Ports & Ships Maritime News

Sep 14, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • AMUL still afloat as large swells hinder salvage

  • Angola to co-ordinate region's coastal transport

  • African east coast on alert because of possible tsunami

  • South Africa has early warning systems in place - NSRI

  • Economic Report: Government task team leaves for China

  • Pic of the day - QUEEN VICTORIA

    AMUL still afloat as large swells hinder salvage

    The abandoned freighter AMUL, which was taken in tow by the South African salvage tug SMIT AMANDLA at the weekend, remains afloat and under the control of the tug about 30 miles off Cape Recife. At least one hold is believed to be flooded.

    However large swells have created problems for surveyors wanting to go on board to inspect the ship’s condition. Yesterday seas of between four and six metres were running, making their task problematic and dangerous.

    The ship sailed from Port Elizabeth where she had put in to undergo repairs and to load scrap metals. Amul was en route to the breakers in India and carried a crew of 18. While in harbour the ship was detained until Port State Control was satisfied certain repairs had been carried out.

    Five days out from port the master reported by radio that his ship was taking water and shortly afterwards announced the crew were taking to life rafts as the ship was considered to be in danger of sinking. A fishing trawler and a products tanker hurried to the scene and, assisted by helicopters from the air force base in Port Elizabeth, managed to rescue all 18 crew who have since been taken to Durban.

    With the ship drifting down and in danger of going aground along Pondoland’s Wild Coast near Mazeppa Bay, the salvage tug Smit Amandla, which is on permanent station on the South African coast, got a line on board and began towing the stricken vessel to a safe distance out to sea, while surveyors prepared to go on board and investigate the condition of the vessel.

    A number of reports are stating that the ship is the AMUL 2511 of 3,086-gt, owned by a Moscow-based company Transonega Shipping. Ports & Ships has been advised by sources in Russia that the vessel Amul 2511, IMO number 9155418 is not the same ship as is currently off the South African coast.

    The IMO number currently carried by the abandoned ships is shown in photographs as IMO 7110098 and she appears clearly to be far larger than a 3,000-gt ship. While in Port Elizabeth one of the problems encountered was that her papers were not in order.

    Any positive identification would be appreciated.

    Angola to co-ordinate region's coastal transport

    Luanda (BuaNews) 13 September 2007 - Angola has been elected co-ordinator for the African Central-South Coastal Zone at the Fourth Session of Bureau of Transport Ministers of the Maritime Organisation of West and Central Africa (MOWCA).

    The Secretary-General of MOWCA, Magnus Teye Addico, announced this to the media at the end of the two-day session held at the Talatona Conventions Centre here Wednesday.

    At the session, it was unanimously agreed to reduce the African maritime coastal zones, previously divided into four co-ordination centres - at Abidjan, Ivory Coast; Dakar, Senegal; Lagos, Nigeria; and Pointe-Noire, Congo-Brazzaville - to two main zones.

    The first zone, for which Angola will be co-ordinator, covers the centres at Lagos and Pointe-Noire, and the second, which will come under the responsibility of Ghana, covers the north which includes the centres at Dakar and of Abidjan.

    The two main centres at Luanda and Accra will be in charge of co-ordinating all matters relating to the problem of marine communication, pollution, armed robbery, piracy, among others, and will also be responsible for deciding about acting against the above-mentioned crimes, within their respective areas of jurisdiction.

    Magnus Addico said that in the framework of the proposal made by the African Union in Abuja, Nigeria, in February this year, the organisation would be the basic element of contact for co-operation between continents.

    Regarding the two maritime academies located within member states of MOWCA, at Accra and Abidjan, the ministers decided to attribute to the first the status of Regional Maritime University, which will contribute to the raising of the level of its cadres within the organisation.

    The academy will be inaugurated by the President of MOWCA, Andre Luis Brandao, who is the Angolan Transport Minister, in Accra on 25 October this year.

    During the session, MOWCA member states debated about maritime safety, maritime transport services, co-operation with international organisations and partners towards development and the Maritime Action Plan of the African Union, among other topics.

    Founded in 1975, MOWCA mainly aims at promoting inter-regional co-operation for the development of the maritime transport industry, port management, and navigation security, protection of the marine and fluvial-lacustrine environment.

    The Bureau of Ministers, one of the organisation's main structures, is made up of Angola (president), Senegal (1st vice-president), Democratic Republic of Congo (2nd vice-president), Nigeria, Gabon, Mali, Ivory Coast.

    MOWCA's 25 member countries are Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Congo Brazzaville, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Gabon, Ghana, Gambia, Guinean Conakry, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Chad, Togo, Central African Republic, DR Congo, San Tome and Principe, Nigeria and Cote d`Ivoire.

    African east coast on alert because of possible tsunami

    Pretoria, Thursday 13 September 2007 - South Africa was placed on alert for a possible tsunami along its Indian Ocean coastline following a strong earthquake in the Indian Ocean on Wednesday.

    Transnet National Ports Authority had alerted the country's National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) to the possibility of a tsunami along northern reaches of the coastline from 1am, on Thursday, said NSRI spokesman Craig Lambinon.

    "The alert is precautionary as there is no concrete evidence of a full-blown tsunami," he said.

    According to a report from Xinhua news, Lambinon said any tsunami resulting from the Indonesian quake was not expected to be as severe as that of December 2004.

    The Boxing Day wave claimed at least 217,000 lives, in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Somalia, Myanmar, the Maldives, Malaysia, Tanzania, Bangladesh, the Seychelles and Kenya.

    Afterwards, mini-tsunami waves reportedly hit the African coastline [with considerable damage caused to the Horn of Africa region, including 300 deaths].

    The Kenyan government, which on its website Wednesday night had warned of a "massive tsunami" and urged people to evacuate the coast, said later that only high tides were expected and that "any threat of high waves will reduce significantly after midnight."

    In Seychelles, which would likely get hit by a tsunami before Kenya, authorities said the window for a strike had passed and they were no longer under a tsunami watch.

    "We do not really scare the people or get them to panic until we confirm something is coming," said Michel Vielle, Head of Risk and Disaster Management in the Seychelles.

    Tanzania did however, caution coastal residents to avoid the beach.

    The alerts came after an 8.2-magnitude earthquake hit Indonesia on Wednesday, killing seven people, injuring scores, and triggering memories of a 2004 quake that set off a deadly tsunami.

    source – BuaNews


    The alert by the Transnet National Ports Authority was issued from Port Elizabeth’s port control with an advisory to all small vessels in the area to either return to port or to seek deep water, because of a danger of rough seas with high swells. The NSRI added its voice by saying that the effects could be expected between Durban and Port Elizabeth but noted that the alert was simply a ‘heads-up’ precaution with no real cause for concern as there was no evidence that a tsunami was imminent.

    All Indian Ocean countries were alerted of the danger after Japanese maritime authorities issued a warning of the danger of a tsunami following the earthquake.

    South Africa has early warning systems in place - NSRI

    Thursday, 13 September 2007 (BuaNews-Xinhua) - The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) has assured South Africans that there is no need to panic about a tsunami surprising authorities, as early warning systems are in place.

    This follows precautionary alerts from Transnet National Ports Authority to the NSRI, about the possibility of a tsunami along the northern reaches of the coastline on Thursday morning.

    NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon told BuaNews that the early warning systems put in place are reliable and that should there be a threat, there would be enough time to warn people of possible danger.

    "The systems in place are very reliable and allow nine to 10 hours to investigate and send an alert.

    "We are working very close with our neighbouring countries sharing information about Tsunami and their experiences," said Mr Lambinon.

    He explained that the alert was precautionary, as there was no concrete evidence of a full-blown tsunami.

    The tsunami alert also follows an alert posted by the Japanese Maritime Authorities listing areas that may experience effects of a possible tsunami (following the earthquakes).

    The South African Indian Ocean coastline is last on the list of areas that may be affected.

    As a precaution a Maritime Navigational Safety Alert has been broadcast by Maritime Radio Services suggesting that vessels sailing close to shore should head for deeper water as a precaution, said Lambinon.

    National Ports Authority, NSRI coastal stations along the Indian Ocean coastline, Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, Maritime Radio Services and Provincial Disaster Management will monitor the situation.

    Mr Lambinon said South Africa only had threatening experiences in the Eastern Cape coast in 2004 and 2005 when there were unusual high level of tides and the situation immediately came under control.

    According to a report from Xinhua news, any tsunami resulting from the Indonesian quake was not expected to be as severe as that of December 2004.

    The Boxing Day wave claimed at least 217 000 lives, in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Somalia, Myanmar, the Maldives, Malaysia, Tanzania, Bangladesh, the Seychelles and Kenya.

    Afterwards, mini-tsunami waves up to two metres high reportedly hit South Africa's east and south coasts.

    The Kenyan government, which on its website Wednesday night had warned of a "massive tsunami" and urged people to evacuate the coast, said later that only high tides were expected and that "any threat of high waves will reduce significantly after midnight."

    In Seychelles, which would likely get hit by a tsunami before Kenya, authorities said the window for a strike had passed and they were no longer under a tsunami watch.

    The alerts came after an 8.2-magnitude earthquake hit Indonesia on Wednesday, killing seven people, injuring scores, and triggering memories of a 2004 quake that set off a deadly tsunami.

    Economic Report: Government task team leaves for China

    Pretoria, 13 September (BuaNews) - A multi-member government task team is being dispatched to the People's Republic of China next week to investigate economic possibilities for South Africa arising out of China's 50-year development plan, writes Shaun Benton.

    This task team is made up of members from a range of government departments, led by Department of Trade and Industry and includes the departments of Minerals and Energy, Agriculture, Science and Technology and Mintek, a South African mineral research organisation, as well as the Development Bank of South Africa and Foreign Affairs.

    The 10-day trip to China will enable the team to study the Chinese economy, with an eye on consolidating a "win-win" formula for both nations in terms of synergies between China's development needs and what South Africa is able to supply, currently and potentially.

    This emerged at a briefing in parliament presented by the Deputy Director-General for Asia and the Middle East, Ambassador Jerry Matjila, in a briefing to the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs.

    The briefing centred on the role of China in Africa in the context of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and included an assessment of bilateral engagements between South Africa and the People's Republic.

    The central objective of the task team's visit to China is to ascertain the variety of ways in which this "win-win" formula for mutual growth and economic development can be taken forward.

    The team will be reporting to Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka who will be visiting China on the 24 and 25 of September as head of the South Africa-China bi-national commission.

    Reports from this advanced task team will enable the development of concrete programmes between September and December this year, so that the Cabinet lekgotla of January 2008 will be able to "sign off" on several of these programmes, the ambassador said.

    Thereafter, the process towards implementation of potential economic engagements would require negotiations with China "sector by sector", including in mining, energy, transport, technology, capital equipment and several other areas.

    This process itself is expected to take between nine to 10 months, focusing on investments in South Africa and identifying South African companies which would participate, Ambassador Matjila said, adding that it would be followed-up by a visit to China by President Thabo Mbeki before the end of next year.

    Mr Matjila said President Mbeki and China's President Hu Jintao were meeting about every six months to ensure "synergies and momentum".

    Following the work of this task team, the economic engagements between the two countries will be taken to another level.

    Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma pointed out that China wanted to quadruple its GDP by 2020, and the nation of 1.3 billion people was working within no less than a 50-year plan to boost its development.

    A key question here, Ms Dlamini-Zuma told MPs is "what are the implications for South Africa of this [50-year] plan".

    One of the most important objectives for South Africa, was to get market access [to reach China's massive population] "but to do that we must establish marketable products".

    "We cannot just be selling commodities to China," said Mr Matjila.

    The concept here is to invite the Chinese to invest in value-addition of South African products, and that this is in the Chinese interest as well - not least for the reason of limitations of energy in China in processing products, including South African products.

    "There is a gap [here]," said Mr Matjila, pointing to win-win situation where the Chinese can invest in ready-made products that can be exported for Chinese consumption.

    Another key mission for South Africa involves the branding of South Africa, to define and enhance its image in the minds of the massive Chinese consumer market.

    "We need to work on the image of South Africa as a modern, advanced African country with a vibrant economy," the ambassador added.

    Here, country-branding exercises are crucial, and South Africa is looking at, amongst other means, a major expo in Shanghai in 2010 to "create inroads" in perceptions among Chinese citizens of a South Africa that is dynamic and alive with possibility.

    Over 70 million visitors from China and elsewhere are expected to attend the Shanghai World Expo in 2010, which will be one of the biggest international events to be hosted by China following the 2008 Olympics.

    Meanwhile, key Chinese cities are to be targeted for South African branding of itself in 2008; including economic exhibitions of South Africa products as well as cultural shows, films, books, performances, sports, and other tourism draw-cards on top of commercial attractions.

    Currently, the balance of trade is more than double in China's favour, according to figures for 2006 provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

    That is if one includes "Greater China", namely: Hong Kong (a colonial territory returned by Britain to China in 1997), Macau (also a colonial territory, returned to China by the Portuguese in 1999), mainland China itself and the nearby island of Taiwan (which China regards as a renegade province).

    Overall, South African exports to China in this regard came to R23,54 billion in 2006, although if one excludes the additional three territories above, the exports to "mainland China" came to the lesser R14,2 billion, according to figures supplied by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

    At the same time, South African imports from this greater China region came to R56,98 billion in 2006 (with mainland China accounting for R46,7 billion of these - around double South Africa's exports).

    Nonetheless, China is the fifth-largest export destination for South African goods, with the South African government taking the view that increased value-addition must occur to products within South Africa in order to bring about greater equity in the trade balance.

    Africa, and South Africa, cannot simply blame China for the unequal trade balance, said the minister.

    "The ball is in our own courts," said Ms Dlamini-Zuma and added that Africans must strive to add value to the resources that it has in such abundance and which are currently in such high demand abroad.

    Here, South Africa is perhaps leading the way, having passed several items of legislation among other strategies to encourage local "beneficiation" (value-addition through human and technological endeavour) of its resources.

    South Africa is China's key trade partner in Africa, accounting for just over one-fifth (20,8 percent) of China-Africa trade. Of course, this bilateral engagement is viewed also within the wider forum of multilateral relations between the continent and the People's Republic, specifically the recently-established Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

    African diplomats poured into Beijing last year for this key summit, where President Jintao informed African leaders that Beijing would, in the next three years, double development assistance to Africa by 2009.

    Also, China would provide preferential credit to Africa worth US$5 billion while cancelling all interest-free government debt owed to China by Africa's highly-indebted and least developed countries which have diplomatic relations with China.

    Also, President Jintao said China would establish a US$5 billion development fund to encourage Chinese companies to invest in Africa. This would no doubt be largely in South Africa's interest, as the bilateral trade balance is heavily weighed against it, with South African foreign direct investment (FDI) in China [US$2 billion] far higher than Chinese FDI into South Africa [US$400 million].

    A number of other pledges were made, including market access, skills training, the building of rural schools in Africa, the deployment of Chinese agricultural experts in Africa, and help with health infrastructure, as well as the opening of special agricultural technology centres on the continent.

    One such agricultural centre is to be opened soon in South Africa, said Mr Matjila.

    Within the FOCAC context, more engagements are planned, with Africa's and China's foreign ministers to be meeting in New York and in Cairo next year.

    Apart from the potential for trade in commodities and value-added goods, there is also potential for sharing of development initiatives as both countries undergo a blossoming of economies, with South Africa perhaps being able to impart techniques, for instance, around the development of economic regulators, where China appears keen to make improvements.

    This comes at a time when South Africa - with its own GDP growth of around five percent a year over the past few years (viewed within the context of a population a fraction of the size of China's 1,3 billion people) - is moving towards creating an "overarching framework" for the country's burgeoning number of regulators.

    The economy of the People's Republic of China is currently the fourth-largest in the world, in terms of nominal GDP. And it has massive foreign reserves, as Mr Matjila pointed out, of over US $ 1 trillion, and appears ready to start spending.

    Pic of the day – QUEEN VICTORIA 

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    QUEEN VICTORIA, Cunard’s latest liner which enters service in December. Read all about this magnificent 90,000 ton ship in our Cruise News column when it appears later today (Friday). Picture courtesy Cunard and White Star Cruise & Travel

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