Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jan 29, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Record Year for the Mauritius Ports Authority

  • DEAT to publish abalone diving regulations

  • US Navy undertakes environmental research off West Africa

  • GAC teams up with GETMA in global agency network

  • Transnet Freight Rail turns to India for help

  • Pic of the day – EL LOBO


    Record Year for the Mauritius Ports Authority

    by Alain Malherbe (AeroShip – Port-Louis)

    Mauritius Ports Authority (MPA) has realised record financial and port trade figures during the financial year 2006/2007 in terms of revenue net surplus and cargo tonnage, with all main financial and operational indicators reaching unprecedented levels.

    The operating revenue has for the first time crossed the level of Rs 900 million to reach Rs 980.2 million. This represents a 14 percent increase over the operating revenue figure of Rs 861.2 million for 2005/2006. The net surplus figure has reached an unmatched level of Rs 546.0 million, representing a rise of 28 percent over last financial year’s figure of Rs 428.2 million.

    Port Louis Harbour witnessed a new record level in the tonnage of total cargo handled during financial year 2006/2007 with an impressive figure of 5.9 million tonnes, breaking the previous record of 5.8 million tonnes reached in 2003/2004.

    This represents a 6 percent increase over last year’s performance, driven largely by containerised cargo (2.4 million tonnes), fish traffic (new record of 134,398 tonnes) and dry bulk cargo (1.9 million tonnes).

    It should be pointed out that fish traffic has registered a substantial growth of 22 percent compared to the previous year (110,578 tonnes).

    Figures for 2006/2007 show a continued steady rise in container traffic with a double digit growth of 10 percent with 280,381 TEUs compared to 254,447 TEUs in 2005/2006. Similarly, there was a particularly strong growth in transhipment container traffic with an increase of 28 percent from 80,720 TEUs in 2005/2006 to 103,310 TEUs in 2006/2007.

    The port has thus registered the second highest level of container transhipment traffic ever recorded, the peak having been registered in 2003/2004 (111,267 TEUs). However, there has been a sustained boost in this segment since June 2007 (63 percent increase in June 2007 c.f. June 2006, 48 percent in July and 18 percent in August) and at this rate the transhipment traffic was expected to reach a record level of 120,000 TEUs by the end of the calendar year.

    Captive container traffic for its part, reached 177,071 TEUs in 2006/2007 compared to 173,727 TEUs in 2005/2006, witnessing an increase of 2 percent.

    It is interesting to note that the upturn in the economy is impacting positively on maritime trade transiting through the port: an increase of 5 percent has been registered for laden import containers, whilst the laden export container trade has grown by 14 percent.

    2,392 vessels called at Port Louis in 2006/2007 as compared to 2,359 calls registered in 2005/2006, an increase of 33 calls. This is the highest figure ever recorded at Port Louis. Container vessel calls went up by 5 percent during 2006/2007, reaching 572 as compared to 546 calls in the same period a year earlier. A new record was also reached in the number of calls made by fishing vessels from 691 calls in 2005/2006 to 817 calls in 2006/2007, registering a rise of 18 percent.

    As a result of the substantial increase in container traffic, capacity at the Mauritius Container Terminal (MCT) has been overstretched and productivity has been adversely affected. This terminal is being operated with a berth occupancy rate of 96 percent whilst the comfortable operational level is around 65 percent.

    In order to alleviate the situation at the MCT, a maximum number of geared container vessels have been operated at the Multi Purpose Terminal (MPT) since March of 2007. Furthermore, a Fixed Berthing Window Scheme has been introduced at both the MPT and the MCT with the objective of optimising the existing resources and ensuring an acceptable level of service to the shipping lines, without affecting local export and import cargo.

    The CHCL (Cargo Handling Corporation Ltd) has already initiated action for the procurement of urgently required cargo handling equipment to enhance capacity and service levels at both the MCT and MPT. With the commissioning of the two new Quay Cranes at Port Louis around the end of this year, the annual capacity for container handling will increase to 700,000 TEUs (compared with the existing throughput of about 400,000 TEUs), which will thus ease the congestion situation experienced during the course of the year.

    DEAT to publish abalone diving regulations

    Pretoria, 28 January (BuaNews) - This week the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism will publish regulations concerning abalone diving restrictions in a bid to protect wild resources.

    The draft regulations were published in the Government Gazette in December 2007 for public comment.

    The diving restrictions are to affect five areas of the coastline where the stock was most likely to recover, this includes Robben Island, Dyer Island and Bird Island and two coastal areas from Gansbaai to Quoin Point and at Cape Point.

    According to a statement on Monday, Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said the areas were also assessed in terms of their importance to recreational users, in particular scuba divers and scuba diving businesses, spear fishers and recreational West Coast Rock Lobster fishers.

    After considering the public's comments received during the public consultation process, a revised restriction on diving in certain areas will come into effect on 1 February.

    This will coincide with the implementation of the emergency suspension of the abalone fishery.

    Last year the department announced its intention to ban abalone fishing from 1 February 2008 to allow abalone stocks to recover.

    Cabinet last year supported the recommendation to suspend the abalone fishing from 1 November, but the date was postponed to allow the industry to continue through December and January.

    At the time of the announcement by the department, Minister Schalkwyk said there were currently 262 individual divers and 40 legal entities in the form of close corporations holding fishing rights and that accounts for 800 jobs.

    Any person who wishes to undertake other activities, apart from abalone diving and fishing, can apply for a permit to engage in diving or be in possession of prohibited gear in the listed areas.

    Such activities include; scientific research, white shark-cage diving, commercial kelp harvesting, sea ranching, salvage operations, maintenance of legal underwater infrastructure or any other activity authorised in terms of legislation. 

    US Navy undertakes environmental research off West Africa

    USS Swift in Durban during her delivery voyage from the Australian builders, 2003. Picture Terry Hutson

    The US Navy High Speed Vessel 2 SWIFT is involved with an initiative off West Africa in support of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) oceans and climate research and data collection.

    Swift is part of the US Navy’s Africa Partnership Station currently deployed off West Africa – the other vessel being the amphibious dock landing ship USS FORT McHENRY (LSD 43).

    USN Fort McHenry is on a seven month deployment to West and Central African waters participating in a policy of helping enhance regional and maritime safety and security in the region. This is being achieved through the development of partnerships and the building of relationships with the respective countries in the region.

    Swift began the NOAA operation on 18 January when the first of five drifting buoys were placed at sea while the ship was in transit from Rota in Spain to Dakar.

    As their name suggests, the buoys drift with the ocean currents while collecting data such as sea surface temperature, which is transmitted via satellite and distributed to meteorological services and researchers worldwide.

    Crew on the Swift underwent training with NOAA prior to the ship’s deployment on 4 January to join the African Partnership Station. The vessel will drop about 80 buoys during her current deployment to West and Central Africa.

    Each drifting buoy consists of a surface float and a 15 metre drogue (sea anchor) attached by a thin tether. Begun in 1988 the programme has since been extended worldwide and reached the South Atlantic in 2004. Drifters can remain at sea transmitting data for years, helping improve weather forecasting including long term forecasts of droughts and floods.

    source – US Navy

    GAC teams up with GETMA in global agency network

    Global ships agency GAC Shipping has announced the formation of an alliance agreement with another leading ships agent, GETMA International in which the two intend providing ship agency and logistics services to all types of general, bulk, Ro-Ro, tramp cargo ships and tankers, expanding its network in West Africa.

    Container lines and markets are excluded from the agreement.

    The GAC-GETMA alliance covers all Francophone countries in West Africa including Benin, Cameroon, Congo, Rep. of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo (ex Zaire), Gabon, Guinea (Conakry), Ivory Coast, Senegal, Togo, and Mauritania.

    Founded in 1978, GETMA International is part of the Necotrans Group and is present in 23 West African countries through its subsidiaries.

    “GAC and GETMA International have been working together for the past ten years so this alliance is a natural development, said Lars Heisselberg, GAC Group Vice President, Shipping Services. “Our closer ties and GETMA's extensive local knowledge will enable us to develop new offshore support services in the rapidly growing West African market and provide a strong complement to GAC's existing operations in the Continent.”

    Jean-Francois Ollivier, General Manager of GETMA International, welcomed its alliance with a well-established global organisation like GAC and said that GAC's global presence will enhance GETMA's market coverage and international profile.

    GAC says that its global agency network is an important growth model for the GAC Group to enhance its position as a more integrated and diversified service provider with in-depth local expertise. ‘GAC has rapidly expanded its global agency network through strategic tie-ups with suitable partners in its target geographical expansion areas over the last five years.’

    The company's global network agents today include Alstons (Trinidad & Tobago), Aarus (Spain), OBC Shipping(United Kingdom), Unipros (Republic of Korea), Kudrat Maritime (Malaysia), Wilford & McKay (Panama), Vensport (Venezuela), Ultramar Network (Argentina, Chile, Peru and Uruguay), Ukranian Maritime Agency (Ukraine), Wilson & Sons (Brazil) and Seaforth (East Africa).

    Transnet Freight Rail turns to India for help

    Transnet Freight Rail (Spoornet) intends sending technicians and other personnel to India to undergo training and skills acquisition to help fill the shortage of experienced personnel in South Africa, says RITES Ltd managing director VK Agarwal.

    RITES Ltd, a railway operator which is fully owned by the Indian government is currently rehabilitating the Beira – Tete Province railway which is expected to carry coal for export to the port at Beira.

    Beira port is also undergoing dredging and widening to permit the use of larger and deeper draught ships necessary once the coal exports from Moatize begin to roll.

    Agarwal told India eNews that RITES has been in discussion with Transnet Freight Rail in South Africa “because we believe we can provide them with the training and manpower skills they require, since South Africa has a critical shortage of such manpower.”

    He described the talks as ‘very encouraging’ and said Transnet wanted to make use of the facilities offered by the government of India and RITES.

    “Four or five delegations from Transnet have already visited RITES and there is a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the two (railway operators). This MoU is aimed at filling the gaps in the strengths of either side. India can learn from Transnet how to manage the important element of freight that they run so well here. We have already sent a team from our side for training for two weeks at the managerial level,” he said, adding that Transnet will send people to India to learn from RITES’ strong base of technicians and drivers to alleviate Transnet’s shortage of these skills.

    Referring to the Beira – Tete railway contract Agarwal said that an average of about one kilometre of track was being rebuilt each day. He said there were a large number of Indian companies interested in mining coal in neighbouring Zimbabwe to export to India where there is a shortage.

    source – India eNews

    What has gone wrong?

    In two years time it will have been 150 years since the birth of railways in South (and southern) Africa and it is ironical that the country which since then has pioneered numerous aspects of railway engineering and operation, including world beating heavy-haul trains, now finds it necessary to go to offshore for assistance.

    One week ago Transnet Freight Rail CEO Siyabonga Gama announced that the weekly throughput on the Sishen – Saldanha heavy-haul iron ore railway line had reached a record 758,352 tonnes for the week ending 6 January, breaking the previous record of 727,549t set in October last year. On South Africa’s other heavy-haul line, the Richards Bay coal line, the weekly throughput averaged 1.244 million tonnes a week throughout 2007 despite several setbacks caused by rains, washaways and derailments.

    It strikes us as odd that a rail company that can achieve these remarkable throughputs, and which has such a proud history and record particularly in railway engineering performance, is now looking elsewhere for help. What has gone wrong?

    - Ports & Ships

    Pic of the day – EL LOBO

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The Singapore-owned and flagged geared container ship EL LOBO (9957-gt) in Cape Town harbour during January 2008. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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