Ports & Ships Maritime News

Feb 21, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Nigeria moves towards 48-hour import clearance

  • Background to research ship G O SARS

  • Successful Costa looks at doubling-up on Indian Ocean cruising

  • Coal and electricity impacting on ports

  • No AFRICOM bases in Africa, says Bush

  • Read yesterday’s Budget Speech here

  • Pic of the day –MOL CULLINAN


    Nigeria moves towards 48-hour import clearance

    In a move that is sure to be welcomed by Nigerian importers and the freight and shipping industry generally, the federal government is taking steps in introduce a 48-hour clearance of cargo at Nigerian ports.

    The committee set up by the FG to oversee the process is chaired by the minister of finance and co-chaired by his transport counterpart.

    Committee chairman and Minister of Finance Shamsuddeen Usman admitted that Nigeria’s ports are often described as inefficient, bureaucratic and corrupt. It is these issues that government is determined to tackle, he said.

    The first steps would be to review existing port infrastructure and make recommendations. The committee will also look at documentation processes with the intention of creating an environment for a 48-hour clearance. Port charges will be examined and a review undertaken of information technology relating to cargo clearance.

    Finally, the committee intends reviewing procedures of registration and licensing of customs agents and says it will recommend any necessary changes.

    Background to research ship G O SARS

    Yesterday we featured as our regular PIC OF THE DAY the Norwegian research ship G O SARS which recently called in Cape Town. Reader Jay Gates of Humberside in the UK, who was helpful with information about the reason for the unexpected visit of the Greenland container ship NAJA ARCTICA, is again able to provide some additional background for the Norwegian ship’s visit. (Refer to yesterday’s News section PIC OF THE DAY.)

    “Just to fill in another question that your readers may have on why this magnificent Norwegian Research Vessel (G O SARS) was in Cape Town. Cape Town's connection with Antarctica meant that the G O Sars is another example of research ships utilising Cape Town as a stop to, or from, research cruises to Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.

    This last year has been designated the ‘International Polar Year’ (IPY), which started in March 2007 and is due to finish at the end of February 2008. The G O Sars arrived in Cape Town after the completion of a research voyage in the Southern Ocean as part of the IPY. She departed Montevideo in early January and undertook major pelagic research around South Georgia and Bouvetoya as part of the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

    Incidentally, when I was in Cape Town in January, the Japanese Research Vessel HAKUHO MARU was in port also as part of her programme of research in the Southern Ocean for the IPY. She was followed in early February by the French Research Vessel MARION DU FRESNE which recently left for another IPY sponsored voyage into the Southern Ocean. Scientists onboard the Marion du Fresne when she sailed included a contingent of scientists from the UCT Oceanography Department."

    Yours etc
    Jay Gates
    Airfield Operations Manager
    Humberside International Airport

    Successful Costa looks at doubling-up on Indian Ocean cruising

    By Alain Malherbe (AeroShip – Port Louis)

    Costa Cruises intends doubling its capacity for the 2008-2009 season of cruising out of Mauritius.

    On board the Italian cruise ship COSTA MARINA, the Mauritian Minister for Tourism, Xavier-Luc Duval, accompanied by the President of Costa Cruises, Pier Luigi Foschi and of a spokesman from the Italian Consulate in Mauritius, Stefano Zinno, revealed their assessment of the 2007-2008 season as well as objectives for 2008-2009.

    “Mauritius is proud to have attracted the largest European cruising company with its 800 tourists and 400 crew members [per cruise]. The economy of the country benefits from these arrivals,” said Xavier-Luc Duval.

    “Demand for cruises from Mauritius is now on the high side, not only in Europe but also in North America and Asia," declared Mr Pier Luigi.

    As the first Costa adventure within the region has been a success story, the Italian-based company has opted to replace the Costa Marina with the much larger COSTA EUROPA for the next season.

    The Costa Marina has a maximum capacity of 1,000 passengers, while her replacement for 2008-09, Costa Europa, has a capacity of up to 1,773 passengers. Costa is looking at transporting up to 21,000 passengers for the season 2008-2009, compared to 11,000 for the season 2007-2008.

    Operating from Port-Louis, Costa Europa, just like her predecessor, Costa Marina, will ensure a two days stopover in Mauritius over the 14 days planned for each cruise.

    Mauritius intends further developments for the cruising business, a sector which is already in full expansion. “Mauritius will invest Rs 300 million in port infrastructures which could be operational from January 2009. With the new concept, we will target at attracting other potential cruise lines,” said the Minister for Tourism.

    Mauritius hopes to be able to take further advantage of the commitment to the island by Costa Cruises. “We could adapt hotel schoolings, in order to allow Mauritians to be employed by such cruise companies,” added Xavier-Luc Duval.

    For 2008-2009 season MV Costa Europa will ensure eight departures from Mauritius, while looking forward to including other nearby islands such as Rodrigues and Agalega in her schedule.


    Costa Cruises (Crociere), a European-based subsidiary company of American Carnival Corporation is best known for all-year cruising operations in the Mediterranean. The Mauritian cruise season was introduced this season using the 1969-built Costa Marina (23,558-gt) which carries up to 1,025 passengers. The season operates on the fly-cruise basis with passengers jetting in from Europe and the Americas and also, according to the account above, from Asia. These are not two or four-night ‘booze cruises’ but full 14-day cruises in the Indian Ocean to destinations like Madagascar, the Seychelles, Mayotte and Mombasa and as a ‘new’ cruise destination has obviously proved highly popular.

    The ship that is replacing Costa Marina, Costa Europa (53,872-gt) was built in 1986 and caters for up to 1,773 passengers. She was built for Homes Lines as the HOMERIC and later sold to Holland America and lengthened, being renamed WESTERDAM. In 2002 she was transferred to sister company Costa Cruises and renamed.

    Coal and electricity impacts on ports

    The rumpus over Eskom and load shedding is likely to remain with us for some time, despite there having been no planned power cuts for several weeks, thanks mainly to voluntary cutbacks by industry. It would however be naďve for anyone to expect that this has been a passing phenomena that can now be swept under the carpet and forgotten simply because our lights remain on. Revelations largely in the media have made it clear that due to government bungling (which national government has somewhat reluctantly admitted to) and some poor management practices from Eskom the results will continue to haunt South Africa for some years.

    The after-effects are already beginning to impinge on shipping and the ports, with reports that Eskom will increase its requirement for coal consumption by an additional 45 million tonnes within the next few years. This has not surprisingly raised questions over the ability of mines to produce this additional amount and the impact this will have on intentions to increase coal exports through Richards Bay.

    There have even been suggestions that Eskom might be forced to import steam coal.

    Before the crisis it was announced that the Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) is to increase its capacity to 91mt annually – a programme of investment and development requiring not only increased infrastructure at the Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) but also a considerable investment by Transnet Freight Rail to manage increased traffic along the railway.

    Even so, some serious questions continue to ask whether South Africa really has the capacity to meet these additional requirements.

    Also as a result of power shortages are doubts arising over existing and planned major industrial developments. More than one expert has questioned government’s determination to go ahead with the aluminium smelter at Coega. Just a week ago Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa told a media briefing in Cape Town that government remain resolute in its commitment. “In responding to the current electricity situation, the effort will be to ensure that projects committed to, such as the Alcan (Coega) smelter, are supported,” he said.

    While the minister was laying this out three existing smelters, which collectively produce 1.5 million tonnes of aluminium annually, had been ‘forced’ to cut back on electricity consumption by at least 10 percent and speculation is said to be rife in Zululand that the Hillside and Bayside smelters at Richards Bay might be closed down. According to reports that supposedly came from someone inside Eskom, the utility was considering a 100 percent power supply buy-back from all the country’s smelters, including the Mozal aluminium smelter near Maputo in Mozambique.

    All three smelters are controlled by BHP Billiton, which ironically is in a bidding campaign to take over Rio Tinto, which owns the proposed Coega smelter development.

    Meanwhile the head of Rio Tinto Alcan Dick Evans disclosed to the Financial Times several weeks ago that his company was in talks with government over securing a guarantee of electricity supply for the Coega development. Evans said that Rio Tinto would hold back on spending any large sums of money until the matter was clarified.

    For its part Eskom has, rather famously (or infamously, depending on your perspective) suggested that South Africa should close its doors to any major industrial development until the power availability has been restored.

    No AFRICOM bases in Africa, says Bush

    Accra, Ghana, 20 February 2008 – The United States does not seek military bases in Africa and is not a fierce competitor with China on the African continent, President George W Bush said yesterday (20 February) in Accra, Ghana, during a joint news conference with Ghana's President John Kufuor.

    The purpose of US Africa Command (AFRICOM) is to help leaders provide African solutions for African problems, Bush said.

    “I know there's a controversial subject brewing around that’s not very well understood, and that’s: ‘Why would America stand up what’s called AFRICOM?’” Bush told reporters during his five-nation visit to Africa.

    “First,” Bush said, “this is a unique command structure for America. It is a command structure that is aiming to help provide military assistance to African nations, so African nations are more capable of dealing with Africa's conflicts - like peacekeeping training. Obviously, we've got an issue in Darfur that we've got to all work together to solve. And I’m very pleased that the AU and UN hybrid force should be moving in there. I’d like to see it moving quicker, but the whole purpose of AFRICOM is to help leaders deal with African problems.”

    Bush also stressed that the United States does not seek bases in Africa but may eventually seek administrative offices.

    “Secondly,” Bush said, “we do not contemplate adding new bases. In other words, the purpose of this is not to add military bases. I know there’s rumours in Ghana, ‘All Bush is coming to do is try to convince you to put a big military base here.’ That's baloney. (Laughter.) Or as we say in Texas, that’s bull. (Laughter.) Mr. President (Kufuor) made it clear to me, he said, look, we – you’re not going to build in any bases in Ghana. I said, I understand; nor do we want to. Now, that doesn’t mean we won’t develop some kind of office somewhere in Africa. We haven’t made our minds up. This is a new concept.”

    Bush also said the United States does not intend to compete with China in Africa.

    “I don’t view Africa as zero-sum for China and the United States,” Bush said. “I mean, I think we can pursue agendas that - without creating a great sense of competition. I mean, inherent in your question is that I view China as a fierce competitor on the continent of Africa - no, I don’t.”

    You can read the full transcript of Pres Bush’s question and answer session with Pres John Kufuor CLICK HERE

    Read yesterday’s Budget Speech here

    Yesterday was Budget Day in South Africa in which the Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel presented his 11th annual budget. Read the full text of his speech

    Pic of the day – MOL CULLINAN

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    Container ship MOL CULLINAN (4,900-TEU) waiting at anchor in Table Bay for a berth in Cape Town harbour. Picture Aad Noorland

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