Nigerian Navy Retakes Pirated Tanker with Indian Crew
The Indian Shipping Ministry said Nigerian naval forces rescued 23 Indian sailors from a Singapore-flag oil tanker that had been hijacked by pirates off the coast of Lagos on Tuesday.
“We have received information that all the crew members are safe,” officials said in New Delhi.
The MT Abu Dhabi Star, built in 2008, was reportedly seized by armed pirates as it sailed into the open sea in the Gulf of Guinea.
Ship operator Pioneer Ship Management Services said the crew members locked themselves in a safe room when pirates boarded the ship. “International authorities were immediately alerted and pirates fled the vessel on seeing the naval frigate,” the Dubai-based company said.
The 51,069 deadweight-ton tanker is owned by Singapore-based Abu Dhabi Star Pte Ltd.
The Shipping Ministry in a separate statement said African pirates are currently holding captive 43 Indian sailors on five foreign-flag vessels, including 17 men aboard the Panama-flag MV Royal Grace captured March 2, and 11 aboard the Liberian-flag MT Smyrni seized May 10.
ILA Negotiations to Resume
The International Longshoremen’s Association and East and Gulf Coast waterfront employers agreed to a request from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to resume stalled contract negotiations.
The FMCS, a federal agency that handles arbitration and mediation of labor disputes, said the negotiations will resume the week of Sept. 17, less than two weeks before the Sept. 30 expiration of the coastwide master contract between the ILA and United States Maritime Alliance.
“Due to the sensitivity of this high-profile dispute and consistent with the agencies’ longstanding practice, we will not disclose either the location of the meeting or the content of the substantive negotiations that will take place,” the FMCS said on its Web site.
Negotiations between the ILA and USMX broke down Aug. 22.
“We welcome the opportunity to resume negotiations and are grateful to the FMCS for its assistance,” ILA President Harold Daggett said through a spokesman.
Bear Right, or Left: The Great Highway Divide
Talk of infrastructure spending on the U.S. presidential campaign trail tends to consist of platitudes of support akin to vows to promote education and fight crime.
Not this time.
Although the issue isn’t getting the same play as the sluggish economy or ballooning federal deficit, President Obama is trumpeting his transportation spending and calling for more investment. In contrast, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is slamming Obama for transportation spending through the stimulus package. Romney’s stance on infrastructure spending remains murky, but the snipes and posturing from both sides reveal a growing divide about how to fix the nation’s ailing freight infrastructure.
Despite their differences, the parties are united in their efforts to find a way other than the fuel tax to fund investment. Raising the fuel tax is political suicide for both parties, and the Republican Party Platform opposes charging drivers by how many miles they drive. Instead of debating how to fund spending, the campaigns predictably have made infrastructure investment a talking point in the debate over the government’s role in boosting the economy.
Nowhere was this more evident than at the Republican Convention in Tampa, Fla., where hundreds of attendees chanted, “We Built This!” The rallying cry for the free market was a rebuke to Obama’s garbled statement that the government, not businesses, built the foundation for enterprise, which includes highways and roads.
Behind this rhetoric is the looming question of whether Romney would cut freight infrastructure spending. Reduced maintenance and expansion of the nation’s freight system would increase transportation costs and make exporters less competitive globally.
Although Obama has vowed to maintain spending levels, Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, has alarmed transportation proponents. Ryan’s proposed budget would cut surface transportation spending by roughly a quarter, or about $38 billion annually. Under Ryan’s plan, highway construction would be fueled solely by Highway Trust Fund, not injections from the general fund or so-called pay-fors, two methods used to offset shrinking fuel tax collections.
Freight news by Reid
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