Ports & Ships Maritime News

Nov 15, 2005
Author: P&S

EMAIL: jhughes@hugheship.com
WEB SITE: www.hugheship.com

SMIT Marine in major empowerment deal

The Board of Directors of SMIT Amandla Marine tonight announced the finalisation of the SMIT Amandla Marine empowerment transaction and the sale of a total of 30% of SMIT Amandla Marine (Pty) Ltd to black shareholders and an inclusive Employee Trust.

The transaction comes concurrent with the sale and transfer of the majority of SMIT business in South Africa into SMIT Amandla Marine. The company says the multi-million rand transaction strengthens SMIT Amandla Marine's position as the leading specialist marine services company in South Africa.

“The establishment of this new company reaffirms SMIT’s commitment to South Africa and its empowerment objectives as well as the principles of the Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment. It also meets SMIT’s strategic objectives to develop partnerships in all major maritime nations where we operate,” said Ben Vree, CEO of SMIT.

As a result of the sale of the company as a going concern, 550 employees have transferred from SMIT Marine South Africa to SMIT Amandla Marine.

The black empowerment deal involved selling 18% of the shares to African Maritime Investment Holdings, a 100% subsidiary of Mion Holdings, while a further 12% were sold to the SMIT Amandla Marine Employee Trust, with the beneficiaries being the employees of SMIT Amandla Marine, of whom 74% are black. The latter transaction provides for broad-based empowerment in line with government policy and intention.

In its statement SMIT Amandla Marine said: “A key driver in the finalisation of this transaction has been the commitment demonstrated by both new black shareholders African Maritime Investment Holdings (Pty) Ltd and the SMIT Group in their quest to create a company that appropriately addresses the critical issue of Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment, not only in terms of ownership but, as importantly, in terms of the development of black management, employment equity, skills development, preferential procurement, new enterprise development and corporate social investment. It is through the finalisation of this empowerment transaction that the company succeeds in contributing meaningfully to the sustainable development of the country.”

Car ban worries importers

Importers of used motor vehicles are concerned with a change in the law that used to allow imported used cars to be driven from South African ports across the country’s border.

Until recently importers or their agents have been able to obtain a temporary three-day permit allowing them to have the vehicle road tested before being driven on a 21-day permit across the border to the vehicle’s destination in any of Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia or Malawi.

It is believed that several thousand motor vehicles are imported this way every month, amid accusations that many of the vehicles are well past their sell-buy date and are not fit to be driven. Yet they manage to obtain roadworthy certificates in deals that some people say are highly dubious.

A High Court ruling last week has effectively put a stop to all that and in future all imported used vehicles will have to be carried on motor transporters or railed to their final destinations.

Agents for the used car industry say there are not sufficient motor carriers to handle the volume of vehicles being imported and warn of congestion at the car terminal with uncleared vehicles clogging the system.

As it is Durban is already full of used vehicles in various warehouse properties across the city, ostensibly waiting to be delivered to other countries, although the suspicion remains that many of them never leave South Africa and instead become part of a huge clandestine smuggling racket.

Before making its judgement the court was told by the Department of Transport that illicit practices involving the importation of used vehicles had given rise to unroadworthy vehicles on South African roads, as well as the illegal awarding of permits and roadworthy certificates at testing grounds.

Mozambique to refurbish its loco fleet

In an effort to get its railway system back on the tracks, CFM, the Mozambique port and railway company has announced it will refurbish 45 of its existing fleet of diesel-electric locomotives as from January 2006. The first refurbished loco could be available as early as April 2006.

Mozambique recently confirmed that it cancelled the concession to operate the railway between the South African border at Ressano Garcia and the port of Maputo owing to dissatisfaction with a lack of progress by the Spoornet-led consortium. Instead CFM will rehabilitate the important rail corridor itself and has arranged for 1,000 wagons to be refurbished in South Africa at a cost of US million.

Not all the 45 locos will be used on the Maputo-Ressano Garcia line. CFM intends creating a leasing company with some private shareholding which will undertake the lease of locos to the various rail operations throughout Mozambique. The Nacala railway from the port of that name to the Malawi border, which is concessioned to an American-led company, has also come under fire for what the minister of transport described as a tardy performance so far. The concessionaire’s excuse has been a shortage of locomotives which forced them to lease four diesel-electric locos from Sheltam Loco in South Africa. Now CFM intends repatriating disused locos from the Nacala system to Maputo from where they will be transported to South Africa for overhauling.

Mozambique barge ‘returns’ home

A barge used for transporting grain is on its way back to Mozambique after a sojourn of several years in Tanzania.

According to the Mozambique paper ‘Noticias’ the barge named Mueda was used for transporting grain along the coast on behalf of a Tanzania company, which according to a subsequent court case then refused to return the vessel, altering the vessel’s papers in the process. Although the true owners were successful on their day in court (actually it took three years) the port authorities at Dar es Salaam subsequently demanded payment of accumulated harbour fees totaling US,000, which the owners not surprisingly refused to pay.

By all accounts the Dar es Salaam port has since decided it was easier to let the barge go than try to recover the outstanding debt and the barge is now being returned to Mozambique.

International News Study anticipates soft landing for container shipping<-

Drewry Shipping Consultants in its 2005/06 forecast says the latest projections indicate ‘a soft landing overall’ for container shipping in 2006 owing to a weakening of the supply/demand balance. In an article in Maritime Global Net newsletter Drewry warns that the container shipping industry faces the risk of being destabilised by a ‘threat of overcapacity’ in the main East/West trades resulting from an uneven structure of the current orderbook.

The supply/demand index covering the major East/West trades could fall by as much as 7.5% next year, which it says can be expected to generate additional cascading of tonnage out of those trades.

To demonstrate this Drewry reports that in July 2005 the world order book stood at 1,233 ships with an aggregate nominal capacity of 4.5million TEU, which is equal to 60% of the existing fleet’s capacity. It said the orderbook is dominated by ships of 5,000 TEU and above which can only trade in the main East/West trades and in some rare cases, North/South.

Clipper Race update – first yacht home tonight?

Tuesday 15 November

The Durban Clipper has climbed a place and is currently lying eighth with 477 nautical miles to go before they reach their home port in the next day or two. The leading yacht, Westernaustralia, is expected to arrive later tonight (Tuesday) but could sail in as late as 07.00 tomorrow due to the lack of wind. The city of Durban has sponsored the Durban yacht which is representing South Africa and is skippered by Craig Millar.

As Durban gears up for the fleet’s arrival, the big question on everyone’s lips is when will the first boat arrive? This is never an easy question to answer, local weather conditions are adding an even bigger variable to the equation. Yesterday, with less than 200 miles to sail and an average speed of over 10 knots, everything looked set for Westernaustralia to finish sometime today (Tuesday).

On Tuesday morning, with 99 miles to sail and an average speed of just over 1 knot things looked somewhat different. Throughout the fleet crews are pondering the variety of conditions they have experienced over the last few days. Strong winds from the south east, no wind from anywhere, strong winds from the west, and then back to windless drifting. That’s sailing South African style, and they are about to experience another set of conditions – winds from the north east.

As the boats are all heading to the east then north east, the fact that the wind tends to follow the line of the coast will mean that they will be destined to have it on the nose from here on in. Local wisdom says that once this system is in place it will stay for several days. This will definitely not please the crew of Jersey who are planning on leaving Cape Town first thing tomorrow after successfully re-tensioning the rig and who will be facing a beat for the entire way. At least this will allow them to really test the new rig settings in real sea conditions.

However, I suspect that for the boats nearer the finish line any breeze from whatever direction will be gratefully received, although it will push their ETA later. So, to go back to the original question, if the wind kicks in as predicted we should expect to see Westernaustralia approaching the finish line sometime late this evening, with New York potentially arriving first thing tomorrow (Wednesday) morning.

The Clipper 05 – 06 Round the World Yacht Race takes ten identical 68ft ocean-racing yachts, all backed by international cities and countries, on the world’s longest circumnavigation race (approximately 35,000 n.miles) visiting every major continent en route. The race started on 18 September 2005 from Liverpool, UK and is expected to finish on 1 July 2006 back in Merseyside.

The spectacular 10-day stopover from 17 to 27 November is expected to provide a significant boost to the region's tourism, hospitality and maritime industries as well as raising the city's international profile.

The stunning Durban Clipper 68-foot ocean racer is easily recognizable with her impressive and colourful paintwork proudly bearing a blend of the South African flag with the Durban Africa logo.

Clipper 05-06 Round the World Yacht Race Current Table
1. westernaustralia.com 99 0
2. New York 182 83
3. Qingdao 253 154
4. Cardiff 254 156
5. Uniquely Singapore 283 184
6. Liverpool 08 303 204
7. Victoria 371 272
8. Durban 477 378
9. Glasgow 483 384
10. Jersey In Cape Town

DTF = Distance to Finish (nautical miles); DTL = Distance to Leader (nautical miles)

For a detailed leader board please go to http://www.clipper-ventures.co.uk/n05_06/homepage.php

- these reports courtesy Clipper Ventures and Olivia Jones Communications

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