Ports & Ships Maritime News

Feb 13, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Mozambique floods cause thousands to flee

  • Mogadishu under rocket attack

  • Lake Victoria ferry grounded

  • SOMALIA: Food shortages in the south as insecurity increases

  • Pic of the day – MSC OLGA

    EMAIL: jhughes@hugheship.com
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    Mozambique floods cause thousands to flee

    Monday, 12 Feb 2007 – Mozambique authorities aided by relief organisations have begun assisting thousands of refugees fleeing from low lying areas in flood ravaged central Mozambique.

    According to reports more than half a million people are at risk from the flooding that has already claimed 29 lives. The central provinces of Tete, Zambezia, Manica and Sofala are the areas affected after widespread rains across the entire width of central Africa reaching from Angola through Zambia and Zimbabwe and into Mozambique brought down the rivers that flow into the low-lying regions of Mozambique.

    Already more than 20,000 people have been evacuated from their homes along the banks of the Zambezi River and taken to transit camps. Upstream the Cahorra Bass Dam is reported to have water flowing in at an abnormal rate and is in a constant state of overflow. Authorities will be forced to release more water from the dam causing increased flooding downstream.

    Mozambique has indicated it will probably have to call on international help to assist in the humanitarian relief – a government spokesman said at the weekend that the position was rapidly becoming worse than the devastating floods of 2000 and 2001 during which more than 700 people lost their lives and about a million were displaced.

    As was the case in 2000/2001, the world’s attention remains fixed elsewhere on other natural disasters, while this human drama in eastern central Africa takes its toll.

    The UN World Food Programme has meanwhile issued an appeal for aid, saying that floods across southern Africa are causing havoc among tens of thousands of people.

    Mogadishu under rocket attack

    Mogadishu, the port city and ‘capital’ of Somalia came under rocket attack at the weekend, setting off an artillery duel between government forces in the city and guerillas attacking from outside.

    Gunmen were also reported to have opened fire on a police station in the city and at least one policeman was injured.

    Meanwhile in the southern port city of Kismayo a bomb was detonated at the weekend injuring a number of people attending a pro-government rally.

    The attacks are a further intensification of the unrest that has returned to this troubled country – if it ever left – since the government was brought to power with the assistance of Ethiopian troops who defeated and successfully drove out the radical Islamic movement.

    The Islamists, although deserting the city vowed to wage a guerilla type insurgency against the officially recognised government. The weakness of the government is evident from having to rely on the assistance of Ethiopian troops to overthrow the Islamists. Pockets of the latter continue to be hunted in the south of the country but although Mogadishu is in government hands it appears there is still some support for the Islamists.

    During their short time ‘in office’ (about six months) after overthrowing the warlords who made Somalia ungovernable for more than a decade, the Islamists succeeded in bringing about a sense of law and order. In this period the port was reopened to shipping and piracy at sea swiftly dealt with. Since their overthrow it is feared that the ‘clans’ are again beginning to drag the country into lawlessness and some of the shooting at the weekend may in fact have been from these groups rather than the Islamists.

    Whatever the truth of the matter, the country is again tottering on the brink of all out war which does not augur well for the security of the region, including the seas along the Horn of Africa.

    The African Union has been asked to provide a peacekeeping force but such is the embarrassment of Africa that so far only about half the required force of 8,000 peacekeepers has been made available. South Africa is one of the countries seemingly unable to raise sufficient troops to constitute its requested share in the peacekeeping force.

    Islamists have vowed to destroy any peacekeeping force that comes into Somalia. In 1995 a previous UN and US peacekeeping force fled the country after proving unable to keep the warring clans apart.

    Lake Victoria ferry grounded

    Halcyon days on Lake Victoria – ss USOGA which plied the length and breadth of the lake for many years. In 1998 this graceful vessel was reported by a Kenya newspaper to have been sold by the Kenya Railways administration to a private company that intended turning her into a lakeside floating hotel and restaurant. Perhaps one of our readers has an update on this?

    A lack of fuel has grounded the ferry that operates along the western shores of Lake Victoria from Masaka to the island of Kalangana.

    Passengers who rely on the ferry to go about their business or to visit relatives have been forced to put hands into their pockets to raise the money to buy fuel. Some passengers complain they are paying twice for the journey – once to the taxi driver and later to the ferry on which the taxi or bus is carried.

    According to the District chairman the Ministry of Works has failed to provide funds for the purchase of fuel for the ferry, which normally makes four trips a day between Kakyanga in Masaka and Bugamo in Kalangala.

    He said he had written to the Ministry of Works and to the Ministry of Finance asking for funds to be released, saying that until now the ferry had been regarded as a utility and was a free service to the public as it constituted the equivalent of a road linking the mainland with the island.

    Uganda’s other lake-based ships and ferries are similarly not in ‘happy times.’ Low water in the lake has made navigation a sometimes hazardous affair and in addition several of the ships are out of service – either at the bottom of the lake or tied up on the quayside. In terms of the concession awarded to the Rift Valley Railway consortium headed by South Africa’s Sheltam Rail, RVR will shortly have to assume responsibility for a number of ferry operations on the lake.

    source – New Vision (Kampala)

    SOMALIA: Food shortages in the south as insecurity increases

    Nairobi, 12 Feb 2007 (IRIN) - Families in Somalia’s Middle Juba region in the south are consuming seeds meant for planting because of food shortages, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Somalia reports.

    A recent trip to the region by a team from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reported a "highly alarming humanitarian and livelihood situation", said OCHA Somalia. The report estimated that "20,000 families need urgent assistance" in the districts of Jamaame, Lower Juba region, and in Jilib, Middle Juba.

    Many "families reported that due to lack of food they had eaten seeds distributed for post-flood recessional planting … There is evidence to suggest that the region, including Buale and Jilib [Middle Juba] to Jamaame [Lower Juba], is in a similar humanitarian and livelihood situation," the agency said. An inter-agency response, it added, was under way.

    In Badhade District in Lower Juba, an estimated 2,000 households have been reported to need aid urgently. "The families were affected by the recent conflict in the region, and have either been displaced or have become more vulnerable as a result," said OCHA.

    Badhade is close to the area where fighting continues between Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) remnants and Ethiopian-supported government soldiers, who have been pursuing them since the UIC was forced out of the capital, Mogadishu, and much of southern Somalia in late December 2006. It is also close to an area that has been bombed by American jets.

    An estimated 1.1 million people are already facing a humanitarian crisis in southern Somalia, which has recently been ravaged by drought, floods and conflict.

    Meanwhile, in Mogadishu, a father and his six-year-old son were killed when an artillery shell hit their house on Sunday in the Huriwa district, a local resident said. A civil society source told IRIN that "the security situation is so bad many neighbourhoods in the city have begun to set up their own security".

    In the southern port city of Kismayo, five people were killed and at least 21 wounded when a bomb was thrown into a pro-government rally.

    "Most of the dead were civilians but at least six senior government officials, including the deputy chief of the army, Gen Abdi Mahad, and Gen Ahmed Mahamud, the chief of police for southern Somalia, were injured," said a local resident, who was at the rally.

    He said the attack had "heightened tensions in Kismayo", which had been peaceful and so far escaped the increasingly frequent attacks in Mogadishu.

    Isma'il Muhammad Qalinle, a Kismayo businessman, told IRIN that government forces were arresting scores of people, "but they are arresting innocent people. They know who did this. They know the clan that was behind it and it should be named, instead of going after innocent people," he added.

    Qalinle said Kismayo was in the grip of inter-clan tension "that has been building up since the government started to allocate positions, which some clans have seen as unfair", he added.

    However, Salad Ali Jeele, the Somali Deputy Minister of Defence, told IRIN the government was investigating the incident in Kismayo, "and anyone found to have been involved would be brought to justice, no matter what".

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

    Pic of the day – MSC OLGA

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    MSC OLGA in Port Elizabeth harbour – one of the newbuilds on MSC’s weekly Northern Continent – South Africa service. The ship has a capacity of 5100 TEU. Picture by Alvin McCloughlin

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

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