Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 23, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • First View - JING PO HE under 5 cranes

  • Plans advance for a 26-state African Free Trade Area

  • Ovenstone Agencies charter in BALTIC TRADER for Tristan trade

  • Silting still Beira port’s chief problem

  • Strategic bridge ‘dangerous’ – threat to important trade route

  • Congestion and long dwell times plague European ports

  • Piracy Report: Indian dhow freed by Somali armed forces

  • Pic of the day – SAFMARINE NGAMI


    First View – JING PO HE under 5 cranes

    COSCO’s JING PO HE became the first vessel to work under five cranes at Durban’s Pier 1 Container Terminal – an event that has been long anticipated by shippers and shipping lines alike. The vessel was on berth 105. Picture courtesy Nkululeko Ngubane and SA Maritime College

    Plans advance for a 26-state African Free Trade Area

    by Michael Appel (BuaNews)

    Cape Town, 22 October - President Kgalema Motlanthe is meeting regional economic bodies in Kampala, Uganda to discuss the possibility of creating a Free Trade Area (FTA) incorporating 26 African states.

    The president recently returned from the India, Brazil, South Africa (IBSA) summit in New Delhi, India at which significant talks were held regarding the current state of the world economy.

    Feeding off those discussions, President Motlanthe then jetted off to Uganda for a Tripartite meeting which included three regional economic organisations.

    "The president is meeting to discuss the declared intention of the Southern African Development Community [SADC] to establish a customs union by 2010.

    "[Also], the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa [COMESA], as well as the East African Community [EAC] has declared their intention to establish customs unions," said Foreign Affairs Director General (DG) Ayanda Ntsaluba, Wednesday.

    The meeting in Kampala is reflecting on the possibility of establishing a pan-regional FTA, and for South Africa, the opening up of markets in SADC alone would introduce over 200 million people to the market.

    There would be 26 members states aligned to the FTA, said the DG, adding that their combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would amount to about USD650 billion.

    "The general sense in Kampala is that there needs to be some detailed work done to look at all the elements that will help shape the FTA.

    "For countries in the SADC region, it is consistent with what the African Union [AU] has advocated with regard to how we should move toward substantive regional integration.

    "We have always argued that we need to establish strong Regional Economic Communities [RECs], and secondly you must encourage those RECs to interact among themselves as in intermediate step to the creation of an African common market," highlighted the DG.

    The RECs are considered building blocks to the African Economic Community (AEC) recognised by the African Union Constitutive Act and the Abuja Treaty.

    The RECs are key to implementing regional integration programmes in trade and economic development including the establishment of the FTA and a common customs union.

    The 26 countries to possibly be included in the TFA make up half of the region in terms of membership and just over 58 percent in terms contribution to GDP, as well as 57 percent of the total population of the AU.

    From Uganda, President Motlanthe is expected to proceed to Benin where he will attend the Extraordinary Summit of the African Peer Review Forum (APRF) in Cotonou.

    Ovenstone Agencies charter in BALTIC TRADER for Tristan trade

    Baltic Trader

    Cape Town Ovenstone Agencies has has taken delivery of the 1,739-gt multi purpose vessel BALTIC TRADER which will be used as the supply vessel to remote Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic.

    In a statement Ovenstone’s Andrew James says the charter has brought to an end a “very challenging eight months of searching for a vessel that has the necessary attributes required.”

    He said that over a dozen vessels had come under consideration for suitability to undertake the capital projects underway on Tristan da Cunha. These projects include rebuilding the lobster processing facility and power plant, installation of the heavy lift gantry crane (the only one on the island), and installation of a new compliant transformer station.

    Anther possible logistic project involves the rehabilitation of Calshot Harbour, the island sole harbour.

    James described the Baltic Trader as well suited for the tasks ahead, being equipped with a 30 ton crane and capable of carrying bulk, palletised and containerised cargo up to 2,200 dead weight tons.

    The vessel has been taken on time charter which remains dependent on a number of factors, the main one being the cargo required for the island. “Having a vessel of this capacity and operating cost available for Tristan provides a unique opportunity to provide a logistics solution to a range of intended projects at the island. It could be ideal if every advantage can be taken of this vessel’s capacity,” he said.

    Ovenstone also has the option to buy the ship outright or take it on long term charter, which will be decided on the performance of the ship and future operating requirements of the Tristan Lobster Concession.

    James said that apart from an enhanced cargo service the ship provided for new opportunities for the island community. These included the development of a viable Tristan Bottled Water operation and the possibility of transporting scrap metal and other recyclable material and waste to Cape Town for resale and disposal. The latter option was available on a ship that would otherwise return to Cape Town empty.

    Baltic Trader sailed from Trondheim earlier this month and is due in Cape Town on approximately 10 November after a bunker call at Las Palmas. Initially she will be able to carry four passengers but this is to be increased to 12 once alterations to the accommodation section are complete. The ship carries a crew of 12.

    In Cape Town the vessel is expected to begin loading cargo for Tristan on 17 November 2008 and will then commence a round trip schedule of approximately 3 -4 weeks.

    Note: Tristan da Cunha has no airport and only the small harbour of Calshot. Ovenstone Agencies has provided a schedule of services to the island using mainly fishing vessels until now. The South African Antarctic research vessel SA AGULHAS visits the island at least once a year, usually in September and is able to land passengers and cargo by helicopter. Other arrivals are forced to make use of the limited harbour which is subject to weather conditions. Royal Navy ships also occasionally visit.

    An informative website is available at www.tristandc.com

    Silting still Beira port’s chief problem

    Beira from the air – a Google view of things

    Investments made in the central port of Beira by the company holding the lease on the port, Cornelder de Mocambique, are not producing the expected returns, according to Felix Machado, of the Cornelder public relations department, cited in Saturday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias".

    Machado was speaking during ceremonies to mark the tenth anniversary of the foundation of Cornelder de Mocambique and its lease on the port. The company is a joint venture between the Dutch firm Cornelder Holdings, with 67 percent of the shares, and the Mozambique publicly-owned ports and rail company CFM, with 33 percent.

    Machado said the main problem is the silting up of the Beira entrance channel which makes it impossible for large ships to enter the port. "The level of silting is very high", he said, "and so only ships on the Durban-Mombasa route stop here, and these are small vessels".

    He claimed that there are annual investments of five to seven million US dollars in the port, but the returns on this investment "are tiny".

    He blamed the silting of the entrance channel for the fact that the port is handling at most two million tonnes of cargo a year, when it has a capacity for five million tonnes. But in fact there is another highly significant problem - the economic crisis in Zimbabwe, the country for which the port of Beira was built, has dramatically reduced the capacity of Zimbabwe to trade, and hence the amount of Zimbabwean imports and exports passing through Beira.

    At a meeting with port users on Thursday (16 October), the chairperson of the CFM board, Rui Fonseca, said that plans are in place to purchase two dredgers. The cost is estimated at 90 million US dollars, and Fonseca said these funds have already been guaranteed by Mozambique's cooperation partners.

    On Friday representatives of several users, including from Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and Europe visited the access channel and watched a dredger recently acquired from Japan by the state dredging company, EMODRAGA, at work in the access channel.

    The users were unanimous in stating that the key to increasing the use of Beira is to overcome the dredging problem. - Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo)

    Strategic bridge ‘dangerous’ – threat to important trade route

    Maputo, 20 October (AIM) – The Samora Machel bridge over the Zambezi river in the western Mozambican city of Tete is in serious danger, reports Monday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”.

    For the past fortnight, it has only been possible to use one of the two lanes of the bridge. Since the bridge is a crucial part of the highway between Malawi and Zimbabwe, which runs through the middle of Tete province, restrictions on traffic lead to long queues of vehicles at either end of the bridge.

    Excessive traffic, not envisaged when the bridge was built in the early 1970s, has led to cables breaking. The damage is patched up, but new cables are not installed.

    Between 600 and 800 trucks cross the bridge every day. They carry loads of up to 60 tonnes – or possibly even more. For the weighbridge, which should stop overloading, has not been fully operational since the year 2000.

    So nobody knows the exact weight of the trucks using the bridge. The National Road Administration (ANE) is aware of the problem, and it has been mentioned in ANE reports on the state of the bridge.

    The body in charge of maintaining the bridge is the Tete branch of the state-owned Roads and Bridges Building and Maintenance Company (ECMEP). But ECMEP complains that it is short of equipment and of funds, even to pay wages to its workers. “Noticias” reports that ECMEP is unable to carry out daily inspections of the bridge, because it has no means of access to the upper cables, and because the inspection trolleys themselves are in a very poor state of conservation.

    Despite the restrictions on goods vehicles, the paper notes that at night and at the weekend two heavy trucks can be seen on the bridge at the same time.

    The ANE acknowledges that lack of regular maintenance, and the delays in the promised complete rehabilitation of the bridge, are posing an extremely high safety risk.

    A source in the ECMEP management told the paper “the situation is going from bad to worse. We don’t have any material, and much less the money to buy any equipment”.

    “ECMEP is facing a financial crisis, and we can’t even guarantee the payment of wages”, the source added. “The ANE is not helping. There is a team working on the bridge, headed by one basic technician, doing the impossible to ensure that the bridge can be used”.

    The Tete provincial director of public works, Brito Soca, recognised that ECMEP is going through serious financial and technical difficulties, which contributes to the poor maintenance of the bridge.

    He said, however, that a public tender was launched in March to select a contractor to maintain the bridge, and the currently the legal procedures are under way to finalise the appointment of this contractor. - Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo)

    Congestion and long dwell times plague European ports

    Terminal operators will need to focus on improving productivity levels at Europe ports, as equipment dwell times even at the more efficient terminals are still around five to six days and of course vessel congestion at several major ports continues to be a problem, says a report published by Shednet.

    Even with slowing throughput growth in Europe, container terminals are still finding it difficult to process vessels and their equipment in the same manner as their counterparts in Asia.

    Congestion and longer dwell times have been the inevitable result, and this has been a consistent problem for carriers operating in the Europe trades over the years.

    While blame has been apportioned to all sides from forwarders and shippers to shipping lines, to local governments and of course the terminal operators themselves for the ongoing problem, the problem will not be solved unless decisive actions are taken.

    Instead of pointing fingers some terminal operators are making moves to bring the dwell time at these ports down and eliminate port congestion.

    A factor that some believe will only worsen the current problem is the influx of mega-sized vessels. But it reality, it appears that for terminals that are sufficiently equipped, the flood of bigger vessels entering the Europe trade may in fact ease the problem of long dwell times and port congestion.

    One of the problems confronting terminal operators today with medium to large-sized vessels is apparently poor stowage. Even if a port is equipped with sufficient berthing space and a sufficient number of quay cranes, it does not mean that its equipment can necessarily be fully utilised.

    If you have an 8,000 TEU vessel with five hatches, and the berth is equipped with five cranes, but the cargo for that port is only stored within three hatches, then there is no way the terminal can employ all five cranes, meaning the berthing time will be longer.

    However, according to Eurogate President, Mr Emanuel Schiffer, the new ultra large container vessels coming into the trade will not pose the same problem. – source http://csm.hksg.com

    Piracy Report: Indian dhow freed by Somali armed forces

    The Indian vessel reported as taken into captivity by Somali pirates in our News Bulletin of yesterday was freed after Puntland security forces stormed the vessel.

    The dhow which was carrying a cargo of sugar intended for the port of Berbera was seized by pirates earlier this week. However within hours of the news security forces from the autonomous area of Puntland in northern Somalia stormed the vessel and freed the 13 crew.

    In the process four of the pirates were taken prisoner after a shootout between them and the security forces, referred to by local sources as members of the coast guard. Several of the pirates on board the dhow managed to escape.

    Meanwhile the names of the two ships ransomed late last week have been disclosed. They are the Thai vessel THOR STAR, which had been captured in the Gulf of Aden on 12 August, and the South Korean bulker BRIGHT RUBY, which was taken captive on 10 September.

    The crew of both vessels were reported as being unharmed. It is being assumed that ransoms were paid although this has not been confirmed.

    Pic of the day – SAFMARINE NGAMI

    One of Safmarine’s latest newbuilds is SAFMARINE NGAMI, which entered service earlier this year on the South Africa – East Coast USA trade. 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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