Ports & Ships Maritime News

Aug 18, 2006
Author: P&S

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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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  • Dar es Salaam port privatisation called off

  • First MCS cadet becomes officer in Sanko fleet

  • SADC summit aims to harness regional growth for free trade by 2008

  • Zimbabwe not on SADC heads of state agenda

  • Court will be asked to order investigation into missing tug Jupiter 6





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    Dar es Salaam port privatisation called off

    Tanzania has suspended plans to concession the general cargo terminal at the port of Dar es Salaam.

    It was intended that the general cargo (breakbulk and bulk) terminal would be concessioned on a 20-year basis, similar to the concession already in place for the port’s container terminal, which is now run by a consortium led by Philippines’ Container Terminal Services Inc.

    Instead, a number of international operators and at least one local firm who submitted tenders will now have to cool their heels for at least another year. In April this year invitations were issued for private companies to bid for the concessioning of Dar es Salaam’s general cargo terminal as well as terminals at the ports of Tanga and Mtwara. The concessions were to have run for 20 years.

    The delay echoes that of the planned concessioning of Tanzania’s railway network, which was also placed on hold for about a year while the Tanzania government re-examined the issues. In April this year Tanzania finally issued a concession to India’s Rites Rail consortium to take over operation of the Tanzanian Railway Corporation as from 1 October 2006 for a period of 25 years.

    According to Tanzania Ports Authority’s CEO, Ephraim Mgawe, the government had decided to suspend the concessioning so that the TPA would be able to recapitalise its investments to compete in the market. Under existing laws the TPA is not allowed to invest further in infrastructure if it was to be concessioned or privatised. It could however buy equipment from its revenues provided the cost was recouped within two years.

    The general cargo terminal consists of seven berths with a draught alongside of between 9 and 12 metres.


    First MCS cadet becomes officer in Sanko fleet

    The first officer to graduate from black empowered Marine Crew Services’ (MCS) programme of creating new work opportunities for South Africans in the world’s maritime fleets, has left to join the 105,000-ton oil tanker Sanko Brave in the Mediterranean.

    Francois Fouche, who is joining the Sanko Brave as fourth officer, was one of a number of cadets that joined vessels of the Sanko Steamship Co of Japan as a result of a development programme conducted by MCS to contribute to the establishment of South Africa as a maritime nation. Sanko is providing these opportunities after entering into a partnership agreement with MCS and its sister company, Marine Bulk Carriers (MBC), which resulted in Sanko taking up shareholding in both companies.


    Francois Fouche (standing at back), fourth officer with the vessel Sanko Brave seen with other Sanko cadets – picture courtesy MCS. Click to enlarge

    While MCS focuses on the training of seafarers, MBC concentrates on finding and carrying cargo to and from South Africa in order to increase South Africa’s share of the sea freight market.

    While MCS is delighted at achieving this milestone in its training programme, company executives have warned that the training programme may be at risk because of a lack of government support.

    “To complete your training and find employment in the maritime field, one needs to qualify yourself academically and serve a specific time at sea to gain practical experience,” says Deanna Collins, Training Executive at MBC. “Whilst we have excellent facilities for academic training and we have numbers of young students qualifying, it is a different matter to find cadet berths at sea for them to get practical experience.”

    Jan Rabie, a director at MCS, says the company is pleased that the partnership with Sanko has resulted in a number of training berths being made available, but that this costs money and someone has to pay.

    “To find cadet training berths on a number of fleets is in fact not the problem if one has the resources to pay for them. There is little incentive for ship owners to get involved without some sort of compensation because they can easily take in cadets from other established maritime countries. As a young black empowered company we cannot afford to do so and that is why we depend so much on the South African government to get involved.”

    He points out that once South African cadets have completed their practical sea experience and their final examinations they are readily accepted as full time staff members of shipping companies, as is the case with Francois Fouche.

    Robert Knutzen, also a MCS director, says there are few other sectors of the South African economy that offers such exciting opportunities for job creation as the maritime industry.

    “We already pointed out two years ago that there are 250,000 seafaring jobs involved in some way with South Africa’s maritime import and export trade. It should not be unrealistic to expect to be able to obtain 10 percent of those jobs for South Africans. If the government is looking for industries in which to develop skills, the maritime industry should be near the top of their priorities.”

    He says fewer than 1000 South Africans are currently employed in the world’s maritime fleets. “Countries that have been successful in establishing themselves in this job market have all started with initial strong government support. There is no reason why we cannot do the same.”

    Meanwhile Francois Fouche, who was one of eight cadets who joined the Sanko fleet at the end of last year, is looking forward to establishing himself as an officer in the Sanko fleet. “I served the last part of my cadetship on another oil carrier, the Sanko Breeze, and had many interesting experiences which included visiting some of the most famous ports in the world and finding out what rough seas really mean. On board one has to deal with many different cultures and languages and this strengthens one’s character.”


    SADC summit aims to harness regional growth for free trade by 2008

    by Shaun Benton (BuaNews)

    The Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit which is underway at Maseru, Lesotho, is seen as an important opportunity for southern African leaders to harness the region's racing economies towards the political imperative of further economic integration of the region.

    Already, some of the groundwork towards this has been done by senior officials of the SADC who gathered in Maseru from 11 to 14 of August, followed by a meeting of the SADC Council of Ministers from 15 to 16 of August.

    The heads of state of the region and their foreign ministers, meeting for the summit on Thursday and Friday (17 and 18 Aug) are expected to bring an added sense of urgency to the process of regional integration, with the target of a free-trade area looming in 2008.

    Meeting this deadline will involve a strong swing towards faster economic and political integration - seen as a vital building block for, ultimately, the cohesion and viability of the African Union.

    "For us this is a very important session of the SADC summit because it will have to look at what we need to do to revitalise the implementation of the SADC integration agenda," said (South Africa’s) Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad earlier this week, briefing journalists on the Maseru summit.

    "Our immediate goal," he said, "is the full implementation of the SADC free-trade area that is envisaged for 2008."

    The meeting comes at a time when greater peace and stability in the region is the catalyst of much faster economic growth, with notable acceleration being seen in the growth of service industries in Botswana, Namibia and Mauritius, and in the mining sector in Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zambia.

    This regional growth has been boosted also by agricultural sector expansion in Mauritius, Mozambique and Zambia and an increase in tourism all over the southern African region.

    The phenomenal growth of the Angolan economy - 15 per cent last year with 25 per cent expected this year - on the back of the boom in its offshore oil production is likely to bring pressure on it from SADC to contribute further to the development of the organisation and regional integration as a whole by playing a role that is commensurate with its increased economic might.

    However, with South Africa still the strongest economic power - its exports to the region, said Mr Pahad, increased from R215 billion in 2001 to R320 billion in 2005, while imports to South Africa from its southern neighbours increased to about R30 billion, from around R24bn in 2001 - it was expected to continue to play a leading role in the region.

    "There is a still a great discrepancy between the figures (the trade balance between South Africa and its neighbours)," said Mr Pahad this week, citing reasons such as capacity constraints in SADC countries, lack of beneficiation in their industrial bases and a general neglect of improved access to the South African market.

    "This meeting," he said, "must look at all of this very seriously and take decisive steps for us to really improve our performance on an inter-regional basis so that we can have an extra-regional, SADC relationship (with other countries/ trading blocs)."

    Investment in the region by South Africa remains a strategic imperative for balanced development throughout the region, but this also depends on the spread and quality of FDI (foreign direct investment).

    South Africa, says Mr Pahad, is "not just investing in natural resource extraction but also, because of our commitment to beneficiation, (we) are beginning to invest increasingly in the industrial and service sectors (of the region)".

    With economic growth in higher gear, challenges now faced by the region include reducing poverty and ensuring the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, aimed at halving extreme poverty and unemployment by 2015.

    "The majority of people in SADC are still living below the poverty datum line," said Mr Pahad, adding that "this summit must discuss how we deal with this specific problem".

    One of the key obstacles - and one pointed out by sceptics of a 2008 free-trade deadline - is the lack of a synchronised, SADC- wide, removal of trade tariffs, with some countries not effectively applying the trade protocols agreed to.

    "It is very difficult to monitor the implementation of trade protocols," says Gus Mandigora, a researcher with the Trade Law Centre for Southern Africa (TRALAC).

    "We need to improve the way we monitor tariff reductions and removal and we need to improve the implementation of these. There has to be a clearer and more effective mechanism for doing both," he said, adding that the 100 tariff-free trading deadline of 2008 looks unlikely to be met.

    Another TRALAC researcher pointed out that Angola, the DRC and Zimbabwe need to vastly improve their trade data reporting.

    But optimists say that by 2008 over 85 percent of goods traded in SADC are expected to move at zero tariffs, a real shift from 45 per cent noted at the beginning of the implementation of trade protocols in 2000.

    With more countries moving towards effective implementation of trade protocols, those not entirely synchronised with the process are likely to come under pressure from their peers to meet the tariff phase-out.

    This is especially so given that between 40 and 50 per cent of goods from countries like Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe are already traded within the "the SADC family", according to Foreign Affairs.

    Apart from the overall integration agenda which remains a policy cornerstone in terms of building the African Union, another key issue up for discussion at the summit are the historic elections recently held in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the importance of getting the results widely accepted by the country as a whole and its varied political forces in particular.

    The meeting will hear reports from the SADC Observer Mission to the DRC polls, as well as from the SADC defence and foreign affairs committees on the country seen as the future political centre of gravity for central Africa.

    Linked to the vital need to bring and maintain peace and stability in the region is the SADC rapid-reaction standby force, and there will be a focus on ensuring its full implementation and readiness.

    The SADC conflict early warning system is to be launched next month, with a parallel civilian police structure expected to be launched in August 2007.

    Another key item on the agenda, says the foreign ministry, is a deadline for the integration of Nepad (the New Partnership for Africa's Development) into African Union structures and processes, with the increasing likelihood that the headquarters of the development programme will be moved from Midrand to Addis Ababa.

    Ultimately, economics is the defining force behind the region's desire to achieve full integration by 2012, and South Africa sees its efforts at harmonising the region's markets as being to the benefit not only of its own growth but beneficial to all "the SADC family".

    "We need SADC," says Mr Pahad, "and so, in a mutually beneficial way, I think SADC is as important to us as we are to SADC."


    Zimbabwe not on SADC heads of state agenda

    Johannesburg, 17 Aug 2006 (IRIN) - Civil society organisations in Southern Africa have called on the region's leaders to stop ignoring Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis, saying the 'business as usual' approach is not working and the region is suffering because of it.

    The nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) want to force the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Heads of State meeting to put Zimbabwe on the agenda. In a communiqué submitted to the foreign ministers of the 14-member grouping, NGOs expressed disappointment that successive summits had consistently ignored Zimbabwe's plight, despite growing evidence of its regional impact.

    The two-day SADC meeting in Lesotho's capital, Maseru, began yesterday (Thursday). The agenda includes items such as the formation of a regional common market, the re-admission to the body of the Republic of Seychelles, an Indian Ocean archipelago, HIV/AIDS, avian flu and the 2010 World Cup.

    No talks on Zimbabwe's economic meltdown or its repressive security laws were scheduled, although SADC secretary Salomao Tomaz said the issue of political stability was a priority.

    Once described as the region's breadbasket, unemployment has surpassed 70 percent and inflation is hovering at 1,000 percent. It has been estimated that around three million Zimbabweans have crossed into South Africa alone, many illegally, in search of employment.

    The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, which comprises about 50 civic organisations, urged the SADC to promote political dialogue and national reconciliation, and said regional leaders could not continue to provide political support for President Robert Mugabe's excesses, as the ruling Zanu-PF government had flouted SADC protocols, to which it was a signatory.

    "The constitutional, legislative and electoral framework in Zimbabwe remains unchanged. Repressive security and press laws and other pieces of legislation, prejudicial to freedom of speech, the press, movement and association, remain on the statute books without amendment," the coalition said in a statement.

    According to Daniel Molokela, a Zimbabwean lawyer, human rights activist and chairperson of Zimbabwe Civil Society Forum, "The only thing SADC leaders are likely to do is to adopt Mugabe's choice of [former Tanzanian president Benjamin] Mkapa as mediator between Zimbabwe and Britain. This is in line with their long-standing policy of appeasement [of Mugabe]."

    He said Zimbabwe's crisis was the result of internal governance, and Mkapa's focus should be on an exit strategy for Mugabe. The proposed bilateral talks with the British government would not address the country's real problems.

    "SADC leaders can see the effects of the crisis in growing illegal immigration to their countries, but they are afraid of telling Mugabe to deal with it or go. They will continue to display a form of solidarity and praise him - as they have done before - but there is no doubt that many of them are worried about the Zimbabwe meltdown and its effects," Molokela said.

    SICK MAN OF SADC

    A senior regional development planner at SADC's Gaborone regional headquarters, who declined to be named, said Zimbabwe's "contagion effects" could not be ignored any more, as they were slowing down regional growth and integration. "Zimbabwe is the sick man of SADC, the sore thumb in this region."

    The failure to tackle the Zimbabwe crisis was delaying key infrastructural and economic development projects in the region. He cited the stalling of three new border posts with Botswana and the construction of the Kazungula Bridge across the Zambezi River to link Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as examples; agriculturally, the whole region was now in a permanent state of alert to combat Zimbabwe's regular livestock epidemics.

    On the fiscal front, all SADC member states except Zimbabwe had tightened their monetary policies and reduced inflation rates to single digits. "Zimbabwe is the only one going in the opposite direction. In fact, the effects of its high inflation on the region are such that the regional average shot to 23 percent, against a possible 10.8 percent if the country's high figures were not factored in. We can as well abandon the regional search for a common currency as long as inflation remains abnormal in one member state."

    Eddie Cross, a policy adviser to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, reportedly told Cape Town's press club on Thursday that the Zimbabwean economy had taken on the dubious mantle of being the world's most indebted country: it owed US $ 5.5bn and $ 2.2bn in arrear payments, equivalent to two years of the country's gross domestic product. He said Zimbabwe's crisis had slowed South Africa's growth rate by 2 percent.

    Some SADC officials have indicated that although Zimbabwe is not on the heads of state agenda, it may arise in closed-door sessions.

    Zimbabwe's justice, legal and parliamentary affairs minister, Patrick Chinamasa, told IRIN that the civil society groups in Maseru were "nothing but running dogs - agents of western imperialism that are working to bring down the government".

    "The so-called petitions and concerns are part of the Western agenda of regime change - our enemies sponsor them to rubbish the name of this country whenever they can," he said. "The government is concerned that some of our neighbours play host to anti-Zimbabwe organisations, and even allow them to go about disturbing the peace and important proceedings for mean gains. There is no crisis in Zimbabwe and, therefore, nothing to petition or call the region to meet about. SADC knows our position."

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


    Court will be asked to order investigation into missing tug Jupiter 6

    Relatives of the missing seafarers on board the missing tug Jupiter 6 intend taking the ship’s disappearance to India’s Supreme Court in an effort to force an Indian government-sponsored search for the ship and its crew.

    Jupiter 6, with a crew of ten Indians and three Ukrainians, disappeared in mysterious circumstances off the coast of South Africa in September last year. The tug had sailed from Walvis Bay on 21 August towing a bulker that was destined for the breakers yard. Port Louis in Mauritius was supposed to be the next port of call but the tug simply disappeared after a radio message was sent from the tug on 5 September.

    Later another ship reported seeing the bulker drifting abandoned in the Indian Ocean south of Port Elizabeth. South African authorities arranged a search for the missing tug and sent another tug to take the bulker in tow.

    Relatives of the crew accuse India’s government and maritime authorities of not taking the matter seriously and simply accepting that the tug had sunk at sea with all hands. Theories that the vessel had been highjacked by pirates began circulating, fueled by reports that a cell phone message had been received in Walvis Bay from one of the missing crew’s mobile phone. Families of the missing Indian crew also claimed they had not receive compensation of salaries from the company operating the tug.



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