Ports & Ships Maritime News

Apr 26, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • New expansion plans for Port of Durban Car Terminal

  • CONGO: Rail traffic suspended

  • The container industry is 50 years old today

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    New expansion plans for Port of Durban Car Terminal

    Faced with a record turnover in the number of motor units being handled at the Durban Car Terminal, SA Port Operations has arranged to take over part of the Port of Durban 2005 Development at the Point, where a new 20 ha cargo handling facility facing on deep water berths is nearing completion.

    In the most recent fiscal year 2005/06 which ended on 31 March 2006, the car terminal at Durban handled a record 278,000 motor units and SAPO now anticipates this number to extend between 330,000 and 340,000 units during the current year.

    These volumes are well beyond the design capacity of the existing modern terminal and while long term plans call for its total relocation to Salisbury Island, where the naval station and army base has still to be vacated, in the short term (meaning now) plans have had to be urgently made.

    As a result berth G at the Point, which lies at the corner of the new Point docks and the T-Jetty, will be used (but not exclusively) as a second berth for motor vehicles (R berth is the other). The terminal becomes fully operational on 1 June.

    “Imports have gone berserk and exports are growing,” said Graham Braby, SAPO Chief Operations Officer. “Our biggest challenge is capacity and as a result the G square area of the new Point multi purpose terminal has been handed over to the car terminal which will make use of berth G in addition to its own dedicated R berth.”

    Braby said this would provide a further 2,500 parking slots in addition to the current 6,500 slots available within the terminal. SAPO now estimates that between 12,500 and 14,000 parking bays are needed.

    “It’s purely an interim measure until the Salisbury Island option becomes available.” He thought it might be as long as 2009 before SAPO can move across.

    The new car terminal area at G is fully equipped with lighting and tight security as required by a modern car terminal facility.

    Business Unit Manager Bev Masson said that SAPO was in constant engagement with the car manufacturers with regards to future projections. At present the import/export mix at Durban is 70/30 percent but within two years Toyota is forecasting an equal split as a result of the strong export drive by the Japanese motor manufacture’s Durban plant.

    CONGO: Rail traffic suspended, fuel shortage hits Brazzaville

    BRAZZAVILLE, 25 April 2006 (IRIN) - The suspension of rail traffic serving Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of Congo (ROC), and at least two weeks of fuel shortages have caused food scarcities and disrupted travel for many of the city's one million residents.

    "According to several testimonies, food products such as cassava, peanuts, beans and potatoes are getting rare since the suspension," Dieudonne Moussala, the head of the Congolese Association for Consumers, said on Monday.

    "We fear that the situation might continue," he added.

    A government minister last week attributed the fuel shortage to damages at the national oil refinery in November 2005. Energy Minister Tatti-Loutard also said the shortage was due to "difficulties" the government was facing in getting supplies abroad.

    "Things will soon improve," he added.

    The Congolese Ocean Railway Company recently suspended traffic on its PK 493 line between Brazzaville and a locality known as Simon, following flooding when the River Djoue burst its banks during heavy rains. The flooded 10-km stretch of the rail line lies on the outskirts of Brazzaville.

    Traders in the city said they usually stocked food supplies like maize and peanuts for one to two weeks.

    "Now it is difficult because of the situation," Henriette Elion, a trader, said.

    Elion said she feared the current heavy rains could worsen the situation. Several localities along the railway line supply Brazzaville with foodstuff.

    The flooding along sections of the rail line is a recurring problem. The rail company has carried out several studies on the possibility of rerouting the rail lines around the flood-prone zones. It launched such efforts in the 1980s but work was suspended due to of lack of money, an official of the rail company said.

    Moreover, the suspension of rail traffic in the Pool region has also been provoked by insecurity caused by the so-called Ninja rebels once loyal to Frederic Bitsangou, alias Pasteur Ntoumi, who still roam the Pool region, a war-scarred district adjacent to Brazzaville.

    Besides the rail suspensions, the fuel shortages in the city has caused a sharp increase in petrol prices and disrupted long-distance passenger travel.

    Following the scarcity, owners of public transport vehicles have been paying informal vendors up to 1,000 francs CFA (USD 2) per litre, up from the normal price of 400 francs CFA (USD 0.7). The vendors buy the fuel from local stations and resell it at profit, with the complicity of some service station agents.

    "It is hard for us to arrive early in the morning at the harbour where we usually buy our products," Jacqueline Ibara, a fish vendor at a local market, said.

    The fuel scarcity has forced buses to ply shorter routes and taxis to raise fares from an average of 700 francs (USD 1.3) to 1,000 francs (USD 2).

    Despite being sub-Sahara Africa's fourth largest oil producer, the Republic of Congo's three million people have mostly lived with shortages. Major local retailers of petrol - X-Oil, Total-Congo and Texaco - are unable to meet consumer demands, despite supplies they receive from the National Petroleum Company.

    (This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations)

    The container industry is 50 years old today

    It began 50 years ago today as the ambitious idea of a man who saw a better way of moving breakbulk cargo. Few would have envisaged the enormous effect that his brainchild, the standardized steel container would have on international trade and shipping in particular.

    Today it is estimated that 90 percent of all non-bulk cargo is shipped in standardized steel containers, being loaded and then discharged at specialised container terminals before being whisked away by road transport and on dedicated trains.

    And the credit for this goes to one man, an American named Malcolm McLean who had the vision to understand that by standardising the way in which breakbulk cargo is moved he could not only improve handling efficiencies but would radically reduce the cost of moving cargo while speeding up delivery – his innovation would change forever the way in which we ship goods and commodities.

    In 1955 McLean sold his trucking company and borrowed money to build the world’s first container ship. The following year that vessel, a converted tanker named Ideal X became the forerunner of vast new fleet of ships criss-crossing the oceans. Even McLean would no doubt have been hard-pressed to fully comprehend the phenomena he was setting in motion. It took another ten years before the first container ship was designed from scratch but from there on in there was nothing stopping the container revolution.

    Today a vast range of goods are shipped in containers, including liquid cargo. Containers are designed for many types of commodity, but all are standardized in uniformity and size. There are containers for liquids, for carrying gas, collapsible containers, side doors, refrigerated, flat rack, platform type containers, auto racks, bulk containers – almost every type of commodity can be easily and securely handled in a container.

    The container industry also spawned new shipping fleets – at the beginning of 2006 more than a dozen shipping companies could boast of having more than a hundred container ships at sea. The revolution goes on – today these ships are bigger than ever and experts says it is only a matter of time before container ships capable of carrying 12,000 and even 15,000 twenty foot containers will be on the seas.

    Not bad for a man with an idea.

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