Ports & Ships Maritime News

Nov 29, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • Surprise transfer for Car Terminal manager

  • Motor exports expand by over 30 percent

  • Container lines comes under pressure

  • Minister meets fishing industry stakeholders

  • Low sulphur content brings down emissions

  • Pic of the day

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    Surprise transfer for Car Terminal manager

    In a surprise development, the executive manager of Durban’s Car Terminal at the Port of Durban is to transfer to the Durban Multi Purpose Terminal.

    The move is a surprise in one respect although given the huge success of the Durban Car Terminal, situated off Bay Terrace in what used to be known as Cato Creek, it might be expected that Bev Masson, at the front of its operation from the concept eight years ago, should be asked to face greater challenges sooner or later.

    The Durban Car Terminal has in fact been a mirror image of the overall success of the South African motor industry, which after deregulation in the late 1990s began fully embracing the global market.

    Bev Masson was appointed to manage the new Durban Car Terminal when it still operated from an open field near Pier 1. Later it moved across to the area known as Cato Creek, a former railway marshalling yard and goods shed, on which a modern terminal was constructed.

    Since then it has become the leading car terminal in South Africa and has been the recipient of numerous awards for efficient operation. Masson has been at the forefront in all that time.

    She is transferring to Durban’s Multi Purpose Terminal, now situated on the Point where ironically several of the dedicated berths have recently been allocated to the adjacent car terminal. She faces a tough task at a terminal that for some years has not experienced the best of reputations among port users.

    Breakbulk is a diminishing item in the activity of many ports – the oldest of all types of cargo and consisting of non-bulk and non-containerised parcels of cargo. Items handled as breakbulk at Durban include things like steel products (coils and bar steel), rice and other bagged commodities and other non-uniform sized cargo, some of it handled on pallets and always more labour intensive that bulk or container cargoes. Or cars for that matter!

    This is what makes most breakbulk (or MPT) terminals problematic worldwide – breakbulk is generally labour intensive and inevitably slow working compared with other more modern types. But while it is often regarded as a diminishing activity in many ports, in the Port of Durban breakbulk still constitutes a sizeable chunk of cargo – 7.4 million tonnes in 2005 which was almost equally split into imports and exports – which is by far the largest breakbulk of any port in South Africa and more than the total volume of several.

    Turning that business around into something profitable is the challenge that Masson faces as she transfers across in the New Year, along with her unique style of management.

    Masson will be based at 111 Point Road, the historic old Point Railway Station building that formerly housed the marine pilots wardroom (who in turn have relocated back to Durmarine Building on the T-Jetty), and it is to these offices that she will shortly take up her new post. From here she will have a bird’s eye view across the Point docks.

    Motor exports expand by over 30 percent

    The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (NAAMSA) says it expects vehicle exports to increase by 31 percent this year, as a result of motor manufacturers introducing new models to replace others that reached the end of their lifecycles during 2004.

    NAAMSA said that from this year as several major export programmes commence so export volumes should increase by more than 43,500 units, an increase of 31 percent on 2005. During 2005 exports realised R22 Billion compared with R17.5 Billion the previous year.

    In total new vehicle sales are expected to increase to 647,000 units, up from 565,000 in 2005.

    According to the association the largest export destination for export components is the European Union, amounting to 68.7 percent.

    Meanwhile total units handled at the Durban Car Terminal during 2006 are expected to reach 400,000 units, an increase on the 350,000 units budgeted for. This compares with the 40,000 units handled by the car terminal eight years ago.

    Container lines come under pressure

    According to Oceanintelligence.com third-quarter earnings reports from container carriers show the sector is under pressure, with major lines reporting losses or cuts in net earnings.

    Observers said the results underlined the heavy toll that lower freight rates and rising fuel costs earlier this year took on the carriers’ bottom lines, although the decline in fuel costs that began in late July should help fourth-quarter results.

    Many of the shipping companies reporting poor financial figures – and not just in the container sector - identified rising bunker costs as a key issue.

    But some observers cautioned that fuel costs should not be "a scapegoat" and that bunkers were still only one part of a company's overall costs. They said that anyway owners should have protected themselves from price spikes in the bunker market by taking out hedging deals.

    Another factor hitting the container sector is what one observer called the "colossal amount of tonnage hitting the water". He said arrivals of new vessels had temporarily broken the back of the boxship market, pointing out that Hapag-Lloyd and its Grand Alliance partners, NYK Line and OOCL, were laying up vessels for the months ahead.

    In an unrelated report, the world's largest ocean carrier, Maersk Line, says it plans to phase out services and raise freight rates in 2007 following a review of its transpacific services (TP), to "reflect the dramatic increase in the cost of providing the service" between Asia and North America, a company statement said.

    Maersk Line intends introducing a general rate hike of at least US $ 300 per FEU on its trade routes that call at US west coast ports, and US $ 500/FEU for US east coast ports. The company has dismissed theories about overcapacity, saying that added capacity has been absorbed by the volume growth, which puts strain on the terminals, rail networks and roadfreight capacity. A spokesman said there was no doubt that the high fuel and intermodal rail costs are having an impact on the industry.

    sources – www.oceanintelligence.com and Shednet

    Minister meets fishing industry stakeholders

    Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk supported by Director-General, Pam Yako, held a stakeholder consultative meeting with the fishing industry with the aim to provide industry stakeholders with information on the state of the marine resources, the state of the Marine Living Resources Fund as well as to discuss strengthening future liaison between the department and the industry.

    "Effective communications, trust and common purpose between industry and government become vital in ensuring the sustainable utilisation of marine living and coastal resources," the Minister said.

    Addressing the meeting on the current state of the marine living resources, Dr Monde Mayekiso, the Deputy Director-General for MCM drew attention to a general decline of marine resources, focusing among others on the drastic decline of the abalone resource, hake and West Coast rock lobster, resulting in declining total allowable catches (TAC's). He further elaborated on the recovery of the South Coast Rock Lobster resource as a result of good management strategies. He posed a challenge to the industry to co-operate with the department in addressing some of the challenges.

    The industry raised the issue of research capacity as an area of concern. The department acknowledged this and indicated apart from collaboration with other countries such as Norway to develop marine science capacity; a strategy to retain both young and experienced scientists is being put in place. Co-financing of strategic projects based on common purpose such as research between industry and government was a further area to be explored between the parties.

    Giving the historical context within which the Marine Living Resources Fund operates, Director-General, Pam Yako explained that the MRLF was established in terms of the Marine Living Resources Act of 1998 and was listed as a public entity in 2001. The Fund generates its income from levies on fish products, license fees and permits, fines, confiscations, harbour fees as well as transfers from the department, the largest source of income being levies on fish products.

    Focusing on the MLRF income and expenditure, Yako explained that the operational expenditure of the Fund had always exceeded the operational income, which implies that the self generated revenue did not cover the expenditure. She further indicated that the deployment of the environmental protection vessels resulted in an increase of 65% of vessel operational cost which had not been adequately budgeted for.

    Explaining the Auditor-General's comments with regard to the Financial Reports from 2002-2005 the Director-General said all the reports indicate a lack of internal controls, lack of compliance to the Public Financial Management Act (PFMA), no proper accounting and fixed asset system, lack of historical data and supporting documentation, insufficient control on debtors and income, and failure to adhere to principles of accrual accounting and staffing matters.

    Focusing on the strategy to stabilise the MRLF the DG outlined the following measures that are being undertaken:
    * Finalisation of a cost recovery framework
    * Speeding up sale of confiscated abalone
    * Implementation of a new financial management system, including strengthening financial control
    * Implementation of levy collection and management model
    * Implementation of a Marine Administration System (MAST), and
    * Staff capacity building interventions.

    Following the outcome of a very cordial, open and frank discussion held today (28 November 2006) between the fishing industry stakeholders and government, it was agreed to move towards establishing one industry body in a bid to strengthen future liaison between government and industry within the context of the finalisation of the first ever long-term fishing rights (8-15 years) allocations process. It was agreed that an agreement should be in place by March 2007.

    Although progress has been made in the area of transforming the industry, this area remains a huge challenge the meeting further noted.

    More than 45 representatives from the industry attended the meeting.

    Source - DEAT

    Low sulphur content brings down emissions

    Car carrier specialist Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL) says that adopting a policy of using bunker fuel with a low sulphur content has brought down 56,000 tonnes of sulphur-dioxide emissions.

    The savings were achieved between 2001 and 2005.

    source – www.oceanintelligence.com

    Picture of the day

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    SD14 Impala with pilot cutter alongside sails from Durban – picture Terry Hutson

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

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