Ports & Ships Maritime News

Mar 23, 2006
Author: P&S





TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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  • South Africa – India look to strengthen maritime and trade ties

  • AP Moller begins operating Apapa Container Terminal

  • Mbeki strengthens economic ties with Italy

  • Kenya: Food imports planned as drought bites

  • Congo: Contract awarded to rebuild Brazzaville - Kinkala road

  • Gambia: Attempted coup averted, government says




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    South Africa – India look to strengthen maritime and trade ties

    India’s minister of shipping and road transport, TR Baalu is visiting South Africa where he will sign agreements involving merchant shipping and other maritime transport related issues with his counterparts in South Africa.

    While the visit and agreement is expected to benefit commercial shipping operations between the two Indian Ocean countries, attention will also focus on providing assistance for ships in distress at sea between the two continents.

    Meanwhile India’s Deputy Foreign Minister Anand Sharma also arrived in South Africa this week for talks with South African trade and other officials. These are expected to focus on making the trilateral agreement between India, Brazil and South Africa more workable.

    The three countries first held tripartite meetings in 2004 with the aim of pursuing greater trade benefits but so far little has been achieved and the emphasis this week will be on how to make this happen. Next week officials from the three countries will hold meetings in Brazil to prepare for a planned top-level summit involving the leaders of the three countries later this year. The summit will focus on putting ‘some meat on the bone’ of the earlier agreements, as one trade official put it.


    AP Moller begins operating Apapa Container Terminal

    The Danish firm of AP Moller has taken occupation of the Apapa Container Terminal in terms of a concession agreement signed last year and has begun operations.

    AP Moller was among the first concessionaires to be awarded one of a number of Nigerian port terminals as the Federal Government brought in private enterprise to run the country’s terminals. The actual handover was however delayed from October 2005 pending agreement with unions over pension payouts and severance packages for affected workers.

    According to media reports in Nigeria AP Moller will continue working with the assistance of the Nigerian Ports Authority until the end of April to ensure a smooth handover of operations.


    Mbeki strengthens economic ties with Italy

    By Zibonele Ntuli (BuaNews)

    Pretoria - President Thabo Mbeki met Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi yesterday (Wednesday).

    The president’s three day visit to Italy is part of South Africa's move to strengthen relations with countries of the north. Foreign Affairs says the visit is also aimed at achieving faster and shared economic growth as well as consolidating the African agenda.

    Mbeki is accompanied by his wife, Zanele, a large business delegation, Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa.

    On Tuesday Mbeki held bilateral discussions with his Italian counterpart, Carlo Ciampi. The two leaders discussed among others, the status of bilateral political and economic relations.

    "Our meeting has given us the opportunity to take our relations a step further with renewed focus on the promotion of our economic ties. Accordingly, we will be engaging Confindustria [an Italian business organisation] to explore practical steps on the further development of trade and investment opportunities between our countries," Mbeki said.

    The president also highlighted major economic growth interventions in which South Africa was currently engaged in.

    "These include initiatives around South Africa's hosting of the Soccer World Cup in 2010 and the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative which will see a public investment drive in the local economy over the next five years.

    "We believe that these have the potential to open up many areas of interest to the Italian business community," said Mbeki.

    The meeting coincided with South Africa's celebration of Human Rights Day which commemorates the massacre of people in Sharpeville 46 years ago who were protesting against apartheid pass laws.

    "...The apartheid government thought that their brutality at Sharpeville would crush the people's spirit of resistance. Instead, and as part of that process of change, 21 March served to mobilize the people and pricked the conscience of the world," he said.

    He also thanked the Italian people for their unwavering solidarity in the struggle against apartheid which made it possible for South Africa to join the community of democratic nations.

    Italy ranks amongst South Africa's top ten trading partners. South African exports to Italy are dominated by precious and non-ferrous metals, basic iron, steel and ferro-alloys, coal, and quarried stone/granite.

    South African imports from Italy consist mainly of machine tools, auto vehicles and components thereof, industrial machinery, jewellery and telecommunications equipment.

    President Mbeki was also scheduled to meet the Mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni and the leader of the opposition coalition Romano Prodi before returning to South Africa later today (Thursday).


    Kenya: Food imports planned as drought bites

    NAIROBI, 22 Mar 2006 (IRIN) - Kenya is making arrangements to import grain to offset food shortages that are affecting an estimated five million people in the country, President Mwai Kibaki has said.

    Food stocks distributed thus far to those in need had been purchased from local farmers, but domestically produced grain reserves would be exhausted by June, making it necessary to import food. "We are therefore making urgent arrangements to import additional grains to bridge the gap," Kibaki said when he opened a new session of parliament on Tuesday.

    The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said it was endeavouring to feed 3.5 million Kenyans threatened with starvation because of a prevailing drought in the region. The agency was increasing the number of its beneficiaries in areas such as Mandera and Wajir districts in the northeast, where the crisis had worsened.

    "But if there were to be any substantial revision of the figure, it would have to be agreed at the Kenya Food Security Meeting [KFSM]," said WFP spokesman Peter Smerdon. The KFSM brings together government officials and representatives from UN agencies and NGOs.

    WFP needs USD 225 million to feed drought-affected Kenyans from February 2006 until February 2007. It has received USD 74.6 million so far. A shortage of contributions had forced WFP to cut vegetable oil from the food rations for three million people in Kenya beginning in March. Only limited amounts of corn-soya blend, which is especially beneficial for malnourished children and nursing mothers, and pulses would be distributed in the worst-affected areas, the agency said in a statement.

    "If these cuts continue into April and May, they will only worsen the already perilous nutritional situation in the hardest-hit areas," Tesema Negash, WFP Kenya country director, said on Tuesday.

    Kibaki said the government had spent USD 52.5 million from its own budget to feed those in need. External donors had contributed USD 16.6 million, while other volunteers and Kenyan well-wishers had provided a total of USD 2.9 million. "However, it is estimated that an additional 6.3 billion shillings (USD 87 million) is required up to the end of June to meet the increasing needs of the growing numbers of those affected by the famine. The government will therefore be requesting for supplementary appropriations to meet the additional requirements," the president said.

    In cooperation with the Kenya Red Cross Society, the government had made arrangements to procure an additional 50 water tankers for the drought-stricken areas. Twenty-five of the tankers had arrived in the country and would be sent to Mandera, Wajir, Moyale and Marsabit districts in the northeast. Since last year, the government has drilled 162 boreholes and 221 pans in the drought-stricken districts to alleviate the severe water shortage, Kibaki said, adding that USD 20.7 million had been set aside for the construction of an additional 200 boreholes and 250 water pans by the end of 2006.

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

    - source http://www.IRINnews.org


    Congo: Contract awarded to rebuild Brazzaville - Kinkala road

    BRAZZAVILLE, 22 Mar 2006 (IRIN) - The government of the Republic of Congo (ROC) has awarded a contract to rebuild 72 km of road from the capital, Brazzaville, to Kinkala, the main town in the country's troubled southern Pool region, according Planning Minister Pierre Moussa.

    The road's condition deteriorated during the civil war in the ROC and had since become almost impassable. It will now also be resurfaced.


    map courtesy IRIN

    "This road is a vital artery for the Pool but also for the country because it is a segment of the road to Pointe-Noire," Moussa said on Tuesday.

    He is a minister of state as well as minister of planning, development, and economic integration and for the New Partnership for Africa's Development, known as NEPAD.

    Pointe-Noire is the country's main port while Brazzaville is some 250 km to the east inland. Until recently, former rebels known as the Ninjas, who have their stronghold in the Pool, had frequently attacked goods and people travelling between the two cities.

    Ninjas had been fighting the army from 1998 to 2005.

    In January 2006, two international humanitarian organisations, Medècines Sans Frontiéres and the International Committee for the Red Cross, temporarily withdrew their staff after they had been robbed and harassed by armed men thought to be ex-Ninja fighters.

    Ninja leader Frédéric Bintsangou, alias Pasteur Ntoumi, said on 12 March that he supported the project and would help create favourable conditions for the road's reconstruction.

    The government awarded the road construction contract to SOCOFRAN, a French company.

    "The work should begin immediately; the personnel have already been mobilised," Marc Lentini, a spokesman for SOCOFRAN, said.

    The project, which is expected to cost 23 billion francs CFA (USD 43 million), is being financed by the European Union.

    Moussa said the road building would employ 350 people and help make peace efforts credible by helping the Pool relink to the national economy.

    In January 2006, the World Bank donated USD 17 million for the launching of a reintegration programme for 30,000 former rebels in eight of the country's 11 regions.

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

    - source http://www.IRINnews.org


    Gambia: Attempted coup averted, government says

    BANJUL, 22 Mar 2006 (IRIN) - The Gambian government has thwarted a coup attempt, a presidential communique said on Wednesday, but it is business as usual in the capital Banjul.



    “Security forces yesterday discovered that a group of army officers led by Colonel Ndure Cham, former chief of defence staff, were at an advanced stage in their plot to overthrow the constitutional government of The Gambia,” said the statement from the office of the president.

    “All those involved are presently in custody and helping the security forces in their investigation, except the leader who is still at large,” it added. An un-named military source told IRIN at least 12 people had been arrested.

    On news of the trouble, President Yahya Jammeh cut short a trip to nearby Mauritania, returning to Banjul under cover of darkness some time Tuesday night or Wednesday morning with an escort of Mauritanian military commandoes, another military source said.

    The government meanwhile called for calm. “The general public is hereby assured that there is no cause for alarm and the situation is firmly under control,” the statement said.

    But most residents of Banjul were unaware of the overnight trouble and shops, schools and businesses were open as usual on Wednesday.

    President Jammeh seized power of Gambia, a tiny sliver of land on Africa’s western coast surrounded entirely on its land borders by Senegal, in a bloodless coup in 1994 when he was just 29 years old. Since then, he has won two elections and the most recent in 2001 earned a thumbs-up from international monitors.

    Presidential elections are due to take place this year with parliamentary elections to follow in 2007. Jammeh has already said that he will be running for a third consecutive term in office.

    Some observers doubt Wednesday’s coup claims and suspect that Jammeh is trying to purge his government of foes ahead of the upcoming poll. Splits are appearing in his ruling party, the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), and last month the APRC mayor of The Gambia’s largest municipality, Abdoulie Conteh, was unceremoniously sacked.

    In November 2005 three members of a newly formed opposition coalition were arrested for what authorities called “subversive activities”, without providing further detail. The arrests followed by-elections in which the opposition bloc took three out of the four seats up for grabs.

    In its communique on Wednesday the government also named a new head of the armed forces, Lieutenant Colonel Lang Tombong Tamba, previously the military’s number two. Tamba, 39, and Jammeh were in the military together and come from the same ethnic group, as do many of the president’s closest aides.

    A new head of the national intelligence agency was also named, though the incumbent intelligence chief had been accompanying Jammeh in Mauritania.

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

    - source http://www.IRINnews.org



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