Friday, 3 April 2009

Industry Snapshots

Three British teenagers sentenced for six and a half years each for killing an Indian seafarer in a racist attack in 2007. The three were amongst a group of twenty teenagers that attacked Gregory Fernandes and Vinod Pitchilnaviram "like a pack of dogs" in October 2007, according to testimony produced at the Winchester Crown Court. All three pleaded guilty. A fourth teenager, then 13 years old, was sentenced to a twelve month detention order after he admitted attacking Vinod. Fernandes and Vinod had some soft drinks at a hotel in Southampton were returning to their ship, the ‘Garonne’, when they were attacked outside the hotel. Chay Fields, Stephen Pritchard and Daniel Rogers were amongst the racist mob that attacked the two Indians minutes before Gregory collapsed and died. Some in the teenage mob had been heard saying earlier that they wanted to 'beat up a Paki'. Fernandes, 32 was grievously hurt, and, although a passerby took him to the docks, he collapsed and died. Vinod, 29, suffered a broken collarbone. Hampshire police say, "Mr Fernandes suffered heart failure brought on by the stress of the attack.” The three teenagers had faced a murder charge which was plea bargained down to a lesser offence. Floriano Fernandes, the sailor's father in Goa, told the BBC: "Even I've been in England but it wasn't like this before. I felt very safe, but now it seems to be a very unsafe place, especially for Indians. How can somebody kill in such a manner?" Vinod told the BBC that the incident had left him "disturbed"

Koreans now claim the ‘Hebei Two’ lied. Even as Captain Jasprit Chawla and Chief Officer Syam Chetan await their appeal against the Korean conviction, the chairman of the Korean Register has come out with a story claiming that the two “lied and manipulated voyage data recorder information”, according to Lloyd’s List. Oh Kong Gyun, the official said, “The reason why these two seafarers were arrested was not because they created the situation but the very fact that they did not tell the truth when they were investigated by the judicial branch of the Korean court system”. He added that the two officers “hid some information that was revealed to be untrue and they manipulated some VDR information.” Oh Kong Gyun had the grace to tell Lloyd’s List, though, that the treatment of the two officers was “regrettable” and detention “very unusual”. These comments, coming a year and two trials after the initial incident, are unlikely to be taken very seriously by an outraged industry that has unequivocally condemned the South Korean justice system for the criminalisation of the Hebei Two, as well as for the shoddy treatment meted out to the ‘Hebei Two’.

British companies looking at Indian ports for business. Equipment suppliers, shipbuilders, operators, consultants and lawyers met at a seminar in Hyderabad recently. “The UK Port Development Industry has saturated with no need for more ports, whereas the National Maritime Development Programme (NMDP) has earmarked Rs 55,804 crore for 276 port related projects to be completed in India by 2012,” Mr Gordon Rankine, Chairman, UK Ports and Terminals Group, told Business Line at the seminar. “We have worked on a few projects on the west coast but now we seek huge opportunities on the east coast. Companies from the UK are looking to expand and work on more projects here,” he added. The move comes even as the 11th plan period says that Indian ports would handle traffic volumes of over one billion tonnes. The Hindu also quotes Mr Andrew Griffiths of BMT Baxter Eadie as saying that BMT Consultants India was looking at projects in port master planning, design of port facilities, logistics studies and ship design.

Alang ship breaking business hit by two day strike by 20000 workers. The workers had struck work on March 25 after ship breakers reneged on a wage agreement for March, saying they would pay lower wages for the full month. Senior government officials intervened and the strike was called off after businesses agreed to pay the agreed upon wages. New wages will come into effect from April. The turmoil started even as a hundred ships were waiting at Alang to be scrapped, resulting in a sudden shortage of workers, mainly migrants from Bihar, UP and Orissa. Wages were hiked from around Rs 200 to over Rs 300 per day, but ship breakers said late in the month that they would pay just Rs 240 per day, sparking unrest. Alang’s workforce had reduced to about 5000 in the recent shipping boom. Present market conditions mean that demand for workers has soared, with shortages expected to increase this year.



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