Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jan 20, 2006
Author: P&S





TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

  • Threats to escalate Nigerian oil crisis


  • Chinese lifeline for SA clothing and textile manufacturers


  • Welcome turnaround as Malawi produces surplus


  • UN calls a halt to East African refugees


  • Peace boat arrives in Africa


  • Abidjan calm after riots


  • Delays in the Congo


  • Clipper Race – R&R in Singapore






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    Threats to escalate Nigerian oil crisis

    Nigerian oil workers have added their voices to those threatening the troubled oil producing industry in the West African country by saying they will withdraw all labour if the government does not put an end to the violence in the Delta region.

    Two trade unions issued a joint statement advising they will withdraw their members in the various oil and gas companies unless urgent government action is taken. They referred to the loss of 22 lives and the abduction of several foreign workers plus sabotage to one of the major pipelines.

    They defended their action by saying that workers were usually the first to be targeted when aggression occurs.

    Meanwhile the four Europeans taken hostage a week ago remain prisoners of the organisation calling itself the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta. The organisation warned that it intends a series of actions against the Nigerian armed forces in the near future and said that from 1 February it would regard Nigerians working in the oil sector ‘in the same light as Nigerian soldiers’ with no hostage value.


    Chinese lifeline for SA clothing and textile manufacturers

    Good news for South African clothing and textile manufacturers and those who benefit from this industry with AGOA came from China this week when it announced a voluntary curbing of textile and clothing exports to South Africa.

    Addressing diplomats and media in Pretoria the Chinese ambassador, Liu Guijin indicated that the export of garments and ‘some textiles’ would be limited. He added that China had undertaken to help retrain the South African clothing and textile industry and would form partnerships locally to make South African producers more competitive.

    The reaction of trade union officials was less than enthusiastic, saying that any action taken by China should be at levels that would reverse the massive job losses that have already occurred. The South African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (Sactwu) claims to have lost up to 60,000 members as a result of job losses since 2003.

    It pointed out that Chinese competitiveness was based on unfair labour practices as well as generous subsidies from the Chinese government and a deliberately undervalued Chinese currency, which were models that could not be duplicated in South Africa.


    Welcome turnaround as Malawi produces surplus

    But Kenya still in trouble

    In a complete reversal Malawi is now expected to produce a surplus maize crop in 2006 after years of drought and shortfalls. The result has seen widespread famine across the land and massive donations of food aid pouring in to feed the starving people of Malawi.

    The ports of Mozambique and Tanzania and to a lesser extent South Africa have benefited mainly from other people’s misery but according to the USAID-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), good rains have now broken the drought and together with government-sponsored fertiliser programmes, the country can expect to produce a maize crop of between 2 and 2.5 million tonnes. This is despite some flooding in southern Malawi that has destroyed some crops but the country is still expected to harvest more than sufficient to feed its people.

    Meanwhile, further north in Kenya the disintegration of the country’s food distribution system is said to have placed thousands of lives at risk, leaving the UN World Food Aid Program with too few resources to cope. The UN organisation said it would be issuing an emergency appeal in the next few weeks for help in restoring the single delivery pipeline, without which between 2.5 and 3.5 million lives are at risk.

    The problem is exacerbated by some parts of western Kenya producing surplus food which is being exported to earn foreign currency. Kenya is forecast to have a surplus of over 60,000 tonnes this year with the distribution system unable to process this bonus.


    UN calls a halt to East African refugees

    As another boatload of 110 refugees fleeing across the Gulf of Aden goes missing this week, the United Nations refugee agency repeated its appeal for action to stem the flow of people who fall prey to human smugglers.

    People are dying trying to reach Yemen aboard smugglers’ boats crossing the Gulf of Aden from Somalia, said Willian Spindler, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). He revealed that in the space of five days this past week 22 boats carrying an unknown number of Somalis and Ethiopians as refugees arrived in Yemen.

    The agency said that Yemen was one of a few countries in the region to have signed the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees and has since been generous in its support by receiving migrants and refugees. Over 80,000 people have already registered as refugees in Yemen, of whom 75,000 are Somalis.

    In the latest boat loss no news has been heard since Monday, when it went missing after leaving the northeast coast of Somalia. Brokers who facilitate those wanting to make the crossing said they were not sure if the boat had capsized or was experiencing technical problems. Most of the passengers were young men between the ages of 15 and 30 and they intended going to Yemen to seek work in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

    - source IRIN


    Peace boat arrives in Africa

    The mv Topaz, the so-called Japanese ‘Peace Boat’ arrived in Mombasa this week (Wednesday) on its first stop in Africa with 900 passengers on board. The ship is on its way to Cape Town and had arrived from Port Victoria in the Seychelles.

    Most of the passengers on board are Japanese with a sprinkling of other nationalities. Like any other cruise ship, the passengers went on safari while the ship was in port, although the purpose of the visit is to spread peace, human rights and understanding among different nations. Activities ashore in the two days included holding cultural workshops

    The ship sailed for Cape Town yesterday (Thursday).


    Abidjan calm after riots

    Some semblance of peace and order returned to Abidjan today (Friday) after pro-government youth groups withdrew their barriers from the streets, leaving the city to quickly return to normal.

    The rioting broke out earlier this week after foreign mediators recommended the dissolving of the national government, led by President Gbagbo. The French are also calling for sanctions to be imposed on the country, which is the world’s largest producer of cocoa.


    Delays in the Congo

    A strike by ONATRA stevedores (Office Nationale des Transports of the D. R. Congo) in the port of Matadi, Democratic Republic of Congo, which began in the first week of January, is continuing to delay cargo working. At least one shipping company, OT Africa Line is advising clients that transshipments from Pointe Noire in neighbouring Republic of Congo will be delayed by up to one month.

    Meanwhile, worsening security outside Brazzaville, the capital of the neighbouring Republic of Congo, has forced the International Committee for the Red Cross to pull out of Pool, an area close to the capital occupied by former Zaire soldiers who fled across the river to Congo. This followed the successful coup in 1997 by Laurent Kabila and the overthrow of Zaire’s President Mobutu Sese Seko.

    In November last year the former Zairean soldiers occupied the Beach, the port area of Brazzaville and demanded they be repatriated to the DRC across the river. All ferry activity on the river came to a halt until the matter was resolved but an uneasy peace has continued since. (See our detailed News report dated 17 November – River Crossings Resume ports.co.za/news/article_2005_11_17_5706.html)


    Clipper race – R&R in Singapore

    With all yachts now in Singapore Ports & Ships is taking a break from the 2005/06 Round the World Clipper Yacht Race and will resume reporting on its progress once the next leg gets underway on 27 January 2006.


    Westernaustralia.com 41.5 points
    Durban Clipper 33.0
    Liverpool 08 30.5
    New York 30.5
    Victoria 22.5
    Cardiff 22.0
    Qingdao 22.0
    Uniquely Singapore 21.0
    Jersey 15.0
    Glasgow 6.5

    - source and further details of this round the world race can be found at http://www.clipper-ventures.co.uk


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