Ports & Ships Maritime News

Nov 21, 2006
Author: P&S


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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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  • New ships on the coast

  • Kenya Notice to Mariners

  • Piracy: Armed attack on ship at Tema

  • Floating dock proposal for Dar es Salaam

  • FEATURE – Somalia, a question of balance

  • Picture of the day





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    New ships on the coast

    A number of new ships have or will shortly be appearing on the South African coast.

    One that is currently in Durban is MSC Olga, the 5,100-TEU MSC container ship deployed with sister vessel MSC Benedetta on the weekly Northwest Europe – South Africa service. Incidentally, MSC Olga (54,215-gt) was the 50th new build to come out of three South Korean yards for the Swiss/Italian shipping line when she was launched earlier this year.

    MSC has two other sister ships in the fleet – MSC Debra and MSC Mare but it is not known whether either of these will be seen on the South Africa service in the immediate future. Each ship is 294m LOA and 32.2m wide and has a DWT of 68,121.

    Another newbuild set to become a regular sight in Southern African waters is Maruba Pampero, a 2,350-TEU container ship with Argentine’s Maruba line which is due in Durban on her maiden voyage on 1 December. The latest ship to enter the South America – South Africa – Far East service, Maruba Pampero replaces the Clan Amazonas which has been deployed to the South American West Coast.

    Maruba runs a joint Far East – South Africa – South America service with CMA CGM and China Shipping.

    Another group of ships that are being deployed to South Africa can hardly be described as new but remain highly interesting nonetheless. They are five of the Danish/American D9J class of 1980-builds, namely Sealand Endurance, Sealand Liberator (which has been on the US – South Africa run since 2003), Sealand Independence, Sealand Mariner and Sealand Express.

    Each of the 32,600-gt (33,000-DWT) ships has a container capacity of 2472-TEU and were distinguished by being the first diesel-powered newbuild container ships to enter the US fleets. With a service speed of 21 knots each ship was subsequently jumbo-ised – hence the J derivation added to the original D9 class.

    Sealand Express is the best known of all five ships to South African readers. She spent some years on the US - SA service until one fateful stormy night in August 2003 when she went aground in Table Bay. After a protracted but successful refloating conducted by Cape Town’s Smit Salvage, the ship was taken to Durban where she became a lucrative repair job in the Durban dry dock, with a large amount of South African steel fitted permanently to her hull bottom. Having been replaced by Sealand Liberator in the interim, Sealand Express was then withdrawn from African waters.


    Kenya Notice to Mariners

    Notification of Creation of Temporary Exclusion Zone – 17 November 2006

    Mariners are advised that the drilling platform MV CHIKYU will commence drilling for hydrocarbons in the North of Kenya’s Exclusive Economic Zone from 1 December 2006 to 5 March 2007.

    In this regard it has become necessary to create a temporary exclusion zone to ensure safe operation of the drilling platform and its attendant equipment for the duration above.

    The Exclusion Zone will cover an area with a radius of twenty nautical miles from latitude 01º 56′ 29.4″S and longitude 042º 56′ 48.5″E.

    Mariners are therefore advised to keep clear of the exclusion zone as well as exercise caution when approaching the area.

    issued by
    Wilfred J Kagimbi
    Chief Surveyor & Receiver of Wrecks for D-G
    Kenya Maritime Authority


    Piracy: Armed attack on ship at Tema

    A group of ten pirates armed with knives climbed on board a ship at anchor at Ghana’s Tema Outer Roads last week, overpowering a crewmember and assaulting him. He was not seriously hurt.

    Despite his injuries the crewman managed to raise the alarm and when other crew arrived on the scene the pirates abandoned the ship, escaping in a small boat but taking with them a number of stolen goods from the ship.

    Other recent cases of piracy/robbery in Africa occurred at Dar es Salaam and Luanda anchorage.


    Floating dock proposal for Dar es Salaam

    A project to provide a shipyard at the Port of Dar es Salaam could include a floating dock, provided the Tanzania Ports Authority is successful in its efforts of attracting a joint venture partner.

    The TPA is reported to be willing to invest US $ 15 million in the development of a ship repair facility within the existing port area and is looking for a joint venture investor who can also operate the facility. The proposal calls for the refurbishment of existing workshops as well as the acquisition of a floating dock.


    FEATURE – Somalia, a question of balance

    Mogadishu, 20 Nov 2006 (IRIN) - After more than a decade of brutal factional fighting, the road-blocks and gunmen have been cleared off the streets of the Somali capital, business is thriving and Mogadishu is being rebuilt. But strict standards of religious and behavioral discipline are being introduced, and questions are being asked about the vision of the new authority, the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC).


    Mogadishu port scene. Picture by Lucy Hannan/IRIN

    For now, gratitude for security and freedom of movement takes precedence for most Mogadishu residents. Others have fled to refugee camps, complaining of persecution and loss of business.

    "There are two sorts of freedoms," pointed out a Mogadishu businessman. "Going about our daily lives is the most important freedom we can have now." But he said one freedom may come at the price of another. "People do not want to lose their personal freedoms."

    Humanitarian prospects

    The extraordinary turnaround in security means people can go about their daily life: traders can safely take home their earnings; children can go to school regularly and without fear; clinics and hospitals can concentrate on primary healthcare instead of constantly dealing with the trauma of conflict.

    A recent visitor from the diaspora, who has not been to Mogadishu in six years, was astounded by the changes. "I drove through areas no one has driven in 15 years - like Bermuda [named after the Bermuda Triangle, previously one of the most dangerous areas] - without any security escort or even a gun. Five months ago this would have been unthinkable, even with a heavy security escort," he said.

    Stability under the UIC has opened up new prospects for humanitarian assistance. For the first time in more than a decade, food aid has successfully been brought into the newly opened port for distribution outside the city. According to Leo van der Velden, Deputy Country Director of World Food Programme, Somalia, the new authority had "done the right things and said the right things" to encourage humanitarian access, and that good security allowed transporters to safely carry and deliver.

    CARE International confirmed that a consignment of sorghum from the United States had arrived in the port in October, and was successfully handled, transported and delivered to areas outside the city – a logistical achievement impossible for more than a decade, when the port and its resources became a flashpoint for factional fighting.

    Freedom of movement has also allowed access to the displaced camps in Mogadishu. For years, thousands of internally displaced people have suffered ‘a forgotten tragedy’ in the city. Now the displaced are also benefiting from safety and small-scale community assistance. In October, the Al Bayan court militia escorted small consignments of food to the camps, donated by the local community. "We are doing what we can," said the chairman of Al Bayan, Mohamed Ibrahim Bilal.

    But despite the change, security fears resulted in the humanitarian community withdrawing from Somalia in September. The move followed the murder of a foreign cameraman and an Italian nun in Mogadishu, and the assassination attempt in Baidoa on the President of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). Since the withdrawal, talks between the UIC and the TFG have stalled. The two sides met in Khartoum twice since the UIC victory in a reconciliation meeting sponsored by the Arab League and supported by the international community. The third meeting scheduled for late October did not take place after the two sides failed to agree on fundamental issues. Fears of regional conflict increased after the UIC declared Jihad on Ethiopia for deploying troops inside Somali territory - which Ethiopia has consistently denied.

    In November, the US embassies in the region issued a warning against "reports of terrorist threats emanating from extremist elements within Somalia, which target Kenya, Ethiopia and other surrounding countries". It warned of suicide attacks, particularly in Kenya and Ethiopia - seen as regional US allies and supporters of the TFG. The US accused the UIC of harbouring alleged terrorists and extremists, while the US in turn has been accused of supporting the defeated warlords.

    Establishing standards

    On the streets of Mogadishu, there is much debate about ‘moderates’ and ‘extremists’. A local journalist said his personal freedoms had changed in many ways since the takeover, "good and bad". "In some areas there is no music or cinemas, radio stations have closed down, we have no freedom to write, and they are doing public executions." He says there is a ‘wait and see’ atmosphere.

    "When it comes to security, we feel freedom. When it comes to personal freedoms, we feel worried."

    Since coming to power in June, the UIC has implemented Shari’a law, but avoided issuing official directives on details of social and religious conduct. Instead, it has used punishment and propaganda to set new standards. Public floggings were meted out for men and women accused of selling drugs, chewing khat and ‘immoral behaviour’. There are public lectures and radio appeals addressing religious commitment, behaviour and morality, and the interpretation of the Koran.

    But the new climate of punishment and restraint may not sit comfortably in a culture known for its personal freedoms and egalitarianism – and the UIC is wary of launching an assault against certain aspects of Somali culture.

    Banning khat

    The UIC’s new ban on khat will prove a critical test of acceptance of the new restrictions.

    During Ramadan in Mogadishu, when the sun had gone down and the last prayers said, women sold bundles of the narcotic leaf from small street stalls. Angrily, they talked about the number of times they had been stopped from selling khat. Young men push and shout around shadowy markets, complaining their cinemas and entertainments had been closed down.

    Khat bans were first announced in UIC-controlled Kismayo and Jilib in southern Somalia.

    The new authority is pragmatic about the popular impact of an official ban. "It is a public challenge," the Chairman of the Islamic Courts, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, told IRIN.

    The daily importation of khat from Kenya and Ethiopia is costly, and its narcotic effects have contributed to conflict and lawlessness. It is seen as a social evil by many. But it provides countless small traders, mostly women who are heads of households, with a livelihood, and its daily use is socially and geographically widespread. No Somali government has been successful in abolishing the trade.

    Dress code

    There is also consternation over new standards of dress code. In UIC offices, men who dress ‘western-style’ are frowned upon. Visiting businessmen and women say they sometimes struggle to conform and do not understand the disapproval around details of behaviour and dress.

    Change is visible. Increasingly, women in Mogadishu are adopting a full veil, more associated with Saudi Arabia and the Arab states than ‘Somali-style’ modesty. Over the last few years, black, brown and grey hijabs have been steadily replacing the vibrant colourful Somali scarves. The trend has accelerated since the takeover, note Mogadishu residents.

    Sheikh Sharif emphasises that the increase in ‘modesty’ is not the result of any official declaration by the UIC. "The Islamic Courts has made no decision about [this] because Somali women dress the way it is intended in their religion. I do not wish to impose anything like that." Some of the UIC leadership says the debate over dress is provoked by pro-western critics.

    But there is much debate – in private – by Mogadishu residents as to whether people are changing their habits through religious choice, or just to protect themselves. "Women are already taking up the veil not out of choice but as a precaution, so that no-one singles them out," said one businessman. As a supporter of the UIC, he said the focus on dress and behaviour was "not a priority problem in Somalia – and shouldn’t be for anyone. The UIC should be concerned with more important things."

    Humour on the streets reflects the fact that the new path to power is through religion. "Everyone is becoming a sheikh these days," observed one hotelier. Red and white checked headscarves are used fairly ubiquitously by the UIC - from the leadership and the militia to their supporters. The scarves are seen as a badge of loyalty. For those who want to demonstrate strict religious commitment, musical ring tones on mobile phones have been replaced by recordings from the mosque.

    Centralising policy

    Some of the social confusion comes from the absence of policy. Soon after the takeover, cases were being reported of women being ordered to wear the hijab. But the UIC leadership explains these incidents as the challenge of centralisation. There are 27 branches of the courts in Mogadishu, and 11 outside the city, all used to operating autonomously. Different local courts were imposing different standards and implementing different punishments. Centralisation of the courts did not take place until late September.

    Once the courts had been brought under a central authority, the UIC officially established a judicial system under Shari’a law. In October, the Supreme Court of Benadir Region was opened, and an appeals court set up. Public floggings and executions can now only proceed when approved by the Supreme Justice Committee, representing all the courts. Police stations are also being established, although not yet fully functional. Sentenced prisoners are being held in the central Mogadishu jail. The UIC also recently banned photographs and film of executions, aware of the impact on its critics and the wider world.

    Balancing act

    The confusion over codes of behaviour illustrates the struggle between the moderates and hardliners within the UIC. Since the takeover, there has been increased emphasis on ‘jihad’ and visible militarisation of society – including seminars on jihad for men and women, and training camps to unify the militia into a centralised force. Some UIC leaders see security and ‘defence of the country and the religion’ as the priority, and have made it the rallying call.

    The hardliners – known as the Shabaab group – invest in militarisation, advocate strict religious codes and punishments, and shun contact with the non-Muslim world. They include key figures in the UIC - including Chief of Security for Mogadishu, Sheikh Abdullahi Mo’alim Ali ‘Abu Utayba’, who stated publicly, according to local journalists, that people who failed to pray five times a day should be shot. Prominent UIC figures, including Abu Utayba, appear in a ‘jihadi video’ doing the rounds in Mogadishu and the diaspora. The video glorifies Osama bin Laden, shows military training camps in Mogadishu, and calls on "any marginalised Muslim to come to Somalia". It calls Somalia "the new Afghanistan of the world". The video is not officially endorsed by the UIC, and there is no indication of who authored it. ‘Jihadi’ propaganda experts believe it was probably made for fund-raising in the Somali diaspora, as it is predominately in the Somali language.

    "The courts never authored such a thing … it is the work of our enemies," Professor Ibrahim Hassan Adow, head of the UIC Foreign Affairs department, told IRIN.

    Key members of the UIC leadership are working to secure international support and assistance in rebuilding Somalia. There is consternation in the movement that, having successfully delivered peace and unity in Mogadishu after nearly two decades of chaos and conflict, the humanitarian community has pulled out. The moderates are concerned that isolation from the international community serves to strengthen extremism and undermines opportunities for humanitarian assistance.

    Sheikh Sharif said the UIC could provide security for international organisations to work in Mogadishu, and had encouraged humanitarian groups to take advantage of peace in the city.

    "We had started negotiations and the process was going well, but then the humanitarian community declared it was leaving the areas where the UIC was in control. We regret that because we see it as a violation of people’s rights."

    According to Adow, the greatest challenge for the UIC is to meet basic needs. "Our biggest challenge is to go beyond peace and provide social services, to provide the basic needs, whether it is food, medical care, shelter, education, employment. While we do this, we have to simultaneously show the world that we want to pacify Somalia and defend the Somali people, and establish a working relationship [with the international community]."

    To date, humanitarian organisations are unsure about the implications of the takeover. According to Philippe Lazzarini, head of OCHA-Somalia, many of the Somalis most in need are in south-central Somalia, most of which is controlled by the UIC. He told IRIN there was need for dialogue and engagement.

    "In order to get access to those in need it is imperative to engage with the authorities in control, including the UIC," he said.

    Engagement was important to "build trust and to get commitment for the protection of aid workers and unimpeded access to those in need", he emphasised.

    As a ‘broad church’, the UIC is at a critical stage in centralising itself administratively and politically.

    "I think it is good for Somalis to start debating the Jihadists’ position and the need for the moderates," said a member of the diaspora, Awale Ali Kullane, in Mogadishu for an exploratory visit. Kullane, like thousands of others, is watching developments closely, eager to return home and help rebuild his country.

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


    Picture of the day
    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice


    Golden Trader discharging grain at Durban’s Maydon Wharf 5 – picture Terry Hutson

    NB Pictures submitted by readers are always welcome – email to info@ports.co.za

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