Maritime and transport news from Ports & Ships

Apr 11, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Mozambique’s transport minister repeats warning to Maputo port and Nacala rail operators

  • Uganda says it is determined to make greater use of Dar es Salaam

  • SACD Freight sets new trends in container handling

  • New Red Sea port will be among world’s top ten

  • TATA plans to build trucks in South Africa

  • SPECIAL FEATURE : Port Louis – New hub in the Indian Ocean

  • Pic of the day – SAFMARINE COTONOU


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    Mozambique’s transport minister repeats warning to Maputo port and Nacala rail operators

    Maputo, 10 April - In what amounts to an additional warning to port and railway concession holders, the Mozambique government says it is prepared to intervene where there are violations of contractual agreements.

    Transport minister Paulo Zucula said that notice had been taken of concerns expressed by CFM, the state-owned rail and port company. CFM is a stakeholder in each of the concessions but has been in dispute with several concessionaires, in particular the Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC) and CDN, the Northern Development Corridor, or Nacala railway operator.

    Zucula was visiting CFM headquarters in Maputo this week.

    In terms of the various concessions the state continues to own each asset while the concessionaire manages and operates the facility and is also responsible for providing sufficient infrastructure and equipment. CFM chairman Rui Fonseca has made little secret of his concerns over what he sees as a lack of progress with some of the concessions, in particular the Nacala Corridor operator CDN, and in the case of the MPDC, outstanding fees.

    The CDN concession is controlled by two US companies, Railroad Development Corporation and Edlows Resources. On several occasions in public Fonseca has accused CDN of having failed to equip the railway with sufficient rolling stock and other infrastructure to enable it to meet required performance levels.

    With regards the MPDC the consortium headed by UK-based Mersey Docks recently sold out to South African and Dubai interests – the Grindrod Group and DP World respectively. CFM claims that MPDC still owes USD16 million in unpaid rent and fees and Zucula says the government cannot stand aside while such contracts are ignored.

    “The government must intervene to unblock various problems concerning the leases. A speedy answer is also needed to the correspondence sent by CFM concerning the relationship between the government, CFM and our partners,” he warned. “There are clear signs that the paradigm that exists today is going to change, but if it doesn't, then I will speak about the matter again.”

    Several years ago Mozambique summarily cancelled a concession headed by a Transnet company, Spoornet, to manage and operate the railway between the port of Maputo and South Africa, on the grounds of non-performance by Spoornet. It is generally believed that Transnet sought a way out of the contract and subsequently held off from fulfilling its obligations until it was dismissed.

    CFM subsequently took back the operation of the Maputo railway (CFM South) and recently completed its rehabilitation. The first of several refurbished diesel-electric locomotives have arrived from India while other are being refurbished in Mozambique and South African workshops.

    Uganda says it is determined to make greater use of Dar es Salaam

    Kampala, 10 April – The Uganda government says it is now more keen than ever to explore with Tanzanian authorities the use of a southern transport corridor from Uganda to the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam.

    The southern corridor involves the use of ferries on Lake Victoria between Port Bell near Kampala and Mwanza on the Tanzanian end of the lake, and the railway from Mwanza to Dar es Salaam.

    Finance Minister Ezra Suruma pointed out that Uganda lost billions of shillings as a result of the recent political upheaval in Kenya, which prevented Uganda from making use of its northern transport corridor (rail and road) to Mombasa.

    The delays arising from the unrest led to widescale shortages of basic commodities in Uganda.

    He said his government intended strengthening its discussions with Tanzanian counterparts to make increased and better use of the Tanzania route.

    “I know the southern route is (more expensive) than the eastern route, but what if another crisis happens again?” he said.

    The minister made this statement last week, a matter of days before further unrest broke out in Kenya over renewed political disputes, in which railway lines are reported to have been torn up. Source – The Monitor (Kampala)

    SACD Freight sets new trends in container handling


    The Durban branch of SACD Freight – a wholly owned subsidiary of the Bidvest group, has invested in a new Taylor Model THDC 975 Full Container Handler, the first of its kind in South Africa.

    The machine is capable of stacking full containers 5-high with a rated capacity of 41 tonnes at 2-high stacking, and 36t at 5-high stacking.

    SACD drivers have begun training on this machine at the company’s premises adjacent to the Durban Container Terminal. The drivers report that the chain suspended spreader allows for ease of handling as the shock, which normally travels through the machine, is absorbed by the chains.

    The THDC 975 has a 6-cylinder, series 12 turbocharged engine. Big Lift Tucks, the supplier of this new machine will maintain it for a period of one year in accordance with the sale agreement.

    Selective stacking 5-high will enhance our operational efficiencies and increase our overall full container storage capacity by between 10 and 15 percent, said a SACD Freight spokesman.

    New Red Sea port will be among world’s top ten

    Some details of the new port planned for the King Abdullah Economic City on the Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia were revealed this week.

    The new city and port to the north of Jeddah has been described as a New Age City being built today for tomorrow’s generation of Saudi citizens, and is being developed by Emaar Properties in a USD27 Billion project.

    Construction of the city began with phase 1 in December 2005. When completed the City will have six distinct components, a new seaport, an industrial district, financial island, education zone, resorts and the residential area. As it is being built in stages it is anticipated that the first residents and the first new businesses will begin moving in during the course of this year.

    In a statement issued this week it was revealed that DP World has signed a memorandum of understanding with Emaar Economic City to develop and operate the new port, which is being planned as the largest in the Red Sea and one of the world’s top ten ports. Included in the port’s plans is a dedicated Hajj terminal that can receive over 500,000 pilgrims every season, with adjacent hotels, medical centres and other world-class amenities to cater for the pilgrims’ every need.

    On the cargo side of port operations a container terminal with a capacity for 20 million TEU is planned. The 14 square kilometre port area will also cater for non containerised cargo.

    DP World said in a statement this week that the multipurpose cargo terminal is scheduled to be operational by end of 2010 and a 1.6 million TEU container terminal by mid-2011 after which the capacity of the port will be increased over several phases.

    In addition to creating 15,000 direct and indirect jobs, the port is expected to contribute an average SAR10 billion to the Kingdom’s GDP annually, on completion.

    Tata plans to build trucks in South Africa

    India’s top auto manufacturer, Tata Motors, says it is planning to build trucks and buses in South Africa.

    Speaking at this week’s India – Africa summit held in India, Tata’s managing director Ravi Kant said the manufacturing plant will be in Rosslyn outside Pretoria. Tata acquired the former Nissan plant several years ago.

    There has been increasing speculation that Tata intends also assembling the low cost Nano motor car in South Africa. The Nano was unveiled in India recently and will become available in that country later this year for a price of 100,000 rupees (approximately R19,600). Tata has indicated however that the Nano will be available in India only for at least two or three years.

    SPECIAL FEATURE : Port Louis – New hub in the Indian Ocean

    Special report by Alain Malherbe (AeroShip - Port Louis)

    After the commissioning in May 2008 of the dedicated petroleum products pier situated at Mer Rouge, the Mauritius Ports Authority (MPA) will initiate other projects in order to support the constant growth of the maritime traffic and to increase the chances of Port Louis becoming the regional hub.

    In the meantime, the second of the two new gantries lately installed will be operational by the end of April 2008. However, Port Louis will have much to do to impose itself as the hub vis-à-vis the other regional ports if phenomenal improvements are not planned.

    The construction of the oil terminal is estimated at Rs 560 million. Henceforth and for safety reasons, all oil tankers will operate on this new dedicated quay equipped with latest fire protection equipment.

    The construction should have been completed a few months back but was substantially delayed by the adverse weather conditions which prevailed at the beginning of 2007 and with the visit of tropical cyclone Gamede.

    Consequently, the MPA is now waiting for the consultants’ final report on the new master plan as regards the constructive utilisation of land under the MPA’s jurisdiction for the coming 15 to 20 years. This is in order to adequately cater for the constant growth in maritime traffic and in the economic development of the Island. The variety of new projects will assist Port Louis in remaining competitive.

    There are also considerable infrastructure improvement works being carried out in the container and cruise ship terminals in La Reunion as well as in Madagascar.

    “Mauritius aims to position itself as The Hub in this part of the Indian Ocean. With the growth of world trade, especially from China and India, there is a lack of large transport aircraft. The shipping lines serving this area of the Indian Ocean prefer to operate from hubs, where the availability of a critical mass of containers reduces their costs of operation”, explains Shekar Suntah, director general of the MPA.

    “In spite of the considerable growth of the harbour activities in South Africa, Mauritius has been able to position itself in the area. However, it is essential to continuously cater for the interest of the main shipping lines which call at Port Louis by reducing the time spent alongside the terminals, thus increasing their revenues and allowing a stabilisation of freight rates which have been continuously increasing over the past year.

    “The actual massive investments will ensure that these shipping lines continue to serve Port Louis even if there is nowadays no direct service between Mauritius and Europe and that all exports in this direction are systematically transshipped in the shipping lines’ dedicated hubs.

    “On the other end, the CHC is heading towards substantial improvement of its productivity”, says Shekar Suntah.

    Facing the exigencies of the general trade growth, the MPA has already initiated other projects of investment. First of all, the extension of Mauritius Container Terminal (MCT) at Mer-Rouge to allow the accommodation of three ships at the same time. Terminal II, overlapping Lafarge Cement silos, will be refitted, consolidated and increased to adapt three to four gantries. The dredging of the access channel (presently limited to -11.5m) will be considered as well as the extension and the Quay 1 previously dedicated to the unloading of bulk fertiliser.

    The seafood sector will not be neglected. With the constant increase of fishing vessels calling for unloading and transshipping of its cargo, the construction of a new fishing port equipped with cold rooms and treatment plants at Bain-Des-Dames is also in the agenda of the MPA.

    Another ambitious project of the MPA is the development of a Waterfront Village. This development will be on a progressive basis and will include a terminal for the boarding of passengers, special berths for cruise ships and a marina.

    There has been over the past three years a considerable increase in passenger ships calling at Port Louis. Costa Cruises now uses Port Louis as the departure point of its Indian Ocean cruises.

    Calls for tenders for the construction of the terminal have already been launched and work is scheduled to start in two months time, to be completed by the first quarter of 2009. Other constituents of the Waterfront Village, in the long term, will be a maritime museum, a conference centre, an art gallery, showrooms, shopping centres and sport complexes. Restaurants, hotels, and luxury apartments will also be part of this extraordinary project.

    In the long term, MPA foresees the construction of a breakwater line and another container terminal at Fort William. It would appear that the total length of this terminal will be of approximately one km with a capacity to handle at any time 1,2 million TEU.

    A strategic partner in 2010

    The government examines the possibility of a strategic partner for the CHC. The collaboration of the World Bank has been consequently solicited and it is envisaged that such an alliance be concluded by 2010. The objective behind such an alliance is to bring the strategic partner to be actively involved in the investments of port’s new infrastructures.

    The importance of a strategic partner is underlined in a recent ‘MCB Focus’ issue. In this document, the economists of the Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB) analyse the infrastructure of the country and gaps at the level of the port, the water, the roads, of the airport and of the electricity.

    The ‘MCB Focus’ considers that a strategic partner would improve the competitiveness of Port Louis and would obtain investments for the envisaged projects. Fears are expressed about the future operations of big shipping lines in Port Louis. According to the economists of the MCB, the port has been going through a remarkable growth in activities these last years. But the absence of infrastructure capacity to answer in an effective way the requirements of the traffic of containers in rush hour had a negative impact on the productivity aboard ships.

    These incapacities also increased waiting times and costs of operation of ships. The authors of the ‘MCB Focus’ are afraid that such a situation may bring international maritime lines to select other ports of the region for their transshipment activities in order to reduce their operational costs by delivering cargo much faster. Moreover, for the World Bank, it is essential to improve on an urgent basis the infrastructures of the port with the envisaged investments exceeding Rs 5 billions. If it is reassuring to see that the projects are there, the main challenge will be their realisation in time and in a coherent way. According to the BM, Port Louis is late in catching up with the other ports of the region with regards performance level.

    A recent report of the BM classifies the port of Port Louis in 132nd position from 150 countries of the most competitive ports. According to George Chung, newly elected president of the Mauritius Export Association, phenomenal work needs to be achieved to to list the port of Port Louis among the most competitive countries as far as port infrastructures are concerned. There is a crucial need of continuous massive investment in the port. Port Louis is widely outstripped by South Africa (24th), Kenya (76th), Mozambique (110th) and Madagascar(120th) while Singapore is in first position.

    Remarkable growth of the sea traffic

    The traffic of containers at Port Louis has increased in a substantial way since the beginning of 2008. The total number of containers which were unloaded or transshipped in February 2008 was 21,855. In February 2007 there had been only 14,700. The increase is thus 48.66 percent. In February this year 6,015 containers were transshipped compared to 4,488 in February last year, an increase of 34 percent.

    Pic of the day – SAFMARINE COTONOU

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    SAFMARINE COTONOU heads down the Maydon Channel in Durban harbour in the company of two NPA tugs, en route to the Prince Edward Graving Dock and the ship’s maintenance overhaul. Safmarine Cotonou completed dry docking this week and is currently berthed at the Bayhead ship repair quay. Picture by Rip Riphagen

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