Ports & Ships Maritime News

Feb 28, 2006
Author: P&S


  • Unions confirm nationwide strike on for next Monday

  • New man at the helm of Rennies Ships Agency

  • Flooding brings disruption to cross border trade with Namibia

  • US aid agency responds to request for help from Kenyan government

  • Wednesday is a South African holiday

  • New submarine heads for home

  • As tomorrow (Wednesday 1 March) is a holiday to enable people in South Africa to vote, there will be no News Bulletin published – we’ll be back on Thursday

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

    Unions confirm nationwide strike on for next Monday

    Port users and commuters can expect another day of disruption and little work next Monday, 6 March, when members of four Transnet trade unions go out on a national strike.

    The four unions, Satawu, Uasa, Utatu and Sarwhu said in a communiqué that they are acting in a unified group and have called on all their members to stay out on 6 March.

    “The above mentioned union’s met on 24 February 2006 and assessed developments with regard to the dispute with Transnet, the rolling mass action programme and the mediation process. It was agreed that the strikes have been very successful between 30 January and 22 February 2006 commencing in KZN and ending in Gauteng, Limpopo, North West and Mpumalanga.

    “It was noted that whilst SACOB and Transnet are disputing the degree of economic cost of the strike between themselves such a spat confirms that they felt the pinch from ports to commuter rail and freights exports. It was further noted that the level of mobilization and unity is at its highest level going into the national strike on 6 March 2006.”

    The unions say the national strike will take the form of provincial marches in all major centres and is fully supported by COSATU, SACP and the ANC in Gauteng.

    “The four unions have emerged united in preparation for the national strike and collectively signed a pledge committing themselves to participate and calling on all their members to participate in order to ensure that the action has maximum impact.”

    The unions said that Protekon workers would be taking part in the strike as the required seven days notice had been served in terms of LRA, which allows for a sympathy strike to take place.

    “The Autopax dispute will be referred to the Transnet Bargaining Council on 27 February 2006 to bring our members on board for national protected action.”

    New man at the helm of Rennies Ships Agency

    Four years after taking over the helm of one of Southern Africa’s largest ships agency businesses (if not the largest), Laurie Smith will hand over the reins to James Reddy on 1 May.

    “I’m going to enjoy a good rest and spend more time with my family,” said Smith, when asked what he had planned for the future.

    Smith is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Shipbrokers of 25 years standing and past president of ASABOSA, having served on the National Council for 20 years. He was also the first chairman of the Breakbulk Liner Operators Forum and the founder chairman of the National Port Users forum, which was formed to interface with government in respect of national port policy and its implementation.

    Laurie Smith, who steps down as managing director of Rennies Ships Agency at the end of April 2006. Click image to enlarge. Picture Terry Hutson

    Looking back over his 40 year career Smith points out that it spanned an extraordinary period. In this time the industry moved from using hand driven facit and banda machines in the sixties to the sophistication of modern EDI systems of today. Shipping patterns went through a series of dramatic changes – from the mail service and conventional ‘tweendeckers of the sixties - to containerised trades and the new ports of Richards Bay and Saldanha in the seventies – and the introduction of reliable regular bulk parcel services and specialised carries of the eighties.

    “Volumes and sophistication increasing exponentially all the way, interesting times,” he says.

    He recalls that in the sixties Maersk had occasional callers, Evergreen and MSC were unheard of. In those days Royal Interocean Lines, Holland Africa, Blue Funnel, Hellenic Lines, Farrell Lines, Moore McCormack and Cunard, amongst others, were thriving. Interestingly, says Smith, on the Japanese berth the big three – K Line, NYK and MOL are still trading strongly.

    “A different business style then. A different era. Time has moved on.” He points out that modern pressures have inevitably changed the business.

    “The style has changed, the jargon has changed – it is now about EDI systems, disintermediation, globalisation, and an environment where less people control more ships and where less people also control more cargo. The new era of mega-carriers and global resource groupings continue to have a profound effect. In the services sector first class efficiencies are now entry level and taken as ‘given’. Inventive differentiation is needed beyond the basic service offerings in order for any business to thrive.”

    But, he says, some old world charm still exists in the business – the value of relationships still count a lot. “Trust is still paramount. The shipping fraternity has somehow managed to retain some of the old traditions and a personalized touch despite the hectic new environment. One hopes that traditions, loyalties and personal relationships continue to thrive.”

    James Reddy, who takes over from Smith, has been with the company for 36 years and has served on the Rennies Board for the past five. He is currently the director responsible for the Liner Division but was previously responsible for conceptualising and successfully launching the landside Bidvest Logistics unit Bidfreight Intermodal (BIM), on which he served as MD.

    James Reddy, who takes over as new Managing director of Rennies Ships Agency on 1 May 2006. Click image to enlarge. Picture Terry Hutson

    Reddy’s wide and varied service history in Bidfreight includes Manica, SACD, Renfreight, Rennies Travel, Rennies Group Head office and Terminals.

    Craig Mountjoy will assume responsibility for the Liner Divisions and Grant Stevenson control of the Non Liner Division and Port Operations in the new Rennies structure.

    Flooding brings disruption to cross border trade with Namibia

    Heavy rains across large parts of Namibia including the normally arid Namib desert has brought flooding to wide sections of the country. The main road between Namibia and South Africa is reported to have been cut, as is the road in the northeast between Namibia and Zambia while the southern town of Mariental suffered severe flood damage and sections had to be evacuated.

    In the north of the country the Oshigambo River in the Oshikati area came down in flood for the first time since the 1950s when the river was dammed on the Angolan side of the border. A railway line to Oshikati from Ondangwa is currently under construction and it is not known whether this has been damaged.

    In Mariental half the town was flooded after the nearby Hardap Dam, which is fed by the Fish and seven other rivers, overflowed, cutting also the main North-South highway and stranding motorists on either side of the flooded area. Many rivers in the region that hardly ever have water in them are now flowing strongly.

    US aid agency responds to request from Kenyan government

    In response to an ongoing drought and a request for assistance from the government of Kenya, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing 22,800 metric tons (MT) of emergency food aid to the East African nation, the agency announced last week.

    The .7 million in assistance includes the commodity costs, ocean and inland transportation and handling, a USAID press release notes. USAID will provide food supplies, including wheat, whole yellow peas and vegetable oil, through the World Food Program's (WFP) drought emergency operation in Kenya.

    The Kenya drought emergency operation began in August 2004. Since that time USAID has provided 144,790 tonnes of emergency food aid, valued at .14 million. On 8 February the Kenyan government issued a fresh appeal for continued food assistance.

    The failure of the short-rains season further aggravated the drought in northern and eastern Kenya. Where rains occurred, they began late and ended early, and coverage was limited.

    The Kenya drought is part of the latest crisis sweeping across the Horn of Africa, with 1.4 million people needing emergency food aid from WFP in southern Somalia, 1.5 million people in Ethiopia and 60,000 in Djibouti, according to a WFP release.
    Because of the lack of food and water, livestock -- particularly cattle, but also sheep, camels, donkeys and goats -- are dying in large numbers in arid northern Kenya, where pastoralists are entirely dependent on their herds.

    The U.S. Agency for International Development has provided economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for more than 40 years.

    For additional information, see U.S. Aid to Africa.

    (The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.) Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov

    Wednesday is a South African holiday

    With national municipal elections taking place across South Africa on Wednesday, 2 March (tomorrow), the day will be observed as a public holiday to allow people time to vote.

    However the ports will remain open with limited services expected at the various terminals. Please check with the relevant authority or company for confirmation.

    New submarine heads for home

    The first of three new submarines for the South African Navy, S101 has sailed from Kiel in Germany for Simon’s Town in South Africa, where the boat is expected to arrive on 7 April 2006.

    Accompanying the Type 209-1400 class submarine is the navy’s combat support ship SAS Drakensberg.

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