ECO PARK DUE TO OPEN BY END YEAR AT VALLEY DOSTERLOG
A regular source from Mauritius provided information that in line with the countrys tourism outlook, aimed to tap more and more into the eco tourism segment of visitors, a new eco-park will be launched before the end of the year at the Valley DOsterlog, near Wooton, Eau Coulee. Selected for the rich biodiversity and as habitat to a number of endemic plants, this forested area will be a pilot project to gauge how keen the interest of tourists will be to visit such an attraction and learn more about the flora and fauna of the island while hiking across the area opened up by trails. A total network of hiking trails, ranging from easy to very difficult, extending over 18 kilometres has been established, including a rock climbing loop. According to the same source a visitor centre will be readied too so that sufficient information can be provided on the location, its origin and what rare plants, orchids and ferns can be found, besides providing other amenities such as a herbarium, a photo exhibition area, a lecture theatre and a coffee shop.
The 275 hectares large site was initially chosen five years ago, then protected by an special law in September 2007 following which a development masterplan was developed which is now in its final stage of implementation.
Visit http://www.gov.mu/portal/sites/osterlog/faugoo.html for more information on this unique nature reserve or visit www.tourism-mauritius.mu for more details on the islands attractions.
Archive for April 20th, 2012
With the two Sudan’s at the brink of war, Uganda sides with the South to stop Khartoum’s expansionism
UGANDA TO STAND BY SOUTHERN SUDAN IN CASE OF FULL SCALE WAR
Information is circulating in Kampala that the rogue regime of ICC wanted alleged war criminal Bashir in Khartoum has stepped up contacts with the LRA which leadership is also wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity and may be funneling material support to the terror group in an effort to open up new proxy fronts.
Ugandas Chief of Defense Forces Gen. Aronda Nyakairima has in an address to colleagues from the wider region earlier in the week also left little doubt, that Uganda would come to the aid of Southern Sudan to avoid another genocide, should the regime in Khartoum continue with its aggression against an independent African country. Gen. Aronda was quoted in local media as having said: We will not sit by and do nothing. We will be involved having suffered a proxy war by Khartoum. Our people in northern Uganda suffered and intelligence information also indicates that the LRA, who have an estimated 200 guns, are again in contact with Khartoum. The comments echo President Musevenis own declaration some years earlier, that Uganda would never let another genocide happen again, following the events in Rwanda 18 years ago and also lent credibility to ongoing speculation, following large scale joint war games by the East African militaries with their Southern Sudanese counterparts inside that country last year. Since then it is rumoured that one form of mutual pact or another has been struck between Juba and Kampala, if not other capitals too, to help the newly independent country in case Khartoum would want to make a play for the oilfields, now largely located in the Southern Sudan. Gen. Arondas comments are the first official reactions following Bashirs announcement in Khartoum on Wednesday, that he was set to liberate the Southern Sudan, in other words grab back the oil and other mineral riches while inflicting ethnic cleansing of major proportions on the Africans living in the South after breaking free from his hardline slavist oppression.
It was also learned that Juba, contrary to misleading press reports in sections of the global media, was ready for a ceasefire on condition that the illegal occupation of Abyei by Khartoum forces would have to end and that a UN peacekeeping force be installed to pave the way for a referendum on Abyeis future, something likely to be extended then too to South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
Kenya too is thought to consider a response, and although statements have been made to the effect that the UN has to inject a contingent to create a buffer zones between the two countries, it is generally understood that Kenya, come push to shove, will also side with Juba in what could be the precursor to a wider regional conflict including Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia, with Khartoum considered a strong backer of the hardline regime in Asmara, which in turn stands accused of propping up the Al Shabab terrorists in Somalia.
Meanwhile have reports come to light of recent large scale elephant poaching in Congos Garamba National Park, a suspected hideout of LRA terrorists, which would support the speculation that the outlawed rebel group was using blood ivory to make down-payments on new supplies although weapons and ammunition appear to be freely given by Khartoum in an attempt to stir more trouble in the region. A revival of the LRA would also pose a challenge to the United States which has about 100 logistics and support troops in the region aimed to support Ugandan troops on the ground to hunt down Joseph Kony and bring him to justice, or else inflict a Jonas Savimbi solution on him should he not surrender when cornered. Watch this space to find out if pressure can be brought to bear on Khartoum to pull back from the brink of war, unlikely as that may be considering that this may be Bashirs last gamble before he himself faces a coup detat by regime hardliners who blame him for losing the oil rich South.
MONUMENTS AND SITES COUNCIL PROMOTES HERITAGE
Information was received from Victoria that the local office of the International Monuments and Sites Council has launched a new award scheme to promote the conservation of Seychellois architectural heritage. The organization issued a media release saying: The Icomos Seychelles Heritage Award will recognise special accomplishments, projects and efforts which promote conservation of our built and architectural heritage. Apart from new constructions it will recognise restorations, rehabilitations, re-use of a building, property or structure of heritage value, which would have been completed during the preceding year of the award.
The Seychelles Tourism Board has thrown its weight and support behind the scheme as maintaining the archipelagos heritage of buildings and unique Creole homesteads is considered important for the picture the island gives to visitors. Said a regular source from Mahe: This is just another component of making the Seychelles more attractive for visitors. We have a number of well maintained buildings but more can be done to showcase our past. From next year there will be an annual award ceremony to recognize and honour outstanding conservation and preservation of architectural landmark buildings to be held on World Heritage Day [18th April].
The local chapter of ICOMOS, formed in 2010, involves Seychellois architects, historians, archeologists and engineers amongst others, working together to keep the archipelagos history alive and conserve it for future generations.
EUROPEAN NIGHT FLIGHT BANS, RUNWAY BOTTLENECKS AID GULF AIRLINES
The European Union, and several of the member states, appear to be on a collision course with their aviation industry, first over the down your throat ETS regulations, which have met with global opposition and demands to let ICAO come up with a world wide solution, and also over regulatory measures and court orders, restricting flying hours at key airports and drowning expansion projects in litigation.
Contacts in several European airlines have left privately no doubt, that they would hope for nothing better than political and retaliatory measures by countries like China, Russia, India, the United States and perhaps even the Gulf states to succeed and force the European Commission to reverse their course, while officially remaining subdued if not resigned into their fate, that the almighty EU got it wrong but also got away with it so far.
At the same time are complaints about the uneven playing field vis a vis the leading Gulf airlines like Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad returning in dialogue sessions between EU based airlines, their association and their respective European governments, alleging anything from outright subsidies to undercutting of fares.
The core problem however lies elsewhere as more recent developments once again have made clear. In Germany, literally coinciding with the opening of another runway at Frankfurt, a court upheld the night flight ban from 11 pm until 5 am, i.e. 6 hours, which passenger but more important cargo airlines claim will hugely disadvantage them compared to hubs which can operate at 100 percent and not at 75 percent only. The new Berlin airport too has been subjected to such restrictions and earlier in the week did the state of North Rhine Westphalia equally impose a ban on passenger aircraft between 11 pm and 5 am for the Cologne / Bonn airport, yet in a mindboggling display of incompetent arguments let cargo airlines keep operating during those hours.
Across the channel a different but all too familiar problem hampers the growth of air traffic into Heathrow, where the current government has immediately upon taking office 2 years ago decided against the building of another runway, leaving airlines in a lurch. From a UK based source it is understood that over 85 percent of the airlines flying to Heathrow would add more frequencies if only they could get slots, but with runway capacity at the UKs most important airport now utilized by over 99 percent this will remain a wish no Santa Claus can ever deliver. The Board of Airline Representatives in the UK has in a recently published survey also said that about half of their member airlines, a total of 86 flying in and out of the UK, have stated to them that they were actively considering moving at least part of their operations out of Britain, should push come to shove and they find their financial future in jeopardy over lack of slots or their ability to expand and meet growing traffic demand.
While there are current indications, that a new policy paper on aviation may recommend that the present coalition government review their hard stand on the third runway at Heathrow, critics pointed out that whatever little progress there maybe, it would come too late and offer too limited an expansion space, saying a third runway at Heathrow should be under construction now and a fourth in the planning stages to retain the airports global position as the busiest international transit hub. That accolade though is expected to be yielded to Dubai International, which by 2013 is due to overtake Heathrow and become the busiest international transit airport, courtesy at least in part by Heathrow being unable to expand in time.
Meanwhile though have the declared enemies in the Gulf found unconditional backing by their own governments to catapult aviation infrastructure deep into the 21st century.
Dubai International Airport is looking towards the completion of a new dedicated A380 terminal exclusively used by Emirates while already embarking on the building of Terminal Four. At the same time, in aviation terms only a stone throw away, is the new mega airport Al Maktoum International at Jebel Ali nearing its opening phase for passenger operations. When complete it will be the worlds largest airport with 6 runways and a metro line connecting the two Dubai airports airside.
In neighbouring Abu Dhabi a new central terminal was approved for construction earlier this year, to turn Etihads home base into a state of the art airport while further up the Gulf Doha is gearing up towards the opening of their new mega airport, home of Qatar Airways, another airline on the prowl and ready to exploit the follies of the European Union, European governments and subsequently hamstrung airlines, which appear to have become the favourite punching ball of pseudo eco policies.
Notably has Air Berlins CEO Hartmut Mehdorn spoken out against the night flight ban into Cologne / Bonn, with the airline claiming nearly 30 flights a night will be affected as a result of the ban on night flights, seriously compromising the airports connectivity into the wider Air Berlin network. Air Berlin notably is now tied to Etihad, which now holds nearly 30 percent of the Air Berlin shares and codeshares a large number of flights into Abu Dhabi and beyond. Mehdorn was quoted as having said: This is the wrong decision, taken at the wrong time before adding making this kind of change damages business, costs jobs and prevents airports and airlines from planning with confidence for the future.
An uncertain future that is, should German airports continue to be compelled to operate only 75 percent of the available hours every day, airlines be taxed beyond acceptable levels and branded environmental polluters of the highest order, contrary to available evidence of aviations carbon footprint on a global scale.
Should Europe, the EU and individual governments not find a way forward to sensibly address such issues, and on the fast track, they will be the ones history will blame when the present seismic shift of traffic volumes to the Gulf, from the former aviation world powers America and Europe, continues beyond the point of return. Signs though are they wont change tack, not of their own free will or by recognizing their failed approach to aviation, leaving the future of aviation looking at the Gulf and the Far East including China, relegating themselves almost by default into columns of have beens. Watch this space.