Ports & Ships Maritime News

Nov 9, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Transnet divisions seal Gautrain agreement

  • Sea Consortium launches second South Africa-East Africa string

  • Rate restoration on Europe South Africa service

  • High prices of food imports may leave people hungry

  • Coega creates over 3,000 jobs in 2007

  • Pic of the day – NYATHI

    Transnet divisions seal Gautrain agreement

    Durban, 07 November 2007 - A two-year contract was signed on Wednesday, 7 November 2007 between Transnet Port Terminals (TPT), Transnet Freight Rail and cargo agent Logistic and Freight Solutions for the transportation of imported rail tracks to be used in construction of the Gautrain Project. Under the agreement, TPT’s Durban Multipurpose Terminal (MPT) will handle about 20,000 tonnes of 18 metre abnormal rail tracks imported from Corus Rail in France, during the forthcoming 12 to 18 months.


    The Gautrain Project is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) Project. The Gauteng Provincial Government is the primary driver of the Gautrain and the National Department of Transport is a key supporter and stakeholder.  The Bombela Concession Company, Gautrain’s concessionaire, is made up of five entities.  Each brings particular skills to bear on South Africa’s largest transport infrastructure project. Four of the five entities are sponsor companies owning 25% of the shares in Bombela. Bombela has a 19,5-year concession agreement with the Gauteng Province for construction (4,5 years) and operating and maintenance (15 years).


    Up to 1,500 tonnes of tracks are to be imported every month through Durban MPT to construct the 80 kilometre rail route from Johannesburg to Tshwane, including the route between Sandton and the OR Tambo International Airport.


    UTi South Africa (UTi), the lead service provider, in conjunction with supply chain consultants, Value Added Logistics Solutions (VALS), has spent the past 12 to 18 months designing the supply chain in which Durban MPT plays an integral role via Logistics and Freight Solutions, a Durban-based company. 


    Logistics and Freight Solutions was appointed to manage the Transnet-related activities by UTi South Africa. Whilst UTi is only responsible for the land-side logistics, the supply chain optimisation process included engaging all stakeholders in the supply chain including Corus Rail, the Port of Antwerp, Macs Shipping Lines, Transnet Port Terminals, Transnet Freight Rail, VALS and Transcor. 


    The complexity of the operation is compounded by the fact that the rail tracks constitute abnormal cargo with finite capacity constraints at various points in the chain.


    Earle Peters, TPT Business Unit Executive at Durban MPT, said the two-year agreement between his organisation and Logistic and Freight Solutions illustrated confidence in the Port of Durban and its MPT. 


    “This strategic partnership recognises the key role Durban MPT has to play in establishing South Africa as an international player in both the freight and transport sectors,” he said.


    Pieter Venter Managing Director of Logistics and Freight Solutions said, “Negotiations between TPT and our company have been underway for between 12 to 18 months, following Logistics and Freight Solutions’ appointment by UTi South Africa (lead logistics service provider) and VALS (supply chain consultants) to manage the Transnet related activities. The contract called for a professional, world-class handler that could provide a reliable, consistent, safe and integrated freight service within tight deadlines. TPT and its Durban MPT satisfied these requirements, as stipulated by UTi, VALS and their customer, Bombela Track Company,” he said.


    He added that while normal imports are handled every day through South Africa’s terminals, project cargo like the Gautrain rail components could pave the way for future ambitious initiatives in South Africa.


    After successfully discharging the first shipment of rails in October, the second consignment of rail tracks, manufactured by French steel manufacturer Corus Rail, arrived in Durban from France on the Diamond Land breakbulk vessel owned by Macs Shipping Lines in the early hours of Wednesday, 07 November.


    Discharge commenced on Thursday, 8 November, following which the tracks would be transported to Transnet’s staging point at Natalspruit utilising a dedicated block train supplied by Transnet Freight Rail. Thereafter the rails would be transported by road on specially designed trailers owned by VALS and operated by Transcor to Bombela Track’s inland construction site in Midrand. 


    Bombela Track Company, a Bombardier / Strategic Partners Group joint venture company, has been charged with construction of nearly R1 billion of Gautrain’s trackwork.

    Sea Consortium launches second South Africa - East Africa string

    Singapore-based shipping line Sea Consortium has further reinforced its recent entry into the South Africa – East Africa shipping services with the launch of its second South Africa / East Africa string, which has been named EAX2.

    See Ports & Ships 15 August 2007 for details of the initial service

    This string will cover South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya. The phasing in of the service commences with the vessel X-PRESS KILIMANJARO at Mombasa on 14 November with the second vessel due to join shortly after. The initial voyages will cover Durban / Mombasa / Durban with the additional ports being added when the second vessel is in place in order to provide a reliable frequency from the start.

    The EAX2 is complimentary to Sea Consortium’s EAX1 service, which has been in place since September 2007 with three vessels on a 12 day frequency covering Durban / Dar es Salaam / Mombasa / Djibouti / Mombasa / Durban.

    Further details are available from the Southern African agents, Bridge Marine – tel 27 31 460 0700 or email them at

    Rate restoration on Europe South Africa service

    MOL South Africa has announced a rate restoration that will apply on its services between Southern Africa and Europe, with effect from 1 January 2008.

    “In view of the continuous escalation in general operating costs, MOL wishes to advise that it is their intention to increase ocean freight rates with effect from 1 January 2008. The increase will be applicable to both southbound and northbound cargoes and will be implemented once current contracts expire,” says the notice.

    From the UK, Northwest Continent, Scandinavia and Baltic ports to Southern African ports the increase will be US$200 per TEU.

    From Southern African ports to the UK, Northwest Continent, Scandinavia and Baltic ports the increase will be US$100 per TEU
    MOL says that details of the first vessels to which the rate restoration will apply will be made available closer to the time of implementation.

    High prices of food imports may leave people hungry

    Dakar, 8 November 2007 (IRIN) - Food monitors are concerned that people in West African countries who rely on international imports of wheat and rice are going to struggle to buy enough to eat this year due to high commodity prices.

    The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) said in a bulletin released on 7 November that poor global production of wheat means worldwide prices reached a record high in September 2007 and remained volatile in October.

    Rice prices have also risen steadily since January 2007 according to the FAO, and high fuel prices have added higher shipping costs into the equation.

    "Rarely has the world felt such a widespread and commonly shared concern about food price inflation, a fear which is fuelling debates about the future direction of agricultural commodity prices in importing as well as exporting countries, be they rich or poor," the bulletin said.

    "We're concerned," said Henri Josserand, head of the FAO's early warning unit in Rome. "We see that prices are going to be quite high and that's going to mean that there are big problems of access [to food] for people in some West African countries this year."

    Countries of concern

    Mauritania and Senegal are the two countries in the region which rely the most on international markets rather than domestic farming. Wheat is a staple food in both but all of it is imported.

    Mauritania grows just 30 percent of the food its 3 million people need and imported wheat prices have exploded by over 75 percent there this year, from US$200 for a ton to US$356, according to the food monitoring group FEWSNET.

    Wheat is used to feed humans and animals in Mauritania. "The main reason people moved to eating wheat was because it was less expensive. It became very important in basic diets," said Salif Sow, Sahel representative of FEWSNET.

    "Not only has it been imported for many years, it has also been given out free in general food distributions, and subsidised. If the price continues as it is, people will need to switch to local cereals, or they simply won't have access to food."

    In Senegal, the government has cut import tariffs on wheat yet there has still been a 12 percent increase in the cost of bread in the last month.

    Poor production

    According to FEWSNET, the situation is being compounded in Senegal and Mauritania and in northern Nigeria by poor harvest of millet, sorghum and maize which are the traditional cereals grown in the region.

    In northern Nigeria, sorghum production was curtailed by an early end to the rainy season, while in Mauritania, Senegal and Nigeria rains started too late in the year for maize to grow well.

    Other countries in West Africa have not experienced the same problems and production of traditional cereals in Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger has been average or above average.

    But Guinea Bissau, where imported rice is a staple, is a concern. The World Food Programme has warned that prices for rice have increased by 40 percent in 2007 compared to 2006.

    "We need to closely monitor the impact of the high prices," Sow said.

    Regional markets

    The immediate concerns are currently limited to the wheat and rice importing countries, but experts say a potential production deficit in Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, could trigger a wider regional crisis later in the year.

    "Reduced crop production in northern Nigeria might have serious implications for prices in the region and this would really complicate the situation," said Jean Senahoun, West Africa Economist at the FAO in Rome.

    Even countries with good harvests could have food shortages, he said. "Good harvests in one country in West Africa does not necessarily mean food security for the people that live there as West Africa's highly integrated markets mean food moves freely from one country to another."

    Good production in Niger coupled with a deficit in Nigeria would means a large part of the grain grown in Niger will pass over the border, and Niger could be left with a shortage as happened in the major crisis in 2005.

    In that instance, much of the grain grown in Niger was found to have been used to feed chickens in some of Nigeria's vast chicken farms, even as people starved in Niger.

    "Although production is adequate in some places [in West Africa], if there is a huge problem in Nigeria the region might still face problems," Senahoun said.

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

    Coega creates over 3,000 jobs in 2007

    Port Elizabeth, 8 November 2007 (BuaNews) - A total of 3,198 construction jobs have already been created in the Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) since April this year.

    Within a period of six months, the figure is already close to last year's annual achievement of 3,880, against a target of 2,962.

    Such numbers were last seen in late 2003 to early 2004. There is more economic activity in the Coega IDZ this year as investors are commissioning their plants.

    The CDC is also continuing to build infrastructure for signed investors and those who are close to signing.

    Meanwhile, the monthly employment report for October shows that the total number of people currently working in the Coega IDZ and Deepwater Port of Ngqura has reached 4,874. This is an increase of 470 people from September.

    The Coega Development Corporation (CDC) is the operator of the (IDZ) outside Port Elizabeth.

    Established in 1999 the CDC is wholly-owned by the South African Government.

    The Coega IDZ is South Africa's premier location for new industrial investments.

    The CDC has received recognition for its work, and is the proud recipient of the Business Process enabling South Africa (BPeSA) Chief Executive Officer's award.

    The CDC won this prize at the 2007 National Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Awards in October.

    The CDC aims to provide a competitive investment location and a total business solution for its customers as well as ensuring sustainable economic development in the region.

    Last month, PetroSA announced that it was investigating the possibility of building a R39 billion crude oil refinery in the IDZ.

    Dubbed Project Mthombo, the proposed crude-oil refinery is expected to produce about 200,000 barrels of fuel a day and will come on stream in 2014/15.

    Once the various aspects of the project had been confirmed, the final investment decision would be made around 2010.

    According to PetroSA, the Coega IDZ offers world-class infrastructure, is ideally located near growing centres of demand in the Eastern and Western Cape, and has sufficient land available for secondary industries to develop around the refinery.

    Pic of the day – NYATHI

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The Unicorn Tankers- owned tanker NYATHI seen at Lyttelton, New Zealand on 7 November 2007 on her first visit. The tanker sailed from New Orleans through the Panama Canal and on to the Marsden Point Refinery at the top of New Zealand's North Island. After a coastal voyage to Auckland she returned to Marsden Point to load 11,000 tonnes of product for Lyttelton. The tanker has been purchased by Silver Fern Shipping Ltd who will operate her on New Zealand coastal voyages through a company called Coastal Oil Logistics Ltd. In early January 2008 the tanker will be renamed TOREA (Maori for South Island Pied Oystercatcher), reflagged to New Zealand and will carry a New Zealand crew. It is believed to be the first time that Unicorn ship and funnel colours have been seen in Lyttelton. Picture Alan Calvert

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