Ports & Ships Maritime News

Nov 3, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • No to Mombasa concessioning by parliamentary committee

  • Ceremony for Smit Amandla Marine’s new bunker barge today

  • Ship arrives safely in Maputo

  • New kidnapping off Nigeria

  • Total perlemoen catches reduced

  • China to build new $ 8.3 Bn Nigerian railway

  • Summit will boost Chinese aid

  • Picture of the day

    Ports & Ships has introduced a new column called The Shipping World which will carry comment and analysis, as well as a collection of interesting facts, figures and explanations about shipping and transport in general and of the people who make it tick. In fact anything that goes into making up the Shipping World. The topics will not be news as such, more the background to the news.
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    No to Mombasa concessioning by parliamentary committee

    In another blow to industry hopes of a quick concessioning of the port of Mombasa, a parliamentary committee has expressed its opposition.

    The Committee on Energy, Communication and Public Works says it is opposed to moves to privatise the port and terminals and will advise the Transport Minister in no uncertain terms when it meets with him shortly.

    The committee apparently came to this conclusion following a meeting with senior managers of the Kenya Ports Authority on Tuesday. Committee interim chairman, Maoka Maore told journalists afterwards that the committee was extremely unhappy with a process that they felt was being rushed. He claimed there has been no proper consultations and that the process was being pushed by the Treasury.

    His statement implies that Kenya Port Authority senior managers are also unhappy with the proposal to privatise the ports.

    Trade unions immediately lent support to the committee saying that there was no justification in privatising the port as the KPA was now in a profit-making position.

    In the past year the port of Mombasa handled in excess of 13 million tonnes of cargo, a small increase on the 12.92mt handled in 2004. In recent months the port has received new infrastructure including new gantry cranes for the container terminal.

    - source East African Standard

    Ceremony for Smit Amandla Marine’s new bunker barge today

    The ‘keel laying’ ceremony of a new 5,000 tonne bunker barge for Smit Amandla Marine is to be held at the Durban shipyards of Dormac Marine in Durban this morning (Friday) in a project that Smit Amandla has described as an example of its commitment to the local economy.

    The R60 million barge will become the largest in South Africa when it enters service in about a year’s time and is the first of a number of newbuilds for the local bunker industry that are fully double-hulled in compliance with future requirements of the oil majors and of the International Maritime Organisation.

    The barge will be built at the reopened Dormac shipyard which last built ships in the early 1990s when it completed a series of container ships for an international client.

    “With the majority of our bunker barge activities located in the Port of Durban, it is pleasing to be able to contribute to local industry and to be able to employ South African expertise in the conceptualisation, design and building phases of this project, which complements our commitment to transformation and economic growth in this region,” said Mrs Manana Nhlanhla, Chairperson of Smit Amandla Marine.

    The new IMO regulations require that all bunker barges be double hulled by 2008. Smit Amandla’s new barge will join the company’s existing fleet of three barges – two in Durban and one at Richards Bay.

    The new barge has been designed with maximum fuel carrying requirements in mind and will have a capacity of 5,000 tonnes with a delivery rate of 1000 tonnes per hour, making this the largest bunker barge in South Africa. The barge will deliver marine fuel oil, gas oil and diesel oil and employs the latest in international barge design and technology, along with high manoeuvrability and safety features.

    Features inherent in the design include diesel-electric propulsion, closed loop loading, a bunker gantry and wheelhouse control of the whole cargo operation.

    “Smit’s commitment to the local ship building industry is in line with the government’s stated support for the re-establishment of South Africa’s shipbuilding capability and the resurrection of this vitally important sector of the economy,” said Paul Maclons, Managing Director of Smit Amandla.

    Ship arrives safely in Maputo

    The French bulker Fructidor arrived safely in Maputo yesterday escorted by the Durban-based supply tug Toto after the bulk carrier reported a breakdown of its engines. The ship had been en route for Maputo with a cargo of 42,000 tonnes of alumina.

    The 30,996-gt ship, which was built in 2005 and is managed by V Ships of Switzerland, reported a loss of engine power earlier in the week. The Durban-based tug Toto was the only available tug and immediately headed out, taking the Fructidor in tow but apparently experiencing some difficulty in making forward progress towards Maputo on account of the strong current combined with the heavy tow.

    However shortly afterwards the bulk carrier is reported to have regained engine power and was able to make its own way to port escorted by the tug which was apparently having some difficulty in keeping up.

    All is well however and both vessels were reported to have arrived safely in harbour yesterday.

    New kidnapping off Nigeria

    An American and a British citizen have been kidnapped from a Norwegian offshore supply vessel the HD Commander off the coast of Nigeria.

    This latest attack involving armed men in six speedboats took place in the early hours of Wednesday morning off the coast of Bayelsa State. The vessel attacked by the gunmen is one of several supply and accommodation vessels for the Funiwa oil platform.

    There was no immediate demand for ransom or other message from the attackers, who are thought to be militants protesting against the oil companies and the Federal Government, whom they accuse of stripping Nigeria’s coastal region of its riches without adequate compensation to local communities.

    The attack is but the latest in a long series of similar kidnappings of foreign oil workers both on land and offshore. Those kidnapped are usually released unharmed after a short while although it is believed that ransoms are paid by the oil companies involved although this has never been confirmed.

    Whether any of the ransom money, assuming that it has been paid, ever gets back to local communities is also uncertain.

    Total perlemoen catches reduced

    by Bongani Mlangeni, BuaNews

    Government has reduced the total amount of Perlemoen (abalone) that can be harvested, as the shellfish comes under tremendous pressure mainly from illegal harvesting and the migration of rock lobster.

    Perlemoen is a local delicacy that also provides a huge financial profit for fishermen, thus leading to it being poached in large numbers to be sold on the black market. Its shell is also used to make jewellery.

    The announcement in the reduction of the number of Total Allowable Catch (TAC) during 2006/7 period was made by Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk on Wednesday.

    "The abalone resource is under tremendous pressure, mainly from illegal harvesting (poaching) as well as the migration of rock lobster.

    "Over the past 10 years the TAC has decreased from 615 tons in 1995 to 223 tons in the 2005/2006 season," said the minister.

    He also said another drastic reduction on abalone from 223 tons to 125 tons this year is thus a natural progression that is necessitated by the current stocks of the resource.

    "Furthermore we have decided to reduce the TAC to zero in 3 of the 7 zones, these are Zones A, C and D," minister van Schalkwyk said.

    In terms of Section 14 of the Marine Living Resources Act, the minister must determine the allowable TAC annually.

    In terms of specific area allocations, the following TAC limits have been set:

  • Zone A (Gansbaai to Die Dam) has been reduced from 8 tons to zero
  • Zone B (Gansbaai) from 145 tons to 75 tons
  • Zone C (Hermanus/Hawston) from eight ton to zero
  • Zone D (Cape Hangklip to Betties Bay) to zero (reduced from 8 tons)
  • Zone E (Kommetjie) together with Zone F(Robben Island) remain unchanged at 12 tons and 20 tons respectively and
  • Zone G (Yzerfontein) from 22 to 18 tons

    Minister van Scalkwyk added that the department had also decided to maintain the zero TAC in recreational, subsistence and foreign fishing.

    He said this was the only responsible decision that he could take.

    Mr van Schalkwyk explained that although authorities had tremendous successes in apprehending poachers during the past year, it was an ongoing challenge to keep the resource in the water.

    "To this end, we are working on a comprehensive plan that will prevent the illegal harvesting (poaching) of abalone in the first instance. This will go a long way towards preventing our stocks from being entirely wiped out," he said.

    China to build new $8.3 Bn Nigerian railway

    A Chinese construction company and the Nigerian Federal Government have signed a US $8.3 Billion contract to build a new standard gauge railway between the port city of Lagos and the inland city of Kano, some 1,315km to the north.

    Accoording to the Federal government this is the first phase in a 20-year programme of modernising the transport system throughout Nigeria, during which the country’s entire railway network is to be overhauled and rebuilt to the wider standard gauge (1435mm) that is used in Europe, the United States and certain other parts of the world. Nigeria’s existing rail network is built to Cape gauge (1067mm) and apparently Nigerian government officials have been advised that it would be necessary to regauge the network in order to become efficient.

    Phase 1 is to be completed within five years.

    It is becoming fashionable for advisers mainly from the Northern Hemisphere to advise African railway operators and their respective governments to regauge – loans and contracts usually follow in the wake.

    In phase 2 the intention is to build a new railway between Port Harcourt and the Jos highlands, with additional lines leading to each of the country’s 36 state capitals, totaling some 8,000km in all.

    Summit will boost Chinese aid

    Beijing, 2 Nov 2006 (IRIN) - Trade and investment are likely to dominate the agenda when African and Chinese leaders meet for a summit here this weekend that is expected to yield pledges for more aid, training, health and agricultural assistance, and debt relief for Africa.

    More than 40 African heads of state and representatives are expected to attend the two-day summit, which opens on Saturday with all 48 invited countries sending representatives.

    The five remaining nations in the 53-strong African Union that have kept ties with Taiwan, which China does not recognise, have also been invited to send observers.

    China’s Foreign Ministry says the summit is the largest and most extensive gathering of Chinese and African officials in history. While Western nations increasingly condition financial assistance on political reform and respect for human rights, analysts say many African leaders welcome China’s streamlined, no-questions-asked approach to aid.

    Beijing has preached a policy that says free trade and investment are enough to kick-start economic growth in Africa, and has backed up its rhetoric with massive imports of African oil, cotton, timber and minerals.

    More oil used to keep China’s engines moving comes from Angola than anywhere else in the world, and China accounted for 10 percent of Africa’s exports last year as it struggled to fuel a steady nine percent growth rate and natural material shortage.

    Meanwhile, cheap finished products manufactured with African raw materials, ranging from sandals to jet fighters and motorbikes, are being sold cut-rate back to Africa.

    But near the top of the agenda at this weekend’s summit will be pledges by China to send more doctors and nurses to Africa, offers to share China’s agricultural knowledge, and to keep building infrastructure such as hospitals, hotels, roads and ports.

    Some 950 Chinese doctors and nurses are currently working in Africa, according to China’s Ministry of Health, and several thousand African students have been trained in China.

    A significant commitment of Chinese troops to United Nations peacekeeping is also expected at the summit, and Beijing will also cancel more African countries’ debts – it has already dropped over US $1 Billion for 36 countries.

    Chinese leaders are hoping their show of magnanimity will help to cool a backlash of resentment against their presence on the continent that has already seen their oil fields in Angola and copper mines in Zambia threatened.

    Western human rights watchdogs have criticised China’s policy of prioritising trade and sovereignty while keeping quiet about politics, and especially condemned its arms trade and financial links with Sudan and Zimbabwe, both accused of massive rights violations.

    The Sudan government in Khartoum is accused of sponsoring genocide in the country’s western Darfur region, but China has refused to back any initiatives that go against its bedrock diplomatic principle of “non-interference” in the affairs of other countries.

    On the sidelines of the summit, Chinese leaders have been meeting separately with Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the Sudanese president. Bashir is scheduled to brief the press on Friday morning.

    A recipient of food aid until 2005 when the UN World Food Programme (WFP) declared China self-sufficient, earlier this year WFP announced that China had already become the third largest food donor in the world.
    While China has lifted itself out of the mire and is now among the fastest developing countries in the world, most African countries have seen income and growth levels stagnate since the 1970s, despite having extensive reserves of raw materials and minerals.

    Although most Chinese food aid is sent directly to North Korea, US $11 million has been sent to WFP projects mostly in Africa since 2000, according to WFP.

    The summit is the third time Chinese and African leaders have sat down together since the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was established in 2000.

    (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

    General cargo vessel Global Prince heading up the Maydon Channel in Durban harbour. Picture Terry Hutson

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