South Africa’s high-speed rail link opens

first_img1 August 2011 The long awaited, multi-billion rand high-speed rail link between Johannesburg and Pretoria opens this week, with expectations that it will take about 20 percent of traffic off the congested highways between South Africa’s legislative and commercial capitals. Gauteng’s provincial minister for roads and transport, Ismail Vadi, told a press conference in Johannesburg on Thursday that the high-speed train – known as the Gautrain – will be running from Rosebank in Johannesburg to Pretoria from next week. The short section of the route between Rosebank and Park Station in downtown Johannesburg will, however, only open “at a later date”. The train will run from Rosebank Station through to Hatfield in Pretoria from Tuesday, 2 August, stopping at eight of the 10 stations along the way. The Gautrain’s feeder buses will also run along this section of the route. “The independent certifiers for the project, Arup, have confirmed that they will be in a position to issue the operating commencement date certificate for this phase of operations on Monday, 1 August,” Vadi said. The problem along the Rosebank/Park Station section of track is that water is seeping into the tunnel, causing the delay, but Vadi maintained that the section was “completely safe” and that its continued closure was a “precautionary measure”. “Although safety had not been compromised, the Gauteng Province and Bombela [the operating company] are concerned about the impact of water ingress, above the agreed upon levels, on the long-term viability and integrity of the infrastructure,” Vadi said. He apologised for the delay in opening the next phase of the Gautrain. The proposed date of opening is the end of the year. The Bombela Concession Company will be responsible, at its cost, for re-grouting the tunnel, to ensure that water stops seeping into it. The tunnel runs under The Wilds and Roedean School in Parktown, and the water that feeds the ponds and waterfalls in The Wilds rises from a nearby spring, and is therefore a constant flow of water. At present some 6-million litres of water is being pumped out of the tunnel into the Sandspruit River, which runs around Gillooly’s Farm, through Modderfontein, and into the Braamfontein Spruit, where it becomes the Jukskei River.Tunnel Bombela was required to submit a tunnel works plan for additional engineering works that will be implemented to reduce the seepage of water into the tunnel. “The delayed opening of the tunnel section between Rosebank Station and Park Station will enable Bombela to address the water ingress problem in the shortest possible time with the least impact on the rest of the system,” Vadi said. The province will not contribute to the cost of this additional work. The Gautrain has cost R25.2-billion. Remedial work consists of drilling small diameter holes through the tunnel floor and injecting grout in the surrounding rock. It is hoped that this will reduce the permeability of the rock mass, and thus reduce the amount of water that is fed into the tunnel drains. “This is an iterative process and it is difficult to predict how long it will take to achieve the desired results; however, it is envisaged that the section between Rosebank and Park stations could be opened by the end of 2011.” In the meantime, buses will be provided for passengers wishing to travel from Rosebank to Johannesburg’s central business district. Jerome Govender, the chief executive of Bombela, was not able to confirm what the penalties for the delay would be, but said it would be “very, very small … We are absolutely excited to operate the Gautrain – go and get your gold card,” he said. All eight stations opened on Friday, and Govender encouraged commuters to go and get their gold travel cards, to avoid the queues on Tuesday. The Gautrain will run seven days a week between 5.30am and 8.30pm, at 12-minute intervals during peak periods on week days, and at 20-minute intervals during off-peak hours. The trains will run at 30-minute intervals over the weekends. There will be no bus service on weekends and public holidays. Predictions are that 108 000 passengers will use the Gautrain daily. It is hoped that it will take 20 percent of road traffic off the network of roads between Johannesburg and Pretoria. The Gautrain between OR Tambo International Airport and Sandton Station opened in June 2010, just in time for the 2010 Fifa World Cup, and has proved very popular – predictions of 75 000 commuters a week between Sandton and the airport have been met. Source: City of Johannesburglast_img read more

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Ethiopian minister is first African to head the World Health Organization

first_imgFormer Ethiopian health minister Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has been chosen as the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO).Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, former Ethiopian health and foreign affairs minister, has been elected director-general of the World Health Organization. Tedros is a respected community health researcher, specialising in the fight against malaria. (Image: World Health Organization)CD AndersonDr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was nominated by the government of Ethiopia and elected by the WHO member states to begin his five-year term as director-general on 1 July 2017. He succeeds Hong Kong’s Dr Margaret Chan, who has held the position since 2007.Tedros has been Ethiopia’s minister of foreign affairs since 2012. He was also the Ethiopian health minister from 2005-2012, during which time he spearheaded a comprehensive reform of the country’s health system.Actions included expanding the country’s health infrastructure, creating 3,500 health centres and 16,000 health posts. Ethiopia’s health service workforce was also increased by 38,000 workers, including doctors, nurses and emergency service workers. In addition, he overhauled the financing mechanism to expand health insurance coverage to more Ethiopians.As Ethiopia’s foreign minister, Tedros worked closely with other African nations on the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, in which 193 countries committed to financing achievable Sustainable Development Goals for the continent.As an internationally recognised malaria researcher, with a PhD in community health research, Tedros will be tasked with leading WHO developments in the fight against not only malaria, but also HIV/Aids and Ebola crises. During his career, he has worked extensively with United Nations bodies to ensure fair representation for African countries in health research and aid.Tedros has chaired the board of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, as well as head of the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership Board.His successes with these two organisations included securing increased funding to fight life-threatening diseases in Africa. At the RBM, his team created the Global Malaria Action Plan, which made inroads in malaria awareness and prevention not only in Africa, but also in Asia and Latin America.Tedros was also co-chair of the board of the Partnership for Maternal, New-born and Child Health.Addressing the World Health Assembly shortly before the vote, Tedros pledged to lead the WHO in responding to future emergencies more “rapidly and effectively”, particularly the early detection of Ebola outbreaks.He also vowed to use his experience as Ethiopian health minister to actively ensure all Africans had access to healthcare, emphasising that “all roads should lead to universal health coverage. I will not rest until we have met this.”Further outlining his vision for the organisation’s role as a global health security body, Tedros said he foresaw the WHO’s work ensuring “a world in which everyone can lead healthy and productive lives, regardless of who they are or where they live”.(Image: World Health Organization)His five priorities as WHO director-general are:Advancing universal health coverage;Rapid and effective WHO response to disease outbreaks and emergencies;Ensuring the wellbeing of women, children and adolescents are the primary focus of global health and development;Helping nations address the effects on health of climate change; andMaking the agency transparent and accountable.Reacting positively to the appointment of the experienced doctor, the Wellcome Trust, one of the world’s leading biomedical research charities, stated that his track record on global health issues held great insight and strong political will when dealing with governments around the world.Wellcome director Dr Jeremy Farrar added: “Dr Tedros has the power to herald a new era in how the world prepares for and responds to epidemics, including building partnerships, strengthening public health systems, and developing new vaccines and therapies that are available to all who need them.”Source: World Health Organization, The Guardian, WikipediaWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

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How can delayed weaning benefit your operation?

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest At what age do you wean your lambs? This is a question that I have asked producers many times. I have heard ages ranging from 35 to 130 days of age with the most common answer being 60 days of age. This is the most common weaning age for producers in the eastern United States. When I ask producers why they wean their lambs at 60 days of age or younger, most respond with “that’s the way we have always done it here on the farm, so why change now?”From a researcher’s perspective, this is not a valid answer. Weaning before the natural weaning age (between 100 to180 days of age depending upon sheep breed) is stressful. Weaning stress can lead to decreases in animal performance as demonstrated by decreased weight gain. Weaning stress can also result in decreased animal health as shown by decreases in immune system function that can lead to an increased susceptibility to disease and infection. However, if we were to let nature run its course and allow for animals to wean naturally, could we increase animal health and performance?Considering the nutritional components of milk (fat and protein) as well as the stress associated with weaning, if producers increased the weaning age of lambs, would this allow operations to capitalize on lamb growth and health? In order to determine if delayed weaning benefits lamb health and performance, the authors below conducted two experiments.Data measurements collected in both experiments included body weight (BW), average daily gain (ADG) to monitor lamb performance. Packed cell volume (PCV), Fecal Egg Counts (FEC), and FAMACHA eye scores were collected to monitor lamb health. Packed cell volume is a measurement that determines the amount of circulating red blood cells in the body, which can be used to assess the level of anemia (blood loss). Fecal egg counts were used to quantify the number of parasite eggs being shed per gram of feces. FAMACHA eye scores were also used to assess circulating blood levels by viewing the mucosal membrane of the inner eyelid, a quick and easy way for producers to monitor their flock on-farm for Haemonchus contortus.In experiment 1, lambs were placed into one of two weaning treatments; Pasture Control (PC): lambs weaned at 60 days of age and placed on pasture and Ewe (E): lambs placed on pasture with ewe and weaned at approximately 123 days of age. Grazing paddocks were primarily composed of tall fescue and known to be infected with parasites (Haemonchus contortus – parasite of interest). In addition, lambs in experiment 1 were provided one of two mineral sources, loose mineral verses block mineral supplementation. At the end of the grazing phase, all lambs remained in their treatment groups and were fed to a targeted finishing weight (~120 lbs.) during the feedlot phase.For lamb performance, lambs that were weaned at 123 days of age (E) had a greater final BW and greater total ADG. From a health standpoint, E lambs had a higher PCV value at the end of the grazing portion of the trial when compared to PC lambs. Farm records also indicated that 41.7% of PC lambs required anthelmintic treatment as a result of parasitic infection whereas 0% of E lambs required anthelmintic treatment. In addition, when looking at the effects of mineral type, lambs consuming loose mineral had a greater overall ADG while on pasture when compared to those lambs consuming block mineral.During the finishing phase, E lambs had a greater average BW entering the feedlot, spent fewer days in the feedlot, and had a greater overall ADG when compared to PC lambs. However, PC lambs had a greater gain:feed ratio and greater total dry matter intake (DMI) while in the feedlot when compared to E lambs.In experiment 2, lambs were placed into one of four weaning treatments; Pasture Control (PC): lambs weaned at 60 days of age. Ewe (E): lambs weaned at approximately 116 days of age. Social Facilitator (SF): lambs weaned at 60 days of age and placed on pasture with non-lactating, non-related ewes. Feedlot Control (FC): lambs weaned at 60 days of age and placed in a research feedlot facility. Lambs in the pasture treatment groups (E, SF, and PC) were housed on the same pastures as described in experiment 1. All lambs in experiment 2 were provided with the same loose mineral due to the results found in experiment 1. At the end of the grazing phase, all lambs remained in their treatment groups and were fed to a targeted finishing weight (~117 lbs.) during the feedlot phase.From a performance standpoint, E lambs had the greatest final body weight while FC lambs had a greater final BW when compared to PC lambs at the end of the grazing phase. FC lambs also had the greatest final ADG at the end of the grazing phase. Due to the change in diet, FC lambs had the lowest BW for the first 28 days of the grazing phase. As for lamb health, E and FC lambs had a smaller change in PCV values from day 28 to the end of the grazing phase. As calculated in experiment 1, farm records showed that a total of 5, 50, and 55% of FC, PC, and SF lambs received anthelmintic treatment during the grazing phase whereas 0% of E lambs received anthelmintic treatment.During the finishing phase, FC lambs spent the greatest number of days in the feedlot, had the greatest total weight gain, and lowest DMI per day when compared to all other treatment groups. Additionally, E lambs spent the fewest number of days in the feedlot, had the lowest total weight gain, and had a the highest DMI day when compared to all other treatment groups during the finishing phase.Delayed weaning in both experiments proved to be beneficial. For those producers that face challenges with parasitic infection and are interested in raising grass-fed lamb, delayed weaning may be a cost effective alternative as delayed weaned lambs had greater gains and did not require any treatment for internal parasites. In addition, while mineral supplementation is important for basic biological functions, experiment 1 showed that lambs that were offered a loose mineral had a greater overall ADG when compared to those lambs that were consuming block mineral. Upon entering the feedlot, delayed weaned lambs spent fewer days on feed and were marketed at the same age as those lambs that entered the feedlot at 60 days of age. Therefore, for those producers that are interested in utilizing more pasture, decreasing the use of anthelmintics, and decreasing the amount of grain require to finish lambs, delayed weaning may be a viable option.last_img read more

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