Ports & Ships Maritime News

Mar 17, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – PRECIOUS

  • Piracy report – warships prevent capture of Vietnamese ship

  • IMF Pushes on Aid for Africa, Revival of World Trade Talks

  • African ports set to expand - analysts

  • DEAT seizes illegal shark fins off Taiwanese fishing vessel in Cape Town harbour

  • Transnet reacts to reports linking Siyabonga Gama to cancelled tender

  • Pic of the day – UMALUSI


    First View – PRECIOUS

    The Dnepr type freighter PRECIOUS (12,296-gt, built 1982) made an unscheduled call at Durban over the recent weekend on tow behind the the offshore tug SMIT MADURA. Earlier the general cargo ship had broken down off Shelley Beach on the KwaZulu Natal South Coast. Picture by Trevor Jones

    Piracy report – warships prevent capture of Vietnamese ship

    Warships from Turkey and Denmark have prevented the capture by pirates of a Vietnamese bulk cargo ship, the DIAMOND FALCON (14,851-gt, built 2008) off the Yemen southern coast.

    On realising it was under attack from two speedboats that emerged from among a fleet of fishing vessels the Vietnam ship issued a call for assistance which was responded to immediately by helicopters from the Turkish and Danish Navy ships, the GIRESUN and ABSALON. On arrival overhead the helicopters engaged the speedboats, which then broke off the attack and departed the scene. The attack, according to the Danish Navy, took place near a busy fishing zone which helped disguise the pirate attack until it was underway.

    In West Africa four foreign seafarers from the American-owned offshore supply tug SIL TIDE (359-gt, built 1983) have been kidnapped by militants operating in a fast motorboat. The attack which occurred on 14 March took place approximately 9 miles off the Cameroon coast near Bakassi. The four seamen, three Filipinos and a Ukrainian were captured when the militants, numbering about 30, attacked the tug shortly before dawn.

    According to reports the danger of attack by militants is now increasing across a much wider arc well beyond the usual Niger Delta region.

    IMF Pushes on Aid for Africa, Revival of World Trade Talks

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF), worried that economic gains in Africa will slip away because of the global downturn, is pressing advanced economies to honour and increase their commitments to developing countries in Africa as concerns rise that the continent’s economic gains will slip away as a result of the global downturn.

    The organisation has also called for a revival of stalled world trade negotiations.

    The IMF released its impact assessment of the global economic and financial crisis on Africa last week on the eve of a major conference which was held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania regarding Africa’s future.

    As global growth has slowed down, along with the decline in most commodity prices and tighter credit, the economic outlook for sub-Saharan Africa has worsened significantly, the IMF report said.

    “Risks are rising and how long the crisis will last is uncertain. Policymakers must walk a tightrope between not aggravating the shock in aggregate demand on the one side, while protecting hard-won gains in economic fundamentals on the other.”

    Many countries in the region have enjoyed robust growth in recent years which has strengthened their balance sheets. Sound economic policies as well as a favourable external environment and increased external support in the form of debt relief and higher inflows have contributed to this performance.

    However, the food and fuel price shocks experienced in 2007-08 which preceded the current global financial crisis weakened the external position of net importers of food and fuel, causing inflation to accelerate and dampening growth prospects.

    The global financial crisis only makes it more difficult to meet the policy challenges confronting the region as it strives to consolidate economic gains and meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

    The report, entitled “Impact of the Global Financial Crisis on Sub-Saharan Africa”, can be accessed on the IMF website HERE

    African ports set to expand - analysts

    In anticipation of increasing trade with Africa, governments, port operators and logistics firms have been investing heavily in new port infrastructure and transport links in Africa. Significant improvements are already being felt in isolated areas, leading to a multiplier effect elsewhere.

    Many of the world's big port and container developers and operators -- DP World, Hutchinson Whampoa, APM Terminals, Bollore -- have greatly accelerated their activities in Africa in recent years. All are engaged in the construction or operation of existing or new port facilities in the expectation that the recent surge in African trade volumes was here to stay.

    Global slowdown. The current downturn, which has triggered a far larger contraction in international trade flows than anticipated, has caught the international port and container industry off guard.

    The industry has experienced uninterrupted growth in container port volumes since the advent of container technology in the 1960s. After big declines in trade volumes toward the end of 2008, the industry is now braced for its first decline in modern history.

    The port and container industry's instinctive reaction has been to put everything on hold, step back and wait to see what happens. African projects at or nearing completion, notably DP World's $ 400 million Doraleh Container Terminal in Djibouti, are being seen through.

    Those at earlier stages of development, such as Coega in South Africa, are being scaled back. Schemes still at the preliminary stage, including port developments in Angola, Mozambique, Gabon, Senegal and elsewhere, are being temporarily shelved.

    Investment case. However, the slowdown in port renewal and expansion will probably not last:

    Most of Africa's port infrastructure dates from the colonial era. Along with African roads and railways, there has been little or no investment in port capacity or efficiency for five decades.

    The acute bottlenecks faced by surging commodity exports during the 2003-2008 commodities supercycle emphasized the extent to which past neglect was hampering future growth prospects. Past policy errors -- shortages of financing notwithstanding -- are less likely to be repeated.

    Moreover, African trade, which is less reliant on trade finance than is the case in the rest of the world, has yet to register the sharp contractions experienced elsewhere.

    Bulk cargoes are down but trade in food, steel, cement and most other manufactured goods -- where prices have fallen dramatically in recent months -- remain resilient, providing further evidence that Africa's recent growth spurt was not entirely dependent on high commodity prices.

    Africa's recent strong growth cycle left much of the continent struggling to cope with its existing port capacity. Sustaining the recent upsurge in port and related infrastructure will be one of the most pressing challenges facing African governments during the downturn in order to facilitate the increased future growth now widely expected. – source Oxford Analytica

    NB Oxford Analytica is an international consulting firm providing strategic analysis of world events. The above report is repeated here without any editing - PORTS & SHIPS is not aware of plans to scale back the Coega project.

    DEAT seizes illegal shark fins off Taiwanese fishing vessel in Cape Town harbour

    Officials of the Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism (DEAT) raided a Taiwanese fishing vessel in Cape Town harbour at the weekend and seized almost two tonnes of dried shark fins.

    The fishing vessel CHIEN JUI 102 has earlier entered port. DEAT officials who went on board laid charges against the vessel’s master and crew of 26 of providing false information about their catch and confiscated the entire catch.

    In terms of local regulations the number of fins must match the number of shark carcases found on board any fishing vessel – this is to prevent fishing boats from catching sharks, hacking off the fins and throwing the fish back overboard, often whilst still alive, where they either bleed to death or are attacked by other predators.

    Shark fins are considered a delicacy in the Far East where they are used to make shark fin soup.

    According to DEAT the Chien Jui 102 had a permit which indicated they had taken 100kg of shark fin, 2.2 tonnes of shark trunk and 2,945-kg of tuna on board. An inspection of the ship however revealed the vessel to be carrying two tonnes of shark fin, which by calculation meant they ought to have had nearly 30t of shark trunk to match.

    According to DEAT the Taiwanese vessel will be blacklisted for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and will have to remain in Cape Town harbour until the end of the consequent court case.

    Transnet reacts to reports linking Siyabonga Gama to cancelled tender

    In a statement issued late last week Transnet says it has noted with concern a series of articles written by Business Report that purport to link Transnet Freight Rail (TFR)’s chief executive, Mr Siyabonga Gama, to alleged impropriety in the cancelled tender to acquire 212 diesel locomotives for TFR.

    “Transnet’s policy is to not comment on allegations, innuendo, ongoing investigations or discussions in internal meetings. However, given the gravity of the matter, including the ongoing damage to the image and reputation of Transnet and its executives, we wish to clarify a number of things.

    “On February 2 2008 the then Minister of Public Enterprises, Mr Alec Erwin, MP, addressed a letter to the Chairman of Transnet Limited, Mr Fred Phaswana, regarding certain allegations that had been forwarded to him by the Public Service Commission and which he required to be investigated. These allegations concerned the procurement process for the acquisition of certain locomotives.

    “In accordance with Transnet’s processes, an independent investigation was commissioned to probe these allegations. It revealed that there were procurement irregularities which had compromised the procurement process for the acquisition of the 212 locomotives.

    “Various steps were taken to deal with the outcome of this investigation. These included the termination of the procurement process for the 212 locomotive acquisition and the institution of disciplinary proceedings against one of the TFR executives. That executive subsequently resigned.

    “We emphasise that the investigation did not point out any impropriety on the part of the TFR chief executive Mr Gama in respect of this tender. Accordingly, the allegations and innuendo suggesting otherwise are without foundation. We reject them and consider them unfair both to Transnet and the chief executive concerned.”

    Pic of the day – UMALUSI

    The South African Navy tug UMALUSI (displacing 315-tons, built 1995) seen in Simon’s Bay recently. Picture by Trevor Jones

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