Ports & Ships Maritime News

Apr 30, 2008
Author: P&S

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Thursday and Friday are public holidays in South Africa – the next News Bulletin will appear on Monday 5 May

  • Argentine sailing ship docks in Cape Town

  • Cruise ship MADAGASCAR finally sold for USD926,000

  • France and US introduce anti piracy resolution before the UN

  • Ambitious rail master plan for East Africa

  • CAMEROON: Lifting of import taxes fails to reduce food prices

  • Pic of the day – FRIO ROMA


    Watch a short 4.5 minute video clip about ship stowaway searches CLICK HERE and follow the link

    Argentine sailing ship docks in Cape Town


    Cape Town, 29 April 2008 - Capetonians have until Friday to go on board one of the world's tallest and fastest sailing ships belonging to the Argentinean Navy.

    Called the ARA Libertad, the vessel is currently in Cape Town until 2 May for a six-day goodwill visit as a guest of the City of Cape Town and the SA Navy.

    "Libertad is Spanish for 'freedom' - and the visit of this magnificent vessel coincides with South Africa's Freedom Day celebrations," said Executive Mayor of Cape Town, Helen Zille, who will visit the vessel on 1 May.

    Built in Rio Santiago in 1958, the Libertad was incorporated into the Argentinean navy as a training frigate in 1963.

    The 3,765 ton ship measures almost 104 metres in length and 14.3 metres across the beam.

    Her 27 sails span 2,700 square metres of sail surface and her main mast stands 52 metres tall.

    The Libertad is the pride and joy of the Argentinean navy, said Captain Gustavo Díaz Durán, Military Attaché of the Embassy of the Argentine Republic.

    “Since the Libertad maiden voyage in 1963, it has travelled over 800 000 nautical miles and visited 513 ports in 69 countries,” said Captain Diaz Durán.

    She established the world record for a trans-atlantic crossing between Canada and Ireland by sailing 2,059 nautical miles in 8.5 days, he said.

    The commanding officer, Captain Juan José Iglesias, is a veteran of the Falklands War of 1982.

    Under his command are 310 men and women including 26 officers, 90 midshipmen, 186 warrant and non-commissioned officers, and eight junior naval officers from Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, India, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru and South Africa.

    “This year, Sub-Lieutenant Thandeka Snail, 24, from the South African Navy will be the first black woman to participate in this world-renowned training course,” said Captain Diaz Durán.

    Cape Town is the first stop on the vessel's eight month around the world trip.

    Libertad is currently berthed at Quay 2, V&A Waterfront, next to the Table Bay Hotel.

    Members of the public will be able to visit the ship from 2pm to 6pm today (30 April), and again from 3pm to 5pm tomorrow (1 May).

    As from 2 May the frigate will continue on to another 16 ports before returning to Buenos Aires on 6 December.

    The ports include Port Louis (Mauritius), Port Victoria (Seychelles), Mumbai (India), Malaca (Malaysia), Manila (Philippines), Shanghai (China), Pusan (South Korea), Tokyo (Japan), Apra Harbour (Guam), Noumea New Caledonia (France), Sydney (Australia), Wellington (New Zealand), Papeete (Tahiti) and the Isla de Pascua (Chile). - BuaNews

    Cruise ship Madagascar finally sold for USD926,000

    Madagascar on her berth at the Durban fruit terminal, where she spent so much of her time since arriving in October 2005. Picture Terry Hutson

    The little cruise ship Madagascar (formerly Viking Bordeaux and Stella Maris II) has finally been sold, going to a Dubai-based concern for USD 926,000.

    The ship has been under arrest in Durban harbour since 2005 and the sale follows an inconclusive auction held a few weeks ago at which the reserve price of USD 925,000 failed to be realised. The highest bid then made was USD 900,000.

    Auctioneer Capt Roy Martin of Admiralty Shipsales told Ports & Ships yesterday evening that the vessel had been sold to a company registered in Dubai under the name Mid East Shipping & Trading. He said the successful buyer had bought out the option held by the highest bidder at the recent auction.

    It is believed that the other party holding the option was from the well-known Greek shipping family Restis, which in the late 1990s acquired the bulk shipping operations of SA Marine Corporation, better known as Safmarine.

    It is not known what the new owner intends for the Madagascar although Capt Martin said he was of the opinion that the ship is heading for the breakers, perhaps after a short period of operation in either the Middle East or the Mediterranean.

    The 3,500-gt 1960-built Madagascar arrived in Durban in late 2005 to start up an ambitious all-year round cruising operation along the South African and Mozambique coasts. The ship proved highly unsuitable in South Africa’s coastal waters and after just a couple of cruises the operation was abandoned at considerable cost.

    A second South African company attempted to launch a similar service in 2007 but this too failed with the inaugural cruise being cancelled only days before the first voyage was scheduled.

    France and US introduce anti piracy resolution before the UN

    France and the United States this week jointly introduced a draft Resolution to the United Nations aimed at tackling piracy off the Somali coast.

    With the added backing of the UK and Panama the Resolution seeks to authorise non-Somali navies to stop and search suspicious craft and ships within Somali waters, followed by the detention of any found to be harbouring pirates or suspected pirates.

    The move follows requests from the Somali Transitional Federal Government for UN assistance. Somalia has repeatedly stated that it lacks the ability to patrol and police its national waters.

    In 2007 the secretary general of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Efthimios Mitropoulos issued a similar request to the UN Security Council. However nothing so far has transpired.

    France says it would like the resolution to extend to other regions prone to piracy.

    Of interest however, the Puntland authorities in the semi-autonomous northern region of Somalia took stern action of their own last week, attacking and routing a group of pirates which had seized a vessel off the Puntland coast and freeing the vessel and its crew. The pirates have been given heavy jail sentences.

    Meanwhile several incidents of piracy have occurred along the African coast and in the Red Sea in recent days. The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre in Kuala Lumpur reported this week that a general cargo vessel underway 50 n.miles off the Yemeni coast was approached by two fast motor boats acting suspiciously. The master of the vessel sounded the alarm and took evasive action with crew mounting fire hoses until the two boats ceased their pursuit.

    The IMB also reported the case of two container ships off the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam which were boarded by armed men on 22 April intent of stealing from the ships stores and containers. In one incident the thieves managed to overpower the ship’s watch keepers and went about their thieving business before making their escape. Only after they were gone was the alarm sounded.

    Later that day thieves armed with knives boarded a second container ship at anchor 30 n.miles off Dar es Salaam and stole from the ships stores and several containers, making their escape once the alarm was sounded.

    Ambitious rail master plan for East Africa

    Countries in East Africa are to unveil a master plan aimed at expanding and rehabilitating the region’s creaking railway network.

    According to the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat consultants have been appointed to investigate the viability of constructing up to 15 new railway lines in terms of the EAC Railways Development Master Plan.

    In addition to new lines within East Africa, the Plan looks at opening new connections to the Sudan, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    The major beneficiary of new construction would be Tanzania with eight new lines proposed besides the already announced Isaka-Kigali line. Kenya would receive two new lines connecting the country with its northerly neighbours, Sudan and Ethiopia including one line connecting Garissa with the Ethiopian capital Abbas Ababa, and the other from Lamu to Juba in south Sudan via Garissa.

    The Plan calls for Uganda to build four new lines linking the country with southern Sudan, the DRC and with Tanzania via Burundi and Rwanda. A new line has already been identified linking Tanzania’s Isaka Inland Port near Shinyanga (south of Mwanza) with the Rwandese capital Kigali.

    It hasn’t been revealed what gauge the new railways would be built to. The line between Isaka and Kigali already announced is intended as a (European) standard gauge (1435mm) line, as opposed to the metre gauge employed elsewhere throughout Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. By contrast the DRC uses South African Cape gauge (1067mm) as does the Sudan. – source Business Daily (Nairobi)

    CAMEROON: Lifting of import taxes fails to reduce food prices

    Discharging cargo at the port of Douala. Picture David Hecht/IRIN

    Douala, 29 April 2008 (IRIN) - Almost two months after the government lifted import taxes on rice, flour and fish in response to riots caused in part by high food prices, consumers are still paying the same, and in some cases more.

    “We are fighting to ensure prices remain low while operating within the constraints of a free market,” the spokesman for the minister of trade, Alphonse Ateba Ndoumou, told IRIN.

    The 5 percent import tax was lifted on 7 March after the government made a deal with wholesalers. “They agreed to lower prices if we lifted taxes,” Ateba Ndoumou said.

    “The problem now is the retailers,” he said. “They have not respected the deal.”

    The government closed down 50 retail shops in the commercial capital Douala and the capital Yaoundé which were selling rice at the old price. But retailers with whom IRIN spoke said they were still waiting for the wholesalers to drop their prices.

    “The government can’t make us sell at a lower price until we can buy at a lower price,” a rice retailer in Douala’s central market, Jean Marc Mbarga, told IRIN.

    Whoever is at fault, prices controls are not going to work, economists in Cameroon told IRIN. “Prices cannot be set by decree,” said economist Hozier Nana Chimi, associate director of the non-governmental organisation Service d’Appui aux Initiatives Locales de Développement (Support Service for Local Development Initiatives). “It hasn’t worked in the past and it won’t work in the future.”

    China cuts rice supplies

    The reason is not just that the prices of imports are set internationally. So, too, are freight charges which account for around 60 percent of the cost of imports, the spokesman for the minister of trade said. Other costs outside the control of government include international port handling fees and insurance, said Cameroonian economist Georges Tchokokam.

    But what is most important, he said, is that prices are largely set by the relationship between demand and supply, and China, which was the largest rice exporter to Cameroon until 2004, has cut supply. “As long as world demand is higher than supply then removing import taxes will do nothing to resolve the problem,” Tchokokam said.

    Since the 5 percent import tax was lifted, rice prices have risen by 7 percent to 320 CFA francs [79 US cents] a kilogram. And the price is likely to rise even higher, Rabelais Yankam, technical adviser to the minister of agriculture, told IRIN. “In a couple of months other [rice exporting] countries besides China could also stop exporting… Then prices will go up even higher,” he said.

    Flour and bread

    The effects of lifting the 5 percent import tax on flour have been somewhat different. The retail price dropped by an astonishing 13 percent mostly likely because international prices dropped also. However, the price of bread for consumers has remained unchanged.

    “A baguette [French-style bread] still costs me 150 CFA francs (37 US cents)…,” Yolande Titi, a woman in Douala, told IRIN. “And though the government said it would make bakers increase the size of the baguettes they produce, in fact the size has got smaller than before the riots.”

    Many businesses may be looking to recoup loses from looting during the February riots in which scores of people were killed. But those are the kinds of domestic factors that the government can and must control, the trade minister’s spokesman said.

    “In the current situation we are obliged to do something for people even if the World Bank and IMF [International Monetary Fund] do not agree,” he said.

    Short-term relief

    A spokesman for the World Bank in Yaoundé said that for the moment he could not comment on the government’s current import tax policy. However, a source at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization said unofficially that he thought the measures could offer some short-term relief.

    Indeed, the price of imported fish has dropped.

    But it is the long-term effects of price controls that worry economists. “Trying to repress prices will create black markets,” said economist Tchokokam.

    Alternatively, economist Nana Chimi said that if somehow the government were to succeed in lowering food prices in Cameroon “then traders would export their imported produce to neighbouring countries where prices are higher… then Cameroon would have less food.”

    Nana Chimi said the government should re-impose the import taxes and use the revenue to subsidise local production. “Only that what would supply be increased and food security guaranteed,” he said.

    (This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations)

    Pic of the day – FRIO ROMA

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The 8,245-gt Panamanian-registered reefer FRIO ROMA at Cape Town’s LW3 berth at the recent weekend. Picture by Aad Noorland

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