Ports & Ships Maritime News

Mar 14, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • We’re making money, says Mozambique transport boss

  • Container terminal plan for Nacala

  • Americans to build wide gauge railway between Tanzania and Rwanda

  • 400 job losses ahead as BHP Billiton prepares to close Richards Bay smelter potlines

  • Maritime Security in Africa, an On-Going AFRICOM Activity

  • Pic of the day – CHRISTIAN RADICH

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    We’re making money, says Mozambique transport boss

    CFM, Mozambique’s ports and railway parastatal made a profit last year, says chairman Rui Fonseca.

    He was addressing the annual meeting of CFM’s Council of Directors and was able to tell his colleagues that the transport company had generated a profit of USD10.3 million (247.7 million meticais).

    The ports in particular did well, increasing cargo handled by five percent overall. Each of the principal Mozambique ports have been concessioned out to private operators with CFM retaining a substantial share in each company. The ports grossed 11.09 million tonnes of cargo between them in 2007, compared with 10.59mt in 2006.

    However rail didn’t fare as well, with a decrease in freight carried of five percent from 775.1 million tonne-kilometres in 2006 to 736.2 million in 2007.

    Fonseca ascribed the decrease to a fall off in rail traffic from Zimbabwe along the Beira Corridor. However this doesn’t account for the port’s showing an overall increase despite having the same effect of a drop in Zimbabwe import and exports.

    The chairman called for a redoubled effort, particularly in the southern region (Maputo) to recover lost rail traffic. He said CFM had adopted a strategy of attracting large scale contracts with clients and was in the meantime investing in rolling stock to ensure reliable service levels. CFM would soon have 40 rehabilitated locomotives back in service and would start shortly on rehabilitating 670 rail wagons in its own workshops.

    These were stopgap measures, he said, indicating that CFM was investing also in new rolling stock, mainly to transport minerals and other bulk cargo from Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Botswana to the port of Maputo.

    According to Fonseca the port of Beira has to undergo urgent dredging of its entrance channel and berth facilities to accommodate larger ships as it was intended to build a new terminal at Beira to handle coal exports from the mines at Moatize, where Brazilian mining company CVRD holds the concession. Once the railway from Moatize in Tete province has been rehabilitated the line is expected to carry up to 20 million tonnes of coal to Beira each year. The cost of the railway rehabilitation is in the region of USD178 million and is vested in the hands of the Indian company Rites which also holds the concession to operate the railway once it reopens in 2009.

    Fonseca said that the emergency dredging of the port of Beira was costing an estimated USD37 million, but the port also required an ocean-going dredger that would be capable of moving 2.5 million tonnes of sediment a year. The Netherlands and Belgian had promised to assist, he said.

    Managing the concessions for the Nacala and Beira rail systems was proving to be a complex matter, because it involved private interests, “foreign and domestic, that are not always in line with the interests of the country and CFM.” Fonseca said he insisted that the “constitutional power of CFM to supervise the concessions” should be strengthened, including the introduction of new legislation where necessary. It was important therefore that the consortia holding the concessions for the ports and rail lines “should comply scrupulously with the concession agreements they signed with our government.”

    source - AIM

    Container terminal plan for Nacala

    The Port of Nacala in northern Mozambique is planning a new container terminal, says port director Agostinho Langa.

    Speaking to the Mozambique newspaper Noticias, Langa said that private investors (whom he didn’t identify) have expressed an interest in the project.

    The Port of Nacala is at the eastern end of the Nacala Corridor, linking landlocked Malawi with the seaport. The port and railway are operated on a concession basis by an American-led consortium.

    According to the report the need to increase Nacala’s container capacity has become apparent following congestion that sometimes sees freight forwarders having to wait several days to collect their containers.

    Americans to build wide gauge railway between Tanzania and Rwanda

    Is this good advice or another sign of exploitation? Tanzania, which already has two rail systems of differing and difficult to tranship rail gauges, is now poised to build a railway using a third gauge from the inland dry port at Isaka to neighbouring Rwanda.

    The US company Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railroad is reported to have been contracted to build the 1435mm gauge railway – the same gauge as used throughout North America and much of Europe and the UK but is rare in Africa (Egypt being a notable exception).

    For more than 150 years the railway companies in South Africa, in the Rhodesia’s and the later Zimbabwe and Zambia as well as the Portuguese in Angola and Mozambique all ably demonstrated that the Cape gauge (1067mm) used in those regions (also in the Congo) was and is more than capable of matching the broader gauges. One look at the engineering feats on the Richards Bay and Sishen – Saldanha ore lines in South Africa, both of 1067mm Cape gauge, which carry among the world’s heaviest and longest trains, should convince anyone who believes that modern efficient railways have to be built to the more expensive so-called standard gauge.

    Why the fuss? Mainly because it costs more to build a railway using the wider gauge, especially in mountainous country such as envisaged by the Tanzanian/Rwandan project. On top of that the problems of transhipment are introduced wherever one railway system meets the other and which will occur in the Tanzanian proposal – at the dry port of Isaka. The line from Isaka to the port at Dar es Salaam is metre gauge.

    Nevertheless, whenever Northern Hemisphere experts are consulted in the matter of building (or rehabilitating as in the case of Nigeria) a new railway in Africa, it has to be the more expensive option. May one ask why?

    According to reports from Tanzania, Pat Hiatte, communications director for BNSF, says his firm will build the railway to 1435mm gauge instead of metre gauge because standard gauge has a “greater haulage capacity and allows higher speeds”.

    “We are advising the two countries (Tanzania and Rwanda) on acquisition of locomotives, railway freight cars and related equipment,” he told the East African newspaper this week.

    Perhaps Mr Hiatte should be invited to visit South Africa and inspect some of the heavy freight trains that equal anything his company (and country) operates, before making such sweeping and nonsensical statements.

    The project will correspond with a refurbishment of the existing metre gauge line from Isaka to the coast that will however remain as metre gauge.

    An evaluation of the proposed line into Rwanda was completed in 2007 on behalf of the African Development Bank, which came to similar conclusions reached by a German survey in 1913 – both Tanzania and Rwanda were then German colonies, until the First World War intervened and the Germans lost their colonies.

    400 job losses ahead as BHP Billiton prepares to close Richards Bay smelter potlines

    About 400 people working at the Bayside aluminium smelter in Richards Bay face the loss of their jobs because employer BHP Billiton has decided to apply a reduction in total smelter power consumption at this single plant instead of across all three smelters that it operates in southern Africa.

    In a press statement issued this week BHP Billiton said that despite it having contracts with electricity supply company Eskom that specifies that the power supply can only be interrupted approximately one percent of the time per calendar year, it had taken the decision to reduce its demand on Eskom by the requested 10 percent.

    “Power reductions were initially achieved by reducing power by approximately 10 per cent at all three of our Southern Africa smelters. This operating methodology is unsustainable. As we understand that the power reductions are likely to last for a number of years, we have assessed our options to more effectively deal with a longer-term reduction in power.”

    BHP Billiton said that as a result of this assessment it planned to take the bulk of the power reduction at Bayside (100 per cent owned by BHP Billiton) while Hillside and Mozal will continue at reduced operating levels to comply with the 10 per cent mandatory overall power demand reduction.

    “We have therefore commenced consultations with our employees about a possible closure of operations of the B and C potlines at Bayside. Total annual production loss will be just over 120,000 tonnes across all three smelters (100 percent basis), including approximately 92,000 tonnes from Bayside.”

    The mining company says it has also offered to assist Eskom in rebuilding its coal reserves.

    Maritime Security in Africa, an On-Going AFRICOM Activity

    Pervasive maritime insecurity is a significant obstacle to achieving the broader objectives African nations have established for themselves, says an AFRICOM fact sheet recently issued.

    Maritime Security Challenges

    African coastal nations, particularly in the West Indian Ocean and Gulf of Guinea nations, contend daily with:
    • Unlawful fishing
    • Piracy
    • Illegal seaborne immigration
    • Oil smuggling, and
    • Illegal trafficking
    Some experts estimate that African coastal countries lose more than USD1 billion each year to unlawful fishing alone.

    The importance of these maritime resources to the wealth and well-being of African nations cannot be overstated. To this end, the US government's African partners have expressed interest in further developing their professional maritime skills in areas such as maritime interdiction, maritime awareness, port security, search and rescue, and small boat maintenance.

    In November 2006, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) hosted a three-day conference in Benin, with ministerial-level representatives from 11 Gulf of Guinea nations. Outcomes included:

    * Political buy-in for, and regional ownership of, a detailed action plan for lasting improvements in maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea.
    * Harmonisation of views about maritime security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea.
    * Identification of focal points to coordinate national and regional activities.
    * Establishment of effective peer-networking among African professionals.

    US European Command (EUCOM) and Naval Forces Europe (NAVEUR) have formed an interagency maritime security working group focused on coordination to build capacity and capability in partnership with the countries of the Gulf of Guinea region. This working group will work to proactively engage and invest resources in order to develop long-term regional security and stability, to include: enhancing physical security of national ports; improving maritime domain awareness in and of littoral areas; and promoting collective and cooperative maritime security in relevant Exclusive Economic Zones across the continent. Commander, Naval Forces Europe, as EUCOM's component for maritime issues, has begun development of a comprehensive maritime security strategy.

    Associated maritime-related missions and activities will be transferred to U.S. Africa Command over the coming year as the command continues to move toward Full Operational Capability.

    Africa Partnership Station

    The Africa Partnership Station, or APS, is an international security cooperation initiative aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and other collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security. APS is intended to enhance regional and maritime security and safety by assisting African nations in developing proficiencies in areas such as maritime interdiction operations, search and rescue operations, counterterrorism, and overfishing of African waters.

    The US Department of State, US Agency for International Development (USAID), and US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, among others, are partnering with APS to advance several key projects, and several non-governmental will provide medical assistance.

    APS is the next step in providing persistent diplomatic, informational, humanitarian, economic and other non-threatening outreach efforts to support the diverse people and nations of the region. The program supports the evolving role of AFRICOM and provides a valuable tool for stability and security cooperation activities while maintaining a minimal US military footprint ashore.

    [This Fact Sheet is a product of the US AFRICOM Public Affairs Dept and is published here in the interests of a wider understanding of US AFRICOM activity in Africa. It does not necessarily reflect the views of PORTS & SHIPS]

    Pic of the day – CHRISTIAN RADICH

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    In yesterday’s News Bulletin we published details of the invitation to 10 South African youth to participate in the 2008 Tall Ships Race being held in European waters in August this year. This is a picture of the Tall Ship CHRISTIAN RADICH on which the youngsters will hopefully take part. Yesterday’s article can be found HERE

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