Ports & Ships Maritime News

Dec 5, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Oil rig heads for Walvis Bay

  • Somalia-Yemen: Over 80 migrants die as boat capsizes

  • EASSy undersea cable on track

  • President Mbeki heads for EU-Africa Summit

  • Draft diving regulations gazetted

  • Pic of the day – GLOBAL SANTOSH

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    Oil rig heads for Walvis Bay

    One hasn’t always associated the port of Walvis Bay with large oil rigs arriving for repair – remember the time when the port was the backwater of the old South African Harbours Administration, where pilots and tug masters were ‘banished’ for brief periods of their careers – this being the only practical way to get the necessary staff. Since independence when Walvis Bay became fully a part of Namibia (the enclave including the port used to be part of the Cape Province and therefore South African territory) all that has changed and mostly for the better. Walvis Bay has been modernised and today competes with other ports in the southern African region on an equal footing amidst bold plans to attract business not only from the South African industrial heartland of Gauteng but even from as far away as Central Africa.

    Not only have port facilities improved beyond recognition but ship repair is now a thriving aspect of what Walvis Bay has to offer. The port even has a N$30 million (R30m) floating dock, Namdock, which can lift ships of up to 8,500t which has operated as a joint venture between Durban-based firm of Elgin Brown & Hamer and the Namport port authority since May 2006 - see related report dated 26 January 2006 –

    Elgin Brown & Hamer Namibia plans to introduce a second similar floating dock at the port during the course of 2008.

    Not only is the existing dock fully occupied for much of the time but Walvis Bay has begun attracting oil rigs from the West African region for repair and maintenance, and this month another of these giant vessels, the triple-leg jack-up rig PRIDE CABINDA will arrive ex Angola to undergo a full refit and maintenance which is expected to take around two and a half months.

    Walvis Bay offers a number of advantages over Cape Town, being considerably closer to the oil fields for one, and Pride Cabinda, which follows SEDNETH 701 which was repaired at the Namibian port last year, is likely to be joined by a second rig in May 2008.

    Somalia-Yemen: Over 80 migrants die as boat capsizes

    Sanaa, 4 December 2007 (IRIN) - Scores of African migrants, mostly from Somalia, died on 29 November when their boat capsized off the Yemeni coast, the Somali consulate in Yemen’s southern province of Aden has said.

    Somalia’s consul-general in Aden, Hussein Haji Ahmed, told IRIN the death toll was over 80, including women and children.

    The boat was carrying over 120 African migrants and was heading for the southern Yemeni province of Hadhramaut.

    After charting an unusual course in order to avoid being spotted by coastguards, the boat capsized as smugglers tried to force the passengers to swim for the shoreline, Ahmed said. “Some were stabbed and beaten with cudgels and knives.”

    Some 45 people survived and the Yemeni authorities sent them to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reception camp in Mayfaa. “Twenty of them are still there as they are receiving medical treatment. The rest were sent to Kharaz refugee camp, 150km west of Aden,” he said.

    “This was a sad incident. We hope a way can be found to stop the war in Somalia. I call on the UN and charitable organisations to save human lives inside Somalia,” Ahmed said.

    Ahmed explained that smugglers have been forced to chart different courses and be more cautious after Yemeni coastguards in mid November caught 13 African smugglers when they reached the southern province of Shabwa. They were arrested after an exchange of fire and are now in detention awaiting trial, he said.

    Yemen’s Gulf of Aden coastline extends over 1,465km, which makes it difficult for coastguards to monitor.

    On 21 November a boat capsized in the Gulf of Aden, claiming the lives of 65 African migrants, mostly Somalis.

    Over 20,000 trafficked

    According to the UNHCR, over 20,000 African migrants have crossed the Gulf of Aden this year in boats operated by traffickers operating from Somali ports. At least 439 people have died this year and another 489 are missing and feared dead, the UNHCR said.

    In 2006 alone, the number of Africans entering Yemen reached some 26,000.

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

    EASSy undersea cable on track

    Durban, 4 December 2007 (BuaNews) - Construction of the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy), a 9,900km-long optical submarine cable between Durban and Port Sudan, is expected to begin in mid-December.

    A group of development banks, including the International Finance Corporation (IFC), announced a $70.7-million investment in the project, reports Southafrica.info.

    The IFC said in a statement last week that it would provide long-term financing to the value of $18.2-million, while the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, Germany's development bank KfW and the French development bank AFD would jointly provide the rest.

    The total cost is $235-million and the rest of the financing will be provided by a consortium of 25 private telecommunications operators, 21 of which are African and will be the cable's main capacity users.

    The consortium earlier signed a turnkey contract with Paris and New York-listed network solutions provider Alcatel-Lucent to lay the fibre-optic cables for EASSy.

    "It is a major accomplishment to have finalised the loan financing of this complex project.

    "This is a vote of confidence for the continent. The project will transform the African telecommunication landscape and have a direct positive impact on business in East Africa," IFC Chief Executive Officer Lars Thunell said.

    EASSy will link Sudan to South Africa via Djibouti, Somalia, Tanzania, Madagascar and Mozambique.

    It will have landing points in Port Sudan, Djibouti, Mogadishu (Somalia), Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania), Toliary (Madagascar), Maputo (Mozambique), and Mtunzini in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province.

    Botswana, Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Rwanda, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe will also be linked to the system as terrestrial cables known as the Nepad ICT Broadband Network.

    These cables aim to free the continent from its dependence on expensive satellite systems to carry voice and data traffic.

    The New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) is the African Union's blueprint for socio-economic development on the continent.

    According to the IFC, consumers along the east coast of Africa typically pay between $200 and $300 a month for internet access, which are some of the world's highest and have an adverse economic impact.

    "As a result of the EASSy cable, prices for international connectivity will drop by two-thirds at the outset, and the number of subscribers will triple. Because the project gives open access to service providers, prices will fall further as volume and competition increases," the IFC said.

    See related article 30 November 2007 – ‘Undersea cable to connect 21 African countries’

    President Mbeki heads for EU-Africa Summit

    by Sholain Govender

    Pretoria 4 December 2007 (BuaNews) - President Thabo Mbeki and Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma are set to join African and European Heads of State and Government at the 2nd European Union (EU)-Africa Summit in Portugal this weekend.

    The Summit to be held in Lisbon on Saturday and Sunday, 8-9 December, will be preceded by the EU-Africa Ministerial meeting. South Africa's delegation to the two-day meeting which started Tuesday in Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt is being led by Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad.

    The first EU-Africa Summit was held in Egypt in 2000 and the end result was the signing of the Cairo Declaration which aimed 'to give a new strategic dimension to the global partnership between Africa and Europe for the 21st century'.

    President Mbeki will attend the 2nd EU-Africa Summit with the aim to strengthen South Africa's relations with the EU with a view to the consolidation of the African Agenda and meeting the objectives of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad).

    Nepad is the African Union's blueprint for socio-economic development on the continent.

    South Africa, in October this year, finalised the South Africa-EU Strategic Partnership and participates in the EU's Trade and Development Co-operation Agreement (TDCA).

    The African continent also has strong relations with Europe as the EU is a major player in the development process of the African continent.

    An increase in the number of external partners, the introduction of new instruments and increased financial resources illustrate a vibrant contribution towards a Strategic Partnership between the two continents.

    The Africa-EU Strategic Partnership aims to reduce and eventually eradicate poverty on the African continent through the support for sustainable economic, social and environmental development.

    Other aims include the promotion of the gradual integration of the developing countries into the world economy, sharing EU experiences regarding regional integration and a determination to combat inequality. The key focus will be on creating the necessary economic environment for development.

    It is expected that Heads of State and Government will endorse the Joint Africa-EU Strategy at the Summit. The Strategy is based on four pillars:
    * Peace and security;
    * Good governance and human rights;
    * Trade and regional integration; and
    * Key development issues.

    Specific focus will be on the Millennium Development Goals; development cooperation; human and social development; gender equality; environmental sustainability and climate change; migration and development; agriculture and food security; infrastructure; water and sanitation; energy; development of knowledge-based societies; and cultural cooperation.

    In October this year, Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad said that the issue of social alienation of many migrants in Europe would also be broached during the upcoming summit, as well as China's growing involvement in Africa.

    Mr Pahad added that despite British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's indication that he would not attend the summit if Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was present, the South African government was confident that the summit would go ahead successfully.

    Draft diving regulations gazetted

    Pretoria, 4 December 2007 (BuaNews) - Draft regulations to prohibit diving in certain areas were gazetted for public comment on Monday, with the aim of protecting abalone.

    Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, gazetted the regulations, after the suspension of the commercial abalone fishery, which will be implemented from 1 February 2008.

    A suspension of the commercial fishery is considered as the only viable option at this stage to provide an opportunity to prevent a total commercial collapse of this highly valued, almost globally extinct resource.

    The listed areas where diving may be prohibited are:

    * Bird Island Marine Protected Area declared in GNR 696 of 4 June 2004

    * Quoin Point to Danger Point (from the west bank of the Ratel River along the coast to the eastern boundary of Gansbaai Harbour's main breakwater wall, extending 2 nautical miles seaward from the high watermark)

    * Dyer Island, extending 1 nautical mile from the high watermark

    * Venus Pool to Olifantsbos (extending 2 nautical miles seaward from the high watermark) and

    * Robben Island, extending 1 nautical mile from the high watermark.

    The abalone resource is threatened with extinction and urgent drastic measures are required to prevent this resource from total collapse.

    Over the past 10 years the total allowable catch (TAC) has been reduced annually from 615 tons in 1995 to a record low of 125 tons for the 2006/7 season and an all time emergency low of 75 tons for 2007/8.

    In 2003 a moratorium on the recreational abalone fishery had been placed due to the rapid declining of the resource.

    The decline of the resource is caused by two factors mainly which are poaching and the migration of rock lobsters from the West Coast into abalone areas.

    Rock lobster feed on sea urchins that provide shelter for juvenile abalone.

    This subjects juvenile abalone to increased mortality. Due to the high demand and high value of abalone and extreme accessibility, the levels of abalone poaching have escalated despite government's attempts at curtailment.

    South Africa is not unique in respect of a nearly collapsed abalone resource.

    It is unique in that it has an opportunity to recover the resource. Abalone stocks worldwide have faced severe declines over the past few decades due to over-fishing, disease, habitat loss and failed control of the illegal catch.

    The objectives of the draft regulations amongst others are to enable implementation of the emergency suspension of the abalone Haliotis fishery, establish measures for the protection of wild abalone Haliotis and to promote the recovery and rebuilding of the wild abalone resource.

    Pic of the day – GLOBAL SANTOSH

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    the Panamanian-registered bulk carrier GLOBAL SANTOSH (26,028-gt) loading coal at Durban’s coaling terminal on the Bluff. Picture Terry Hutson

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