Maritime and transport news from Ports & Ships

Apr 9, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Still no rescue or word of highjacked French yacht

  • Mombasa dredging to start this year

  • Nigerian plans for new deepwater port

  • India-Africa Summit to forge strategic economic relations

  • Mombasa declares itself free of congestion

  • Walvis Bay Corridor Group encouraged by increasing volumes

  • Richards Bay steel plant commissioned

  • Pic of the day – BAHIA LAURA


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    Still no rescue or word of highjacked French yacht

    The highjacked French cruising yacht Le Ponant, seized by Somali pirates a few days ago while heading into the Red Sea en route for the Mediterranean, is not off the coast of Eyl as was reported earlier.

    According to the mayor of Eyl, Abdullahi Said O’Yusuf, the captured luxury yacht sailed past Eyl and headed south towards the region of Mudug in central Somalia, he told Radio Garowe yesterday. He denied the vessel had gone to anchor off his town saying that the townspeople of Eyl would never allow pirates near their homes.

    Meanwhile French reports suggested that a crack military team of GIGN commandos, who are specialists in anti terrorism and hostage rescue operations, has been sent to Djibouti to prepare for a possible rescue mission, but the owners of the yacht, French container and shipping line CMA CGM said it wasn’t willing to comment in case of jeopardising the lives of the 30 crew on board Le Ponant.

    It has also been reported that the yacht may have been taken to Harardheere where several other pirated ships have previously been held hostage but a French warship which has been monitoring the yacht’s progress says it remains further north along the east coast.

    French press reports quoted a governor of Puntland (northern Somalia) as advising the French to storm the ship and rescue the hostages instead of negotiating a ransom.

    “These pirates are terrorists and there is no need to negotiate with them, attacking them will solve future piracy plans,” Governor Musa Ghelle Yusuf told Radio Garowe.

    The luxury vessel is owned by the Compagnie Des Iles du Ponant, a subsidiary of CMA CGM which says it is collaborating closely with the French authorities.

    The French flagged ship was on its way back to the Mediterranean, minus its passengers which had disembarked in the Seychelles, with 30 crew members on board when it was attacked in the Gulf of Aden. A statement issued by CMA CGM says it is in regular touch with the families of the crew members who were being kept appraised of the situation.

    In an unrelated matter two Pakistani warships, the Tariq and Moawin, last week chased away would-be pirates in three speedboats who tried to board a general cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden. The ship took evasive action until the coalition warships arrived on the scene. Two days later another ship in the gulf, a South Korean tanker Sunshine Sky came under attack by armed men in motor boats who fired grenade launchers and automatic weapons. The tanker took evasive action and managed to shake off the attack, only to be followed a short while later by another five boats. Again the tanker made its escape and reported the matter.

    Mombasa dredging to start this year


    Dredging of Mombasa harbour will get underway this year with the contract having been thrown open to additional bidders.

    A contract to dredge Mombasa port had been awarded previously to Belgian company Jan de Nul but was withdrawn following complaints that other potential bidders had been excluded. Jan de Nul was reported as having secured €8 million (USD11.7 million) from the Belgian government to finance the contract.

    A new round of bidding has now been entered into with at least three other companies, Belgium's Dredging International and Holland's Boskalis and Vanorb having added their names.

    The project calls for the harbour to be dredged to a depth of -15 metres in the main channels to enable larger ships to call at Mombasa. The turning basin is also to be widened to allow for larger vessels.

    Nigerian plans for new deepwater port

    Nigeria’s media reports that a deepwater port is to be built by Lagos Port LFTZ Enterprises at Ibeju-Lekki to the east of Lagos.

    The planned port, with a depth of -17m will be the deepest port in West Africa, it is being claimed and is expected to cost in the region of USD700 million. The port will be geared for container handling in its first phase followed by bulk cargo facilities.

    A spokesman for the company said it would become the first port in Nigerian waters to cater for Suezmax ships. He said that environmental impact assessment procedures were already in place and planning was going ahead to have the port operational by 2009. – source Vanguard

    India-Africa Summit to forge strategic economic relations

    New Delhi, 8 April -The first India-Africa summit is currently underway in the India capital, New Delhi, with the aim of forging a strategic economic partnership between the two regions.

    Trade, investment, energy security and peacekeeping are top of the agenda at the summit.

    South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki together with Foreign Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma joined 13 other African leaders who are being hosted by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

    According to the South African Foreign Affairs Department, the government delegation will participate in the summit within the context of strengthening Africa - India relations in particular, Africa-Asia relations in general and to consolidate South-South co-operation.

    “In this regard, the dynamic changes taking place both on the African continent and in India have opened new possibilities for a closer partnership.

    “Furthermore, the realities of an increasingly interdependent world has emphasised the need for countries on the African continent and India to work closer together to address common goals and challenges,” the department said in a statement.

    The two sides are also keen to work closely on important global issues like the proposed reform to the United Nations, the fight against terrorism and global warming.

    In his inaugural address at the summit, Prime Minister Singh announced that India would give preferential market access to 34 countries in Africa, which were among the least developed nations in the world.

    He called for turning the 21st century into a “century of Asia and Africa”.

    India’s commitment for overall development and progress, he said, was steadfast as it was keen to see Africa find its rightful place in the world.

    Prime Minister Singh described Africa as the “land of awakening”, adding that the two billion people of India and Africa could set an example of “fruitful partnership.”

    The prime minister said there was much to gain from this partnership.

    However, he stressed that it should not be limited to an interaction between governments but should also reach to an engagement between the widest possible sections in India and Africa.

    The two-day summit seeks to forge a more contemporary partnership in key areas of trade and energy.

    Welcoming the guests from Africa earlier in the morning, Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma said the summit would help the two sides establish a “dynamic partnership”.

    A film on India-Africa ties is expected to be screened during the summit for the visiting leaders and delegates.

    The foreign ministers of India and Africa, who met Monday, have finalised a draft declaration which will be released by the leaders at the end of the summit Wednesday.

    The declaration aims to identify areas of potential growth where the two sides could work closely for their mutual benefit.

    Amongst those attending are Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Burkina Faso Prime Minister Tertius Zongo, Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Ghana President John Agyekum Kufuor, Kenyan Prime Minister Mwai Kibaki and Senegal President Maitre Abdoulaye Wade. - BuaNews-IANS

    Mombasa declares itself free of congestion

    Mombasa’s berth 16

    Mombasa’s harbourmaster Captain Twalib Khamis says the port’s container backlog is now a thing of the past, having reduced from a high of 19,000 containers in the terminal during January and February to less than 9,000 last week. Mombasa’s container terminal has stacking space for 14,000 TEU but Twalib wants this maintained at a maximum of 6,000 TEU.

    Twalib said the measures taken by the Kenya Ports Authority and others to clear boxes out of the terminal and port had finally paid off. He paid tribute to those involved and said the measures taken were still being implemented to further reduce the numbers.

    Mombasa has been plagued by containers overstaying the time allowed in the terminal before being cleared. This problem was exacerbated by the political unrest earlier this year over the election result, which brought operations at the port and along transport routes out of Mombasa to an effective halt.

    Some of the measures undertaken included having the port work a 24-hour day and the creation of several bonded Container Freight Stations (container depots). The KPA also made use of areas normally used for storing motor vehicle imports to store containers. In addition Twalib gave credit to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) for steps it took to speed up the clearance of documentation.

    “KRA has effectively streamlined its documentation process thereby reducing time wasted at the port by cargo owners,” he said.

    As a result of the improvements Mombasa was again able to accept transhipment cargo for Dar es Salaam and other Tanzanian ports, he said. In March Mombasa processed 564 containers destined for Dar es Salaam, which in turned has assisted the Tanzanian port with its own congestion problems. – East African

    Walvis Bay Corridor Group encouraged by increasing volumes

    The Walvis Bay Corridor Group, which markets Namibia’s trade corridors to neighbouring regions, says that increasing volumes in the past year under review will result in strategies to improve infrastructure along the corridors.

    It bases its statement on the mid-term Review of the Walvis Bay Corridor Strategic Plan for the period 2005 to 2010, which shows an encouraging increase of 52.7 percent in cargo volumes along the respective routes.

    During the period September 2006 to June 2007 the Trans-Caprivi Corridor carried 21,753 tonnes of cargo, up from 9,003t for the previous year.

    The Trans-Kalahari Corridor, which extends from Walvis Bay through Botswana to the South African border handled 3,688 tonnes, up from 2,544t, while the third corridor, the Trans-Cunene which extends to the southern Angolan border had a significant increase with 118,657 tonnes of cargo passing along its route, compared with 82,793t the previous year.

    The Walvis Bay Corridor Group says it believes these increases warrant further development of the respective corridors, although it ought to be concerned about the results for the much hyped Trans-Kalahari Corridor which doesn’t appear to have made much inroad with traffic for either Botswana or South Africa. The corridor has been widely promoted as offering an alternative to South African ports, particularly Durban, for time sensitive cargo from North or South America or from Europe, with ships being able to call at least four to five days earlier at Walvis Bay than by going round the Cape to Durban.

    Nevertheless the Corridor Group wants to proceed with plans for optimising all three routes. Included in developments is the widening of a bridge across the Kavango River at Bagani in West Caprivi, where work is expected to commence next month, and a possible extension of the railway line from Gobabis to link up with the Botswana rail network in the west of that country. This latter might have an even more effective impact on the Trans-Kalahari Corridor.

    A National Logistic Association is also planned which it is hoped will help influence both the public and private sectors towards increasing the capacity of the three corridors. – New Era with additional comment by Ports & Ships

    Richards Bay steel plant commissioned

    Tata Steel’s new ferrochrome plant at Richards Bay was officially commissioned last week in front of a large group of invited guests.

    Tata Steel KZN is the first greenfield project to be commissioned by Tata Steel outside India and has been completed in fast time at Alton, one of Richards Bay’s industrial areas near the port.

    The smelter was built not without its own little bit of drama, with the original site having to be abandoned after complaints from a neighbouring paper mill over potential pollution.

    The new plant will generate 14 percent of its own electricity using the smelter’s gas emissions for fuel, which is expected to cut down on environmentally unfriendly emissions by not using fossil fuels. In addition by generating 14 percent of its own electricity the smelter will avoid having to implement the dreaded 10 percent cutback demanded by Eskom.

    The plant’s planned capacity during Phase 1 is a production of 134,500 tonnes per annum. The second phase is scheduled to begin in June following the completion of the briquetting plant. Including Phase 2 Tata Steel KZN is expected to earn revenues of R700 million a year.

    Pic of the day – BAHIA LAURA

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    Hamburg Süd’s container ship BAHIA LAURA at Durban’s Pier 1 Container Terminal on Saturday 5 April. The ship is the fifth of six ‘Bahia’ class ships of 3752-TEU capacity, and was launched into service on 10 July 2007. All six ships have names prefixed with ‘Bahia’, apart from the class leader which uses just BAHIA. Bahia Laura is deployed on the company’s South Asia – South Africa – East Coast South America service and is named after the Bahia Laura Nature Reserve in Argentina’s Santa Cruz province. Picture by Trevor Jones

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