Unifeeder renamed United Africa Container Lines

Mar 25, 2004
Author: P&S

South Africa’s longest established shipping line, formerly known as Unifeeder has been rebranded to emerge as United Africa Container Lines (UACL).

The Durban-based company, which is a joint venture between the two most familiar names in South African shipping, Safmarine Container Lines NV and Grindrod Limited, has been operating coastal shipping services from as far back as 1922 when the first vessel, SS Frontier traded between Durban and East London. The company later evolved though several transformations into the well-known Unicorn Lines trading the coastal service between all southern African ports.

In 2002 Grindrod sold a 51% share to Safmarine and the line emerged as Unifeeder, extending services as far as Mombasa on the East Coast and to Luanda on the West.

UACL operates a fleet of medium sized vessels suitable for the coastal service between Luanda and Mombasa. The West Coast Service offers weekly, named-day sailings between Durban and Luanda calling at all major ports in South Africa, Namibia and Angola.

The East Coast service between Durban and Mombasa operates weekly, named-day sailings calling at all major ports in Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya, while a regional logistics office based in Harare (Zimbabwe) services over border transport requirements to and from the landlocked countries of Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi by both rail and road.

In addition the lesser Mozambique ports of Pemba and Quelimane are serviced through Mozline, a Mozambican registered company in which UACL holds a 75% equity stake. Mozline also caters to cabotage requirements between all significant Mozambique ports.

According to Captain Dave Rennie, UACL’s managing director, UACL transports about 500,000 tonnes of domestic cargo annually between Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. He said the company was looking at increasing the frequency from Durban to Luanda on the West Coast, as well as services into the Indian Ocean Islands on the East Coast.

“Our volume of feeder containers has grown more strongly than any other sector in the last 18 months. As well as increased support from the mainline operators we have been serving for many years, it is pleasing to see new players in the market on board our hulls. The common carrier aspect of our business is a cornerstone in our strategy.”

“At the first board meeting the directors resolved that a new name should be sought for the company,” said marketing and business development executive Andrew Thomas. He said the directors wanted a name that better reflected what it meant to be the only South African domiciled container shipping line at the start of the new, African century.

“It is with great pride that we have chosen the name United Africa Container Lines. Africa is our home and our place of business as it has been since those early voyages in 1922.”

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