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Oslo-listed seismic player, Spectrum, has started a 12,000 kilometer Multi-Client 2D seismic survey offshore the Pelotas Basin of Brazil.The new acquisition program will infill both Spectrums’ new 7,500 kilometer survey acquired in 2013 and 12,000 kilometers of data reprocessed in 2014, covering open acreage in the Pelotas basin and providing industry with over 31,000 kilometers of new data over the area.It is anticipated that the area will be included in the next licensing round, expected in late 2015.The data is being collected by the vessel BGP Challenger and will be processed in Spectrum’s processing center in Houston. PreSTM and PreSDM data will be available in early Q3 2015.Richie Miller, EVP Multi-Client North & South America, comments: “We believe our positioning to commence this survey fits within the timelines of our clients of delivering quality data early in the round evaluation process. Along with our latest campaign in the Sergipe and Alagoas basins, Spectrum will deliver over 56,000 kilometers of 2D data to industry for these areas.”The survey is supported by industry funding.
Mark Nardolillo, CEO and President of BEM Systems, Inc., will present at the Alaska Forum on the Environment (AFE) on February 9th, to discuss ‘Forecasting Risk to Infrastructure from Coastal Erosion in Arctic Alaska’, the company just announced.The presentation will summarize the recent risk assessment studies and modeling efforts on the mechanisms driving the acceleration of coastal erosion along Alaska’s Arctic coast and its potential risk to the built and natural infrastructure.This presentation will also focus on efforts to develop a reliable forecasting approach for measuring the vulnerability to Arctic infrastructure to climate change.The AFE event is a statewide gathering of environmental professionals from government agencies, non-profit and for-profit businesses, community leaders, etc.This latest forum will mark the 19th year providing a strong educational foundation for all Alaskans and an opportunity to interact with others on environmental issues and challenges.
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Grania Langdon-Down is a freelance journalist The Law Society’s Private Client Section provides best practice information and support to solicitors and other legal professionals working on wills, probate, tax and financial planning, trusts, contentious probate, mental capacity, elderly client and estate administration. See the website for more details. The decision by the Legal Services Board to recommend regulating will-writing – but not estate administration, power of attorney or trusts – has left private client practitioners bemused. It has also highlighted the divide between the LSB’s narrowly based review of individual activities and the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s belief that all probate-related work – indeed all legal services – should be regulated to avoid confusion for consumers over which parts are regulated and which are not. The issue of how far regulation should be extended comes as the Law Society finalises its plans for a summer launch of the Wills Quality Scheme (WQS). Practitioners also face increasing competition as new entrants to the market, including the big national brands Saga and the Co-op, step up their legal offerings, and two US online legal document services make their pitch in the UK. So what does the future hold for practitioners? The lord chancellor has until May to decide whether to accept the LSB’s recommendation, which would then come into force in 2015. The LSB had initially proposed that estate administration should also be regulated but changed its position, arguing that the unregulated community among estate administrators was small – 4-5% compared with about 15% of will-writers – so the risk of fraud was small and regulation would therefore be disproportionate. While the SRA is still mulling over its own response, and so would not comment, others were not so reticent. The Law Society lobbied hard for the ‘holy trinity’ of wills, estate administration and power of attorney to be regulated. ‘We enormously welcome the proposal that will-writing should be regulated,’ says Richard Roberts, chair of the Law Society’s wills and equity committee. But we are very disappointed that neither of the other two elements is on the current agenda. I don’t think people understand just how vulnerable the recently bereaved can be.’ LSB chief executive Chris Kenny’s comment at a briefing with journalists that, if they were starting afresh, probate would not be reserved, raised further eyebrows, given the number of trust and probate insurance claims and the increase in contentious probate and related actions reaching Chancery. Commentators have suggested that politics may have played a part in the LSB’s decision. ‘I can buy into that view,’ says Gary Rycroft, vice-chair of the Society’s Private Client Section and a member of the wills and equity committee. ‘The word on the street seems to be that Mr Grayling doesn’t like regulation so maybe the feeling was we can slip this one under the radar. There is also very strong evidence about will-writing with lots of horror stories, so it will be hard for the Ministry of Justice to duck that. But it leaves consumers at huge risk, and the next time an unregulated administrator runs off with some money, send the person to the LSB’s door and see what they have to say.’ It is a ‘bizarre’ decision, says Chris Beames, head of Welsh firm Berry Smith’s private client department. ‘Regulation isn’t the whole answer – solicitors are regulated and you still see them being prosecuted and struck off for stealing from estates. But a will-writing firm will be able to move into estate administration without any regulation or any requirements for insurance or a compensation scheme.’ Members of Solicitors for the Elderly constantly pick up the pieces after clients have been caught out by unscrupulous providers. Director Claire Davis, head of private client at Welsh firm Howells Solicitors, welcomes the proposal to regulate will-writing but says they are very concerned that unregulated and often untrained bodies will be able to continue marketing services such as lasting powers of attorney and trusts as a ‘guarantee’ against care home fees. ‘This is simply wrong,’ she says. Peter Steer, a partner with Wilsons, deals with contentious probate and is concerned at the LSB’s lack of insight into the extent of fraud. ‘This was a chance to stop people who advertise themselves as estate administrators or act as executors or advisers who can be completely unqualified, or even be struck-off solicitors.’ He says the LSB reasoned that if there was fraud it was criminal and so should be dealt with by the police. ‘But our experience is the police don’t have the resources to tackle something which they regard as a civil matter and, besides, prosecution doesn’t get the beneficiaries redress.’ If the LSB’s recommendation is approved, then the jockeying to be will-writers’ regulator of choice will start in earnest. The LSB has refused to passport any of the existing approved regulators into the new regime, arguing it had found unacceptably high levels of consumer harm arising in both regulated and unregulated providers. This means the SRA – and the other regulators who have thrown their hats into the ring including the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx), the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) and some of the will-writing bodies – will have to prove their arrangements are fit for purpose in relation to this specific activity. If the SRA wants to go wider than regulating solicitor will-writers to include those who are currently unregulated, it will be down to the Law Society Council to decide if that is acceptable or if it risks diluting the brand of ‘solicitor’. ‘This poses a massive dilemma for the SRA,’ says Rycroft, a partner in Lancaster-based Joseph A Jones & Co. ‘Many solicitors would quite rightly be very concerned because, clearly, for many will-writers that would be the “holy grail” in claiming they are the same as solicitors with the same regulator. This will be the next arena for battle.’ At the same time, there is concern that competition among regulators could lead to ‘two-tier’ regulation. Law Society president Lucy Scott-Moncrieff says the public are protected by solicitors’ mandatory insurance and the Law Society compensation fund when things go wrong. ‘Consumers have every right to expect such guarantees,’ she says. ‘Two-tier regulation, which falls short of offering similar protection to all those seeking help in making a will, would be confusing to consumers.’ ILEX Professional Standards is finalising its application for entity regulation and individual regulation for probate practice rights. Chief executive Ian Watson says its model requires those applying to have knowledge and experience of will-writing and estate administration. But now the LSB has ‘decoupled’ the two it may have to reconfigure it – ‘as will the SRA and CLC’ – to fit just will-writing. Regulation is going to be a competitive market, he says, but it is about variety and not a ‘race to the bottom’. According to research by the Legal Services Consumer Panel, a growing number of people make the probate application without legal help – 36% in 2010 – although solicitors deal with 86% of estates where professional help is purchased. Consumers who were dissatisfied with providers blamed delay, mistakes, lack of communication and poor value for money. In a move to raise the profile of private client practitioners, the Law Society has drawn on the experience of the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) to devise the WQC. But is that tantamount to saying that simply being a solicitor is no longer enough to win work in a specialist area? Rycroft is chair of the WQS working party. ‘What CQS has done is remove the “elephant in the room” that all firms are of an equal standard,’ he says. ‘We have to accept that. Those of us doing this work realise there are a lot of solicitors dabbling in this field who frankly shouldn’t be. For me, personally, one of the attractions of WQS is to differentiate ourselves not just from will-writers but also from other solicitors.’ The proposed scheme will cover will-writing and estate administration with scope to extend it to powers of attorney and elderly client matters. Based around a robust protocol, it will set prescribed time periods for communicating with clients, picking up on one of the main complaints made to the Legal Ombudsman. ‘This is a very positive way to differentiate the dedicated specialists in a crowded market,’ says Roberts, director of niche London firm Gedye & Sons. Standing out from the crowd is becoming increasingly important as new entrants such as Co-operative Legal Services (CLS) and Saga Legal Solutions make their presence felt. CLS is one of the biggest players in the market with a standalone probate and administration department that is 130 strong, including 46 solicitors. There is also a separate wills department. Clients have the option of a face-to-face meeting with a paralegal ‘probate consultant’ and their file is then handled on a one-to-one basis. This area of law is still a ‘cottage industry’ with most solicitors doing it on a small scale, says CLS commercial director Robert Labadie, which makes it an attractive market to big players. The Co-op’s membership database is a huge resource but it is one they respect and do not bombard with material, he says. ‘However, it is a great link. People have already bought our other services, have trusted us to bury their loved ones and so we hope they will trust us to do their legal work.’ In terms of fees, CLS benchmarks itself against other providers and is ‘somewhere in the middle’, he says. It aims to match fixed-fee quotations for comparable services provided by a regulated solicitor practice or trust corporation. CLS will do an estate administration from the simplest to the most complex, but would not set up and run a complex trust or take on contentious work. Later in the year it will be offering more ‘unbundled’ services. Over-50s specialist Saga (pictured) first entered the legal market two years ago with an online document assembly service provided by Epoq, with Parabis – which became an ABS last August – sitting behind it for any advice that was required. Last September it started offering will-writing, probate and powers of attorney, all done on fixed fees via the telephone and internet, with set timescales for responding to clients and proactive file handlers. Clients holding policies with Saga benefit from a 20% discount on their legal fees. It is not holding back from ‘taking on’ the high street. A recent press release claimed that, despite many people simplifying their estates, many solicitors take a percentage cut from the estate based on its value. Saga, it said, determines the cost on the complexity of the work ‘to ensure that families and beneficiaries get their fair share of an estate, rather than lining lawyer’s pockets’. It set out a series of scenarios with comparative charges – on a £1.25m estate with property worth £170,000, one bank account, three savings accounts, 30 share portfolios, four pensions and five specific legacies, it said its fee would be £3,920 compared with the 1.5% ‘typically charged’ by high street solicitors of £18,750. ‘We come at this from the consumer point of view,’ says business development director Karen Brenchley. ‘We are putting what we have learnt in our other industries into our legal services. For instance our grant of probate where we do the legal work and the client does the leg work is proving a popular option.’ She says the legal market is overpriced, which is giving Saga an opening. ‘The market hasn’t responded yet but markets don’t change overnight,’ she says. ‘However, with competitors coming in and changing the way pricing works, and with the Law Society promoting best practice, pressure will be on small law firms to become more specialist. Saga isn’t going to change anything on its own but we will be part of a bigger picture which will be very different in 10 years’ time.’ The examples of fees given by Saga are ‘rather disingenuous’, says Rycroft. ‘We have always been subject to market forces and common sense. It is blindingly obvious that if an estate is relatively easy to administer you charge a fee accordingly. We have also unbundled services for many years. But solicitors don’t talk enough about what they offer and our competitors are good at exploiting that reticence.’ The image that comes to mind, he says, is of ‘the choice between a ready meal and meat from the butcher’s shop. We mustn’t underestimate the big brands with their loyal client base, and some high street firms won’t survive as a proportion of business goes to them. But others will thrive because of the personal service they offer’. Steer sees Saga and CLS being successful among the ‘reasonably affluent middle class and below. I don’t think people with large estates or complex tax issues will jump to go to these organisations unless they can demonstrate they can deliver highly technical expertise. Many clients want to sit down at a difficult time in their life and talk things through with someone, not with someone in a call centre.’ There is certainly still room for specialist solicitors, says Beames. ‘We have been very busy for the last nine months and we are doing a lot more power of attorney and Court of Protection work, which is feeding off the will side of things and proving quite lucrative.’ The contentious side is also increasing. ‘Thirty years ago we probably had one disputed estate every three years,’ says Roberts. ‘I must now handle 8-10 new sets of instructions a month. It’s partly down to an expectation-led society, partly down to the economic climate, partly down to fragmentation of families and partly down to poor quality of will-making.’ Practitioners are also keeping a close eye on how they can tap in to the growing trend towards online fixed-fee DIY solutions. Legal marketing franchise QualitySolicitors has partnered with US firm LegalZoom, while a panel of firms are working with another US firm, Rocket Lawyer. Other offerings include online price comparison website Compare Legal Costs, which has partnered with East Midlands practice Nelsons to offer fixed-fee online legal documents to businesses and consumers, the firm’s solicitors reviewing documents if required, also for a fixed fee. When it comes to regulation, the LSB has said it is not going to try to regulate document-only online services unless they involve a checking service. ‘We have to recognise that legal information is out there and people will have a bash at things,’ says Rycroft. ‘What we have to do is show that we can add value to the basics. I personally would have been happy to dip my toe in the water with Rocket Lawyer but, as a firm, we made a commercial decision not to go down that route – as a small firm we were concerned we wouldn’t be able to cope with the volume of work that might come in. We also had an issue with their requirement to discount fees. But I am not hostile towards them at all and we have to recognise that this is the way some legal services will go.’ Berry Smith, on the other hand, did decide to join Rocket Lawyer’s ‘on call’ lawyers. Beames has not yet had any take up but his colleagues in other departments have. ‘We see a new generation which is internet-savvy and wants to buy things out of office hours and we want to be in on the ground floor,’ he says. ‘The hope is those clients will then think of us if they need further legal advice – though whether internet-based clients have that sort of loyalty remains to be seen.’ What is important, says Roberts, is not to be put off by fear of competition. ‘The battle is to encourage consumers to realise they need to die tidily,’ he says. ‘There is a big market out there – I can’t think of anything else that is a compulsory asset to buy where 60% of potential purchasers haven’t bought it – and dedicated specialist lawyers will succeed whatever the competition.’
Ren? Cort?zar has been appointed Chile’s Minister of Transport.Ludovic Orban has been appointed Minister of Transport in Romania.Last month Bob Scheuber announced he was to step down as Chief Executive of Queensland Rail by the start of May, taking leave ahead of his retirement on July 1. QR Chairman John Prescott said there were about 10 names shortlisted for consideration as possible successors. On March 28 Transport for London announced the appointment of two new board members. Christopher Garnett was Chief Executive of Great North Eastern Railway until August 2006, while Dr Dana Roy is a London-based consulting economist who advises the Rail Safety & Standards Board.David J Rohal, Charles M Patterson and Paul A Lundberg have joined RailAmerica as Vice-Presidents. Joe Conkin retired as Chief Operating officer on April 2, with President & CEO John Giles taking on the role.On April 1 Martin Dvor?k was appointed Managing Director of Praha Transport Authority Dphmp, replacing Tom?s J?lek who also stepped down as Director for Strategy & Investment Development.Howard H Roberts Jr has been appointed President of MTA New York City Transit. Dutchman Markus Bertram became Managing Director of Rail4chem Benelux on April 1. During March Rail4chem shareholders BASF, Bertschi, Hoyer and VTG agreed a capital increase and restructuring to ‘sharpen its competitive edge’.Richard Sarles has been appointed Executive Director of New Jersey Transit, having joined in 2002 as Director for Capital Programs.Norfolk Southern Corp has named James A Squires as Executive Vice-President, Finance. Joseph C Dimino has been appointed Vice-President, Compliance, and Timothy J Drake replaced Gary W Woods as Vice-President, Engineering on the latter’s retirement.Former Chairman and CEO of Kowloon-Canton Railway Corp Yeung Kai-yin died on February 8, at the age of 65.Pekka Kuusela became CEO of EKE-Electronics on March 19, succeeding Anssi Laakkonen who takes on responsibility for EKE Group’s rail business.
South Africa’s state-owned railway Spoornet has embarked on a five-year programme to improve performance and profitability, which will help to support the government’s Accelerated & Shared Growth Initiative. Chris Jackson asked Vice-President Molotwane Likhethe how this will be achieved ‘OUR OBJECTIVE is to build a freight railway that meets the needs of our customers’, said Siyabonga Gama on April 20. The Spoornet Chief Executive was addressing leading businessmen at the Eastern Cape Transport Summit, explaining why South Africa’s state-owned railway is investing in growth and modernisation of its core network over the next five years.By 2012 Gama expects Spoornet to be ‘an enabler of economic growth, supporting international trade by improving South Africa’s competitiveness’. He promised the businessmen improved operational efficiency that would reduce their logistics costs if they transferred more traffic from road to rail. The need to reverse Spoornet’s recent decline in market share was summed up in the title of Gama’s address: ‘Moving Back to Rail’. His aim is to increase rail’s share of the South African transport and logistics market to 30%, which would grow the rail sector’s annual turnover from R15bn to around R40bn. Five-Point Turnaround PlanOperating a scheduled railway Customer service delivery Creating capacity Building employee and leadership capability Safety Spoornet’s Vice-President, Corporate Communications, Molatwane Likhethe explains that the railway’s current objectives are an integral part of the new Strategic Direction agreed between the South African government and state-owned transport holding company Transnet. The overall vision has been endorsed by both the Department of Public Enterprises as the sole shareholder in Transnet and the Department of Transport in terms of the strategic policy framework.Transnet’s ‘Strategic Intent’ is to focus on key segments of the freight transport market by driving growth within its core freight business – ‘which will entail operational synergies, increased customer focus and aggressive infrastructure development’.According to Likhethe, Spoornet has already started to ‘implement a number of actions during the 2005-06 financial year’ which will contribute to its long-term vision. In order to be a financially successful and sustainable business, Spoornet needs to run ‘an efficient and safe railway, serving its customers through best-practice processes and initiatives’. To achieve this will require investment in the growth of employees and the development of leadership capability.To this end, Spoornet has established a Five-Point Turnaround Plan (box), which will be enhanced through an organisation-wide Change Leadership Programme. This will ensure that employees are committed to setting the business on the path to financial sustainability between now and 2012.Transnet has recognised that turning the rail network around will require significant investment. In the national budget announced in February, the government allocated R35bn for capital projects on the railway over the next five years. Around 10% of this will go on 110 new electric locomotives ordered from Mitsui, Toshiba and Union Carriage & Wagon (RG 3.06 p113). Table I breaks down the remaining R31·5bn. Gama says R25·9bn will go on sustaining and renewing the existing network and R4·4bn on expansion projects.Restructuring for credibilityGama admitted in his address that Spoornet is faced with a significant challenge if it is to regain credibility in the marketplace, which he accepts was lost over the past five years as a result of declining performance. Likhethe believes that ‘the measures already being taken to improve operational efficiency and customer service will bring the much-needed improvement in credibility that will justify essential investment in the strategic corridors’. At the same time, he says, Spoornet is embarking on a restructuring process that will position the operator ‘as a sustainable business in a reformed rail industry’.In order to focus on the key corridors and core industry sectors, Spoornet is looking to identify and relinquish management responsibility for many marginal lines. The process for divestment of feeder routes is to be tested through five pilot projects, which will look at the opportunities for involving local and provincial governments as well as the private sector.Likhethe’s view is that the branch lines require a different focus from Spoornet’s core freight business, with emphasis on regional and community development. He says that ‘the question of branch line ownership is currently being reviewed by Spoornet and the government, in order to determine an optimal structure that will ensure the future of rail at a regional level, and drive the long-term growth of feeder traffic to the core freight network.’ Spoornet is therefore working on a Branch Line Due Diligence process, which begins with an assessment of the financial position of each route, in order to identify those which are commercially viable. The next step will be to look for suitable commercial opportunities on those lines, and develop a business model for local operation. This will include ways to consolidate freight loads for onward movement over the main line network. In specific cases, there may also be opportunities for conventional passenger traffic or tourist trains on certain routes. Another early objective for the restructuring process is to focus Spoornet firmly on the freight market. Confirming that ‘Transnet’s strategic direction has a very clear freight focus which will ultimately require the divestment of passenger and tourist services from the current portfolio’, Likhethe explains that ‘the ownership, access and operations of these services are being investigated jointly with Transnet and the Department of Transport.’ In the meantime, ‘Spoornet will remain responsible for safe passenger operations, and passenger trains will retain priority status over freight traffic on the core network’.Eventually the intention is to transfer responsibility for the Shosholoza Meyl long-distance passenger business to the Department of Transport, which plans to merge these operations with those of the South African Rail Commuter Corp. Spoornet is also looking to divest its prestigious Blue Train operation, which is focused primarily on the tourist market. Options are being explored for a transfer to the private sector, and for the possible involvement of the national tourism office in the process.Infrastructure separationThe restructuring of the rail industry as outlined in the Draft National Freight Logistics Strategy is expected to ‘change profoundly the landscape of the South African rail industry’. DoT proposes the creation of three separate ‘Rail Infrastructure Entities’ to manage the network, leaving Spoornet ‘positioned as the primary main line freight operator in a competitive rail market’.The divestment of regional and secondary routes will see the arrival of multiple operators complementary to Spoornet’s role as main line operator. DoT is in the process of developing a more detailed strategy for the rail sector, incorporating vertical separation, with input from Transnet, Spoornet and other interested parties. At this stage, Likhethe says, the final extent of the separation is not known. He emphasises that the overall objective of the changes is ‘to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of the rail industry as a whole.’ DoT has already established a Rail Safety Regulator to oversee Spoornet and SARCC operations. With the advent of separation, the regulator will have a critical role to play in ensuring the safety of multiple operators on the national rail infrastructure. To ensure a fair and equitable relationship between all the new entities, DoT plans to put in place an economic regulator for the rail sector.On the infrastructure side, the prospect of separation, and the challenge of addressing the maintenance backlog, has already led Transnet to set up a specialised capital project management division to assist Spoornet with upgrading of the national rail network. Likhethe explains that ‘Spoornet’s ambitious investment and expansion plans require greater capability in terms of engineering, maintenance and materials supply, bringing yet more organisations into the rail sector.’Focus on key corridorsSpoornet sees its principal market as the long-haul freight corridors linking ports, industrial regions and metropolitan centres. Traffic flows include both raw materials for processing and finished goods to both domestic and international markets. Many of South Africa’s major transport corridors originated from the need to connect mining and heavy manufacturing centres with international markets. These businesses continue to dominate the country’s export trade, putting pressure on the transport providers as their performance has a direct impact on the national economy.As early as 1997, the Moving South Africa study suggested that by 2020 ‘overall freight flows are expected to continue to consolidate into a limited number of primary corridors representing nearly half of all total freight movements’. As part of the wider Transnet strategy, the government envisages that the majority of export and import traffic will move by rail, leaving road hauliers to focus on the short-haul distribution role. The 2004 South African State of Logistics Survey found that between 1992 and 2003 rail managed to hold its own for the bulk coal and iron ore flows, but lost ground rapidly for general long-distance freight (Table II). Competitive road alternatives developed in many corridors after the deregulation of the transport market in the early 1990s, because these had greater volumes of high-value commodities where shipper satisfaction was adversely affected by the fall-off in the quality of rail operations.The study emphasises that modal split is closely related to the commodities being moved. Mining and minerals currently contribute 6% to South Africa’s national GDP, compared with 20% for manufacturing and 46% for agriculture. When focusing on ‘transportable GDP’, where transport plays a key role in generating economic value, the positions are reversed. Mining and mineral contributes 46%, and manufacturing 45%, but agriculture a mere 6%.Whilst rail is most suitable for moving commodities in bulk, such as coal, minerals, metals and heavy manufactured products, these tend to be one-way flows, with specialised wagons returning empty in most instances. Bulk commodities are also highly sensitive to transport cost, because they are heavy but relatively low-value. Spoornet’s existing traffic mix is shown in Table III.Spoornet has been analysing developments in North America, where the Class I railroads have achieved very high efficiencies in bulk movements and are winning market share in the higher-value sectors such as light manufacturing and retail through intermodal partnerships with feeder railroads and road hauliers. Spoornet is therefore developing strategies for its core network, based on: highly efficient, cost-effective unit trains for bulk mineral flows; longer trains on the main corridors, bringing economies of scale in operation, more efficient utilisation of locos and rolling stock and greater fuel efficiency; uniform standards for wagons used on ‘collection and distribution’ traffic to and from feeder lines; fewer origins and destination points, through collaboration with customers and incentivising them to consolidate smaller shipments; developing intermodal services for key growth sectors such as automotive and chemicals. Cross-border commitmentsOver the past decade Spoornet has played a prominent role in the concessioning of railway operations in many African countries. In some cases it has been a partner in the concessionaire, and in others it has provided operational and commercial assistance. The railway has also leased locomotives and rolling stock to relieve hard-pressed and poorly-maintained fleets in a number of countries, for both 1067 mm and 1000 mm gauge operations.Transnet’s strategic objectives mean that Spoornet must now focus primarily on the domestic market, at least for the period up to 2012. An early result of this change of emphasis has been Spoornet’s withdrawal from bidding for any new concessions, and there have been reports of uncertainties over its continued involvement with existing commitments.Likhethe says ‘Spoornet’s new thrust will be Africa, but south of the Equator and without trying to be transcontinental’. He emphasises that ‘Spoornet plays, and will continue to play, a leading role’ in the development of rail as the key mode of transport across the SADC region, where the relationships are governed by agreements through the Southern African Railways Association. ‘We have excellent relationships with our neighbouring railways’, he insists. ‘Over the past few months we have increased volumes to and from the SADC region significantly. Spoornet has various operational interchange agreements in place, and we have daily conference calls with our neighbours to manage the increased volumes and ensure efficient wagon turnaround.’
The ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has won the Thursday’s general election by a resounding margin according to preliminary results.The data shows that the JLP could win as many as 49 of the 63 seats in the Parliament, in one of the most unprecedented elections in recent times.Prime Minister Holness creates history as the first JLP leader to be elected following two consecutive contested election.Even though the final count has not yet been declared, Opposition Leader Dr. Peter Phillips, who has already indicated that be stepping down had thew party lost the election, is reported to have already telephoned Prime Minister Holness offering his congratulations.Vice-President of the PNP, Phillip Paulwell also congratulated the Holness administration, saying “Let us congratulate them and wish them well,” adding that “it is a shocking defeat”.Paulwell, who served as the campaign manager, blamed the perceived disunity within the PNP for the defeat, telling reporters the party did not have sufficient time to show the country that “we were united.‘It is a shocking defeat, we have been, therefore, all of us will have to accept full responsibility”.Pollster Don Anderson, speaking on a television programme, described the defeat as “ a major shift” adding “the writing was on the wall.“The results are startling,” he said, adding “ there is total dissatisfaction with the PNP right across the board”.In the last general election, the JLP had won by a slender one seat majority (32 seats) but increased that to three after it won two by-elections during the four and ahalf year term of the Holness administration.
Sharing is caring! In this February 13, 2017 photo, some prisoners play dominoes, checkers or card games, during recreation time inside the National Penitentiary in downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Inmates, some waiting up to eight years to see a judge, try to keep their sanity by maintaining a daily routine of push-ups and lifting jugs filled with dirty water. Others play checkers or dominoes. (Photo: AP)PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haitian prosecutors are holding a mass funeral for 20 inmates who have died in Haiti’s largest prison.Relatives wailed in grief or stared stoically as the coffins arrived on Tuesday.Shortages of food and medicine as well as diseases that flourish in packed Haitian lockups have led to an upsurge in malnutrition-related illnesses and other preventable diseases.Marie Lumane Laurore broke into piercing screams as she collapsed before her son’s coffin, crying: “This is a country without justice!”Relatives say Eddy Laurore suffered anemia and tuberculosis over the two years he was jailed in Haiti’s National Penitentiary on a rape charge.UN Special Representative Sandra Honore says 42 detainee deaths so far this year are linked to “the worsening of cruel, inhumane and degrading” conditions. NewsRegional Mass funeral held for 20 Haitians who died in ‘dismal’ prison by: Associated Press – February 21, 2017 Share 205 Views no discussions Share Share Tweet
Share BusinessHurricane MariaLocalNewsRecovery DAIC undertaking needs assessment of members by: Dominica Vibes News – November 24, 2017 Tweet Share 148 Views no discussions Share Sharing is caring! DAIC PRO Kenneth GreenThe Dominica Association of Industry and Commerce (DAIC) is currently undertaking a needs assessment of its members to help assist them as they move on following Hurricane Maria.This was announced by public relations officer of the DAIC Kenneth Green during a press conference held by the Dominica Business Forum (DBF) on Thursday 23 November 2017.This needs assessment he said is to have the members establish what went wrong, what went bad, what they need to get back into any form or shape so that they can function as businesses.“For those who are not able to do so, we do offer assistance by actually doing this process for them so if anyone…wants to be part of this process you can contact the DAIC…and we would be able to help facilitate that process for you,” Green said.He added that the membership has lost a substantial amount of employees, close to five hundred.“That is also a fluid number because with constant restructuring you will find that that number may grow and then reduce as people get reallocated or relocated based on either reduces roles or changes in roles or other facilities that are being put forward but truth be told it was a substantial blow to the continuity of people’s lives as employees and functioning members of the society,” said Green.