Ports & Ships Maritime News

Nov 9, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • SADC sets Customs Union timetable

  • Plans to expand East London car terminal

  • Strong objections to Mossel Bay fish factory

  • Maputo rail upgrade nears completion

  • Accolades for South African telecommunications company

  • Islamic militia free ship from pirates

  • Deputy President outlines SA economic landscape

  • 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 influences the Shipping World. The topics will not be news as such, more the background to the news.
    The column can also be utilised to highlight companies that have made their mark in this industry, or who do things differently from the rest. Get in touch with us if you have an interesting story to tell or your company has a success to share. Contact us at info@ports.co.za

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

    SADC sets Customs Union timetable

    The South African Development Community’s (SADC) sights are firmly set on implementing a full SADC Customs Union by 2010.

    This emerged from the Extraordinary Summit held in Midrand recently. A Ministerial Task Force has been charged with undertaking an evaluation of an appropriate model for the Customs Union subject to the prior establishment of a Free Trade Area (FTA) by 2008.

    The task Force is also required to establish how ready the member states will be for the creation of the FTA by January 2008. Member states include South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Malawi, Angola, the DRC, Mauritius and Madagsacar.

    SADC’s ambitious plan for economic integration of the region calls for a Free Trade Area by 2008, a Customs Union by 2010, a Common Market by 2015 and ultimately an Economic Union by 2018. However the biggest challenge is to get member states to comply with agreements already agreed with the SADC Trade Protocol.

    One of the intermediate challenges is that of some member countries with overlapping membership of other custom union communities. These countries include Angola, Tanzania, Malawi, Madagascar, DRC, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

    On a broader scale southern, central and eastern African states who are members of the respective regional economic communities have set 2025 as the target when the region will use a single currency along with a central bank for the countries making up SADC, COMESA (Common Market for Eastern & Southern Africa) and the East African Community (EAC)

    Plans to expand East London car terminal

    According to local newspaper reports the port of East London is about to embark of an expansion programme aimed at creating additional car handling facilities at SA Port Operations’ East London car terminal.

    The report says the multi-million rand project will create an additional 1,000 parking bays on the West Bank near the existing car terminal. It adds that this is part of a low-profile drive to establish the port as the country’s top seaborne vehicle transit terminal.

    What exactly this means is not clear as East London remains a small port terminal player, lagging behind both Durban and Port Elizabeth in the volume of motor vehicles handled. Nevertheless by developing additional facilities the port and SAPO will be making good use of available space while creating the capacity to handle any additional volume that the South African motor industry might decide to route via East London.

    The new parking area is to be built on the site of the old West Bank power station.

    In the latest financial year ending 31 March 2006 East London handled 55,480 motor vehicles at the port’s car terminal. By comparison the port of Durban handled 278,000 units and expects to process 340,000 motor vehicles in the current fiscal year.

    Strong objections to Mossel Bay fish factory

    The proposed fish cannery within the precinct of Mossel Bay harbour is coming under strong fire from tourist and residential interests in the town.

    See our report on dated 25 October on this subject - www.ports.co.za/news/article_2006_10_25_2313.html

    A meeting of interested and affected parties was scheduled for yesterday during which the matter was to be fully discussed and concerns expressed. The concerns centre around fears that the close proximity of the cannery to the town centre and tourist areas will impact adversely through noise and smell. There are concerns about blood water escaping into Mossel Bay which it is feared will attract sharks and other predators.

    In addition there are concerns over the increased number of heavy road vehicles accessing the port because of the fish cannery.

    Those opposing to the building of the cannery within the harbour say they have no objection to a cannery at Mossel Bay but do not want it built within the harbour or too close to tourism attractions. They say the decision to go ahead and build has been rushed and is flawed and too little public participation took place. An industrial area 11km from the town centre (which is close to the port) has been suggested as a more suitable alternative.

    A spokesman for the canning company, Afro Fishing said the communities fears were groundless as the modern methods to be employed at the cannery would prevent any odour or other pollutant escaping. He claimed the fishery needed to be close to the sea to ensure freshness.

    Maputo rail upgrade near completion

    The Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative (MCLI) reports from this week’s Mpumalanga Freight Logistics Forum held near Nelspruit that CFM, the Mozambique transport parastatal and railway company, is in the final stages of rehabilitating the railway between the port of Maputo and the South African border crossing at Ressano Garcia/Komatipoort. The work has included bridge reinforcements.

    CFM is reported to be working closely with Spoornet on general improvements to the line and Spoornet has indicated a target of 34 trains per week by the end of 2006 which will focus on the transport of coal and magnetite.

    CFM intends importing ten new locomotives, presumably diesel-electric, for the line. These will arrive from India in January 2007.

    The forum also heard that the N-4 highway between Witbank and the Mozambique border at Komatipoort is currently in the midst of a 7 – 10 year maintenance cycle which is causing frustration among motorists and road transporters. TRAC, which administers the N-4 is aware of these frustrations and is examining how to minimise the effect of the maintenance operation, particularly in view of forthcoming long weekends and holidays. Road traffic along this highway is meanwhile reported to have increased by 5 percent, with heavy truck increases exceeding those of motor cars.

    The forum also heard that SA Revenues Services (SARS) and its Mozambique counterpart Alfandegas are busy planning for the December peak period and will shortly communicate details of extended working hours at the border crossing. There was unfortunately no update on any progress towards a one-stop border crossing for Komatipoort/Ressano Garcia.

    Accolades for South African telecommunications company

    South African telecommunications company SMD Telecommunications fared well when it came to award time at the recent Japan Radio Company (JRC) conference held in Hamburg, Germany.

    The conference coincided with the SMM Exhibition.

    SMD Telecommunications was presented with two awards – Bruce Dunn, Sales & Marketing Manager SMD and Arend de Boer, SMD General Manager took the top award for the ‘Best Sales Increase 2006.’

    In addition the Service Department of SMD was recognised for the success rate in repair of equipment for JRC Marine Service, achieving an impressive 99.4 percent successful repair rate.

    Islamic militia free ship from pirates

    Somali Islamic Militia have freed the general cargo ship Veesham 1 (incorrectly identified in our report of 6 November as the MV Fishana) from the Somali pirates holding the ship and crew to ransom. The ship’s crew of 14 are reported to be unharmed.

    Two of the pirates were however not as fortunate and were badly injured when the militia stormed on board the UAE-owned ship. Earlier the pirates demanded a ransom of one million dollars (US) for the return of the ship and crew. The Union of Islamic Courts, which has taken effective control of much of Somalia, promised strong and swift action against the highjackers and carried out its promise in short order.

    The Veesham 1, which was being held by the pirates in a bay about 400km north of Mogadishu, is now on its way back to Mogadishu.

    Deputy President outlines SA economic landscape

    by David Masango, BuaNews

    Sandton - Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has outlined a picture of a prospering South Africa, one that is making progress in addressing its numerous challenges, to businesspeople in Johannesburg.

    The Deputy President was meeting with senior businesspeople, to find ways that government and the country's business sector could work together to further stimulate the country's economic growth.

    The Deputy President pointed out during the Economist Group's 5th Business Round Table with Government that the country's economic growth was on target to meet the 4.5 percent average growth set for the 2004-2009 period.

    This has grown from an average of three percent growth per year in the first ten years of democratic rule.

    "Investment has risen from 14 percent of [Gross Domestic Product] GDP to 18.5 percent of GDP. Last year, we received record levels of both direct and indirect foreign investment," said Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka.

    She explained that South Africa's macroeconomic models showed that the current performance would improve in 2009 to an annual growth rate over five percent.

    The Bureau for Economic Research at the University of Stellenbosch is also forecasting GDP growth over 5 percent for all three years 2009, 2010 and 2011 - the last year of its long term forecast period.

    Regarding the shared aspect of growth, the Deputy President explained that according to government's measurements South Africa was currently producing jobs at over 500,000 net new jobs per year - an annual four percent growth in employment.

    "Unemployment [rate] has fallen from a peak of 31 percent in 2003 to 25 percent in March this year. It is still very high - but moving quite rapidly in the right direction."

    At this rate, she said, South Africa would meet its objective of reducing unemployment to 15 percent or lower by 2014, and it will also meet, and "hopefully considerably" exceed its poverty targets.

    "We are no longer just a political miracle - we are now serious contenders in the economic growth stakes. We compare ourselves with the Chinas, the Indias, the Russias and the Brazils of this world.

    "These are our benchmarks. We do not think we are naive or excessively optimistic," she emphasised.

    Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka highlighted the importance of government's programmes both for economic recovery and growth.

    These include the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (AsgiSA); the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA); industrial reform; infrastructure development programmes, including nearly R410 billion to be spent on infrastructure from 2007-2010.

    She said government, after discussions with social partners and experts, had agreed that there were six binding constraints that had to be addressed, but that government was happy with the progress made in that regard thus far.

    These include the need for greater macro-economic stability; better and more competitive logistic and infrastructure services such as road and rail, ports and airports, electricity, communications and water; a better skilled labour force from operators and artisans to professionals and managers.

    In addition, there is need to improve industrial and sector development in the context of a more competitive environment; a better regulatory environment for small and medium (SMEs) businesses as well as a better capacitated state.

    During the meeting, representatives of the business sector acknowledged the economy was strong and growing, but shared the same sentiments that some challenges still remained.

    Business has since said President Thabo Mbeki's call for accelerated growth had created new opportunities for them, the economists say on their website.

    The website also advises business sector players that "understanding the government's thoughts will help you achieve your business goals", from creating new partnerships to developing new strategies.

    It adds that businesses' commercial results would also contribute to a narrower gap between the first and second economies.

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

    Reier, owned and operated by Durban dive company Subtech Diving is seen at the port of Ngqura (Coega) in 2004 – when she became the first vessel to enter the new container terminal basin. Picture Terry Hutson

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