Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jun 7, 2006
Author: P&S

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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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  • ANGOLA: Reconstructing the breadbasket of Huambo


  • Tanzanian pirates strike – tanker robbed off Dar es Salaam


  • SOMALIA: Is it over for Mogadishu's warlords?


  • Grindrod J&J donates to the needy and throws down challenge


  • ICTSI STORY






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    ANGOLA: Reconstructing the breadbasket of Huambo

    Luanda, 6 Jun 2006 (IRIN) - More than 300 minefields still present one of Angola's biggest challenges to reconstructing its former breadbasket, the central province of Huambo, where villages, farms, water supplies and schools all straddle routes in "suspect areas".

    The province, with a population of almost two million, reportedly contributed about 22 percent to national cereal production in 1999, but almost three decades of civil conflict, which ended in a peace pact in 2002, devastated the infrastructure and displaced several thousand farmers.

    "Everything was destroyed by the war," said Waldemar Fernandes, who works for the British mine-clearance NGO, Halo Trust. "Armies put in mines, which is easy; demining is difficult, especially since the army doesn't have records."

    Angola is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world - an area about the size of Texas is infested with up to four million mines - and although the war is over, its legacy remains: mines put a stranglehold on economic development, commerce and political participation.

    But that hasn't stopped those desperate enough in Canhama, outside Angola's second city Huambo, from growing crops uneasily among the minefields.

    Like much of Angola, Huambo is blessed with natural resources. It is located on the high central plateau of the Planalto region, where fertile soil and a temperate climate create ideal conditions for agriculture, the main source of revenue before the war, when Angola was better known as a coffee exporter than an oil producer.

    The Angolan National Coffee Institute in Huambo intends expanding the cultivation of Arabica coffee in greenhouses throughout the province, providing the organisation can obtain adequate fertiliser, the Afrol news service reported recently.

    "Huambo is 1,600 meters above sea level and has lots of rain ... it's perfect for agriculture," said Paixao Amaral, head of Huambo's Ministry of Urbanism. "Oil will run out - in the long term we will have to stop being reliant on oil and diamonds."

    Agriculture accounts for 9.6 percent of Angola's gross domestic product, according to the latest Ministry of Finance figures, and the government hopes that when the mines have gone and big infrastructure projects are finished, Huambo will start exporting again, creating jobs in its labour-intensive agricultural sector.

    "The population is returning to the fields to cultivate," said Manuel Cotingo, who helps clear mines in Huambo.

    Justino Jose, a local farmer from the nearby Chiva village said: "I grow maize, potatoes and beans; now I can go down the road freely to the market. When demining is finished we will work to grow everywhere - the land is fertile."

    Attempts are also being made to revive the Benguela railway, which took most of the Planalto's agricultural produce like maize, wheat, cotton, coffee, sugar and cattle to markets in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the north and Zambia in the northeast.

    Huambo grew around the 1,300km railway, which during Portuguese rule ferried minerals from the DRC and landlocked Zambia to the port of Benguela on Angola's west coast. It was considered so vital to exports that the old Ministry of Agriculture - whose crumbling façade remains - was housed next to the train station building.

    Work on the USD 300 million Benguela railway project is being done principally by Chinese labour, often to the resentment of unemployed locals, as part of China Eximbank's USD 3 billion line of credit extended to Angola last year, which is also funding 10,000 new apartments on the outskirts of Huambo.

    Ironically, China was one of the countries that helped destroy roads and railways in exchange for Angolan oil during the civil war. "In Huambo, most mines came from [the former] USSR, Germany, Cuba, China, Czechoslovakia and a few from France and Italy - these countries had no shame," Fernandes said.

    As the Angolan peace agreement took root, several hundred thousand internally displaced persons (IDPs) began returning to the Planalto and foot traffic more than quadrupled, according to the Humpty Dumpty Institute (HDI), a US-based mine watchdog. Landmine-related casualties increased dramatically and local farmers were unable to transport their produce to and from local markets safely.

    The government estimates that there are 70,000 to 80,000 mine survivors, representing 78 percent of all persons with disabilities. Approximately two-thirds of the survivors are concentrated in the northwestern province of Luanda, with others in the central provinces of Bié, Huambo, Malanje and the eastern province of Moxico.

    With Angola's first elections in 14 years scheduled for 2007, mine clearance has helped make previously isolated communities accessible, giving residents the opportunity of registering to vote. "People are not so concerned by either [political] party; they want the freedom to work," said the Halo Trust's Fernandes. "Now they will have more power over their own future."

    The roads in and around 200 villages in Bie have been cleared. HDI estimates that when the polling stations are set up, over 200,000 people will be able to vote.

    Angola is sub-Saharan Africa's second largest oil producer, after Nigeria, and government coffers are reaping record windfalls, thanks to high oil prices and soaring production, which are slowly starting to trickle down to the people.

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


    Tanzanian pirates strike – tanker robbed off Dar es Salaam

    Pirates boarded a tanker from a motorboat in the Dar es Salaam Roads on Monday (5 June), according to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre.

    The attack took place during the early hours of the morning and after ransacking the forward locker to steal ship’s stores the robbers made good their escape without harming any of the crew.

    Alerted to the boarding the crew sounded the alarm but by then the pirates had left the ship. The incident was reported to Dar es Salaam port control.

    According to the International Chamber of Commerce’s IMB (International Maritime Bureau), the latest statistics indicate that global piracy has increased slightly in the first quarter of 2006.

    The IMB said that reported attacks had risen by 8 percent against 2005 with 61 reported attacks of piracy in the first three months of 2006.

    “We are pleased to see that the overall level of piracy is not rising dramatically. We attribute this plateau in attacks to increased law enforcement activity in high risk areas, awareness, and anti-piracy watches by shipmasters in risk prone areas,” said IMB Director Captain Pottengal Mukundan.

    Nevertheless the IMB warns that international shipping remains vulnerable to piracy in various regions around the world. It highlights Somalia and Nigerian waters as being particularly dangerous.

    “IMB is calling on law enforcement agencies in Nigeria to increase their efforts to combat piracy. Somalia has no national law enforcement infrastructure and we call upon the Coalition Naval forces in the region to continue their efforts to pursue pirate vessels and detain the pirates. Recent actions by US Naval and other units have been most helpful in bringing some of these pirates to justice,” said Capt Mukundan.


    SOMALIA: Is it over for Mogadishu's warlords?

    Nairobi, 6 Jun 2006 (IRIN) - The Islamic courts in Somalia may have taken control of the capital, Mogadishu, but they face immediate challenges of whether to set up an administration in the city or hold talks with the Baidoa-based transitional government, analysts said.

    "They are not immune from Somali politics," said Suliman Baldo, Africa programme director for the International Crisis Group (ICG). "In the past, they have been hardline. It is doubtful that they have become more moderate. For them, the hard part is just beginning."

    With most of Mogadishu under the control of the courts, the city's residents were cautiously optimistic on Tuesday that the days when "warlords" held sway over the strife-torn Horn of Africa country were, at last, coming to an end. One such warlord, Mohammed Qanyare Afrah - a key member of the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism, which was ousted from Mogadishu on Sunday - declined to discuss the alliance's loss of the Somali capital when reached by IRIN via telephone.


    map of Somalia, courtesy of IRIN

    Qanyare was said to be in the town of Jowhar, 90km north of Mogadishu. He was one of four powerful Mogadishu-based faction leaders serving as ministers in Somalia's transitional government who was sacked on Sunday by Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Gedi. The sackings came as alliance forces were being beaten back from Mogadishu.

    Militias loyal to the Islamic courts have been fighting against the secular faction leaders since February. More than 300 people are believed to have died in the violence, some 1,500 others have been wounded and many thousands displaced.

    The end of the fighting has brought respite to Mogadishu residents. "Everybody is happy. If the business community, the Islamic courts and the civil society come to a consensus on how to restore and maintain law and order, then there will be no return to warlordism," said Abdulahi Shirwa, the head the Somali Peace Line, a local advocacy group. Shirwa cautioned, however, that "security in Mogadishu is still fragile. If the Islamic leaders go around claiming that they are the victorious group, then we could see the return of the warlords."

    Baldo, however, said the development did not necessarily mark the end of warlordism, partly because some of the Islamic court leaders have their own agendas. "Even the [faction leaders] who have been defeated still have forces and command clan loyalty," he said. "Therefore, it is not excluded that they may try to organise a comeback. Only when we have a broad-based effective government throughout Somalia [the end of warlordism] can happen."

    The power of the Islamic Courts is not absolute in Mogadishu, however, with members of the Abgal sub-clan of the larger Hawiye group holding a rally in north Mogadishu on Tuesday, during which they declared that their community would not accept the authority of the courts. The protestors, numbering several hundred, chanted, "We will defend northern Mogadishu from any attack," and "We want our own Islamic courts," sources said. Defeated faction leaders Musa Sudi Yalahow and Bashir Raghe Shirar also insisted the anti-terrorism alliance was still strong.

    The sources said hundreds of heavily armed militiamen allied to the Islamic courts had taken up defensive positions in the event that gunmen loyal to the faction leader who controls Jowhar, Mohamad Dheere, decided to launch a counter-attack on the capital. "Things appear to be taking a clannish dimension again," commented a member of a civil society organisation, who requested anonymity for security reasons. "The Abgal are complaining that they have lost land [to the Islamic court supporters of the Habr Gedir clan]," he told IRIN by telephone from Mogadishu. "They want to establish their own Islamic court independent of the other courts," he added, warning that the court leaders could fail if they chose to resolve this through force.

    Baldo, however, said this was unlikely. "Much will depend on how they will go about this, if they try. But they are a very heterogenous group and have so far said this is not what they want to do."

    Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) has called for talks with the Islamic court leaders to chart a way forward, but observers say this could prove difficult because President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed is perceived as having an anti-Islamist agenda. "The TFG had very little to say during the fighting," Baldo said. "It played safe and only congratulated the winner. By calling for talks, they have taken a wise decision, but it may be difficult to actually hold talks until both sides overcome mutual suspicion."

    In the United States, a State Department spokesman told reporters, "We do not want to see Somalia turn into a safe haven for foreign terrorists." African Union chairman, Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo, discussed the situation on Monday with President George W Bush. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged those concerned to resolve their differences through talks in accordance with the country's Transitional Federal Charter.

    The Islamic courts are trying to promote Islamic law rather than clan allegiance, which has divided Somalis since the fall of the government of Siyad Barre 15 years ago, observers say.

    "The courts moved quickly because they wanted to assert control before the alliance could consolidate itself," Baldo said. "They will probably want to consolidate authority outside Mogadishu, unless they talk with the TFG."

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


    Grindrod J&J donates to the needy and throws down challenge

    Recent media reports have highlighted the plight of the currently disadvantaged, and the staff of Grindrod J&J report having noticed an increase in the number of destitute and hungry people on the streets.

    According to reports the onset of winter in Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal has forced these underprivileged individuals to seek refuge in humanitarian shelters in order to survive the onslaught of winter. As a result, the available resources of the shelters are being stretched beyond limits.

    The staff of Grindrod J&J at all levels collectively decided to take positive action, and solicited clients and management in support of their crusade.

    The result of their efforts has provided a supply of rice and beans, with pledges of more to come, to Salvation Army.

    On Monday 29 May, 2006 representatives of Grindrod J & J delivered the contributions to the Salvation Army headquarters in Berea Road, Durban.

    The contributions will provide approximately 3,000 meals to the needy people in the greater Durban area.

    Grindrod J & J says it now challenges its competitors, sister companies and clients to equal or better the effort, and assist in relieving the suffering of the needy people in their community.

    Ports & Ships will be happy to report on any challenges being met. Send details to info@ports.co.za


    ICTSI names key Madagascar managers

    International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) recently announced key management appointments for Madagascar International Container Terminal Services, Ltd. (MICTL), the ICTSI unit operating the Madagascar International Container Terminal.


    Christian Gonzalez has been appointed Chief Operating Officer of MICTL, the ICTSI-operated container terminal in Toamasina, Madagascar

    Christian R. Gonzalez was appointed Chief Operating Officer of MICTL. Previous to this, he was Operations Manager at the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT). He joined ICTSI in 1997 as a Management Trainee.

    Gonzalez holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Pepperdine University in California, and a Bilingual Masters degree in Business Administration from the IESE Business School, the graduate school of management of the University of Navarra in Barcelona, Spain.

    Meanwhile, Jay A. Valdez and Ireneo D. Frilles were named Operations Manager and Special Projects Manager for Engineering, respectively.

    Valdez joined ICTSI in 1994 as Traffic Checker at the MICT. He was promoted to Traffic Supervisor in 1997 and to Operations Superintendent in 2000. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree major in Mathematics at the Polytechnic University of Philippines.

    On the other hand, Frilles joined ICTSI in 1993 as Junior Engineer. He was promoted to ICAM Administrator in December 1997, and later to Engineering Superintendent in March 2000. Before he accepted his assignment in MICTL, he was the MICT’s Assistant Engineering Manager. A licensed engineer, he holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Adamson University.


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