Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 20, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • First View – WESTERN SPIRIT

  • Truckers threaten to blockade Durban port

  • Rift Valley Railway faces two week ultimatum

  • Port Elizabeth tackles Transnet over the removal of harbour sites

  • NSRI makes highest ever award to port airmen and one of its own

  • Port Maputo introduces graduate development programme

  • Customs rebates increase competitiveness

  • Pic of the day – MOL DOMINANCE


    First View – WESTERN SPIRIT

    The research vessel WESTERN SPIRIT (4,447-gt) arrived in Cape Town at the weekend. Aad Noorland was on hand to take the picture.

    Truckers threatened to blockade Durban port

    Ongoing congestion outside the gates of the Durban container terminals – enough is enough, say fed-up truckers who now say a blockade is a real possibility. Picture Transnet

    Faced with ongoing congestion outside the gates of the two Durban container terminals, angry truckers are threatening to blockade the port in an effort to make port management aware of the seriousness of the delays.

    Several trucking firms approached PORTS & SHIPS this past week and said they had reached breaking point with Transnet over the delays outside the container terminal gates. They said that on several occasions in the past week Bayhead and Langeberg Roads were gridlocked as hundreds of lorries arrived to load or deliver containers.

    The delays had alternated between Durban Container Terminal and Pier 1 Container Terminal, with trucks having to wait outside for up to five hours to gain access, according to drivers we spoke with.

    The director of one company said that he and his colleagues had been unable to get any satisfactory explanation from Transnet Port Terminals as to why vehicle turnaround was so slow. He said the reports coming from drivers was that it was a productivity issue within the terminal, although earlier Transnet had claimed that strong winds currently being experienced at Durban was slowing down operations at Pier 1 terminal where the new cranes used to load the lorries would not operate when the wind exceeded a certain speed.

    The owner of another company said the trucking companies were planning a ‘last resort’ in which they intended using their trucks to blockade the port entrances and prevent anyone from accessing or leaving the harbour to force Transnet into some form of response. He said that they were not anxious to take such drastic action but were being forced into it by the refusal of Transnet to respond to their plight.

    Several companies pointed out that local hauliers have to make between four and five round trips a day to show any profit but are now lucky if they manage two. As many of the drivers are owner/drivers this can mean the difference between staying in business or failing on their loans. Long distance truck drivers are often paid on a fixed rate per trip, usually in the order of between R300 and R400 per trip and if they are forced to queue for hours this becomes unproductive time. As they cannot rest while in the road queue they end up having to drive back to Gauteng while tired, which can lead to accidents.

    Meanwhile the Durban Harbour Carriers Association is reported to have sent a letter direct to Transnet CEO Maria Ramos complaining of having no-confidence in port management. The letter said that complaints to port management had fallen on deaf ears and the delays were costing the industry and economy millions of rand per day.

    Rift Valley Railway faces two week ultimatum

    Rift Valley Railway, which holds the concession to manage and operate the railway network of Kenya and Uganda, faces an ultimatum of having to come up with an injection of capital within two weeks or lose the concession.

    On Thursday last week Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga pointed out to RVR that it was contractually required to invest more capital by 30 October of face losing the concession.

    Parliament meanwhile learned that both Kenya and Uganda governments were consulting over what steps to take in the event that RCR does not meet its obligations.

    RVR was awarded the concession to run the former state railways in November 2006, which it had taken over in a dilapidated condition. The concession was for 25 years and involved RVR, which is a consortium headed by South Africa’s Sheltam Rail, to pay an entry fee of USD3 million and annual concession fees equivalent to 11% of gross revenue plus another USD1 million annually for the passenger services.

    According to the prime minister these obligations have not been met. source The Nation

    Port Elizabeth tackles Transnet over the removal of harbour sites

    The Nelson Mandela Bay council (Port Elizabeth) intends tackling Transnet over the parastatal’s reluctance to move the manganese and oil sites to the new port of Ngqura.

    The controversy has arisen as a result of the reluctance of the users of the two sites to pay for the removal and cleanup while existing leases remain. Transnet, faced with having to pay out the leaseholders if they wish to enforce the move say the sites do not pose any immediate environmental risk and will remain at Port Elizabeth harbour for the foreseeable future.

    Nelson Mandela council however wants to develop the sites for tourism – they are adjacent to Humewood Beach and a residential area and can be considered prime commercial land ripe for development.

    Another stumbling block is the likelihood that Transnet will have to pay out enormous sums to clean up the area after decades of spillage have contaminated the land. Last week an oil spill into Port Elizabeth harbour was blamed on aging oil tanks at the site.

    The council said last week it intended setting up a task team to engage in lobbying for the removal of both facilities. Municipal manager Graham Richards has warned council that if no viable alternative is found the risk becomes greater that Transnet may renew the leases when they expire. – source The Herald

    NSRI makes highest ever award to port airmen and one of its own

    Flanked by NSRI crew Andre Fletcher (left) and Eddie Noyons (KZN Regional Chairman, right) are the Acher Aviation helicopter crew - Co-pilot Douglas Nichols, Pilot Rhys Mason and Winch Operator/ crew Gerhan Coetzee. Picture by Dave Sievwright

    The Durban National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) station recently held a small function in which its highest award in 41 years was made to the aircrew of a Transnet helicopter and a NSRI rescue swimmer for their role in rescuing the crew of a yacht in distress off Hibberdene.

    Three NSRI Directors Letters of Thanks – Gallantry – Silver Class were presented to the helicopter pilot Rhys Mason, his co-pilot Douglas Nichols and hoist operator Gerhan Coetzee. A fourth award was made earlier to Andre Fletcher, a NSRI qualified rescue swimmer.

    The helicopter involved, ZS RRB was on transfer from the port of Richards Bay to Durban while the latter port’s helicopter was undergoing routine maintenance.

    NSRI Durban’s Dave Sievwright reports:

    Yacht EGGNOG - 17 June - Three crew airlifted to safety

    In recognition of their involvement in this rescue operation, the helicopter crew, Pilot Rhys Mason, Co-Pilot Douglas Nichols and Hoist Operator Gerhan Coetzee received Director's Awards.

    Just after dark on 17 June and in very bad weather, three crew of the yacht Eggnog were hoisted to safety near Hibberdene.

    Earlier in the day, the yacht had indicated that they were in trouble in very strong winds. They were making their way to Durban from Port Elizabeth.

    In the early afternoon, our deep sea vessel Eikos Rescuer II sailed from Durban and headed off down the coast. Due to the severe weather and bad sea conditions, their speed was limited to 10 kts. Towards the latter part of the afternoon, the yacht's skipper said that with the damaged sails, they were having difficulty keeping clear of the coast. The situation became bad quickly and they radioed that they needed urgent assistance.

    The Harbour Master gave permission for the Pilot helicopter ZS RRB to respond to the yacht. The helicopter was quickly refuelled and with Andre Fletcher, one of the NSRI Crew and a qualified rescue swimmer aboard, the pilot took off and headed South. There was a strong SW wind (30 - 35 kts) and to start off the visibility was good. Getting closer to the location, the helicopter entered a belt of torrential rain which reduced vicinity considerably. Strong winds continued to blow.

    Shortly after dark and using the helicopter's bright searchlight, the yacht was located off Hibberdene.

    Andre Fletcher was lowered into the sea and tried to coax the three to jump, one by one into the sea where he was waiting.

    This did not work and he was hauled up again. After further communication, Andre was lowered again and the first crew equipped with a life jacket jumped into turbulent sea. Andre fitted the strop and both were hauled up into the helicopter. Andre was lowered twice more and the other two crew were rescued. The last one leaving the yacht (which was) very close to the back line and breaking waves.

    With all three safe aboard, the pilot, turned the helicopter around and headed for shore and then routed back to Durban.

    At the NSRI AGM in Cape Town last month, Andre Fletcher was awarded The NSRI Directors Gallantry Award -Silver Class. This is the highest award ever given to an NSRI Crew in Sea Rescue's 41 years of service.

    NSRI's Directors recognised the contribution made by Rhys Mason and his aircrew. Due to operational commitments they were unable to travel to Cape Town to receive their award. At a small function held at the Durban Rescue station, the three were presented with their awards by Eddie Noyons, the NSRI Director stationed in KZN. Exceptional skill and experience was shown by the helicopter crew, hovering above a rolling yacht, keeping station so the rescue swimmer to retain position in the water while attending to each sailor.

    The Durban's Harbour Master, SAMSA and several NSRI Directors were present.

    At the same function, three of the Durban crew members were presented with long service awards.

    Coxswains Brian St Clair Laing and Richard Bellengere - Twenty years
    and Dave Sievwright -Thirty-five years.

    Antarctic rescue successful

    On Monday 6 October the NSRI was asked to provide medical support for a rescue effort launched by pilot John Roberts, who had been seconded by the Norwegian Polar Expedition to casualty evacuate 30 year old Norwegian, Sigurd Sande, a mechanic with the Norwegian Research Team at the Troll Polar Base, Antarctica. Sande was suffering from a compound fracture of the leg sustained on 4 October in a fall while hiking.

    The casualty evacuation effort was initially plagued by adverse weather in Antarctica which included cyclones. Since 6 October the team put together to carry out the casualty evacuation operation had remained on stand-by in Cape Town waiting for a ‘window’ in the weather in which to carry out the operation.

    A number of previous attempts to reach Troll Base by aircraft were unsuccessful including an effort on 10 October that saw the plane reach 1500km from the base before being turned back.

    Nevertheless the team leader and pilot John Roberts remained confident that the operation would be successful.

    At 10h00 on 18 October, the rescue team aboard a chartered jet again set off, accompanied by Metro doctor Dr Shahiem de Vries, and reported that they experienced fine weather throughout the flight, reaching the base late afternoon, taking over the patient from the Expedition doctor who had treated the patient at the Troll Base since the injury was sustained, and the flight arrived back in Cape Town at 22h00 that night. Total time of the operation was approximately 12 hours.

    The patient was transported by ambulance to the Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital where he underwent surgery in an effort to save his leg.

    Dr. De Vries said the patient was stable when they arrived at the Troll base in Antarctica, despite the extent of the injury, and remained in good spirits throughout the return flight to Cape Town.

    Port Maputo introduces graduate development programme

    some of the Port Maputo Development Company graduates. Picture by Yvonne de Kock

    by Yvonne de Kock

    The Port Maputo Development Company in the Port of Maputo has recently commenced a Graduate Development Programme, a first for the company. Targeting recent graduates, the course gives them the opportunity of improving their existing skills and education to enable them to expand their careers. This 12 month course forms part of MPDC’s social responsibility programme.

    The curriculum comprises a broad spectrum of the dynamics of the maritime industry. Modules include studies in stevedoring, terminal operations, tallying and the responsibilities of a foreman – all eminently practical studies necessary in the shipping profession.

    The initial stage of training is devoted to an in depth induction stage to expose students as to the functioning of various departments.

    Interspersed with the theoretical training is hands on experience whereby the students have the opportunity of entering the various sheds and terminals to see cargo handling in action and also boarding vessels and port craft to view operations.
    The four students who have at present registered, have acquired degrees in such diverse fields as finance, oceanography, economics and business management. All, however, have a passion for the sea and leapt at the opportunity of steering their careers in this direction.

    The course has been developed in-house by Human Resources Manager Joao Cuna and Training Officer Nelia Gomes who also co-ordinates the course. Lectures in the modules covering the shipping industry are given by employees of MPDC, and who better than those steeped in the day to day experience of the port authority. Other modules such as presentation skills, time management, financial skills and leadership are delivered by external facilitators in these fields. One and a half hours each day are also devoted to English.

    After approximately six months of training, students then undergo a period of placement whereby they are integrated in a sector of their choice.

    “We encourage students to be expansive in their choice. It is not to say that if they have a degree in finance they should be integrated into the financial department, they could choose the marine department for their internship”, says Ms Gomes.

    The maritime industry is vast, exciting and dynamic – and international.

    MPDC is therefore giving these graduates the opportunity of not only enhancing their education but enabling them to enter the international business world.

    Customs rebates increase competitveness

    The tight economic market and playing in a global village require that businesses become aware of tools and facilities that enhance their competitiveness. Many of these tools are overlooked through lack of understanding or knowledge, write Hester Hopkins and Taryn Hunkin of Customs @ Wylie, an initiative of Shepstone & Wylie.

    One such tool is Customs rebates, which are a legal way of reducing import duties by complying with a set of circumstances which are clarified in the Customs legislation.

    Over the years the list of industries and their rebated goods have evolved and are listed under Schedule 3 to the Customs Act. These listed industries may not cover all industries or all goods thus processes are in place whereby an importer could apply to create a rebate provision.

    The rest of this article may be found in our LEGAL NEWS AND OPINION column - CLICK HERE for more

    Pic of the day – MOL DOMINANCE

    MOL DOMINANCE, the 4250-TEU container vessel which made her maiden call in Cape Town on 10 October. MOL Dominance is the first of five 4250-TEU newbuilt ships to enter 10-year fixed rate charters between the owner, Rickmers Maritime and Mitsui OSK Line. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    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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