Ports & Ships Maritime News

Feb 19, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Durban bids farewell to historic North Pier

  • Coega EIA study identifies risk to penguins and squid

  • Ivory Coast death ship - Dutch prosecutors issue three arrest orders

  • SOMALIA-YEMEN: Somali migrants’ death toll rises

  • Chinese research ship arrives

  • Pic of the day – DA YANG YI HAO

    EMAIL: jhughes@hugheship.com
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    Durban bids farewell to historic North Pier

    The days of the North Pier at Durban, or northern breakwater, are numbered. The suddenness of this ‘numbering’ will come however as a surprise, with the pier effectively closing to the public as from Wednesday this week (21 February).

    The National Ports Authority (NPA) intends widening and deepening the entrance channel and the north pier will be removed in its entirety to facilitate this, with a new breakwater erected approximately 100m north of the existing site.

    That work is due to commence in mid March but in the meantime a Bollywood film shoot has been booked for the site from 22 February until the end of the month, during which a high impact accident scene involving a truck and a car is due to be shot. It is intended that the film shoot will be the final event to take place on the North Pier.

    Without any prior public awareness that the North Pier is about to close, a large crowd turned up to make use of excellent weather and enjoy the facilities of the North Pier at the weekend. This was the scene on late yesterday afternoon. Picture Terry Hutson

    Ironically the road leading onto the breakwater is to be repaired by the film producers – for the past several years a private concessionaire has charged a small fee to enter the area while ignoring the deteriorating condition of the roadway in which large potholes had developed.

    The NPA advises that the North Pier will be closed off totally by mid March once fencing has been completed and as it is to become a construction site the public will be denied access.

    Since its inception in the middle of the 19th Century the North Pier has been both lengthened and shortened but has remained open to the public, except at certain critical times. It is to be hoped that once the new North Pier has been built, closer to Vetch’s Pier, that the NPA will again allow the public access to this facility, even if it is a controlled access for pedestrian traffic. Excuses about ship security ought not to be accepted as a viable reason for it to be excluded.

    Coega EIA study identifies risks to penguin and squid

    The draft scoping report forming part of the environmental impact assessment into the doubling up of the port of Ngqura’s container terminal has warned that penguins and squid populations will be placed at risk by the disposal of additional dredged soil resulting from the doubling of the port’s container terminal.

    The proposal calls for soil dredged from the area intended for two new berths to be dumped in the same area as was used when the port was built. But research conducted by Dr Robyn Carter of Lwandle Technologies shows that additional dredged soil deposited in the area could adversely affect the penguin and squid populations.

    Two possible solutions were being considered, the scoping report reveals. One is to conduct low-density dredging and disposal over a period of time to limit turbidity plumes which will minimise the impact on penguins which used sight to catch their prey.

    The other option Is to complete the dredging disposal very quickly while penguins were not in a feeding phase. According to Ismail Banoo of the CSIR this can be done in the moulting season when penguins remain on the islands for about three weeks and thereafter leave the area of the Algoa Bay islands completely to feed further offshore. This occurs between October and December but disposal would depend on the availability of a dredger at this time.

    Squid, which are widely distributed across the Agulhas Bank would have their spawning constrained by the disposal of dredging soils as they attached their egg pods to course sand and shells on the ocean floor, the report says.

    The draft scoping report made public last week revealed that once the container terminal began operating at its full capacity of 1.25 million TEUs by around 2020, there would be an adverse effect on the condition of the road services. Once operational about 835 container trucks are expected to leave the port daily.

    The report makes the optimistic suggestion that rail would take up to 60 percent of the container traffic in the port’s initial stage - members of the committee made up of members of Transnet and the CSIR said that emphasis would be placed on rail transport to alleviate this problem.

    It was also pointed out that 40 percent of containers landed at Coega/Ngqura would leave the port on feeder vessels as transshipment cargo and would therefore nto affect the local road systems.

    source – EP Herald

    Ivory Coast death ship - Dutch prosecutors issue three arrest orders

    Dutch prosecutors have issued arrest orders against three people including the ship’s master in regard to the transfer ashore of ships slops in Abidjan last year from the chartered vessel Probo Koala.

    A local contractor which handled the ships slops ashore in Abidjan later dumped the chemicals into city sewers, landfills and lakes, resulting in the death of ten people and up to a hundred thousand becoming ill and requiring medical treatment.

    Dutch investigators say they have uncovered forgery, violation of waste import and export control regulations, and violations of the Prevention of Pollution from Ships Act.

    The Netherlands-based company Trafigura which is responsible for sending the slops to Ivory Coast, claimed that the Amsterdam company originally approached to process the material wanted to charge an excessive amount – 27 times its original quote after discovering the chemical content of the slops.

    According to a French TV station, FR2, Trafigura saved itself €470,000 by shipping the slops to Abidjan rather than offloading it in Amsterdam. The station said the company had paid a mere €30,000 in Abidjan compared with the €500,000 it would have had to pay in the Netherlands. The TV station recorded a Trafigura executive admitting he was prepared to pay a fine for taking the slops to West Africa rather than paying the Dutch price.

    Trafigura’s chief executive was released from jail in Ivory Coast last week after his company paid an amount of €150 million to the Ivory Coast government to settle the matter in the West African country. He had been held in custody along with several colleagues for a number of months, after going to the country to assist with the cleanup.

    source – Fairplay and own sources

    SOMALIA-YEMEN: Somali migrants’ death toll rises

    Sana’a, 18 February 2007 (IRIN) - The number of mostly Somali migrants who drowned on 12 February off the Yemeni coast has increased to 107, Somali community officials in the capital, Sana’a, said on Sunday.

    “The number of migrants who drowned increased from 30 to 107 [as more bodies were found]. Most of them are Somalis and about 20 percent of them are from Ethiopia,” Sadat Mohammed, Head of Refugee Affairs at the Somali Community in Sana’a, told IRIN. He also said more people were still missing at sea.

    Mohammed said that Yemeni coastguards were responsible for the recent increased number of deaths of migrants making the perilous journey across the Gulf of Aden.

    “This problem [deaths of migrants] occurred after the Yemeni coastguards began firing at smugglers’ boats. This information was circulated among smugglers, who then began new sea routes,” he said.

    The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) recently confirmed that smugglers were taking new and more hazardous sea routes to Yemen as a result of increased security patrols along the Yemeni coast.

    When nearing the Yemeni coast, smugglers often force people to jump off and swim to shore so the smugglers can escape being arrested or shot at by Yemeni coastguards, Somali community leaders said.

    According to Mohammed, in January this year, about 1,700 Somali migrants arrived in Yemen, mainly at Aden, Hadramout and Bir Ali.

    “During this month [February], the number of Somalis coming to Yemen could increase to 3,000,” Mohammed said, warning that the situation for them is worsening. “As migrants are left alone by smugglers on shores, some die of thirst and hunger as there is no one to assist or receive them,” he said.

    Illicit shipping of people

    The illicit shipping of people across the Gulf of Aden has soared in recent weeks. On 12 February, UNHCR said at least 30 migrants drowned on the same day when the boat smuggling them from Somalia capsized off the Yemeni coast.

    “In less than a month, we have seen a dramatic increase in people smuggling from Somalia, with over 1,600 arrivals in Yemen aboard some 20 boats,” UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond told a press briefing in Geneva last week.

    Redmond said the smugglers have changed tactics and are now arriving at different points along the Yemeni coast, making it harder for Yemeni coastal patrols to catch them and for UNHCR and its partners to register them and provide aid. Despite the increase in the fare for the boat journey, from US $ 40 to $ 100 per passenger, hundreds of desperate people continue to take the risk.

    In recent months, UNHCR has reported cases of migrants being savagely beaten to death and thrown overboard by club-wielding smugglers just for requesting drinking water.

    According to the agency, the Somalis said they fled their homes during and after hostilities between government forces and Islamist groups. Many said armed militias shot at them and took their money and belongings at checkpoints in Somalia.

    In 2006, UNHCR reported that some 27,000 people survived the perilous voyage, while 330 died and another 300 are still missing.

    Somalis reaching Yemen get automatic refugee status because many are fleeing a violent conflict, though not all apply for it. There are currently more than 88,000 registered refugees in Yemen, of whom 84,000 are Somalis.

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

    Chinese research ship arrives

    An unannounced visitor to Durban this last week was the 4,412-gt Chinese research ship DA YANG YI HAO, which arrived in port at the weekend.

    The ship berthed at O berth on the T Jetty and was soon bedecked with flags, something that appears to be done in most ports visited although yesterday’s Chinese New Year festivities – the Year of the Boar - may also have played a role.

    The ship’s name in English is Ocean 1 and the vessel is on a 220-day, 30.000 mile round-the-world voyage of research which began in the port of Qingdao early in January. This is the vessel’s second such voyage of research.

    Scientists on board the ship are studying oceanic geology, marine chemistry, ocean biology and ocean hydrology as well as a detailed study of the seabed topography.

    Pic of the day – DA YANG YI HAO

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    Chinese research vessel DA YANG YI HAO (Ocean 1) which arrived in Durban at the weekend. See report above. Picture Terry Hutson

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