Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 25, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Zimbabwe economic collapse hurting Mozambique railway

  • Eastern Cape ports to be evaluated for safety

  • West African news

  • APM Terminals calls for Global Safety Day

  • Another Somali highjacking

  • Pic of the day – COOL EXPRESS

    Zimbabwe economic collapse hurting Mozambique Railway

    Despite having being completely rehabilitated the Limpopo railway between the Mozambique port of Maputo and Zimbabwe remains underutilised and operating way below capacity, according to a report by Mozambique news agency Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo).

    The inability of Zimbabwe to either import goods, because of a lack of foreign exchange, or export items because of a loss of production throughout the landlocked country, is hurting the railway, one of two direct lines between Zimbabwe and the Mozambique ports.

    The other line is that between the port of Beira and central Zimbabwe, which is also underutilised for similar reasons.

    According to CFM-Sul, the state-owned railway company that operates the Limpopo railway, a mere 263,000 tonnes of goods was handled on the network in the first six months of 2007. Although much lower than in previous years this is an increase on the same period of 2006. Currently a single train operates each way on a daily basis, compared with a stated design capacity of five trains.

    CFM-Sul’s executive director Joaquim Zucule said there were hopes the line would begin carrying a total of one million tonnes a year in the near future, particularly now that Zimbabwe has begun importing fertiliser through the port of Maputo. He said this suggested that “we may have large quantities of agricultural cargo coming from Zimbabwe to Maputo port in the near future.”

    According to Zucule CFM-Sul will shortly rehabilitate 670 rail wagons at a cost of US$31 million. Although this contract is to be issued to a foreign company, it (the company) would be responsible for introducing clients to make use of the wagons, he said. CGM-Sul currently spends R600,000 a month on hiring wagons from Transnet Freight Rail, the South African rail company, a practice that CFM-Sul is anxious to bring to an end.

    CFM-Sul used to operate its own fleet of 2,200 wagons but many of these were damaged during the civil war or fell into disuse with parts stolen and sold for scrap. With the economic integration of the SADC region CFM-Sul will shortly require a fleet of at least 2,000 rail wagons to become fully operational.

    source - Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo)

    Eastern Cape ports to be evaluated for safety

    Bhisho (Eastern Cape) 24 October (BuaNews) - The Eastern Cape government has decided to upgrade ports in East London and Port Elizabeth so that fans will be able to commute by sea during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

    The ports will also be audited on their safety aspects, said MEC for Safety, Liaison, Roads and Transport Thobile Mhlahlo at the Consultative Conference on the Integration of Search and Rescue Services for the Southern Africa Region in Port Elizabeth recently.

    "We would like to see our people commuting between East London and Nelson Mandela Bay by sea to watch the games."

    The MEC said traveling by sea would be the safest mode of transport once the safety requirements were up to scratch.

    This will contribute in the government's tourism development strategy and as part of the Provincial Growth and Development Plan.

    "We intend to introduce a maritime passenger transport strategy, especially now as we prepare for the world cup," he said.

    The reviving of these ports, including the river port of Port St Johns, will begin soon according to the department.

    The MEC said his department was in a process of completing its Freight Logistic Plan which would seek to revive ports while talks with the Port St Johns Municipality on the delivery of needs were underway.

    "Presently, we have huge imbalance in the use of our infrastructure for the carriage of goods with the supply chain. In response to this, we have resolved to invest in an integral multimodal transport system leading to various destinations, including ports," he said.

    Ed’s comment:

    To some readers well versed in the pipedreams of local politicians, these proposals may seem ‘pie in the sky’ and unrealistic in the extreme. The immediate question that comes to mind is what vessels would be used for carrying passengers between East London, Port St Johns and Port Elizabeth for purposes of watching the soccer…

    The other question involves the environmental issues around the return of Port St Johns to a seaport status. Equally important, could this ever be justified economically, always bearing in mind how Arab interests looked seriously at reviving the port during the days of the former Transkei Bantustan.

    And that’s not forgetting that historically the port was once more than just a name with steamers calling between Durban and Port St John’s on a regular basis, before the river mouth became badly silted – a not unusual occurrence with South African rivers. In those days surveys were even undertaken to construct a railway from Port St John’s – at least one survey proposed taking a railway line through to Kokstad where later a railway from Pietermaritzburg connected with the main line to Durban.

    Of course further development of Port St Johns never took place and the once pretty town has slipped back into shabby obscurity (don’t tell the locals that) but let’s not be hasty in writing off its chances or the determination of politicians in these halcyon days ahead of a world soccer tournament, when it is time for men and women to turn dreams into reality. Let’s not also forget that this is the same provincial government that ignored the incredulous and went ahead with rehabilitating the railway between East London and Umtata, a railway that Transnet has written off as useless.

    Not that anyone has yet found or even made use of the rehabilitated railway, but it did get done!

    West African news

    Several significant developments at the Nigerian Delta port of Onne have been announced, according to reports in The Tide newspaper.

    One of these is the transformation of the Federal Lighter Terminal B at Onne, which is operated by the concessionaire Brawal Services. Dredging alongside the quay is now taking place to facilitate its use by larger vessels and once completed the draught alongside is expected to be in the region of 10 – 11 metres, bringing it on par with Onne’s ocean terminal.

    Brawal Services’ operations manager Robby Egbon told the newspaper that as a result of the dredging alongside the quay vessels other than lighters could soon make use of it, leading to a boom in business. He said the quay would offer an alternative place for ships to berth.

    In other news regarding Onne Port, the Federal Government has announced the concessioning of the remaining portion of Onne Port. The final section to be concessioned has until now been operated by the West African Container Terminal (WACT) under the supervision and oversight of the Nigeria Ports Authority. WACT is considered locally as the favourite to win the concession. With the completion of the process by the end of 2007 this will bring the number of terminal operators at Onne to three.

    Onne Port two existing terminal concessionaires are Intels Service which operates the Federal Ocean Terminal as well as the Federal Lighter Terminal Onne, and Brawal Services that operates the Federal Lighter Terminal B.

    In other Nigerian news the Nigerian Navy (NNS) has seized three vessels allegedly used for illegal bunkering services. One of the vessels comes from Cotonou in Benin but the ownership of all three remains in question, according to a report in This Day.

    At the time of seizure the three vessels were loaded with condensate. The crews of all three vessels made their escape as the Nigerian patrol boats approached and the three craft have been taken into custody at the NNS Delta in Warri.

    Earlier in October a self-propelled bunker barge loaded with 850 tonnes of cargo was seized by members of the Joint Security Task Force and five people arrested.

    APM Terminals calls for Global Safety Day

    The Hague, Netherlands – With a statement that the safety of its employees is a top priority, the APM Terminals organisation opened its drive towards employee safety with a Global Safety Day held yesterday (Wednesday).

    “Container Terminals are dangerous places to work and it is in everyone’s interest to ensure we have safe working environments. At APM Terminals we have a zero tolerance towards accidents and we believe all accidents can and should be avoided. Safety is a joint effort and is an important part of how we work together at APM Terminals and with our business partners,” says Kim Fejfer, CEO of APM Terminals, based in The Hague, Netherlands.

    To get everyone to discuss the safety issues at each terminal, the company halted operations yesterday at all terminals for 30 minutes. APM Terminals says it believes in the importance of engagement and partnership with customers, truckers, labour and suppliers to make the container terminals free from accidents.

    “The purpose of this initiative is to get every employee engaged – it is a joint effort and we have the responsibility for the safety of each other. We continue to emphasise the need to focus on proactive initiatives as well as to address accidents. We have always focused on safety and continuous improvement and we need to continue with new initiatives, ways and means to reach zero,” added Henrik Kristensen, Director of Health, Safety, Security and Environment. “We are proud of the high safety awareness in the organization and our team’s willingness to take it to the next level.”

    APM Terminals

    APM Terminals, with corporate headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands, is a leading, independent, global container terminal owner and operator of more than 50 terminals, serving approximately 60 container shipping lines around the world.

    Another Somali highjacking

    In yet another highjacking at sea off the Somali coast a small general cargo ship named ALMARJAN has been captured by pirates and taken into Somali coastal waters where the fate of the crew is unknown.

    The Comoros-flagged vessel, which is operated by a Dubai-based company, had completed discharging a World Food Programme (WFP) cargo at Mogadishu and was heading back to Mombasa when boarded by pirates, who opened fire using automatic weapons to force the ship to stop. All contact with the vessel has since been lost, says the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) piracy reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

    This is the second similar incident in a few days. Earlier another WFP-chartered vessel was attacked by pirates who opened fire and attempted to board the vessel shortly after it has sailed from Mogadishu. In that instance the ship altered course, increased speed, turned off its lights and was able to outrun the pirates.

    In yesterday’s News Bulletin we reported that the WFP has arranged for French naval vessels to escort WFP aid ships to and from Somalia in the future.

    Pic of the day – COOL EXPRESS

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    As the citrus season winds to a close for Southern Africa, is seems fitting to include this picture of one of the Seatrade reefer’s, COOL EXPRESS, sailing from Durban in warm afternoon sunshine. Picture Terry Hutson

    Don’t forget to send us your news and press releases for inclusion in the News Bulletins. Shipping related pictures submitted by readers are always welcome – please email to info@ports.co.za

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