IAPH Conference a success

May 31, 2003
Author: P&S

MONDAY, 26 MAY 2003
Dazzling start to IAPH 2003 World Ports Conference

The World Ports Conference (IAPH2003) got underway at the Durban ICC on Monday 26 May 2003 with a combination of welcome speeches and keynote talks presented by government ministers and leaders among the world ports body.

At the official opening of the conference on Sunday night (25 May), before about 1000 delegates, exhibitors and guests, the chairman of Transnet Limited Dr Bongani Khumalo, which is the holding company of the National Ports Authority of SA (NPA), said he hoped the conference would bring benefit to the global ports community in the coming years.

In appreciation of the many different cultures gathered in Durban he borrowed some words from the Kenyan scholar Ali Muzrui who recalled that the United States used to be called a ‘melting pot’ of different nationalities.

“On the whole, Africa is not a continent of immigrant peoples, it is more a continent of immigrant cultures.”

This sentiment set the scene for an evening of glittering entertainment performed by local artists portraying a kaleidoscope of the many different cultures to be found in the southern part of this large continent.

In welcoming delegates to the start of the Business programme on Monday morning, the chairman of IAPH 2003 and chief executive of the NPA, Siyabonga Gama, emphasised that ports can no longer be viewed as the means to collect rent and revenue but as facilitators of Trade.

“With this comes the realisation that our ports and harbours act as borders and the economic gateways for the imports and exports that drive our economy. We are the first to feel the tides of trade as it seeks welcoming shores.”

In his keynote speech the minister of Public Enterprises, Mr Jeff Radebe said he shared the IAPH’s view that the port and harbour infrastructure of a country made a huge catalytic impact.

“It is for this reason that I recently committed the lion’s share of my annual budget to the expansion, rehabilitation and renovation of our port infrastructure.” He said the legislative framework that would allow for the concessioning of the port’s terminals was well advanced, with the pilot project being the Durban container terminal.

Other large developments at South African ports included the R25 million dredging and deepening of East London harbour to facilitate the use of larger car carrier vessels for the motor export drive, a R2 billion expansion for the Richards Bay coal terminal, and the development of a whole new port at Coega in the East Cape.

“We in South Africa are resolute members of the African community of states. Africa has already come some way in uniting our economies, not least via our port and harbour infrastructure. This is being given added impetus with the rolling out of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad).”

The first of the working session speakers, Professor Gerhardt Muller of the Faculty of the US Merchant Marine Academy of New York discussed how the new and emerging concepts and technologies are going to be managed. He suggested that a new type of decision-maker might be necessary, someone with business, technical and human resource skills.

“Unbalanced systems could prove detrimental to all, and a much higher and demanding level of education and training will be necessary,” he said. This education and training would need to begin as early as at technical and high school level, progressing into the universities.

The re-introduction of a concept of apprenticeship and internship would also provide solutions as well as an interchange of personnel among companies and institutions.

Professor Leo Boske of the University of Texas talked of transhipment and hubs in the Latin American and Caribbean context, using a criteria of characterising successful hub ports while helping predict others with the potential of becoming transhipment centres.

According to Boske the concept of a successful hub port was that it should be well located, have adequate draught and facilities for handling large ships and containerised cargo, and should be regarded as efficiently run. However this was the minimum standard necessary.

“These are the minimum standards. Investment is a key issue, as is a willingness to adapt to and successfully implement a new system of port operations.”

Emerging maritime trends takes the spotlight

As the World Ports Conference (IAPH2003) entered its second day of working business sessions, the focus of attention moved towards issues of emerging shipping trends, productivity and global logistics.

Among the papers read during the day, Mr Zia Rizvi, who has a wide background as a ports and harbours consulting engineer, talked about the growth in size of container ships and the impact this has on ports. Discussing the trend towards container vessels of 8 000, 10,000 and 12 000 TEU capacity, Rizvi said the challenge this presented shipowners and ports was not how big the ships should be, but how big was big.

“The pessimists say 8 000 TEUs is big enough. The Optimists suggest 12 500 TEU meets the needs of the industry, but for bystanders the most practical size is probably between 9 000 and 9300 TEUs.

“From the shippers perspective they do not seem to care so long as their goods are delivered safely, speedily, punctually and at the best price. The carriers on the other hand appear to believe in the golden rule of silence.”

All of this, said Rizvi, leads to the port authority’s dilemma – Do or Die.

Another speaker was Mr Geret de Piper, senior vice president and chief commercial officer of CSX World Terminals, who discussed the success factors of terminal productivity.

Two elements had to be present in order to achieve high levels of productivity in a container terminal, he said.

The first, which de Piper said was the easiest to achieve, is a modern terminal management system that provided the grounding foundation necessary for high productivity.

“All elements of the terminal have to be integrated between the gate, yard and marine activities so that pre-planning and decisive movements can take place in a co-ordinated manner.”

De Piper said the human element remained the most important factor in achieving productivity.

“While a container terminal must have the prescribed modern terminal system before it can achieve world-class productivity, it will go for naught without the human element. It is the processes used and enlightened management, along with a skilled and co-operative work force, that will drive the productivity. The largest determining factor in productivity is a well-trained and motivated work force that is constantly trying to improve the process.”

Other speakers included Johan Engelbrecht, logistics manager of DaimlerChrysler in South Africa, who talked on global manufacture and strategies for success. Giving examples of the South African DaimlerChrysler operation in East London, he provided insight into methods used to place the South African operation into the forefront of a global manufacturing network, which in the process led to a resurgence for the port of East London.

The role of new technologies in the port industry also came under the spotlight when Mr Emilio Arbos, head of the president’s cabinet Port of Barcelona and Mr Santiago Garcia-Mila jointly talked on the role of port authorities as innovators of new technology.

“The evolution of trade and logistic communities has as a consequence the emergence of a new role for pro authorities,” they said. The new port authority role goes beyond the landlord port role and seeks to improve all the services offered by the port, with a particular emphasis on technological advancement.

Security features high on the conference agenda

The events of September 2001 and the recent war in Iraq justified putting security of ports high on the agenda for the 23rd International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH) World Conference, which was held at Durban’s ICC.

The topic came under the general theme of the conference - Ports – the Catalytic Impact, with the entire day’s business being devoted to this topic.

Superintendent Nico du Plessis of the South African Police Service’s Border Police and President of the Africa Region for the International Association of Airport and Seaport Police (IAASP) looked at the need to secure transport modes used in world trade.

“The events of 11 September 2001 changed forever the way in which the world will do business in future, not only in the aviation environment but also in the maritime sector where the largest volume of trade is handled,” he told the conference.

“We realise now that normal modes of transport can be used as weapons of mass destruction and this puts a whole new perspective on securing transport modes used in world trade.”

He said the New York tragedy prompted the whole world to rethink the measures in place for the safe movement of cargo and people. To address these issues the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has adopted the International Code for the Security of Ships and Port Facilities in December 2002.

Du Plessis said the United States had also adopted a container security initiative whereby customs inspectors are being posted in 18 countries with which the US had the most trade. They are tasked with conducting inspections on suspect containers to ensure the safety of cargo and ships before they left ports of export to the US.

Various acts have been put in place, amended or are in the process of enactment in several countries to ensure the safety of cargo and people as they move through ports in various transport modes.

“To ensure security in world trade, without compromising the world economy, it is necessary for police forces and security companies to work together and to share information on identified threats. The IAASP is an excellent body to achieve this,” said Supt Du Plessis.

In another paper dealing with security and the threat of terrorism, Captain William Nurthen, manager for Strategic Support Initiatives of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey explained how his port authority had handled port security in the aftermath of 11 September.

He said the terrorist attacks had created a new focus by exposing the vulnerability of ports and the entire marine transportation system. “Every port is now a potential target, and every ship’s crew member a potential terrorist.”

Nurthen discussed the impossibility of checking every container handled by the ports and said that security officers required a full understanding of the total logistics process, including having access to the complete history of each containers history and content, with certification from the point of loading.

“A terrorist act at a port could lead to economic destabilisation in the US or elsewhere, with secondary impact worldwide. Operating the Port of New York in this environment poses many challenges for the port authority of New York and New Jersey, the most significant being how to ensure security without stopping the flow of cargo.”

Nurthen explained that the port authority’s response uses a risk management approach focusing on awareness, prevention, response and consequence management, and is based on the two dimensions of security – physical security and container/cargo security.

Mr Jouko Lempianen, the director of Compliance and Facilitation at the World Customs Organisation (WCO) used his time on the podium to explore how the WCO was tackling port security. After sketching the organisational background of the WCO, Lempianen said the Resolution of Security had identified three of the eight activities that had to be completed by next month (June).

“These are a review of the WCO Data Model, the legal and procedural infrastructure, and guidelines for business.”


Mr Pieter Struijs of the Rotterdam Municipal Port Management was elected as incoming President of the International Association of Ports & Harbours (IAPH), in succession to Dr Akio Someya, Executive Vice President of the Nagoya Port Authority, who becomes Immediate Vice President.

Other elections saw Mr Thomas Kornegay of the Port of Houston Authority elected as 1st Vice President, and Ms Datin Paduka OC Phang – General Manager and CEO of Port Klang Authority becoming the new 2nd Vice President.

The National Ports Authority of South Africa’s Mr Siyabonga Gama became the first African to join the executive board of the international body when he was elected 3rd Vice President of IAPH.

As the Durban conference drew to a close on the fourth day of working sessions, delegates agreed it had been highly successful with quality papers and discussion.

Earlier on Thursday working sessions concluded by focusing on the challenges facing the ports industry. The session was chaired by Mr Dominic Taddeo, immediate past president of the IPAH and President of the Montreal Port Authority.

Dr Gustaaf de Monie, who recently consulted on behalf of the South African Department of Public Enterprises on impending concessioning of port terminals in South Africa, discussed structural changes brought by containerised cargo. He said that as a corollary to the wider acceptance of the free trade concept and the inroads made by globalisation, the promotion of external trade on a world scale has become a priority issue in economic policy, and is now dominating the agenda of most world governments.

Sithembiso Mthethwa, CEO of Dudula CSX World Terminals said in a paper on a South African maritime industry faced by the requirements of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE), that BEE should be seen as an integrated and coherent socio-economic process located within the context of the country’s national transformation programme.

“Many questions have been asked about the BEE process and its shortcomings in recent months. The questions asked include what is BEE and who is being empowered, and how to ensure that companies with empowerment shareholders are able to effectively transfer skills to previously disadvantaged employees.”

Mthethwa said there was no doubt that BEE was advancing rapidly in South Africa and has become a fundamental platform of economic policy. The big question facing established business was how to embrace and implement the process in a manner that results in a prosperous marine sector.

“Based on the oil and mining industry, it can be expected that the charter for the maritime sector will contain aspects of ownership, employment and development of previously disadvantaged individuals. Thus the question for corporate South Africa is no longer about whether or not to engage in BEE initiatives, but how.”

Thomas Falknor, Senior Vice President of International Container Terminal Services Inc (ICTSI) said the vast majority of port facilities in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia had gone the route of private sector involvement.

“Other regions have yet to adopt this process,” he said, adding that more than 70 % of the worldwide container terminal operations were now under the private sector.

Bringing the conference sessions to a close on a more technical note, Peter Mollema, Unit Manager of Maritime Development at Rotterdam Municipal Port Management said that new strategies will have to be introduced to keep up with changing technical developments in the ports, especially in view of a rapidly changing social perception on maritime safety as well as changing markets and demands.

Mollema said the Port of Rotterdam, which has about 30 000 seagoing and 133 000 inland vessels annually, was currently developing a new concept for VTM (Vessel Tracking Management) and Information Services.

“The port’s new views on VTM include integrating VTM systems and River Information systems. New technology will support a more autonomous role for shipmasters and pilots, with active traffic guidance (VTS) and voice communication decreasing.”

More emphasis will be placed on strategic planning, such as traffic and pre-passage planning and on information sharing. All VTS tools and procedures will be heavily affected, said Mollema.

Delegates to the IAPH 2003 Conference spent the final day, Friday 30 May attending technical tours of the ports of Durban and Richards Bay.

The next conference will be held in the port city of Shanghai, China in May 2005.

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