Ports & Ships Maritime News

Dec 3, 2008
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View - EUROPA

  • Nationwide strike threatens road freight transport

  • Cruise ship in Cape Town for dry docking

  • Cruise ship Nautica attacked by Somali pirates

  • NSRI tows Australian yacht into port

  • Gautrain arrives in Durban harbour

  • Pics of the day – Gautrain at the docks


    First View - EUROPA

    The luxury cruise ship EUROPA, judged by the authorative travel magazine Conde Nast as the best cruise ship in the business, sailed into Durban harbour yesterday on the South African leg of her 2008 Africa cruise. The ship sailed again during the evening for East London. Picture by Rip Riphagen

    Nationwide strike threatens road freight transport

    A strike by labour elements of the road freight industry has the potential to cripple road transport in the New Year unless the union’s dispute with the Road Freight Association is resolved.

    The first meeting between the association and the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) and three other unions in November ended in deadlock over issues concerning wages and employment conditions, leading to the threat of a nationwide strike if the next meeting scheduled for the third week of January is not more successful.

    A nationwide strike would include long distance drivers, loaders, general workers, vehicles guards, storemen and clerks and could severely disrupt the delivery of manufactured goods and equipment, food products and of course the movement of about 90% of containers in and out of the ports. Approximately 60,000 workers would be affected by the strike.

    Labour is looking for an increase in minimum wages of 35% and across the board increases of 16% whereas industry is offering 8% for both levels. Labour wants 20 weeks maternity leave with pay and job guarantees, with no counter offer being received from the employers; a cross border allowance of R250 and subsistence allowance of R200 compared with 9% offered by the industry on both items which the union says is equal to just over R44.

    Labour is also asking for sundry other items which the employers are either not responding to or have made alternative counter offers.

    In a statement yesterday Satawu says the long hours that drivers spend on the road results in fatigue, illness and the encouragement of prostitution which undermines normal family life. “Workers feel very strongly about (the demands) as the wages remain low and employers’ continue to rely on incentive schemes to remunerate long hours.”

    “The two year agreement we reached in 2007 resulted in our members facing huge losses in their take home pay. The 8% increase they received was eaten by the rate of inflation when it sky rocketed to 13.6% between August and September 2008.

    “This industry in one of those that is on the bottom of the list with regard to the worst paid employees who (are forced to) depend on overtime and incentive schemes to subsidies their take home pay in order to survive on a daily basis. This means long hours of work for a driver to make ends meet. It means a lot of time away from their family for weeks in order to compensate for the low salary at the end of the week.”

    Satawu says it also wants the government to effectively regulate the road freight industry on account that existing self regulation is not working.

    “We welcome the consultative process initiated by the National Department of Transport (NDOT) into the issue of working hours and believe that it must result in tacit regulation of working time to counter the exploitation by unscrupulous employers.

    “The continued use of the load system, kilometre system, casualisation, labour broking and sub contracting de facto shifts the responsibility of the employer to employee who ends up without retirement benefits to show for years of long loyal service.”

    Cruise ship in Cape Town for dry docking

    A cruise ship HEBRIDEAN SPIRIT (4,200-gt, built 1991) is currently in Cape Town occupying Quay 500, which is leased to Smit Amandla Marine and utilised mainly by the service vessels operated by that company.

    The reason for this unusual visitor on Quay 500 is that the Scottish ship is waiting to enter the dry dock shortly for a routine maintenance refit and inspection, before sailing again on 20 December.

    Hebridean Spirit arrived in the Indian Ocean early in November, visiting the Seychelles, Aldabra Atoll, Madagascar, Maputo, Richards Bay and Durban, where her cruise ended and passengers disembarked.

    From Durban the ship sailed to Cape Town to prepare for her survey and dry docking and on completion she will embark on 20 December on another four months of cruising in South African, Namibian, Mozambican and later the Indian Ocean island waters.

    Among these cruises are opportunities of cruising between Walvis Bay and Durban with all ports in between as well as from Maputo to Cape Town also with all ports in between.

    Coincident to next story below of the cruise ship Nautica - the original R5, Hebridean Spirit was originally another of the Renaissance fleet, R6.

    Cruise ship Nautica attacked by Somali pirates

    The Greek cruise ship NAUTICA (30,277-gt, built 2000) is the latest high-profile vessel to come under attack by audacious Somali pirates operating in the Gulf of Aden.

    The attack took place on Monday as the Oceania Cruises’ ship sailed through the Gulf en route from Rome to Singapore. Making a mockery of advice that ships with a low freeboard are the greatest at risk (Nautica has 11 passenger decks and a high freeboard), pirates mingled among several fishing trawlers before launching their attack. The trawlers may or may not have been ‘mother ships’ assisting the small skiffs used by the pirates but the ruse worked and the skiffs were able to approach the cruise ship before the alarm was raised.

    The ship immediately increased speed to 20 knots and began to pull away from the motorised skiffs. One of these gave up the chase almost immediately but the other managed to close with the Nautica and opened fire with an automatic rifle, with at least eight shots aimed in the direction of the ship. There were no reports of injuries or damage and the shots may have been attempts at warning the ship to stop.

    Nautica is the former R5 of Renaissance Cruises.

    NSRI tows Australian yacht into port

    The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) of Richards Bay launched its rescue craft Spirit of Richards Bay to assist a 12 metre yacht Columbus without engine power and requiring guidance and assistance into the Port of Richards Bay on Monday evening.

    The yacht’s last port of call is believed to have been Tasmania, with a couple on board who are both believed to be from Townshall, Queensland, Australia.

    The yacht has been monitored by Ham Radio Operators for the past few days after the crew reported via Ham Radio Network that their engine had ceased but they continued sailing towards Richards Bay guided via Ham Radio Operators.

    The yacht, with Ronald Fitzpatrick and Patricia Healy on-board was towed into Port by the NSRI and safely berthed.

    Early yesterday (01h52) the NSRI Mossel Bay launched its rescue craft Vodacom Rescuer I to go to the assistance of a fisherman aboard the fishing boat Colleen who was reported to be suffering continuous seizures 26 nautical miles off-shore of Mossel Bay.

    On arrival on-scene NSRI medics stabilised the patient who was then transferred aboard the rescue craft and brought to Mossel Bay harbour aboard the rescue craft and taken to a local hospital by the ship’s owners.

    The man is a 48 year old Mossel Bay fisherman and is reported to be recovering well.

    At 14h40 the same day NSRI Gordons Bay launched its rescue craft Sanlam Rescuer following a telephonic request to the National Ports Authority from a man claiming to be drifting on his boat without engine power somewhere off-shore of Rooi Els, between Gordons Bay and Betty's Bay.

    No further information was divulged before the man hung up and attempts to raise the man on his cell-phone went unanswered.

    A search throughout the afternoon by NSRI volunteers aboard Sanlam Rescuer and Police revealed no sign of the man on his boat and no sign of any vessel in any kind of difficulty. It is suspected that this was a false alarm with malicious intent.

    Later that afternoon NSRI Port Alfred launched both of their rescue craft Kowie Rescuer and Arthur Scales following reports from the Chokka Boat (squid boat) Dheneb of a fisherman gone overboard two nautical miles off-shore of Port Alfred.

    An extensive search has revealed no sign of the man, who is from Dispatch, and who is missing and is presumed to have drowned.

    The circumstances surrounding the man going overboard are being investigated by Police.
    The man’s age was not made known to the NSRI yesterday and his name has not been released.

    Gautrain arrives in Durban harbour

    The first locomotives and coaches for the Gautrain Rapid Rail Link now under construction between Johannesburg, Pretoria and OR Tambo International Airport were offloaded in Durban harbour yesterday (Tuesday, 2 December 2008).

    The loco and coach were loaded in Antwerp on board the Macs vessel GREEN CAPE and discharged at the Durban City Terminal C berth, with Messrs P&O Ports in charge of all stevedoring functions.

    The rolling stock is to be taken to the Union Carriage and Works facility at Nigel to be fully assembled on behalf of the main manufacturer Bombardier Transportation. A total of 81 vehicles in all are to be imported with the next consignment due in Durban in one week's time. Further consignments will continue until July 2009.

    The first train is set to go into operation in 2010.

    Pics of the day – Gautrain at the docks

    In the ship's hold.  The following pictures are all courtesy P&O Ports

    Up she comes... the first consignment consisted of two vehicles

    The first 5 pictures show the vehicles being discharged in Durban

    The rolling stock was offloaded from the vessel Green Cape by means of the port's heavy-lift floating crane

    The cab in the driving unit. All rolling stock will be transported to Nigel by road transport.

    The above picture shows the coach being taken to the ship's side for loading in Antwerp

    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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