement issued on Thursday.

    “UNHCR urges, on humanitarian grounds, that people on board this ship be allowed to disembark as soon as possible.”

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

    Pic of the day – CAPE TOWN V&A WATERFRONT

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    the Victoria Basin at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront. Picture Terry Hutson

    NB Shipping pictures submitted by readers are always welcome – please email to info@ports.co.za

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