Ports & Ships Maritime News

Nov 20, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • Cruise threat to Durban

  • Durban port closures rescheduled

  • Dubai investors announce big plans for V&A Waterfront

  • DRC: Fears of further unrest as Bemba rejects poll results

  • Picture of the day

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    Cruise threat to Durban

    The mugging of several groups of cruise ship passengers on Durban’s beachfront on Saturday (19 November) has placed Durban’s role as a port of choice for cruise ships in some jeopardy.

    Several groups of passengers from the cruise ship Amadea reported that they had been robbed at gun and knife-point by thieves after they had been taken by tour bus to the beachfront – a perfectly logical place for any tourist to visit. The events that then took place are likely to rebound heavily on the port and city as a future cruise ship destination.

    Local authorities will probably wish to play down the incident, but the reality is that the damage done by the incident will reverberate around the world and Durban could find itself crossed off many cruise ship operators list of potential port calls.

    The message that will now go out is that South Africa, and Durban in particular is a dangerous place to visit. A previous mugging of a cruise ship official some years ago had the result of that company deciding not to visit the port in future.

    Cruise operators don’t operate on sentiment – they have only one purpose and that is to maximise profits from cruises, and when a destination is seen to be a dangerous place to visit, resulting in passengers wanting to cancel cruises or institute legal claims then it quickly removed from the list – there are plenty of places elsewhere for the ships to go.

    The cost to Durban of this incident is potentially enormous. Local tourist authorities have worked hard to attract cruise ships to our city and province, with Durban promoted as the hub for African cruise operations and promotions advertising the attractions, the climate, the animal life, the culture, the weather, in fact just about everything that can make a place attractive. What nobody expects is to have tourists threatened and robbed in broad daylight.

    It has been with good reason that tourist bodies in South Africa have given their attention to attracting some of the cruise business our way. Cruising is one of the fastest growing forms of vacationing and has become a worldwide phenomena valued at hundreds of billions of dollars annually.

    Local bodies know the value of these visitors, and they know too of the goodwill generated when a visit is successful. This leads to visitors returning here on future cruises and landbased holidays.

    A few years ago South Africa lost a golden opportunity of hosting a cruise ship throughout the summer months by one of the largest international cruise operators, which would have seen a modern cruise ship based in our waters. Port fees alone would have generated millions of rand in revenue – airlines and airports would have scored from international passengers arriving and departing for cruises. Hotels would have had additional dollar-laden guests, car hire companies, tour operators, game parks and souvenir and other shops would all have enjoyed the fruits of the ship’s stayover.

    Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, all because of an uncompromising if not arrogant attitude by Immigration officials in Johannesburg who discovered that the tour director, already here on an invited fact finding mission, had a visa that that expired a day before his intended departure. Efforts to extend it for a few days were fruitless and he was ordered out of the country.

    The tour director’s response was to be expected – his message to head office was that if this was how he was treated then it would also be how his passengers could expect to be treated, and the company was not prepared to take the chance.

    There is little doubt that the cruise director on the Amadea will be taking back a similar message to his principals in Germany, recommending that Durban and maybe other South African ports be scratched from future cruises. Yet all that was necessary to avoid this was some basic proactive policing along the beachfront, a place where tourists and locals should have the right to expect to feel safe.

    A number of other cruise ships are lined up to visit Durban in the ensuing weeks. Hopefully ships agents, tour operators, tourist bodies, city officials and the police will liaise more closely to avoid further embarrassment.

    Durban port closures rescheduled

    After having been postponed on several occasions because of the congestion in the port of Durban, geotechnical drilling in the entrance channel is back on the cards again.

    According to the chief harbourmaster, Captain Mike Brophy, time lines on the drilling programme are fairly tight and therefore the National Ports Authority has to plan the channel closures in quick succession.

    “We have scheduled the following dates for the three closures,” he says.

    27th / 28th November
    1st/ 2nd December
    5th / 6th December

    “The times have been set from 17h00 to 07h00 on two occasions and 17h00 to 09h00 on one occasion these times will only be able to be set on the date of the drilling.

    “Should the drilling have to be postponed on the scheduled date for any reason we will need to work on a day by day basis from there on.”

    The drilling operations are connected with the planned widening and deepening of the port entrance and channels in Durban harbour, which is scheduled to get underway next year.

    Dubai investors announce big plans for V&A Waterfront

    Chairman of Dubai World, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, has identified the Western Cape as a key target for future investments during a press conference with the Premier of the Western Cape, Mr Ebrahim Rasool.

    The press conference was a chance for Mr. Bin Sulayem, to discuss the US $ 2 billion acquisition and re-development plans for the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

    The Dubai World and London & Regional Properties consortium, announced plans in October to invest more than US $ 1 billion in the V&A Waterfront over the next four years. This followed the consortium’s successful purchase of the development for $ 1 billion in September.

    “The consortium’s successful purchase of the V&A Waterfront in September – ahead of 60 South African and international companies – was just the beginning,” said Mr Bin Sulayem.

    “We have long-term plans and have a strong commitment to South Africa and the region to ensure the Waterfront becomes one of the leading tourist destinations in the world.

    “We are involved in real estate developments across the globe but there are few places which offer such potential as Cape Town’s waterfront.”

    The consortium has already started improvements to the Waterfront and recently outlined a three-stage development strategy, the bulk of which is scheduled for completion prior to 2010 when South Africa will host the FIFA World Cup.

    The four year development strategy includes landscaping and beautification measures, commercial facilities, new hotels and resorts, entertainment areas, marinas, new shopping developments, apartments, offices and later a cruise ship terminal, a train station and improved connections to the airport.

    “The FIFA World Cup in 2010 is an important opportunity for South Africa to showcase itself on a global stage and we want to ensure we are ready to capitalise on this opportunity,” he said.

    “Our development strategy, to be rolled out over the next four years, demonstrates our long-term aim of doing business in Southern Africa.

    “We are bringing to the V&A Waterfront all the necessary resources, skills and expertise that have helped us transform Dubai into the iconic city that it is today. We have the chance to create a truly world-class resort, which can be a focal point for the World Cup.”

    This project not only demonstrates confidence in the South African economy but signals strengthening commercial links between the Middle East and Africa, said
    Mr Ebrahim Rasool, Premier of the Western Cape.

    “The V&A Waterfront is Africa’s number one property, leisure and retail destination and we are excited by the plans that the consortium has presented to us.

    “We hope the relationship between Dubai World and South Africa will encourage more Dubai-based brands to the region and we will be working closely with the developers to ensure the revitalised Waterfront meets the long-term needs of the local community.”

    Dubai World recently reaffirmed its commitment to Arab-African business development by announcing that it is the lead-sponsor of the second Arab-African Investment, Banking & Business Conference in Cape Town from 27 to 29 November 2006. James Wilson, CEO of Nakheel Hotels & Resorts – a Dubai World company – will be leading the development of the Waterfront on behalf of the consortium and will also give a keynote address to the conference.

    James Wilson, chief executive of Nakheel Hotels & Resorts, said: “The V&A Waterfront is a major re-development project and a real chance for us to take an active role in promoting the numerous opportunities available to investors in Africa and the Middle East.

    “Next week we will be in South Africa as lead-sponsors of the Arab-African Business Conference in Cape Town and I look forward to meeting with both local and international stakeholders to further discussing our re-development plans for the Waterfront and meeting with potential investors.

    “Already there has seen an overwhelming amount of interest in this project.”

    - Cape Business News

    DRC: Fear of further unrest as Bemba rejects poll results

    Kinshasa, 17 Nov 2006 (IRIN) - Jean-Pierre Bemba, challenger to President Joseph Kabila, has rejected the provisional results of the run-off presidential poll announced by the Democratic Republic of Congo's Independent Electoral Commission.

    "I regret to say to our people and the international community that I cannot accept the results that are far from reflecting the truth of the election results," Bemba told a news conference on Thursday in the capital, Kinshasa.

    The commission announced on Wednesday that Kabila had won the 29 October poll by garnering 58 percent of the vote, against Bemba's 43.5 percent.

    "I promise to use all the legal channels to respect the will of our people," Bemba said, without giving details of what he planned to do.

    Bemba accused the electoral commission of failing to notify the candidates of the results 48 hours earlier - as agreed - to give them time to react. He said he was surprised to learn of the results through the media.

    He said about 1,481,291 people voted outside the areas where they had registered, representing 10 percent of the votes cast. Because of this, Bemba said, he had submitted six complaints to the electoral commission.

    "The commission only replied to two of my complaints and in a non-satisfactory manner," he said.

    A political coalition known as Union pour la Nation that supports Bemba's candidature had, two days earlier, indicated that according to the results of the ‘procès verbaux’ of their witnesses, Bemba was in the lead with 52.2 percent of the votes, contrary to the commission's provisional results.

    The commission's provisional results are subject to endorsement by the country's Supreme Court.

    The presidential poll marks the end of the DRC's three-year transition to democracy. The elections, which began in June with the first presidential round and parliamentary polls, were the first democratic elections in the country in 40 years.

    Civil war in the DRC officially ended in 2003, marking the beginning of the transition, but parts of the vast country, especially the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu, as well as the northeastern district of Ituri, have remained volatile because of activities by militias and other armed groups.

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

    Picture of the day
    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    Safmarine Agulhas in the process of being broken into sections outside East London harbour. Mammoet are the main contractors. Picture by Willem Kruk

    NB Pictures submitted by readers are always welcome – email to info@ports.co.za

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