Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jul 25, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Transnet unveils new logos and branding

  • Line briefs – news from the shipping lines

  • Export expansion brings jobs and prosperity

  • Special Feature: Nigeria – Guns, gangs, drugs feed growing delta violence

  • Pic of the day – FPSO CITADE DE VITORIA

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

    Transnet unveils new logos and branding

    No more NPA – now Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA)
    No more SA Port Operations – now Transnet Port Terminals (TPT)
    No more Spoornet – now Transnet Freight Rail (TFR)

    * Acronyms were not used in Transnet's presentation, but given South Africa’s predilection for them what’s the betting they will fast appear.

    Transnet said in Gauteng this week that it was reinventing itself in terms of branding and corporate identity in a way that sees it move away from a multi-brand organisation to a “single overarching monolithic Transnet brand” (to use Transnet’s terminology).

    The reason for the re-branding, according to chief executive Maria Ramos, is that Transnet has been fully transformed from a diversified group into a “focused and integrated freight transport company.”

    The move follows the hiving off a number of companies within the group – the most notable one being South African Airways (SAA).

    “The conclusion of the structural transformation prompted us to rethink the Transnet brand, its relationship with the sub-brands and the appropriate architecture to give content to the philosophy of ‘One Company, One Vision’.”

    The new Transnet consists of five complementary operating divisions which are supported by a number of specialist functions such as Transnet Projects (which has evolved out of the former Protekon).

    The five divisions making up Transnet are:

    • Transnet Freight Rail (formerly Spoornet);
    • Transnet Rail Engineering (formerly Transwerk);
    • Transnet National Ports Authority (formerly the NPA);
    • Transnet Port Terminals (formerly SAPO); and
    • Transnet Pipelines (formerly Petronet).

    What stands out is how it is that what gets changed often ends up being the way it was. Anyone remember SATS – South African Transport Services - the successor to the SAR&H or SA Railways & Harbours? One parent company, one branding, different operating groups!

    Line briefs – news from the shipping lines

    Mitsui OSK Line (MOL) has commenced onboard training aboard the company’s new training ship SPIRIT OF MOL. (see Ports & Ships News Bulletin for 4 July 2007 -

    A reception was held on board the ship last Friday (20 July) for about 100 guests who included onshore support personnel, seafarers, and trainees.

    The Spirit of MOL sailed this Monday with about 70 Filipino and Russian trainees, who have begun an intensive education curriculum of between three and six months which is unique to MOL. On board the ship are also 33 seafarers and seven experienced instructors, selected from the Philippines and Russia. Most of the training voyages will take place between the Philippines and India.

    In a reference to the need for trained seafarers, MOL says it is continuing to expand its fleet and plans to have 1,000 vessels by March 2010. “To recruit and develop excellent seafarers who will maintain safe operation of its growing fleet, the company offers an exclusive MOL training program at 13 crew training centers around the world including the MOL training centers.”

    Maersk Line reports that with effect 1 September 2007, Mexico Customs will apply a 24 Hour Rule for all import cargo to Mexico.

    This new regulation requires carriers and NVOCC’s to provide cargo manifests 24 hours prior to arrival of vessel at origin ports for shipments destined to Mexican ports.

    Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK Line) and five Japanese shipbuilding companies have agreed to jointly fund courses for the study of new technology development strategies in shipping and shipbuilding. The courses, which are being offered for the first time, began on 1 June at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Information Science and Technology.

    The purpose behind this initiative is to foster new shipping and shipbuilding technologies and to provide necessary basic research to address and solve problems of safety and environmental protection - two matters of current global concern. “Through collaboration between the companies and the university, the courses will accurately reflect real world needs and serve as a foundation for the training of future leaders of the maritime industries,” says NYK.

    Japan’s ‘K’ LINE has ordered 10 panamax 4,500-TEU containerships from South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries. Delivery is to commence from 2010 when the new ships will begin replacing 3,500-TEU vessels. Each of the newbuilds will be 267 metres long, 35.4 metres wide, draw 10.8 metres and cruise at 24.1 knots.

    “This latest order reflects ‘K’ Line's wish to further reinforce its ability to provide even better service quality,” the company said in a statement.

    Export expansion brings jobs and prosperity

    By Jim Fisher-Thompson, Accra - The expansion of export trade in Africa is leading to more jobs and prosperity. This is happening, in part, because of the networking program created by US legislation passed seven years ago to replace aid with trade as the engine for economic growth on the continent, a State Department official says.

    The Sixth Annual African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum, held in Accra between 18-19 July was “very positive and a success,” says Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer, because “it brought together the business sector, the NGO [nongovernmental organisation] and the government sector all in one place and it was very much focused on practical steps to realize the total benefits of the AGOA legislation.”

    Frazer spoke with USINFO while returning to the United States on 20 July.

    Thirty-nine sub-Saharan nations now are eligible for the duty and quota-free entry of 6,400 of their products into the US market under AGOA. Although oil and gas account for more than 80 percent of those exports, the United States is expanding programs meant to build up agricultural capacity to diversity Africa's exports. In 2006, $ 394 million was devoted to such capacity-building programs.

    In Accra, thousands of participants from NGOs like the Leon Sullivan Foundation and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation met with African entrepreneurs and US businesses like the Coca-Cola Company and Caterpillar (a manufacturer of industrial vehicles) while interacting with 139 US officials and trade experts in Accra to obtain tips on how to enter the US market.

    The forum also featured a business exhibition where dozens of Ghanaian firms advertised their wares and services to interested US buyers and investors. The business fair was arranged in part by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), which also operates a regional trade hub in Accra that offers advice and guidance on business opportunities in the United States.

    Frazer said that, during her talks at the conference, “One of the things that was most striking was that [Ghanian} President [John] Kufuor indicated an interest in deepening our trade relationship by looking at the possibility of a free-trade agreement and we are certainly interested in this.”

    (USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, US Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

    Special Feature: Nigeria – Guns, gangs, drugs feed growing delta violence

    Port Harcourt, 24 July 2007 (IRIN) - Youths armed with pistols and Kalashnikovs barricaded all approaches to Victoria Street in Port Harcourt, the main city in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta, when a funeral took place there recently. With bandanas tied across their foreheads they searched people for weapons before letting them through. The funeral passed off without incident.

    “Their action was meant to deter possible attacks by rival gangs,” said Benibo Alabo-Jack, a resident of adjoining Aggrey Road, who watched the scene warily from his balcony.

    Traditionally funerals have been big social events in Port Harcourt and surrounding districts, providing the opportunity for the wealthy to show off by sponsoring feasting, and singing and dancing sometimes lasting several days.

    More recently, funerals have provided a platform for the manifestation of an emerging gun culture that has gripped Port Harcourt and much of the 70,000sqkm delta region where nearly all of Nigeria's oil is produced, said Alabo-Jack.

    “Most of those carrying weapons are youths aged 16-25,” he said.

    A study in 2004 commissioned by Royal Dutch Shell, the biggest oil multinational in Nigeria, estimated 1,000 people, mostly youths, were dying every year in violence between rival militia groups in the Niger Delta.

    More up-to-date figures are not available but violence in the region has worsened: It is dominated by hostage-taking targeting foreign oil workers who are usually released in exchange for a ransom, but has also sparked turf wars between rival gangs.

    Worst violence since 2004

    At least 20 people were shot dead on 1 July as rival gunmen went on the rampage in different parts of the city’s Diobu District. Many of the victims were innocent bystanders and included a 10-year-old girl who was helping her mother roast corn by a street corner, a pregnant woman hit by a stray bullet inside a church and three men shot dead while drinking at an open air bar.

    This year has also seen the worst violence in the city since the first upsurge of militia violence in 2004, including two audacious attacks on police stations in which more than a dozen people were killed, including 10 policemen. In one of the attacks on the city's police headquarters, assailants freed Soboma George, head of a notorious militia known as the Outlaws, (who had been detained by the police following a traffic offence) and 124 other prisoners.

    Politicians armed gangs?

    The year 2004 had provided the tipping point for worsening violence in the region. In June that year a funeral procession led by the delta's best known militia leader, Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, for the burial of his father, was attacked by a rival gang. While Dokubo-Asari escaped unhurt, more than a dozen people were killed. Scores were killed in subsequent gang violence in the city later that year.

    The violence had stemmed from the 2003 general elections during which politicians were alleged to have armed gangs of youths to help them into power. Two prominent gang leaders acknowledged they had received funding and support from Rivers State governor Peter Odili.

    With the election over, many armed groups in the region turned to the illegal trade in crude oil and refined petroleum siphoned from pipelines criss-crossing the delta, taken onto barges and sold locally or to foreign ships waiting offshore. The lucrative trade provided funds for the purchase of weapons that made the various groups even more lethal.

    Drugs to the fore

    While Dokubo-Asari turned political, and campaigned for more local control of Nigeria's oil wealth by the impoverished inhabitants of the delta, other gangs became more deeply involved in criminal rackets.

    Gunrunning, kidnapping and extortion of ransom from oil companies remain a staple of most criminal rings in the region.

    However, local and foreign security sources say drugs are increasingly playing a role in the escalation of violence and widespread availability of weapons in the Niger Delta.

    “We are getting information that a lot of the violence between rival gangs is over who controls the drugs that are now coming into the delta in growing quantities,” said an oil industry security expert who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    West Africa's stretch of the Gulf of Guinea has in recent years become a major transit zone for cocaine from South American drug cartels seeking narcotics routes into Europe and North America. Large drug hauls have been landed in remote air strips in places like Guinea Bissau, where they are broken up into smaller packets and taken to mules located in other places in West Africa.

    An increasingly lawless Niger Delta has become an attractive route and many of the region's criminal gangs are cashing in, said security sources.

    “Some of the ransom payments have definitely gone towards satisfying some drug cravings and that's why we're worried the kidnappings will get worse,” said a senior Nigerian police official who did not wish to be named.

    Social crisis

    As foreign oil workers become ever more scarce on the streets of Port Harcourt and other Niger Delta towns and cities, kidnappers are now picking Nigerian targets. At least four toddlers, including a three-year-old British girl, have been kidnapped in the past month by gunmen demanding ransoms. Several Nigerian oil workers have also been taken hostage in recent weeks.

    “What we are witnessing are some of the worst manifestations of a social crisis that has been festering in the delta and the country as a whole in the past three decades,” said Pius Waritimi, a sculptor and art teacher who runs a government-backed skills training scheme for youths in Port Harcourt.

    With most families in the grip of abject poverty, and deep-rooted corruption and mismanagement in government frustrating social development, most youths without education and skills have become cheap recruitment targets for the militias and gangs, said Waritimi.

    “What is even more worrying is that for many of these youths the drug of choice in no longer marijuana but crack cocaine,” he added.

    (This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations)

    Pic of the day – FPSO CIDADE DE VITORIA

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The FPSO CIDADE DE VITORIA in Cape Town on 20 July. The massive Floating Production, Storage & Offloading (FPSO) vessel was built in 1976 as the tanker MARGAUX and now forms part of the Saipem SpA fleet, having been converted into a FPSO at the Dubai shipyards in 2005/06. The 273,775-DWT vessel is 337m long overall with a beam of 54.5m. Her loaded draught is 21m. Picture IAN SHIFFMAN

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

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