Ports & Ships Maritime News

Mar 7, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • No shortage of fuel, Namibia is told

  • Sea Consortium introduces Dar es Salaam call as other lines drop out

  • UN-backed agricultural fund supports recovery efforts in cyclone-hit Madagascar

  • NSRI kept busy

  • Mystery over missing Indian freighter – tug Jupiter 6 recalled

  • Pic of the day – ATLANTIC VENTURE


    No shortage of fuel, Namibia is told

    Namibia was told this week that it faced a shortage of unleaded petrol after a tanker from South Africa failed to arrive in Walvis Bay, but this has been denied by the National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (Namcor).

    The report leaked to the New Era newspaper suggested that the tanker was due in Walvis Bay last Friday and had failed to arrive but would now call eight days later, leaving a shortage of fuel throughout the country in the meantime.

    Namcor says there never was any shortage and called on motorists not to panic as the country had adequate supplies. A spokesman said that a tanker had discharged diesel and jet fuel on Sunday and that another vessel is due in port on Friday (today) which is carrying a cargo of other petroleum products.

    Ports & Ships is aware that the Unicorn Tankers’ vessel Rainbow sailed from Cape Town for Walvis earlier on Wednesday week and is probably the ship referred to.

    The reports coincide with a hefty increase in the price of petrol and other products in South Africa, which is claimed as being the largest single increase ever. The price of unleaded petrol rose to above R8 per litre for the first time, and is the same price in Namibia. There is however no known shortage of fuel in South Africa from where most if not all Namibia’s supplies are drawn.

    Sea Consortium introduces Dar es Salaam call as other lines drop out

    Amidst reports carried by a newspaper in Tanzania that Safmarine and Maersk Line were suspending shipping operations at Dar es Salaam on account of congestion, another line, Sea Consortium has included the port as a schedule call for its container vessel X-PRESS KILIMANJARO on the company’s second string EAX-2 service.

    X-Press Kilimanjaro will call at the Tanzanian port on Saturday 8 March followed by the next call on 3 April on a 21-day frequency. The EAX-2 service calls Durban - Dar es Salaam – Beira – Durban, with calls at Mtwara, Nacala, and Maputo by inducement.

    The first string, known as EAX-1 calls at Durban – Mombasa – Djibouti – Durban on a 10 to 12 day frequency.

    According to Sea Consortium the delay at Dar es Salaam is up to 14 days with a total stay at the port of 17 days.

    “These delays have recently seen many lines bypass these ports, especially Dar es
    Salaam, in order to keep their mainline vessels on schedule. Sea Consortium is of course able to assist in such cases by carrying cargo into Mombasa via transhipment over either Durban or Djibouti (On EAX-1) or to Dar es Salaam via transhipment over Durban, Maputo or Mtwara and have done this in recent weeks.”

    Tanzanian newspaper reports state that the government has appointed a task force to work with various stakeholders on a 10-point emergency intervention aimed at easing the container crisis in Dar es Salaam and report that the task force has been given the mandate to formulate and enforce emergency strategies.

    According to these reports the Tanzania International Container Terminal Services (TICTS) is handling 34 percent more container cargo at Dar es Salaam than the terminal’s design capacity. The terminal’s design capacity is for 7,500 TEU but is currently overflowing at over 10,000 TEU.

    One of the measures being undertaken is to license six bonded inland container depots to help ease the pressure on the port. Another measure is to introduce a 24-hour operation by all key operators at the port and to give special priority to transhipment containers for Tanga and Zanzibar.

    TICTS has also been requested to speed up the offloading, loading and movement of containers, while customers are required complete all necessary documentation to reduce the dwell time for shipping lines.

    Dar es Salaam’s port manager claimed this week that these and other measures have already started to take effect and that by Tuesday this week the level of containers in the terminal had dropped to under 9,000 TEUs.

    UN-backed agricultural fund supports recovery efforts in cyclone-hit Madagascar

    UN News Centre, 6 March 2008 –The United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is supporting the recovery of farmers in Madagascar, where a recent cyclone left 150,000 people homeless and destroyed crops and livestock.

    IFAD said it is committed to helping rebuild the livelihoods of the rural poor in the areas hit by Cyclone Ivan, which battered the country on 17 February and left at least 73 dead in its wake.

    In addition to the thousands left homeless, basic infrastructure such as roads, bridges, schools and health centres has been damaged or destroyed.

    “It will take many months to rehabilitate the productive capacity of these families,” said IFAD country programme manager Benoît Thierry, who noted that the disaster struck ahead of the Madagascar’s rice harvest.

    He noted that about 50,000 hectares of rice and more than 100,000 hectares of other crops have been flooded. In addition, fruit and spice trees have been uprooted, vegetable gardens and orchards destroyed, pigs and poultry have perished and fishing communities have lost boats and nets.

    IFAD has set aside about USD 500,000 to help the rural poor including by providing cereals and vegetable seeds, replanting fruit tree nurseries and repairing irrigation channels, so that farmers can replace lost crops.

    The agency noted that while cyclones are common in Madagascar, they have recently grown in intensity and frequency – seven cyclones struck the country in 2007 and Cyclone Ivan was the worst since the 1980s.

    “This latest disaster provides further proof of climate change and its devastating consequences for the world’s poorest communities,” the agency said in a news release.
    Earlier this week, UN agencies and their aid partners appealed for more than USD36 million to help bring relief to the parts of Madagascar that have been buffeted by cyclones in the past month.

    NSRI kept busy

    The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) had to travel almost 10 miles up a river in the southern Cape to rescue the crew of a river boat this week. Angus Kirkman, NSRI Witsand Station Commander reports:

    “At 15h30 NSRI Witsand volunteers launched our rescue craft Falcon Rescuer to go to the assistance of Danie van Heerden, 62, and Basie van Heerden, 68, from Bloemfontein, and Phillip Fouche, 48, from Port Elizabeth, reported to be stranded 15 km up the Breede River after being wind swept in 30 to 40 knot winds and experiencing difficulties making head way in the rough river conditions on a river boat.

    “They had earlier experienced difficulties while fishing near the river mouth and had motored upstream in their small river boat but had eventually been wind swept and tossed around by rough river conditions while motoring 12 km upstream and were blown a further 3 km upstream trying to reach the shore before calling the NSRI for assistance.

    “Although by now they had managed to reach the shore and were not in any immediate danger our volunteers reached them and took them on-board our rescue craft while one NSRI rescuer motored their boat safely back to Witsand.

    “On the safe arrival at our NSRI rescue base they required no further assistance.”

    Ed’s note

    Of interest is that the Breede River was once the site of another of South Africa’s early river seaports, Port Beaufort. Not much remains of this today and in its place is a marina and fishing harbour. But the river also boasted a second port further upstream near a place called Midpunt. The last known vessel to call there was apparently the CHUB in 1936 but small coasting ships had call upriver for many years dating back into the 19th century, with at least one ship, KADIE being wrecked in the river circa 1885 not far from Malgas.

    PORTS & SHIPS is keen to gather stories, recollections and facts of this and other ‘forgotten ports’ for publication - they can be emailed to info@ports.co.za

    In another rescue operation the NSRI Mossel Bay station was called out on Wednesday (5 March) to recover a boat which had broken its mooring. Dawie Zwiegelaar, Mossel Bay Station Commander fills us in about this midnight operation:

    “At 00h10 our volunteers responded to Santos Beach in our NSRI rescue vehicle following a request from the owner of the ski-boat Cara-Mia reporting that his boat had broken her mooring and had drifted out of the harbour and was washing against rocks at Santos Beach.

    “We recovered the vessel onto Santos Beach and she was put onto her trailer suffering from quite extensive damage.”

    Mystery over missing Indian freighter – tug Jupiter 6 recalled

    The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Reporting Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia wants to uncover what happened to the missing Indian freighter REZZAK, which disappeared in the Black Sea on 18 February.

    The Panamanian-registered ship of 5,100-DWT had a crew of 25 on board, all Indian nationals, and was bound for Turkey after having sailed from Russia. A search for the missing ship turned up a punctured liferaft, several lifejackets, a tarpaulin, gas cylinders and sea survival kits from the ship. There has been no

    There have been some suggestions of fraud but nothing concrete to indicate this has been forthcoming. The stories appear to stem largely from the coincidence of what happened to another Indian-owned ship, the tug JUPITER 1 which disappeared off the South African coast opposite Port Elizabeth in September 2005.

    Amidst hints and accusations of fraud and piracy, it has been pointed out that both vessels were manned by the same company, Pelican Marine and both were crewed with Indians of whom a number came from the same region. In the case of the tug the Emergency Positioning Indicating Radio Beacon, or EPIRB, which is designed to give a signal if the ship sinks, failed to transmit at the time when the tug is thought to have disappeared. A brief message from the Jupiter 6’s EPIRB was however reported a month later which only added to the mystery. If the tug had sunk it ought to have sounded immediately.

    So far there has been no reported EPIRB message or distress call from the REZZAK.

    Adding fuel to the controversy regarding Jupiter 6 is the indifferent attitude which is said to have been displayed by the company towards the families of crew. The company says that compensation has been delayed because of insurance issues.

    The wife of one of the missing sailors on the tug took the matter to the Indian Supreme Court in November 2006, asking for a directive to the Indian government to conduct an inquiry into the disappearance of the vessel.

    Others say the fate of the two ships is pure coincidence and that to criticise the manning agent without a fair hearing or court case is unfair. In any case they suggest it is still too early to know the reaction of the company to the supposed loss of the Rezzak a few weeks ago.

    The Rezzak was carrying a cargo of steel billets worth in excess of USD1 million.

    Pic of the day – ATLANTIC VENTURE

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The oil rig ATLANTIC VENTURE has been a resident of Cape Town harbour for several months during which time it has been laid up, but rumours suggest the rig has been sold and will soon be towed away. Do any readers have confirmation or further information of this? Picture Aad Noorland

    Don’t forget to send us your news and press releases for inclusion in the News Bulletins. Shipping related pictures submitted by readers are always welcome – please email to info@ports.co.za

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