Ports & Ships Maritime News

Dec 1, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • Good half year for Transnet

  • New book commemorates 17 years of seatrading by Holland-Africa Line ship

  • First privatisation, then legislation – Nigeria does it backwards

  • Mombasa Free Port comes closer

  • Port Alfred waterfront to become heritage site

  • Maersk Line warns of losses for year

  • Pic of the day

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

    Good half year for Transnet

    It’s been a profitable half-year for Transnet, with all business units producing a good set of results for the six month period ending September 2006.

    Highlights for the half-year included:

  • Revenue up 9 percent to R14.4 Billion
  • Operating profit from continuing operations up 7.2 percent to R4.6 Bn
  • Cash from operations surges ahead 20 percent to R5.7 Bn
  • Operating margins for continuing operations at 32 percent
  • Equity attributable to the shareholder up 30 percent to R31 Bn

    Continuing operations refers to the five business units that form part of Transnet’s future corporate strategy.

    “The numbers show further evidence that the company is relying more on volume growth and less on tariff increases for its revenue,” Transnet said in a statement issued yesterday (Thursday), adding that this was a sign that Transnet is also succeeding in reducing the cost of doing business in the country as required by its shareholder, the SA government.

    Maris Ramos, the group’s chief executive welcomed the results saying that they offered further proof of the turnaround plan’s positive impact.

    “These results confirm the strength of the turnaround in the business. We are continuing to reap the benefits of the management team’s focus on the core operating divisions. All our major divisions are showing strong productivity improvement and profit growth in a sustainable way,” she says.

    Transnet’s said the structural transformation of the company, which is designed to create an efficient freight transport company with rail, ports and pipelines as its key focus, is processing ‘exceedingly’ well.

    However, Spoornet, the company’s freight rail division, was adversely affected by derailments, capacity constraints and customer operational problems. Costs were kept well below budget as a result of increasing productivity levels at Spoornet. Transnet said that management remained confident that volume growth in all parts of Spoornet will increasingly be evident and that the re-engineering programme and investment in capital equipment should boost Spoornet’s turnaround prospects.

    This re-equipment includes 110 electric locomotives on order from a Mitsui-led consortium to boost capacity on the Richards Bay coal line, 32 new electric locomotives for the iron ore line at Saldanha and an additional 212 diesel-electric and electric locomotives for the general freight traffic.

    “These locomotives will go a long way in both helping us to deliver on our current commitments on the one hand and in taking advantage of the enormous volume growth in the GFB (general freight),” said Ramos.

    New book commemorates 17 years of seatrading by Holland-Africa Line ship

    The mv Jagersfontein (the third ship to carry this name) enjoyed 17 years of trading from Holland to South Africa. On Friday, 24 November 2006 the authors presented a copy of a unique book devoted to this ship to the Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa to the Netherlands, Mrs Hlengiwe B Mkhize in The Haque.

    SA Ambassador to The Hague, Mrs HB Mkhize is handed a copy of the new book dealing with the motor vessel Jagerfontein. Picture courtesy Willem Kruk

    The mv Jagersfontein was one of the famous “fontein” ships which sailed between Europe and South Africa until 1973 in the Holland-Africa Line part of the VNS (United Netherlands Navigation Company), carrying passengers and cargo. Many South Africans will fondly remember her and she was enormously popular also for the coastwise trips to Maputo, then named Lourenço Marques, The importance of the book is emphasised by the introduction written by the Ambassador Mrs HB Mkhize.and the Ambassador of the Kingdom of The Netherlands Mr Frans A Engering.

    Particulars of the Jagersfontein

    Grt 10,574
    Nett 6,308
    Dwt 10,321
    Length 159.35m
    Breadth 19.15m
    Depth 12.58m
    Max Draft 9.21m Combined Freight/Passenger vessel
    Accommodation for 140 first class and 60 tourist class Passengers
    117 Crew 2 X Sulzer Engines 9 cylinders each, 12000 Bhp, 2 propellers
    Speed 17.5 knots

    Built at F Schichau Gmbh in Elbing Poland in March 1940, launched as Elandsfontein and subsequently seized by Germany. On 10 March 1945 she was sunk by cannon fire. After the war she was raised on 20 March 1947 and towed to the Netherlands were her building was completed at the Royal Shipyard ‘de Schelde’ and she was renamed Jagersfontein. She entered service on 27 February 1950 and made her last trip in 1967.

    Copies of this book will be in available locally through Mr W Kruk of Elgin Brown and Hamer in Durban (shipyards – see Maritime Services Directory for contact details). The book is written in Dutch and contains many photographs.

    NB – see Picture of the Day below

    First privatisation, then legislation – Nigeria does it backwards

    Nigeria’s port administration is in a race against the clock to have legislation confirm what has already been achieved – privatise a number of the port terminals.

    Earlier this year a large number of terminals were successfully concessioned with the new operators taking up residence – however it hasn’t been smooth sailing since then from a labour or operating perspective. Now some of the operators are becoming twitchy with the approach of country-wide elections, expected to be held next April. There is a possibility that some if not all concessions could be overturned unless the concessioning programme is confirmed through appropriate legislation.

    People in high places are saying that no-one can foretell what would happen if there was a change of government in less than six months time, therefore the need to pass the necessary legislation in advance.

    The Bill legalising the concessioning process has been read a first time – a second reading still lies ahead.

    Mombasa Free Port comes closer

    Kenya MPs have unanimously passed a motion paving the way towards the establishment of a Free Port at the Port of Mombasa.

    The motion, which was in the form of a private member’s motion, should lead to the introduction in the House of a Mombasa Free Port Authority Bill. However a slight controversy resulted when the government failed to respond. Government spokespeople played down the fact and said that the matter had previously been debated in the House and did not require a government response for it to go forward.

    The motion seeks to create a Free Port status at Mombasa along the lines of Dubai, Hong Kong, Port Louis and others. An area of approximately 4,000ha adjacent to the port has been set aside for the purpose.

    Port Alfred waterfront to become heritage site

    It failed by a whisker to become a port of any standing except for a brief period in its early history, but now the historic Port Alfred Waterfront is set to be declared a heritage site by the Eastern Cape provincial government.

    In a report in the EP Herald, the Provincial Heritage Resources Authority has decided that Port Alfred‘s waterfront Wharf Street area is of such historical significance that it should be declared a heritage site.

    Known also as the Kowie as well as Port Frances, and referred to less faltteringly as the Basket Work Harbour in a book of that name, Port Alfred is thought to have been first used by the early Portuguese seafarers who sailed into the entrance of the Kowie River as far up as St Mary’s Cove to take fresh water.

    The wharf which is now under consideration for heritage classification was built post 1841 after the first English settlers opened the mouth of the river to sailing ships. In its early years Port Alfred rivaled nearby Port Elizabeth as the main harbour for the region and is said to have been capable of berthing up to 10 ships at a time. The harbour was in use for more than 40 years before fading from the limelight.

    The nearby railway station has already been declared a heritage site, despite the railway to Graham’s Town having shut down a number of years ago. The line remains intact however and is occasionally used for short excursions by a private operator.

    Maersk Line warns of losses for year

    AP Moller has issued a warning that it expects to post a loss of US 600 million this year (2006) for its container business (Maersk Line) compared with a profit of $ 1.3 Bn in 2005. This is after gains on sale of ships and after integration costs relating to the takeover and absorption of P&O Nedlloyd.

    However the group expects to record a profit for the full year for the AP Moller-Maersk Group in the order of DKK 16 Billion (DKK 20.2 Bn in 2005).

    The report says that the expected result is still sensitive to changes in freight rates and volumes as well as oil prices and exchange rates during the last months of the year. The Group’s annual report for 2006 will be published on 28 March 2007.

    The company says that fuel expenses – 35 percent higher than in 2005 - were a contributing factor leading to the poor results with the Maersk Line container business. This was despite a 10 percent increase in traffic volumes for the first six months.

    In an unrelated report, Maersk Contractors USA Inc has been awarded a drilling contract by Statoil LLC for a deepwater development semi-submersible rig to operate in the Gulf of Mexico. The rig is the first of three highly advanced deepwater development semi-submersibles presently under construction for Maersk Contractors in Singapore, and is expected to arrive in the Gulf of Mexico in the summer of 2008.

    The three rigs under construction are substantially larger and more sophisticated than the recently completed semi-submersible Maersk Explorer, the company’s latest newbuild. Each rig will be capable of drilling 10,000m into the seabed while operating in waters of up to 3,000m. A total of 180 people can be accommodated on board.

    Maersk Contractors is part of the AP Moller - Maersk Group and is a leading drilling contractor and supplier of floating production solutions. The fleet counts 29 drilling rigs and four FPSOs including six high efficiency jack-up rigs, three deepwater development semi-submersibles and one Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessel under construction. Maersk Contractors employs an international staff of 3,000 well-trained people.

    Picture of the day

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    Jagersfontein of Holland-Africa line entering Durban harbour, one of several of the ’fontein’ ships and of which a book in Dutch has recently been published – see report above. Picture courtesy Willem Kruk

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

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