Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jun 7, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Tanzania plans new port at Bagamoyo

  • Transnet rethinks Cape Town terminal plans

  • Contracts signed for La Mercy Airport and Dube Tradeport

  • Minister warns abalone sector may be closed down for ten years

  • Economic growth stunted by inadequate infrastructure and congestion

  • US Navy ship fired on Somali pirates

  • Pic of the day – USNS PATHFINDER

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    Tanzania plans new port at Bagamoyo

    Bagamoyo is perhaps best known to the western world as the place from which European explorers set off in the late 19th century – Burton, Speke, Livingstone and Stanley among others. It was to Bagamoyo that his faithful assistants Chuma and Susi brought Livingstone’s salt-preserved body after the missionary explorer had died over a thousand miles away in central Africa.

    Now the small coastal town is back in the news as the site of a new port, so the Tanzanian Port Authority has announced, and once again Bagamoyo is to become the starting point for trade caravans into the interior.

    Situated 60km north of Tanzania’s capital and chief port of Dar es Salaam, a two-berth harbour is to be constructed at a cost of US $ 225 million and fitted out for container handling in a programme that aims partly at relieving the pressure on Dar es Salaam while providing alternate routes for shippers in neighbouring landlocked countries.

    Tanzania recently announced its intention of upgrading and creating harbour facilities also at Mbamba Bay on the Tanzanian side of Lake Nyasa / Lake Malawi (see Ports & Ships News Bulletin for 16 May 2007) and at Mwambani outlet on Tanga Bay on Tanzania’s north coast (see Ports & Ships 14 March 2007). The latter harbour is being developed by Kuwait Gulf Link Port International at a cost of $ 400 million.

    The new port project at Bagamoyo remains subject to successful geotechnical assessment which is expected to take six months to complete, although a TPA spokesman said it is hoped to begin construction of the new port facility early in 2008.

    The new port will lie seven kilometres south of Bagamoyo within the Mbegani Fisheries Development Centre, a training facility established in 1967.

    Transnet rethinks Cape Town terminal plans

    Transnet intended to extend the Cape Town container terminal 300m into Table Bay (to the right of this picture) until the government rejected an EIA that have approved the project. Picture Terry Hutson CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE

    Transnet has to rethink plans of extending the Cape Town Container Terminal some 300m into Table Bay, says Environment Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk.

    The proposal came unstuck last year when the environment minister rejected the National Ports Authority’s EIA study (environmental impact assessment) which he said were seriously flawed.

    In May 2006 van Schalkwyk said the proposed R3.2 billion expansion, which involves widening the terminal’s stacking area by 300m out into Table Bay, could no longer proceed as planned despite his having originally authorised the project.

    The Cape Town Container Terminal is operating in excess of its stated design capacity (see Ports & Ships full report dated 12 May 2006 and 4 September 2006).

    Addressing journalists ahead of his budget vote in parliament this week, van Schalkwyk said that existing EIA regulations were currently under revision as a result of deficiencies in the system. His department has come under fire from colleagues in the cabinet who are anxious for developmental projects to go ahead, such as the Cape Town container terminal extension, while at the same time drawing criticism from environmental bodies.

    Recently the Minister of Public Enterprises Jeff Radebe indicated that it was likely that land adjacent to the port would be allocated for container expansion, even though this was at the expense of boat building and ship repair.

    Van Schalkwyk did not give an indication of how long the revision of the EIA process might take.

    The Port of Durban also faces a strenuous EIA process later this year regarding the proposed extension of the harbour southwards in the Bayhead area, with indications that the regulatory process could take between two and three years to complete before actual work can commence.

    Contracts signed for La Mercy Airport and Dube Tradeport

    PORTS & SHIPS doesn’t often report on aviation matters but in this instance the news that contracts have been signed for the construction of a new international airport and tradeport north of Durban is considered of interest to readers, if only because of the creation of synergies between the airport/tradeport and the ports of Durban and Richards Bay

    Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) reached a significant milestone in the company's history yesterday (Wednesday) through the signing of a R6.8bn contract with the Ilembe Consortium for design and construction of a new airport and Dube TradePort at La Mercy north of Durban.

    Developing a new airport is a first for ACSA with the La Mercy project being the biggest the company has ever embarked upon.

    The signing ceremony was conducted in the presence of senior members of ACSA, Ilembe and DubeTradePort at the ACSA offices in Johannesburg.

    "This is an important step in the right direction. Our main aim is to ensure that the airport is ready for 2010. Since late last year, we have been engaging with all relevant stakeholders to ensure that all legal and governance requirements were met," says Ms Monhla Hlahla, ACSA's Managing Director.

    Ms Hlahla further pointed out that although the contract had been signed, ACSA was legally bound not to commence any form of construction on the site before a decision was made based on the outcome of an environmental impact assessment (EIA) study.

    Hlahla explained that the signing of the contract allows both ACSA and Ilembe to start certain processes within the construction and design framework considering the schedule involved in delivering the airport by 2010.

    The contract between ACSA and Ilembe is a process of both parties affirming the final design, functional flexibility, expansion flexibility and features of the airport and has no bearing on the EIA process as the two are two separate matters.

    The Ilembe Consortium consists of major shareholders Group Five, WBHO and Total Facilities Management Corporation as well as a large group of KZN empowered organisations. This group includes a large contingent of women owned companies.

    The approach adopted by the Consortium is to utilise a combination of both the best local and international consultants and advisors with airport experience to deliver the project.

    The EIA report has been submitted to the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) for the Minister to issue a 'record of decision'. Once the EIA decision has been issued by DEAT, ACSA says it will make further announcements regarding the project.

    Minister warns abalone sector may be closed down for ten years

    The Minister of Environmental Affairs & Tourism (DEAT), Marthinus van Schalkwyk says that unless there is a significant reversal in the decline of South Africa’s abalone resource (also known as perlemoen) by November this year, the government will be forced to close down the sector for a period of ten years.

    Minister van Schalkwyk was introducing the debate on his department’s budget in the National Assembly this week. He said that scientific studies show that the abalone resource remains on the verge of collapse with little prospect of recovery in the short term.

    “The main causes of the decline in abalone are poaching and ecosystem effects - most notably, the migration of West Coast Rock Lobster into areas where abalone is located.

    “Environmentally, an intricate relationship exists between abalone, sea urchins and rock lobsters. During the early 1990’s, when rock lobster migration started, it led to the complete demise of the sea urchin population and to a severe reduction in the recruitment of juvenile abalone. The impact of the encroachment is that two of the four abalone zones were lost to the fishery.

    “Despite many successful examples of monitoring and surveillance of the abalone sector, the resource continues to decline at an alarming rate. If by November we do not see a significant reversal of this situation, we will be forced to announce a plan to close down the commercial abalone sector for a period of about 10 years, which is what is required for the resource to recover.

    “The challenge for our department will be to enlist the support of other departments and state agencies, locally and provincially, in the joint development of alternative livelihood strategies for those fishers and communities who will be adversely affected by the potential closure of the abalone fishing sector. It is my belief that marine aquaculture can play an important role in filling such a gap.”

    He said that Marine aquaculture is an integral part of the department’s strategy to diversify the fishing industry.

    “Taking into account the global picture, as well as our local needs, we are almost ready to gazette the first ever marine aquaculture policy for South Africa. The policy aims to create an enabling environment that includes looking at achieving transformation and broadening participation in the industry through SMME initiatives and facilitating finance and skills development.

    “Our policies are also intended to improve the management and control of environmental impacts and increase the resource base to a more diverse suite of species. It gives me pleasure to announce that our Department will be initiating four marine aquaculture projects, one in each coastal province, in the 2007/2008 Financial Year.”

    Economic growth stunted by inadequate infrastructure and congestion

    Sofia, Bulgaria, 4 June 2007 - Inadequate transportation infrastructure and congestion will negatively impact worldwide economic growth in the years ahead and urgent action is required globally to accelerate the pace of infrastructure development. That’s the warning from Ron Widdows, CEO of one of the world’s top-ten container shipping lines, Singapore-based APL.

    Speaking before the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) last week, Widdows told the continent’s leading transportation officials: “If our transport infrastructure can’t keep pace with the rate of growth, then big question marks hang over the continuation of the kind of economic prosperity that’s been delivered this decade.”

    The 54-year old ECMT, created to focus on Europe’s transport issues, convened its meeting in Sofia to consider a single issue for the first time: “Congestion: A Global Challenge.” Widdows became the first private-sector speaker to ever take part in the conference.

    Acknowledging that transportation and congestion are global concerns, the ECMT took an additional step to expand its scope by launching the International Transport Forum. In addition to EU and other European country ministers, ministers from Canada, Mexico, and Japan, other non-European countries as well as the U.S. Department of Transportation and the United Nations were represented at the conference.

    Widdows told the international audience that: "We are discussing an issue of worldwide importance. That’s why it is encouraging that ministers from so many countries are meeting to discuss how best to address the impact that congestion has on global trade and economic growth. The initiative to focus on the problem as a global issue is to be commended.”

    This was the latest in a series of high-level alarms sounded by APL and Widdows to warn against overcrowding at seaports, highways and railways worldwide. It was the shipping executive’s first major opportunity to address European and other major government ministers on the impact of supply chain congestion, following a series of engagements with the US Department of Transportation and the Bush Administration’s Domestic Policy Council in 2006.

    Widdows told his audience of government leaders that transportation infrastructure can’t keep pace with global growth in trade. By 2010, he said, global container volumes will be double the level of 2000. But in many of the world’s key markets, he added, the transportation infrastructure won’t be able to handle the load without negative impact to the flow of goods.

    Massive investments are needed to modernize and expand the transport system, Widdows said: Otherwise, congestion will slow future economic growth rates, add enormous costs to global supply chains and could lead companies to reconsider their sourcing strategies.

    To illustrate the problem, he said that in the first quarter of 2007, only 46 percent of container vessels globally arrived at ports on time – the lowest level on record. At the port of Rotterdam, only 35 percent of vessels arrived on time. At European ports overall, less than 30 percent of vessels arrived on time.

    The problem is caused by transport bottlenecks around the world, Widdows said. For example, he pointed out that:
  • Emerging economies in India and Vietnam urgently need to build and expand ports and inland road and railway infrastructure.

  • In the leading consumer economies – Europe and the US – there is a need most significantly for expansion and greater efficiency at ports.

  • Europe in particular must find a means for rail transport to play a larger role since trucks continue to be the primary mode for inland transport, creating greater congestion on the roads and a negative impact to the environment.

  • “Because of the highly interconnected and integrated nature of the systems that today service international trade, we need a consistent worldwide approach to implement solutions,” said Widdows. “Congestion in any major part of the world’s supply chain has global reverberations.”

    Widdows called for an expedited, but environmentally sensitive response to the problems of congestion. He urged governments – including the European transportation ministers - shippers and transportation industry executives to collaborate on solutions.

    “Everyone with a stake in global trade has a role to play,” said Widdows. “Governments, shippers, transportation providers – we must all do, and pay, our fair share. We must all contribute ideas. And we must expect that it will take a long time.”

    US Navy ship fired on Somali pirates

    It now transpires that a US warship fired shots across the bow of the Danish cargo ship DANICA WHITE after it had been boarded by armed pirates off the Somali coast (see Ports & Ships News Bulletin for 4 June 2007).

    The USS CARTER HALL (LSD50), a dock landing ship which is also equipped with helicopters, attempted to intercept the captured ship after the pirates seized control and ordered the crew to head for the coast. The US ship also fired on three small craft used by the pirates to attack the Danish ship and which were still circling the freighter.

    It was earlier reported and has since been confirmed that a French warship had also monitored the incident but declined to take action as the seizure took place in Somali waters.

    Pic of the day – USNS PATHFINDER

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The oceanographic survey ship USNS PATHFINDER (T-AGS 60) seen in Cape Town harbour on 24 May 2007, and photographed by Ian Shiffman

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

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