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Daily Archives: December 5, 2007

Berths a-plenty at Hong Kong ferry terminal

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by Nigel Huxtable

 

Berths rights for existing operators have not been cut and all is running smoothly at the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal in Sheung Wan five days after the new Taipa bound service started, a Hong Kong Marine Department officer said yesterday.

Last Friday a new operator, Cotai Strip began a service between the temporary ferry terminal at Taipa and the Hong Kong Island pier. The company is running twenty trips a day between the two ports.

The managing director of Shun Tak Holdings Limited, Pansy Ho Chiu-king, the incumbent operator from the peninsula terminal, repeatedly criticised the government's handling of the new terminal last month.

In addition to concerns regarding the licensing process, Ms Ho claimed the Hong Kong terminal was currently operating at full capacity.

Children's level math suggests the terminal is saturated and the addition of more services would result in a reduction in existing departures, Ms Ho argued.

The marine officer for ferry terminals from the Hong Kong Marine Department, Lau KK, yesterday said the addition of the new Macau service has not reduced the number of berthing slots available for the existing operators.

“There are enough time slots for more ferries based on a 30 minute allocation for each birthing,” he said.

“We are managing the births to make full use of the terminal.”

There are 8 berths available at the Hong Kong terminal for boats operating between the island and Macau. Each service is given a half hour slot to use a berth before departure and upon arrival.

This gives the terminal 16 available births each hour.

The closure of one of the berths for maintenance this week has still not impeded the operation of both companies, said Mr Lau.

Shun Tak operate a service every 15 minutes from both Hong Kong and Macau between 7am and midnight.

Cotai Waterjet don't come close to that frequency as yet, offering a total of 20 services between both ports.

The port can also cover the new operator's expansion plans, which include the addition of a night service.

“I think we have a good arrangement for Cotai with the present allotment,” said Mr Lau

 

Not so Grand Dragon

The Hong Kong terminal is still to receive an application from the other licensed Taipa terminal operator, Grand Dragon.

Based on the time taken to organise an allotment in the terminal, Mr Lau expects the company won't be operating at the facility until late next year.

“We have heard of this company but we are still waiting for a submission including information about the type of ferries it will operate and the proposed schedule,” he said.

“I don't think it will be operating anytime soon, maybe August next year or later, it depends on the ferries.”

 Cross-border review

However there is no guarantee Grand Dragon will be able to operate out of the Hong Kong terminal. Due to the growing demand for Macau destined ferries, the Hong Kong Marine Department will shortly begin a review of all of the so called 'cross-border' ferry terminals.

“This is the first time we have had another operator for many years and a third is also on the way,” said Mr Lau.

“There will be an independent officer that will study cross-border ferry terminals to see if anything can be done more efficiently,”

World farm output to drop due to global warming: experts

Global warming is likely to cause a significant decline in world agricultural output, with poor countries in Africa set to be hurt the most, a group of farm experts said yesterday.As a result, policymakers must take into account food issues when dealing with climate change, a report by the International Food Policy Research Institute said."World agricultural output is projected to decrease significantly due to global warming, and the impact on developing countries will be much more severe than industrialised nations," said the report, released in Beijing."Africa is particularly vulnerable to climate change because of its high proportion of low-input, rain-fed agriculture, compared with Asia or Latin America."In the report, the group urged policymakers to take agriculture and food issues into account when developing national and international climate change agendas.The report, titled "The World Food Situation," was released at an international conference aimed at addressing a global rise in food demand.While hundreds of millions have emerged from poverty through better agricultural techniques, rising standards of living mean that more grain is being used to produce high value products like meat and diary products, the report said.This in turn makes grain prices rise as demand grows, making it harder for poorer people in the developing world to fulfil their daily food needs.Due to rising oil costs, the production of biofuels as an alternative energy source was also adding to dramatic changes in the world food situation, which "will adversely affect poor people in developing countries," the report said.The group called on developed nations to lower trade barriers on farm products and reduce biofuel production, while developing nations needed to invest more in their farming infrastructure."Surging demand for feed, food and fuel have recently led to drastic price increases, which are not likely to fall in the foreseeable future," said Joachim von Braun, lead author of the report.

"The days of falling food prices may be over."

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