Ports & Ships Maritime News

Sep 29, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Two SA Navy frigates on overseas visits

  • Richards Bay benefits at Port Elizabeth expense with manganese ore exports

  • Still no clarity over Port Elizabeth manganese terminal

  • Strong winds blow over East London container stacks

  • Kenya prime minister points the finger at customs and bureau of standards for causing port congestion

  • Last of Royal Star crew abandon ship and go home

  • Namibia over dependent on foreign fishing companies, says minister

  • Walvis Bay Corridor Group opens Gauteng office

  • Tender out for Mombasa’s second grain terminal operator

  • Piracy Report – ships carrying arms and heavy weapons captured by Somali pirates

  • IMO turns 60

  • Pic of the day – LICA MAERSK


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    Two SA Navy frigates on overseas visits

    SAS Spioenkop on her first visit to Port Elizabeth in August 2005, still minus her weapons while the ship was being fitted out. Picture by Dayle Coombe

    The South African Navy frigate SAS Spioenkop (F147) has sailed from Simon’s Town bound for a official visits to Chinese and other Far Eastern ports.

    Among countries to be visited during the deployment are China, Vietnam, Singapore, India and Mauritius. The visits are in terms of South Africa’s diplomatic outreach, a navy spokesperson said.

    The frigate will return to Simon’s Town in December.

    A second frigate, SAS Isandlwana (F146) is also on the high seas in the Indian Ocean having sailed from Durban for the French island of Reunion, where she will link with the French frigate FNS Floreal before returning in convoy to take part in Exercise Oxide off the KwaZulu Natal coast during early October.

    Other ships participating in the exercise include the strike craft SAS Isaac Dyobha, the combat support ship SAS Drakensberg and the submarine SAS Charlotte Maxeke. An air force maritime patrol aircraft will also take part.

    Richards Bay benefits at Port Elizabeth expense with manganese ore exports

    Mining group Assmang is reported to be road-hauling manganese ore from its Northern Cape mines to the port of Richards Bay instead of Port Elizabeth where the latter is unable to handle sufficient of the commodity.

    This is despite Richards Bay being 350 km further from the Northern Cape mines than the Eastern Cape port, which also enjoys a direct rail route.

    Current capacity for the export of manganese ore through Port Elizabeth is 3.5mt pa which is committed to by Assmang and Samancor, although it is doubtful if this figure will be achieved this year. Transnet plans to increase the capacity of the rail link from the Northern Cape to Port Elizabeth to handle 4.2mt pa with a longer term target of 6mt pa.

    However there are also reports of manganese ore being railed to Durban for export through Bidfreight’s Bluff Connections facility (the former BMA). Volumes through the Bluff facility of up to 3 million tones a year have been referred to.

    Ports & Ships learned recently that Richards Bay Dry Bulk Terminal was committed to ramping up to handle additional ore exports, principally magnetite, an iron ore product. Volumes of between 800,000 and 1 million tonnes are involved. This is in addition to increased volumes of magnetite that are being exported through the Mozambique port of Maputo.

    The magnetite is sourced from mines mainly in Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces.

    Still no clarity over Port Elizabeth manganese terminal

    Port Elizabeth’s Nelson Mandela Metropolitan municipality intends meeting with Transnet to answer uncertainties over Port Elizabeth harbour.

    These issues centre round the oil tank farm and the manganese ore dump at the port, which are in an area the city wishes to develop for tourism. However the area has been used to handle both commodities for many years and have left a residue of industrial pollution.

    DA member of parliament for Port Elizabeth Eddie Trent described the resignation last week of Public Enterprises minister Alec Erwin as welcome news for the people of Port Elizabeth. He accused Erwin of failing to provide satisfactory answers to questions about the future of the two harbour sites, calling them negative, obstructive and pathetic.

    Erwin submitted his resignation in the wake of the recalling and subsequent resignation of President Thabo Mbeki.

    The municipality reckons that redevelopment of the harbour storage sites could result in over 90,000 jobs during the construction period and 120,000 jobs when completed.

    Regarding the manganese facility at Port Elizabeth, it is surprising to read now that Transnet considers it uneconomical to relocate the terminal to Ngqura with present volumes. But there is also strong resistance from the present leaseholders to relocate whilst existing leases have some years still to run until 2014, after which Transnet has indicated it will not grant extensions.

    The terminal’s present capacity is given as 3 million tones per annum although Transnet has apparently indicated it is capable of upgrading this to 4mt pa. To go beyond that figure, such as the envisaged 6mt pa would require additional environmental impact assessments that are unlikely to be approved, given the pressure on redeveloping the site for tourism.

    On top of that the rail infrastructure is hardly geared for handling more than the present volumes, something Ports & Ships has been pointing out for the past five years. Transnet Freight Rail is unlikely to consider upgrading the railway without firm guarantees of traffic volumes (see report ‘Richards Bay benefits at Port Elizabeth expense with manganese ore exports’ above).

    On the other hand the port of Ngqura was designed with the handling of manganese exports in mind, which presumably were assessed at the present volumes of well below 3mt pa.

    The pure car carrier OPAL LEADER at the Durban Car Terminal loading 2,900 Toyota motor vehicles destined for Europe, September 2008. Picture Terry Hutson

    Strong winds blow over East London container stacks

    Strong winds that struck the Eastern Cape region and East London in particular on Friday, 26 September resulted in some damage at the port when more than 50 containers were blown over.

    The winds were caused by a cold front passing over the region on Friday afternoon, after a pleasant start to the day.

    At the container terminal it soon turned to action stations when the gusting wind blew over a stack of empty containers onto the adjacent road. There were no injuries reported.

    Kenya prime minister points the finger at customs and bureau of standards for causing port congestion

    Red tape and official bureaucracy is to blame for most of East Africa’s cargo congestion. That’s the official view of Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, as quoted in the Citizen newspaper of Dar es Salaam last week.

    Speaking in Mombasa Odinga said that revenue authorities and bureau of standards were the cause of cargo being slowed in the ports, with unnecessary delays leading to congestion in the harbours of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam.

    He said that in Mombasa the Kenya Revenue Authority must shoulder the blame for slowing down cargo clearance. He said the KRA cleared an average of 200 containers a day. The resultant backlog meant congestion as containers remained in the terminal longer than necessary.

    He also pointed out that the railway was not proving successful in reducing the backlog of containers waiting to be taken from the terminal. “We are looking at what we can do to combine the railway and cargo trucks in order to speed up the transportation of cargo from the port and reduce congestion," he said.

    Odinga said that Mombasa could learn from the Dar es Salaam experience where the Tanzanian port had turned to a 24-hour operation to solve its own problem of congestion. Mombasa recently adopted a 24-hour operation.

    Last of Royal Star crew abandon ship and go home

    Royal Star arriving alongside the passenger terminal in Durban in January 2005 – which were definitely better times for this aging passenger ship, whose diminutive size can be seen when compared against the 30m long harbour tug alongside. Picture Terry Hutson

    The remaining crew of the cruise ship Royal Star, which is being held under detention pending sale by auction in Mombasa harbour, has been flown home.

    This follows the intervention of the International Transport Federation (ITF) which responded to the plight of the remaining crew.

    Originally Royal Star carried a crew of 130 persons who all lost their jobs when the company operating the 52-year old ship ceased operations. The majority of the crew were repatriated to their home countries soon afterwards after having received only a part payment of moneys owed.

    The remaining ten men were promised full payment provided they stayed with the ship which they were told would be going through a dry docking. Instead they watched as the ship was stripped of all valuables including remaining fuel on board, forcing the men to sleep on deck because of a lack of lighting and air conditioning.

    The ship also had only limited amounts of fresh water and food soon ran out, leaving the crew to be assisted by the Mombasa Missions to Seafarers.

    A subsequent court injunction gave instructions for the ship to be sold at auction, however this has been delayed and cannot take place until at least next month, causing the men to appeal to the Mission to Seafarers for help in returning home.

    Nine of the men are Filipinos and the remaining seafarer is Indonesian. They departed from Mombasa on 16 September and are hopeful that when the ship is sold they will receive some or all of their outstanding wages.

    Namibia over dependent on foreign fishing companies, says minister


    Namibia, with one of the most productive fishing grounds in the world thanks to the cold Benguela Current flowing up the coast remains heavily dependent on foreign fishing companies, says the country’s minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Dr Abraham Iyambo.

    He was speaking at the opening of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Conference and Expo that was held in Swakopmund recently. Dr Iyambo told the 300 delegates that the industry was still too dependent on specific markets and other players to market their fish. He also questioned whether Namibia was getting a fair share of the proceeds of fishing from its coast.

    Nevertheless he said, Namibia has made significant strides in adding value to the industry, despite the country having to transform the industry since independence. He pointed out that Namibia’s fishery resources had been plundered for over a hundred years, through whaling, guano collection, fishing and seal hunting activities.

    The government’s management policy was based on the granting of fishing rights, selling of allowable catches and allocation of quotas as dictated by scientific and commercial imperatives, he said.

    He claimed these policies were paying off with improved catches of superior quality products being produced at the factories in Walvis Bay and Lüderitz.

    Namibia’s commercial fishing industry is worth an estimated USD389 million and employs an estimated 14,000 persons in direct employment.

    Walvis Bay Corridor Group opens Gauteng office

    It has been quite a time in coming but is now a reality. The Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WNCG) has opened its first office in Gauteng in a move aimed at expanding operations into potentially its richest market.

    The Corridor Group already has an office in Zambia.

    South Africa’s minister of transport, Jeff Radebe said at the official opening of the Johannesburg office that the Corridor Group was unique in the region and that it was imperative that it be made use of given the fast approaching regional integration of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

    “With the immense growth that we are experiencing in South Africa and most specifically most of them in the Gauteng region, South Africa is proud to note that Namibia, through Walvis Bay, is taking a supporting role in SADC to enhance regional economic development and integration," the minister said.

    The Trans-Kalahari Corridor provides Gauteng and Botswana with access to the Port of Walvis Bay and allows two days' overland transit time from the Port of Walvis Bay to the final destination.

    Tender put for Mombasa’s second grain terminal operator

    International tenders have been called to establish a second grain operator at the port of Mombasa, thus ending the monopoly enjoyed by Grain Bulk Handlers Limited.

    The intention of ending the monopoly which was first announced last year followed a controversial attempt by Grain Bulk Handlers Ltd to obtain a 20-year extension to its existing contract.

    Those in favour of a second operator maintain it will lead to a reduction in grain handling charges at the port.

    Would-be investors are required to submit an expression of interest to the Kenya Ports Authority by 7 October, indicating their intention of developing a facility to handle grain at the port. They are also required to provide a profile of their company and indicate where the facility will be developed. They are also required to have experience in the handling of the commodity and to be able to prove their financial stability.

    There are believed to be at least three local interested parties, Coast Silos Limited, Kenya Grain Handlers Limited, and Mombasa Maize Millers Limited.

    Another opportunity at the port of Mombasa that is being advertised is that for the vacant post of managing director of the Kenya Ports Authority. The vacancy follows the recent dismissal of former MD Mr Abdallah Mwaruwa on grounds of continued inefficiency at the port. Mwaruwa was replaced in a temporary capacity by the KPA’s finance manager, James Mulewa.

    Other posts that were juggled included that of harbourmaster Capt Twalib Khamis who reverted to the singular role of harbourmaster in charge of marine operations, with Joseph Atonga, the former technical services manager taking on the position of port operations manager.

    The container ship NILEDUTCH QINGDAO in Cape Town harbour 11 August 2008. picture by Ian Shiffman

    Piracy Report – ships carrying arms and heavy weapons captured by Somali pirates

    Somali pirates outdid themselves last week with their latest capture – a Ukrainian-owned ship carrying a cargo of weapons that includes a number of Russian T-72 tanks.

    The ship, which has been identified as the Belize-registered 10,930-gt Ro-Ro vessel FAINA, was headed for Mombasa when pirates stormed on board some 200 miles from the Somali coast. According to reports coming out of Kenya the ship had 30 T-72 tanks, spare parts and other armaments on board.

    Immediate concern was expressed at the possibility of the tanks falling into the hands of insurgents operating within Somalia although other experts downplayed this saying they didn’t think it likely that local insurgents would possess the technical expertise to operate the vehicles.

    The ship is carrying a crew of 21 on board – 17 Ukrainians, three Russians and a Latvian.

    According to Andrew Mwangura of the Kenya-based Seafarers Assistance Programme the ship had sailed from a Baltic port for Mombasa and was attacked by pirates operating from a speedboat. He said it was not known where the ship had been taken.

    IMO turns 60

    World Maritime Day was celebrated in South Africa with an official function hosted by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) at the Durban International Convention Centre last Friday (26 September). The event was also used to celebrate the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) turning 60 years old this year, an event that has been celebrated across the world, and ten years since SAMSA was formed.

    SAMSA, which is an affiliate of the IMO, has as its core function in South Africa to act as the custodian of all maritime matters within the country’s maritime jurisdiction, The Durban event was used to showcase the organisation and took the part of an exhibition and symposium at the ICC highlighting the role of SAMSA and the work it does along the South African coastline, while also providing information about the importance of World Maritime Day.

    One of the ships under the direction of SAMSA, the salvage tug Smit Amandla was brought to Durban and made available for school learners to go on board and be shown an example of the safety measures employed along the coast. The tug is on permanent standby in case of a maritime emergency which may threaten the coastline with pollution.

    In a statement commemorating World Maritime Day IMO secretary-general Efthimios Mitropoulos said the IMO has come a long way since its inception 60 years ago but has served the shipping industry well.

    “Today, on World Maritime Day, we can say, with confidence and pride, that IMO has served the shipping industry well since its inception 60 years ago,” he said.

    “As we look back over what we have achieved and, more importantly, forward to the challenges that lie ahead, we know that the edifice from which we operate is strong and well-structured. Our course for the future is set, and we will make our passage with optimism and a clear vision about the objectives we want to achieve.”

    Mitropoulos said that the IMO has come a very long way since its inception all those years ago.

    “Globalisation has transformed international commerce, new powers have emerged in shipping and the plethora and thoroughness of measures established by IMO during its 60 years in the service of shipping has provided the bedrock from which a safer and cleaner industry has emerged, one that can continue to develop and flourish.

    “Furthermore, IMO’s work has demonstrated, beyond doubt, that international standards - developed, agreed, implemented and enforced universally - are the only effective way to regulate such a diverse and truly international industry as shipping.”

    Pic of the day – LICA MAERSK

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    LICA MAERSK arriving in Cape Town harbour on Saturday, 27 September 2008. picture Aad Noorland

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