Ports & Ships Maritime News

Mar 18, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Tuesday briefs – news in a few lines

  • Transnet closes East London Cambridge container depot

  • German WWII merchant raider found – then missing Australian cruiser found nearby

  • Cyclone Jokwe leaves 60,000 victims in its wake across Mozambique

  • Glimmer of hope - Standard Bank assesses Kenya economy after signing of accord

  • Pic of the day – VAN GOGH


    Tuesday briefs – news in a few lines

    Oil company wants to boost Nacala as petroleum import port

    Malawi’s Petroleum Importers Limited (PIL), which is 80 percent owned by a conglomerate of international oil companies, says it wants to increase the use of the Nacala Corridor and port for petroleum imports. PIL will import 268,000 tonnes of petroleum this year of which 147,500t will enter Malawi by road via Beira, another 81,600t by road from Dar es Salaam and a mere 38,900t by rail via Nacala – the most direct route. PIL says that infrastructure problems means that some of the volumes via Nacala may have to be diverted.
    According to Central East African Railways the Nacala railway has the capacity to handle the commodity and a new contract has been signed with PIL to carry petroleum over the next three years, with 24 tank cars having been allocated to the traffic. Malawi’s Road Transport Operators Association chairman meanwhile says that the association has about 200 road tankers available which are currently underutilised.

    Tanzania takes delivery of leased locomotives

    Tanzania Railways Limited (TRL) has taken delivery of nine refurbished diesel-electric locomotives on a lease basis from India, which will enter service on the concessioned Tanzania railway network. The locos were shipped from Mumbai and discharged at Dar es Salaam last week. Another five locomotives are on their way to Tanzania. After being serviced in the Morogoro railway workshops the new arrivals will go into service on the country’s main line service.
    TRL, of which India’s Rites Ltd is major shareholder, hopes to increase freight during 2008 to one million tonnes up from the current 700,000t.

    Massive investment programme for Dar es Salaam container terminal

    Tanzania International Container Services (TICTS), which manages the Dar es Salaam container terminal, has announced a USD77 million expansion and infrastructure upgrade to take the port forward. Chief Executive David Cotty told the East African that TICTS has already made investments and that container handling equipment including five rubber tyre gantries (RTGs) and four reach stackers had been ordered and will arrive shortly. Cotty said USD15m had already been spent and further investments totalling R62m were in the pipeline. He said the investments would enable TICTS to handle bigger ships and more containers much faster and would increase the terminal’s handling capacity from 308,000 TEU this year to around one million by 2016.

    Yet another new vessel for Lake Victoria

    A new cargo ferry, m/v THOR has entered service on Lake Victoria. THOR is a Ro-Ro (roll on-roll off) vessel of 270 tonnes and is fitted with cargo tanks capable of carrying 300,000 litres of diesel and kerosene. The lake ferry will operate between Mwanza in Tanzania and Port Bell (Kampala) in Uganda.
    This brings to four the number of vessels introduced by Kamanga Ferries and provides much needed relief to traders including importers and exporters as well as passengers, after older lake ships either sank or have been withdrawn. Unlike most of the previous government-owned ferries the Kamanga fleet is privately owned and operated.

    Corridor to Chad reopens

    OT Africa Line has announced the reopening of its N’djamena corridor service into Chad, which had been suspended since the end of January because of political instability in the landlocked African country. OTAL says that trains are now running smoothly offering transit times of 25 days.
    The instability was caused by a rebel movement invading the country, leading to the evacuation of many foreigners from Chad.

    Project finance awards for Djibouti port

    The port of Djibouti on the Red Sea, which is managed by DP World in a joint venture with the Djibouti government, has been awarded two international awards for
    project financing.

    Project Finance magazine awarded the Africa Transport Ports Deal of the Year for 2007 and Malaysia’s Islamic Finance News selected Djibouti port for the Best Country Deal award for financing of the Doraleh container terminal. The terminal was financed through a Sharia-compliant arrangement, becoming the first time that the World Bank has extended its guarantees for Sharia-compliant project financing. The amount guaranteed, USD427 million covers investments in the new terminal with the aim of improving port facilities and aiding the port in its intention of becoming a significant regional hub.

    Hamburg Süd christens its largest container ship

    Hamburg, 17 March 2008 – Hamburg Süd christened its largest ever container ship, the 5,900-TEU (1,365 reefer plugs) RIO DE LA PLATA in a ceremony held at the Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering yard in Okpo, Korea yesterday (17 March). The 286m long ship, the first of a series of six of the ‘Rio’ class, is exactly one bay larger than the company’s 5,552-TEU ‘Monte’ class.
    The latest ship will initially be phased into Hamburg Süd's Asia – South America East Coast service for a short time before being deployed in the shipping group's Europe – South America East Coast trade. She and her five sister ships will gradually replace the ‘Monte’ vessels deployed there, which will then connect Asia with South America East Coast.
    The name chosen for the ship, Rio de la Plata, comes from the estuary formed by the major South American rivers Paraná and Uruguay, on which the two key ports of Buenos Aires and Montevideo are situated.

    Comoros troops clash with Anjouan soldiers

    It wasn’t the invasion promised by the African Union but an unplanned early skirmish that resulted in several casualties on the side of the rebel islanders. The AU has been massing troops (if massing is the right word for between 500 and 700 soldiers drawn from Sudan, Senegal and Tanzania) on the neighbouring island of Mohéli prior to attempting an overthrow of Anjouan’s rebel government. Seven AU soldiers undertook a reconnaissance of the rebel island and were waiting to be picked up from the beach when they were ambushed by troops loyal to Anjouan’s leader Mohamed Bacar. Counterattacking with rockets the AU soldiers claim to have inflicted several casualties among the rebels.
    There is still no clarity whether the AU will go ahead with the invasion of Anjouan despite the plea from South Africa’s President Mbeki to hold more talks. An increasing number of people think that the AU means to go ahead ‘come what may’ in the hopes of winning a quick and easy victory and saving face after setbacks in Somalia and the Sudan.

    Sources: Daily News (Malawi); East African Business Week; The East African; OTAL; Gulf News; Hamburg Süd

    Transnet closes East London Cambridge container depot

    It’s not often that one hears of a container depot closing down these days but that is what has happened in East London where the Transnet Freight Rail CX container terminal has been shut down due to decreasing volumes.

    In future container trains will proceed directly to the port where Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) will unload or load the few boxes carried by rail. According to Transnet this will improve efficiency levels involving less handling and therefore less delays.

    Transnet customers are not so convinced however, suggesting that the move also means the end of the door-to-door delivery service provided by CX.

    According to a Transnet Freight Rail spokesman, volumes have steadily declined making the terminal uneconomical and with no expectation of volumes increasing in the future. He said that customers would not be inconvenienced as the rail service was continuing – the only difference being that containers would be unloaded from the trains in the port and not at Cambridge.

    German WWII merchant raider found – then missing Australian cruiser discovered nearby 

    The cruiser HMAS Sydney

    An Australian organisation, Finding Sydney Foundation believes it has found the World War II cruiser HMAS Sydney which was sunk after an engagement with the German armed merchantman, Kormoran.

    When last seen HMAS Sydney was ablaze on the horizon and it is believed she sank soon afterwards with the loss of the entire crew of 645.

    The Kormoran, which had been disguised as a Dutch freighter Straat Malakka also sank but not before 317 of her crew of 397 managed to take to the lifeboats and rafts. They were later picked up and told the story of the naval battle, describing the Australian cruiser as being ablaze and sinking.

    This was the single biggest loss of an Australian warship during the war and has remained a poignant reminder to Australians of all generations.

    The foundation announced at the weekend that the German ship had been discovered in waters about 2.5km deep, some 240km off Shark Bay in Western Australia, approximately 800km north of Fremantle.

    The search was undertaken under the direction of noted British shipwreck investigator David Mearns, who also found the battle cruiser HMS Hood and the German battleship Bismarck which sank in the Atlantic.

    “We have also located what we believe to be the battlefield site and there is an amount of wreckage there but that has yet to be identified,” said foundation chairman Ted Graham. He said the searchers now hoped this would lead to the Australian ship but added there was no guarantee of success.

    Then in startling fashion, Australia’s prime minister Kevin Rudd announced yesterday (Monday) that the Australian cruiser had also been found, about 20km from the wreck of the German ship. Describing it a “historic day for all Australians, and a sad day for all Australians” Rudd said he hoped the discovery would bring some closure to the families of the 645 sailors who lost their lives in the 1941 naval action.

    The prime minister explained that the announcement of the discovery of HMAS Sydney had been delayed until confirmation was made. “It’s very important that these things are got right.”

    Australia’s navy chief, Vice Admiral Russ Shalders said that high resolution sonar images had confirmed the wreck as being that of HMAS Sydney.

    The announcement said that the German embassy in Canberra had been advised of the finding of the Kormoran, which would remain the property of the German people. HMAS Sydney would remain the property of Australia. Both ships are likely to be declared war graves.

    Cyclone Jokwe leaves 60,000 victims in its wake across Mozambique

    The Government of Mozambique has requested the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to provide emergency food assistance for one month to 60,000 people affected by cyclone Jokwe in the northern province of Nampula.

    WFP plans to begin distributing food assistance to communities affected by Jokwe early next week using existing stocks that were earmarked for other operations. WFP needs USD550,000 to replenish these stocks as soon as possible.

    The National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC), WFP, other UN Agencies and humanitarian partners are conducting a rapid needs assessment in the cyclone-affected areas and preparing to provide assistance to communities in need.

    Jokwe hit Nampula Province on Saturday, 8 March, killing at least 8 people and leaving a trail of devastation in its path. Thousands of homes have been partially or totally destroyed and several schools and hospitals damaged. Power lines were also knocked down, leaving several towns and villages without electricity and water.

    End of Red Alert along Zambezi River

    The INGC has officially declared an end to the Red Alert along the Zambezi River and other rivers in central Mozambique, but tens of thousands of displaced families will continue to rely on humanitarian assistance for months to come because they lost their assets, homes and harvests in the floods.

    Since emergency relief operations began in January, WFP and its cooperating partners have distributed over 3,000 metric tonnes of food in 17 flood-affected districts.

    Food-for-reconstruction activities are being encouraged so that instead of returning to low-lying and flood-prone areas near the river, families receive support to build new permanent homes in the specially-designated resettlement areas.

    The initial government-led assessment indicated that 258,000 people would require food assistance until the end of March and that at least 226,500 of these people would need continued food assistance beyond this period.

    A full food security and nutrition assessment will be conducted by the Government-led Vulnerability Assessment Committee in April to determine food assistance needs in the medium term.

    WFP faces a shortfall of 6,600 tonnes for its emergency relief operation until the end of July – estimated at around USD 6 million.

    Glimmer of Hope - Standard Bank assesses Kenya economy after signing of accord

    Standard Bank : author Yvonne Mhango

    The celebrated signing of the power-sharing agreement by President Kibaki and ODM leader, Raila Odinga, on 28 February 2008, following two months of uncertainty, outbursts of violence and interruptions to economic activity, have lessened concerns of Kenya descending into a downward spiral and restored hope that the east African economy would return to its pre-election growth path. The world will now be watching to see the actual enactment of the agreement and gauge whether the prospective power-sharing government works in practise, and only thereafter form a conclusive view on the prospects for political and economic stability.

    Nevertheless, the glimmer of hope through the cloud of uncertainty that has hung over Kenya for the first two months of 2008, leads us to believe that the economic momentum that has built up over this decade, although derailed, will be restored over the medium term. The sectors that are likely to show a quicker recovery and drive growth are manufacturing, transport and communication, construction and financial services.

    The constraints to the supply of food and fuel during the political impasse led to the spiralling of inflation to 19.1 percent y/y in February 2008. The failure of the short rains crop in the first quarter of 2008 exacerbated the supply constraints due to interruptions in the transportation of food. Inflation is expected to soften over the short term as political stability is restored. However, inflationary pressures from record high international oil and food prices are expected to dog the price level over the medium term.

    Although Kenya’s typically high liquidity levels has been subdued in recent months by capital flight, liquidity remains on the upside and is hence an inflationary risk. As such, monetary policy is expected to remain restrictive, despite pressure to relax policy to revitalise an economy that has been slowed by a political crisis.

    The shilling has exhibited a sound recovery in the week following the signing of the power-sharing agreement. This macroeconomic indicator has been the most responsive to domestic events over the past two months, and is presently signalling a restoration of confidence in the Kenyan economy. However, the impact of the sectors of the economy that are major generators of foreign exchange, including tourism, tea and horticulture, suggest that the shilling will not return to its December 2007 (pre-election) value, until activity in these sectors is fully restored.

    The balance of payments surplus is projected to decline further over the short term on account of widening current deficit and a moderation of income into the capital and financial account. Higher oil prices that are expected to inflate the import bill and a decline in services income due to the fallout in the tourism industry, is expected to worsen the current account deficit. The loss in investor confidence in recent weeks coupled with the global credit crunch is expected to soften short-term capital inflows that have been financing the current account.

    The government deficit is expected to come under pressure this fiscal year from a scaling up of expenditure to rehabilitate the infrastructure damaged by the violence and redress displaced persons that have lost their homes and assets. Furthermore, as the monetary authorities’ hands are tied with regards to loosening policy to revive the economy, following the political crisis, it may have to be up the government to stimulate the economy by either spending more or raising taxes. As the 2007/08 budget is expansionary, an upscaling of expenditure would result in a higher borrowing requirement. It is our view that the government will avoid external borrowing given that it would be expensive to obtain due to the current credit squeeze and its higher cost following the downgrading of Kenya’s sovereign credit rating. As such, domestic borrowing is expected to increase in the short term, hence running the risk of crowding out the private sector.

    source - Standard Bank

    Pic of the day – VAN GOGH

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The cruise ship VAN GOGH (15,402-gt, 640 passengers) in the V&A harbour at Cape Town yesterday, after arriving on the weekend having previously called at Durban. According to reports received late yesterday the ship is under arrest and was prevented from sailing on schedule yesterday afternoon. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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