Ports & Ships Maritime News

Feb 11, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • South African port statistics for January 2009

  • After Ramos goes van Niekerk

  • Piracy update – suspects flown to Netherlands for trial

  • United African government can not be reached overnight

  • Access builds with Habitat for Humanity

  • Pics of the day – SVITZER WATWICK and BATTLEAXE



    The giant and the dwarf. The offshore supply vessel NORTH STAR is made to look miniscule by the oil rig NEPTUNE FINDER as the small workboat returns to Cape Town harbour from OPL service. In the background Cape Town’s Table Mountain wears her customary ’tablecloth’. Picture by Aad Noorland

    South African port statistics for January 2009

    Perhaps the most interesting port cargo figures in a long while are now available for the month of January 2009, courtesy of Transnet National Ports Authority. Interesting because they reflect possible trends as the world economic crisis begins to impact South Africa.

    The country’s seven ports showed a massive drop in cargoes handled as compared with the same month a year ago as well as a considerable decrease against December 2008, which indicates how the economy is already feeling the impact. Total cargo compared year on year January 2009 versus January 2008 decreased by almost 20%, or just over 4mt from 20.184 million tonnes down to 16.173mt.

    The decreases were felt across most categories of cargo, and containers were no exception, dropping by 64,758-TEU or 20.6%. For comparison readers can see January 2008 statistics HERE

    Interestingly, the number of ship calls in January 2009 reflected an increase against the same month in 2008, with a corresponding increase in gross tonnage measured. Too many ships chasing too little cargo perhaps?

    As is customary the figures shown in this report reflect an adjustment on the overall tonnage to include containers by weight – an adjustment necessary because Transnet NPA measures containers in terms of the number of TEUs and not by weight - for which PORTS & SHIPS makes an estimated weight adjustment of 13,5 tonnes per TEU to reflect estimated tonnages. This figure is considered on the conservative side with 14 tonnes or even more being a more realistic figure in view of the increasing quantity of bulk cargo which is now being handled in containers.

    Figures for the respective ports during January 2009 were (with December 2008 figures shown bracketed):

    Cargo handled by tonnes

    Richards Bay                     5.810 million tonnes (Dec 7.490Mt)
    Durban                             4.532 Mt (Dec 5.762)
    Saldanha Bay                    4.082 Mt (Dec 2.969)
    Cape Town                       0.986 Mt (Dec 0.984)
    Port Elizabeth                    0.410 Mt (Dec 0.608)
    Mossel Bay                        0.154 Mt (Dec 0.198)
    East London                      0.198 Mt (Dec 0.139)

    Total monthly cargo in January 16.173 million tonnes (Dec 18.150 Mt)

    Containers (measured by TEUs)
    (TEUs include Deepsea, Coastal, Transship and empty containers all subject to being invoiced by NPA)

    Durban                              176,457 TEU (Dec 192,594)
    Cape Town                          52,921 (Dec 56,615)
    Port Elizabeth                       15,476 (Dec 26,565)
    East London                          3,262 (Dec 2,747)
    Richards Bay                            175 (Dec 228)

    Total containers handled during January 248,291 TEU (Dec 278,749)

    Ship Calls for January 2009

    Durban:            375 vessels 9.900m gt (Dec 347 vessels 8.766m gt)
    Cape Town:       291 vessels 4.816m gt (Dec 273 vessels 4.748m gt)
    Port Elizabeth:     78 vessels 2.542m gt (Dec 100 vessels 2.189m gt)
    Richards Bay:      127 vessels 4.572m gt (Dec 141 vessels 5.110m gt)
    Saldanha:           28 vessels 2.673 gt (Dec 38 vessels 1,720m gt)
    East London:       28 vessels 0.702m gt (Dec 22 vessels 0.517m gt)
    Mossel Bay:         67 vessels 0.244m gt (Dec 94 vessels 0.330m gt)

    - source TNPA, with adjustments made by Ports & Ships to include container weights

    After Ramos goes van Niekerk

    Transnet Chief Operating Officer (COO) Louis van Niekerk is to leave the organisation on 31 March, it has been announced. His departure closely follows that of Chief Executive Maria Ramos who leaves at the end of February to take up the senior position of CEO at ABSA Bank.

    According to Transnet van Niekerk indicated his intention to leave the company several months ago but agreed to stay on to assist with a smooth transition. The statement said that this position had now been reached.

    “On behalf of our Board, the executive and all employees of Transnet Limited I would like to thank Louis for the role he has played as part of the executive team in taking this company to where it is today, and we wish him all the best for the future,” says Ms Ramos.

    “I am grateful at the opportunity to have served my country again in such a wonderful organisation with great people and exciting prospects. I am proud to have been part of Transnet’s success mix”, says Mr Van Niekerk.

    As COO, the role he assumed in early 2005, Van Niekerk has been part of the executive team that has led the operational, strategic and cultural turnaround of Transnet as well as the implementation of the Company’s five-year capital expenditure programme.

    There has been no announcement as to his successor, nor for that matter a replacement for Maris Ramos who departs at the end of this month.

    Piracy update – suspects flown to Netherlands for trial

    The Dutch Prosecution Office has announced that five suspected Somali pirates have been flown to the Netherlands to stand trial for having allegedly taken part in an act of piracy against a ship in the Gulf of Aden.

    The attack on the freighter SAMANYULO took place on 2 January and was successfully defended by the freighter’s crew, using signal flares. A Dutch naval ship later arrived and took the pirates into custody.

    According to the Dutch Prosecutor’s office the five men will be arraigned before a Rotterdam district court today (Wednesday). This is believed to be the first time that Somali pirates will appear in a court outside of Africa or the region and face charges of piracy. On an earlier occasion another group of pirates was taken to Mombasa to stand trial in a Kenyan court, where they were found guilty and imprisoned.

    Meanwhile Kenyan authorities have confirmed that the Ukrainian Ro-Ro ship FAINA, which has been released after being held for ransom for more than four months by Somali pirates, is expected to arrive in the port of Mombasa tomorrow (Thursday, 12 February). The ship which is carrying a cargo of 33 T-72 Russian-made tanks and other arms and ammunition, is being escorted by the US Navy. Kenyan authorities said the Faina would be discharged in Mombasa and the cargo taken to a military base in Kenya.

    The true destination of the weapons on board the ship has been in dispute ever since the vessel was captured, with Kenya saying they were for the Kenyan military. Other sources however, including the United States, maintain the weapons are intended for South Sudan, which neighbours Kenya.

    United African government can not be reached overnight

    by Vivian Warby (BuaNews)

    Cape Town, 10 February - The establishment of single African Union (AU) government can not be achieved in one giant leap, but will take time.

    Director General in the Department of Foreign Affairs Ayanda Ntsaluba on Tuesday gave media a report back following the 12th AU Heads of State and Government Summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia recently.

    “The establishment of a United States of Africa can not be achieved in one giant leap,” said Mr Ntsaluba.

    While African leaders at the summit agreed that more regional integration was needed to boost Africa's international standing, they could not agree on the establishment of a single AU government as many were reluctant to relinquish any of their sovereignty to a new government.

    Many favoured strengthening regional institutions before creating a continent-wide system.

    The transformation of the African Union (AU) Commission into the AU Authority, made at the summit, was a step toward eventually forming a continent-wide government.

    Dr Ntsaluba said there had been robust debate on the establishment of unity government for Africa, but that the debate had not ended.

    He agreed that it was important to move in the direction of establishing regional economic communities and that greater integration of regional economic communities was first necessary.

    Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi, who was elected as the Chairperson of the AU at the summit, said he would “continue to insist that our sovereign countries work to achieve the United States of Africa.” This was despite some African leaders being weary of the concept.

    Concerns raised in this regard during the talks at the summit included its feasibility, the areas of competence, the role of the regional economic communities and the impact of the union government on the respective sovereignty of the 53 member states.

    “If a continental government is formed, there would have to be a common understanding of democratic principles and governance and it would be important to clarify what values would govern the continent, amongst many other things,” said the Director General.

    The review of the proposed union government initiative has been postponed several times, as African leaders agreed each time on an additional period of reflection in order to better hone the project and “reduce the uncertainty angles.”

    On Monday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs said a single AU government would give Africa greater influence on the international stage.

    “A united Africa speaking with a single voice would also be more influential in global affairs. Furthermore the benefits of political and economic integration are evident when we look at the experience of other regions of the world [such as the European Union],” the minister said.

    Access builds with Habitat for Humanity

    It’s always reassuring when there’s news of the maritime and logistics industry reaching out to others with a helping hand, and so we include this report from Durban-based Access Freight International, a company now operating in all the major ports around South Africa specialising in integrated supply chain solutions.

    ‘On Friday, 6 February 2009 volunteers from Access Freight International (PTY) Ltd participated in a ‘day build’ with Habitat for Humanity. Access sponsored the day build and helped build a home in the Umgababa Integrated Housing Project on the South Coast of KZN and chose to specifically build for ‘orphans and vulnerable children’. The family that we helped was the Mbambo family, consisting of eight people, of which four are children, who lived in a house made with wattle and mud without a toilet or running water.

    ‘This experience opened our volunteer’s eyes to the needs of people less fortunate than us. It helped us to be a lot more grateful for what we have.’

    Background on Habitat

    Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) is a non-profit, Christian housing organisation that operates as a worldwide ministry seeking to provide simple, decent and affordable housing to communities, in need, throughout the world.

    Habitat for humanity embraces the vision of “A world in which every person has a decent place to live”.

    Habitat for Humanity South Africa (HFHSA) has been actively building in South Africa since 1996 and to date over 2,200 families have been served across 17 communities. As a community development organisation HFHSA engages with local communities in the greater Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg areas.

    A unique feature of HFHSA as an organisation is that it partners with community groups or other organisations to help address an identified housing need. Once this partnership has been formalised a lengthy process of education and training begins. This is crucial to the development of the homeowner group and is an important focus area of HFHSA’s ministry.

    Pic of the day – SVITZER WATWICK and BATTLEAXE

    Calling at Cape Town on her maiden voyage from the builders yard in Asia is the UK-flagged tug SVITZER WATWICK (490-gt, built 2008), en route to Milford Haven. Picture is by Aad Noorland

    The tug BATTLEAXE (423-gt) on the other hand has been on the high seas for a long time, since her completion in 1978 to be precise. This picture was taken yesterday in Cape Town harbour as she sailed after a stopover of several weeks. Picture by Aad Noorland

    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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