Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 28, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Weekend of drama on the Zululand coast

  • TNPA to upgrade Durban port roads

  • UN wants overhaul of China food safety practices

  • MOL adds surcharge to St Petersburg cargo

  • UN envoy welcomes Somali peace deal

  • Pic of the day – ORANGE RIVER BRIDGE



    The UK-flagged tug SVITZER MUSSELWICK (490-gt) which arrived in Cape Town last week on her delivery voyage from Xingdao, en route to Wales. Picture taken by Aad Noorland

    Weekend of drama on the Zululand coast

    The American tug THUNDERER sails from Durban last week with two barges in tow, Dar 1 and Dar 2, heading for Dubai. Later that night the tow was lost in heavy seas off the Zululand coast with the two barges subsequently going aground. Picture by Grant Bairstow

    Last week’s heavy seas off the KwaZulu Natal coast left several casualties in its wake, with two large barges and a fishing trawler going aground on the beaches north of Richards Bay.

    Two 125m long barges, Dar 1 and Dar 2 which were under tow behind the American tug THUNDERER sailed from Durban last Wednesday, after an extended stopover in the port. The barges had previously carried cement but were being delivered empty to Dubai.

    Late on Thursday night in strong winds and heavy seas the tow parted. As the tug struggled to re-secure the tow two crewmen were seriously injured after a wave washed over the tug, leaving one man with a fractured leg and the other a broken ankle, facial injuries and suspected spinal injuries.

    Because of the seriousness of their injuries the tug abandoned efforts to re-attach the tow and headed for Richards Bay, where the two injured seamen were admitted to a local hospital the next morning. They were later reported to be in a stable condition.

    Meanwhile a navigational hazard warning was posted advising ships in the area to keep clear or maintain a close watch for the barges.

    The tug Thunderer returned to the scene but attempts to take up the tow proved unsuccessful and too late as both barges, which were still attached to each other by a cable, had washed ashore about 12km north of Cape Vidal.

    One of the barges is completely aground and is resting on a rocky shelf, while the second remains partly grounded in a shallow channel a short distance away. Attempts will be made to refloat both barges, with efforts concentrating initially on the barge slightly afloat.

    The Zululand coast claimed a third victim at the weekend - the Cypriot-registered trawler DIOMED ran aground about 15km south of the KZN/Mozambique border. Details are sketchy but according to a local newspaper report the vessel ran out of fuel. This has however not been confirmed. There are no reports of injuries to the crew.

    TNPA to upgrade Durban port roads

    The extension of Durban’s Bayhead Road as a dual carriageway is to go ahead, subject to approval of a Draft Basic Assessment Report. Bayhead Road provides the main (only) access to the port’s two container terminals as well as the bulk and oil terminals of the Bluff and Island View. The road currently operates as a dual carriageway only as far as the turnoff to Durban Container Terminal on Pier 2, but since the development of Pier 1 as a second container terminal further along Bayhead Road the amount of traffic has increased dramatically.

    The entire length of Bayhead Road is frequently gridlocked with trucks heading for the container terminals and the Island View complex, leading to frustration and anger among local leaseholders and other port users.

    Ship agents complain of missing their sailings because of the problem of gridlocked roads.

    “We are angered by the situation too as often we are rushing from ship to ship around the port,” said one ship surveyor. “As soon as those roads become gridlocked, we cannot perform our jobs, especially if there is an emergency as we cannot get to the ships to investigate the accident.”

    According to a notice released by Transnet last week the Draft Basic Assessment Report for the extension of the dual carriageway will be made available for public and stakeholder scrutiny from next Monday, 3 November. Copies of the report will be available on the following websites from that date:


    Comment on the report must be lodged before 1 December 2008.

    Transnet has also announced that the delayed link road connecting Bayhead Road with Edwin Swales VC Drive to the south is back on the drawing board with an environmental impact assessment expected to be resumed early in the New Year.

    The proposed link road will run along the base of the Bluff and provide access to the port for many new empty container depots that have sprung up in the Edwin Swales VC Drive and Clairwood areas. It will also act as a release valve for the heavy traffic now using Bayhead Road.

    Strong opposition from Clairwood and Bluff residents can be anticipated however, as Edwin Swales VC Drive is the main access route to both suburbs and is already taking strain from increased traffic levels arising out of the empty container depots.

    UN wants overhaul of China food safety practices

    The United Nations has called on China to overhaul its food-safety procedures after tainted milk led to the deaths of a number of children and resulted in thousands of others being taken ill.

    The UN’s resident coordinator in Beijing, Khalid Malik said last week that China’s ‘disjointed’ approach was partly responsible for the crisis. He said China’s methods of protecting the food supply required “urgent review and revision” and said the UN was ready to assist and work closely with China.

    The number of incidents involving health scares concerning edible products from China has risen sharply, leading to several countries banning food or dairy products from China.

    A recent UN report called on China to address the problem of responsibility for food safety, saying that the manufacturers should be made responsible for instituting ‘risk-management measures’ that should be audited by government officials. It said new laws should be introduced that limit food additives. According to the UN the Chinese regulatory agencies are usually under-funded and short-staffed.

    Last year China’s exports of food and live animals reached USD30.7 billion, up from USD18.6bn in 2004. – source Journal of Commerce

    MOL adds surcharge to St Petersburg cargo

    MOL CALEDON in Cape Town harbour. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    Mitsui OSK Line (MOL) South Africa has announced the imposition of a winter surcharge on all cargo being shipped to or from the Russian port of St Petersburg.

    Calling the surcharge ‘temporary’ MOL says it will advise its termination in due course.

    The surcharge of €50 per TEU for all cargo types will be applied as from 1 December 2008.

    UN envoy welcomes Somali peace deal

    Somalia, 27 October (BuaNews) - The senior United Nations envoy to Somalia has welcomed the agreement between the country's transitional government and Islamist rebels on a ceasefire to end their deadly conflict.

    The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) signed two accords on Sunday in neighbouring Djibouti after three days of talks backed by the UN and the wider international community.

    They agreed to establish a unity government and military forces as well as the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops.

    Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, congratulated the two groups for the cooperation which led to the accords.

    "Somalis will be very pleased by the important progress made in Djibouti and the positive steps taken here," Mr Ould-Abdallah said, calling the agreement a sign of the commitment of the parties to moving ahead with the Djibouti Agreement which is an accord reached in June.

    A statement by the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) said that the leaders of the two delegations to the joint security committee, set up under the Djibouti Agreement, agreed that a ceasefire will become effective in the Horn of Africa nation on 5 November.

    Somalia has been beset by fighting and massive humanitarian suffering for the past two decades but the violence flared up again this year, particularly in and around the nominal capital, Mogadishu.

    The fighting caused widespread displacement and the country has not had a functioning national government since 1991.

    Last week the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that more than 35 000 residents of Mogadishu had to flee their homes in the past month, taking the total number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to at least 1 million.

    A persistent drought across the region is exacerbating the situation for the displaced.

    The agreement also includes provision for the relocation of Ethiopian troops, which have been backing the TFG, and for measures to be put in place to avoid a subsequent security vacuum.

    This involves the African Union peace force known as AMISOM, with the joint assistance of TFG and ARS forces, until a UN peacekeeping force can be deployed.

    Somali Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Abdisalam Aden and ARS Chairman Sheikh Sharif Ahmed signed a separate joint declaration that welcomes the leadership of the UN and the assistance of the international community in the early establishment of a unity government.

    The declaration stipulates that this government would be open to all Somali nationals and would also involve an inclusive parliament.

    "Some very important principles have now been established. The challenge is to ensure that concrete action is taken to show the Somali people how this will benefit them," Mr Ould-Abdallah said.

    Sunday's signing ceremony was attended, among others, by representatives of the AU, the League of Arab States, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the European Commission (EC), Djibouti, Egypt, France, Italy and the United States, as well as by members of civil society.

    Pic of the day – ORANGE RIVER BRIDGE

    Named for a railway station in South Africa’s Karoo, midway between Kimberley and De Aar which is well-known to steam train enthusiasts the world over, the container ship ORANGE RIVER BRIDGE called at Cape Town earlier this month. Built in 2007 the ship is owned by Klaus Oldendorff and operated by Japan’s K-Line and has a container capacity of 2,500-TEU. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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