Ports & Ships Maritime News

Feb 1, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Kenya crisis: railway under repair as cruise ships stay away

  • Of ships and shipping

  • Naval news

  • Port & Ship Security Africa 2008 conference coming up

  • Strong Indian and Chinese interest in Coega Industrial Zone

  • Pic of the day – FNS NIVOSE


    Kenya crisis: railway under repair as cruise ships stay away

    Technicians from Rift Valley Railway (RVR), the company holding the concession to operate the former railways of Kenya and Uganda, have begun making repairs to sections of the railway track uprooted by rioters recently.

    A section of the railway leading from the port of Mombasa inland through Nairobi and on to Uganda was torn up in the post-election unrest that has shaken the East African country and in fact the entire continent. As a result no rail traffic to or from neighbouring states has been possible and several trains remain trapped in section.

    A spokesman for RVR said yesterday that repairs should take less than a week – five days or so was his estimate, after which he hoped normal services would be possible. The damage was caused to a section of track near Kibera, which has been at the centre of much of the unrest.

    Not only general cargo but fuel deliveries have been disrupted. Despite the interruption RVR has been able to continue rail services on the coastal side of the break and a number of containers have moved between the port of Mombasa and the capital city Nairobi.

    New locos for Rift Valley Railway

    In related news PORTS & SHIPS has learned that Sheltam Rail, the major participant in Rift Valley Railway intends transferring 10 new GE diesel-electric locomotives from South Africa to Kenya ‘as soon as possible.’ Six of the locos arrived in Durban from the Brazilian manufacturers last year and are currently in operation near Roodepoort, while the remaining four locos from the contract are due to arrive in Durban on or about 7 February on board the cargo vessel IBN YOUNUS.

    The intention was to load the first six on the same ship in Durban and divert the vessel to Mombasa but instead the four locos will be discharged at Durban as originally planned and kept there until another vessel can be arranged to take all 10 locos to Mombasa, where they are urgently required. The major obstacle at present and contributing to the delay is that of finding 10 metre-gauge bogies for use on RVR tracks. The Cape gauge used in South Africa is 1067mm.

    Road transport will be protected - minister

    In other Kenya news the government has assured its landlocked neighbours that every measure is being taking to ensure the safety of long distance road transport on which the economies of these countries is so dependant.

    Kenya’s Internal Security Minister Professor George Saitoti says that police will provide armed escorts for trucks making the journey between Mombasa and the neighbouring states and will also intensify highway patrols. He said government intended to act ‘tough’ on anyone trying to disrupt road transport with illegal roadblocks.

    Local media reported that even as the minister was making this assurance youth were busy blocking the Nairobi – Nakuru road. The media reported that over 500 trucks loaded with freight for Uganda and other countries remain stranded at the clearing section at Mlolongo on Mombasa Road waiting for clearance by police to proceed.

    Another report stated that at least 10 trucks had been looted and burned by rioters barricading the roads.

    Cruise ships stay away

    Cruise ships scheduled to call at Mombasa between January and April this year have suspended their visits, according to Mombasa’s harbourmaster, Capt Twalib Khamis. He said the cruise operators have suspended the Mombasa calls until normality returns to Kenya.

    Of ships and shipping

    Port Louis reopens

    Mauritius Ports Authority (MPA) began re-admitting ships into Port Louis harbour yesterday morning (Thursday) after the withdrawal of cyclone warnings by the meteorological office, reports Alain Malherbe (AeroShip – Port-Louis).

    Tropical Cyclone Gula had been veering down towards the island and was expected to come ashore on Mauritius yesterday afternoon but suddenly turned away during the night and its current track is taking it further away from the island. The first vessel to berth yesterday was the inter-island passenger ferry and cargo ship Mauritius Pride. (See our related report in yesterday’s News Bulletin)

    Ship sales

    It looks like the detained bulker LADY EAST, which has been holding up a valuable berth at Richard Bay’s repair and small craft quay since May 2007, will go on sale by auction quite soon, according to ‘scuttlebutt’ picked up in Durban this week. The Greek-owned ship was detained with several structural defects and according to the ITF the remaining crew on board, mainly Ukrainians, have been unpaid for several months. The feeling among shipping people in Durban is that despite the appearance and condition of the vessel she will make a good sale for someone prepared to invest on repairs and put her back into trading for another couple of years – such are the attractions of current high rates.

    Another vessel also coming up for auction is the passenger ship MADAGASCAR, which has been languishing in Durban harbour for several years after an abortive attempt by a local company to launch a cruise operation. More recently a Johannesburg company announced it was purchasing the ship to launch a cruise service but this fell through at the last minute, despite several cruises having already been sold ahead.

    The general consensus has always been that this ship, the former STELLA MARIS II (and later Viking Bordeaux) is highly unsuited for South African cruising, although there have been numerous ‘experts’ prepared to argue the point. Hopefully now someone will buy the ship and take her far away.

    Another interesting snippet of news to hand yesterday is that a familiar ‘face’ in Durban harbour for some years, the general cargo ship PRO ASIA has made her final voyage in Pro Line colours. The ship, the former HERON was acquired by Hamburg’s Pro Line in 1993 and operated on the company’s Far East – South Africa – East Coast South America service. According to her owners she may reappear in South Africa although under another guise – more details once we have them.

    Niledutch to open office in Singapore

    Dutch ship operator NileDutch (with a name like that what else could it be) intends opening its own office in Singapore where it will act as the local office for the company’s West Africa service, as well as a regional office for Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent and the Arabian Gulf.

    “This decision must be viewed in a strategic context whereby NileDutch will take full regional control. The company is confident that there is a long-term future in the trade between Asia and West Africa,” said the company in a statement this week.

    NileDutch began operations to Singapore 12 years ago as an NVOCC with transhipment of containers in Durban onto its own vessels. In 2006 the company commenced a direct service between ports in West Africa and South East Asia.

    NileDutch’s communiqué said that its niche service from Singapore will be upgraded to a fortnightly frequency during this year (2008). “Singapore will remain a fixed port of call, also used as transshipment hub for cargoes from southeast Asia origins such as Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. The ports in Africa each have their own problems, causing for example congestion delays. Therefore the operation is done with geared containerships to reduce these effects.”

    SAFMARINE MEMLING back on hire

    MOL South Africa has announced that the process of returning the SAECS 2nd String service (South Africa – Europe) has been completed with the hiring of the vessel SAFMARINE MEMLING. The vessel is due in South Africa in March.

    Naval news

    Two stranded fishermen plead for help from the crew of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) 26 nautical miles off the coast of Sao Tome and Principe, off the western coast of Africa. Lookouts aboard the US Navy ship noticed the fishermen waving their shirts and rubbing their stomachs. The men were out to sea for four days and out of fuel and supplies. The Fort McHenry is part of Africa Partnership Station, a multi-national effort to bring the latest training and techniques to maritime professionals in nine West and Central African countries. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class R.J. Stratchko (Released)

    The American dock landing ship USS FORT McHENRY (LSD 43), currently on deployment to the US Africa Partnership programme in West Africa, went to the rescue of two men stranded in a small open fishing boat 26 miles south of the islands of Sao Tome and Principe.

    The two men had been at sea for four days and had run out of fuel, food and water and when spotted by the American ship the two on board signaled their plight by rubbing their stomachs and pointing to their mouths in a universal language clear to all.

    Their full story unfolded with the assistance of a Portuguese officer on board the US ship, Lt Cmdr Jose Neto, who was able to translate. Afterwards the fishing boat was re-provisioned with fuel, food, water and a spare compass as well as directions pointing the way home.

    One of the lookouts on duty on the Fort McHenry said that when he first saw the craft in the water he thought it was a whale, but when they came closer he noticed two men in the open boat, waving their shirts and indicating they were hungry.

    After the transfer of supplies was complete the fishing boat followed the larger ship back to the island of Principe while the Sao Tome & Principe coastguard had been placed on standby in case it was needed.

    At the time of the discovery USS Fort McHenry has just departed the island country and was en route to Equatorial Guinea in support of the Africa Partnership Station.

    French frigate in Simon’s Town

    The French Navy patrol frigate FNS NIVOSE, which is stationed at La Reunion is currently visiting Cape waters where joint exercises with its counterparts of the South African Navy will take place.

    See Pic of the Day below

    Port & Ship Security Africa 2008 conference coming up

    Interest is building up for next month’s Port & Ship Security Africa 2008 Conference which will take place at the Cape Town Convention Centre between 12 and 14 March.

    The conference, which will deliver practical case studies of successful ship and port security operations in Africa, aims at providing a platform for all relevant contracting governments, law enforcement agencies, port terminals, shipping companies and NGOs to come together and discuss the problems faced by ship and port security.

    The conference also provides an opportunity for all the major role players to discuss and debate their responsibilities and involvement in order to find possible solutions for the future.

    Among the presenters at the conference will be George Guy Thomas of the US Coastguard and US Homeland Security; Capt Nick Snyman, senior staff officer, Doctrine of the SA Navy; Nico du Plessis, chief security officer of Transnet Port Terminals; Elmer Roman of the Office of Naval Research Global; Capt Twalib Khamis, harbourmaster of the Port of Mombasa, Helmoed Heitman from Jane’s Defence Weekly; and John Taylor of International Ship Consultants Group.

    There will be a total of 16 presenters.

    An opportunity exists to participate in post-conference master classes led by Stephen Caldwell, director of Maritime Security Issues, US Homeland Security and Justice Team; and Dr Henri Fouche of the Tshwane University of Technology.

    You can register at registration@iqpc.co.za while full details are available at http://www.iqpcevents.com/ShowEvent.aspx?id=49810&details=58784

    Strong Indian and Chinese interest in Coega Industrial Zone

    Port Elizabeth, 31 January (BuaNews) - Several Indian companies are in talks to invest in the region of R16-billion in metals and automotive projects at South Africa's Coega industrial development zone (IDZ), while Chinese companies are showing strong interest in the Eastern Cape's industrial property.

    Earlier this month the Coega Development Corporation (CDC) said that several companies from India and China were looking at the Coega IDZ outside Port Elizabeth to locate their investments, reports SouthAfrica.info.

    This follows an increased focus on luring investment from the two Asian giants, and according to CDC business development manager Belu Mabandla, it took only a few visits to India and China before they got 15 companies to show ‘serious intent’ to invest in the zone.

    “Among Indian companies, the total value of investment projects being negotiated exceeds R16-billion and covers the metals and automotive sectors,” the CDC said, adding that three investments from India may be signed during 2008/9.

    According to the CDC, many Chinese investors view South Africa as a launch pad to the rest of the continent, especially in light of that country's ‘Go Africa’ strategy.

    Chinese investors were especially looking at attractive industrial estates for both greenfield projects and merger opportunities with existing local companies.

    “One of the projects in consideration for the Coega IDZ is large enough to occupy nearly half of the automotive cluster once all phases have been completed,” the CDC said.

    CDC business development manager Christopher Mashigo said the level of interest from China was beyond his expectations.

    “There is a high level of optimism about investing in Africa, and most importantly in South Africa,” Mashigo said.

    “Furthermore Chinese companies understand the concept of an IDZ and what the CDC can offer. Four to six visits are planned with Chinese companies this year for site visits and discussions regarding the project.”

    Pic of the day – FNS NIVOSE

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The French patrol frigate FNS NIVOSE on a visit to South Africa in 2004 when she entered the Eldock floating dock for maintenance. The ship is back in SA waters this week visiting Simon’s Town. Picture Terry Hutson

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