Ports & Ships Maritime News

Apr 15, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – CAPE TOWN HARBOUR – a view with a difference

  • Port Statistics - Mombasa posts a good year for 2008

  • AP Moller - Maersk Group issues statement on piracy

  • Nacala acquires more locomotives

  • Nigerian port congestion – containers removed to Onne

  • Top UN envoy condemns recent rash of piracy off the coast of Somalia

  • Pic of the day – VICTORIA MXENGE


    First View – CAPE TOWN HARBOUR – a view with a difference

    An unusual view of Cape Town harbour – where there is hardly a ship in sight across the expanse of the Duncan Dock during the Easter Weekend. Fortunately appearances are deceiving and the occasional ship did put into harbour, although this must have been one of the quietest periods for a long time. Not a good sign! Picture by Aad Noorland.

    Port Statistics - Mombasa posts a good year for 2008

    The Port of Mombasa in Kenya has recorded improved overall results for the financial year 2008 compared with 2007 which it says was achieved despite the global recession and other challenges.

    Total throughput for Mombasa grew by 2.8% to 16.41 million tonnes in 2008 (15.96mt in 2007). The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) accredits this to efficiency gains arising from the modernisation of equipment and the re-engineering of business processes.

    Container traffic grew 5.2% year on year, rising to 615,733-TEU (585,367-TEU in 2007), which is considerably less than the 22.1% growth recorded during 2007 but can be seen in the context of a sluggish economic performance accompanying both the global economic downturn and the post-election disturbances in Kenya during 2008.


    The Port of Mombasa acts as a transhipment port for several neighbouring landlocked countries, in particular Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi as well as the eastern section of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

    Transit traffic grew 10.2% during 2008, rising to 4.87 million tonnes for the year (4.4mt in 2007). This was despite the political problems experienced early in 2008 when neighbouring countries were all but isolated from Mombasa by the disturbances.

    Uganda led the way once again with a 75.9% share of the transit cargo, totalling 3.7mt in 2008 (2007 was 3.4mt), a growth rate of 8.9 percent.

    The DRC registered in second place with 304,400 tonnes of cargo in 2008 (257,000t during 2007), an increase of 18.4 percent.

    Other neighbouring countries registered marginal increases in transit cargo through the port of Mombasa.

    Outside of the container trade, liquid bulk cargo decreased 0.2% to 5.63mt in 2008 (5.64mt in 2007) and transhipment cargo out of the port decreased 1.6%, partly as a result of a temporary ban on transhipment cargo during a period of congestion in Mombasa port – much of that trade being containers for the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam.

    Dry bulk and conventional (breakbulk) cargo reflected moderate growth rates, with the Asian continent accounting for the largest growth in trade volume.

    A total of 22 shipping lines now service the port of Mombasa, the latest addition being the Rais Shipping Services operating between East Africa and Asia.

    Looking ahead

    A contract on project design and supervision for the proposed second container terminal was awarded during the year to Japan Port Consultants. The new terminal will be able to handle up to 1.2 million TEUs and is being funded jointly by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the Government of Kenya.

    The port’s Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) import terminal is undergoing the final stages for its design and the project is waiting National Environmental Management Authority approval before going ahead. Once completed the facility will be able to accommodate tankers of up to 27,000-DWT and the terminal will have the capacity to handle 600,000 metric tons of LPG a year.

    Despite initial setbacks the implementation of the Kilindini Waterfront Operating System (KWATOS) on 1 July 2008 is now assisting the KPA in its key goal of becoming one of the most efficient ports worldwide. The operating system has been interfaced with Kenya Revenue Authority’ Simba System and port users have begun to enjoy its benefits.

    The final phase of the port-ICT strategy will be the implementation of the Port Community Based System which will transform Mombasa into an e-port by 2010. The project will provide a common platform for sharing shipping information and result in faster cargo clearance and improve overall port efficiency.

    During 2008, the port of Mombasa introduced delivery of cargo on a 24/7 basis, which has improved cargo deliveries, reduced congestion, enhanced ship turnaround and improved overall port performance.

    The KPA also enhanced safety practices and security in the port by enforcing the existing and introducing new safety regulations, in line with the requirements of the International Ship and Port facility Code (ISPS). All persons entering operational areas are now required to wear safety boots, a reflection jacket and a helmet, while truck speeds are monitored.

    The construction of a port control tower, fitted with modern maritime communication equipment including the Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS) which monitors the movement of vessels within the harbour, Global Maritime Distress Signalling System (GMDSS) and Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) has further enhanced port and surrounds security. This programme is carried under the Integrated Security System (ISS) project funded by the World Bank.

    New infrastructure and equipment

    In order to provide quality services to customers in tandem with its customer charter, the KPA has put in place an elaborate equipment acquisition program. Plans are underway to purchase one pilot boat, two Ship-to-Shore Gantry cranes, eight Rubber Tyre Gantry cranes, five Reachstackers and one mobile harbour crane. This equipment will boost the port’s marine and cargo handling operations.

    The KPA has also involved the private sector in the handling of cargo to improve on its efficiency by appointing several Container Freight Stations (CFS) (inland container depots) who now receive cargo directly from the ship. This has reduced cargo dwell time in the port, checked congestion and has enhanced yard planning. For the previous two months this year the yard container population has averaged 9000-TEUs against the container yard capacity of 14,500-TEUs at any given time.

    The Kenya Port Authority says the Port Master Plan is being reviewed to facilitate the development of the port in line with the country’s National Vision 2030.

    Modern Mombasa

    AP Moller - Maersk Group issues statement on piracy

    The following statement has been received from AP Moller-Maersk:

    In light of the hijacking of MAERSK ALABAMA and hostage-taking of Captain Richard Phillips, the AP Moller - Maersk Group is making a thorough investigation of the events. Based on this investigation, the Group will review its policies and procedures for sailing off the coast of Somalia and take appropriate action.

    “Our main concern is always the safety and security of our crews. We are extremely vigilant and constantly monitor the situation in the Gulf of Aden and the area off the Somali coast,” says Søren Skou, AP Moller - Maersk Group Partner and Maersk Tanker CEO.

    The AP Moller - Maersk Group would like to express its appreciation for all the efforts and support which ensured the safe return of Captain Richard Phillips and the crew of MAERSK ALABAMA.

    The AP Moller - Maersk Group reiterates its appeal to the international community, which must come together to find a solution to the problem of piracy. Piracy is a threat to important international trade lanes and is therefore an international security issue.

    “We must insist that it is possible for seafarers to do their job in a safe and peaceful environment. Civilian crews must be able to do their job in a safe environment; ensuring goods are traded around the world,” says Søren Skou.

    “This is not a problem the AP Moller - Maersk Group or the shipping industry can or should solve alone,” he said.

    The AP Moller - Maersk Group provides its crews with detailed safety and security instructions, and emphasises the importance of exercising vigilance when sailing in the areas of piracy risk. This includes reviewing onboard security plans before entering the area.

    The AP Moller - Maersk Group is also examining routes and vessel assignments in the area off the coast of Somalia.

    Still, the piracy situation around Somalia is very dynamic and constantly changing.

    “While the naval presence in the Gulf of Aden has been successful in deterring attacks there, the pirates still remain a threat to crews and vessels in the area and elsewhere. The problem has not gone away,” says Søren Skou.

    Nacala acquires more locomotives

    Nacala’s Northern Development Corridor (CDN), the private consortium managing and operating the port of Nacala in northern Mozambique as well as the railway from the port to the Malawi border and along several branch lines, has placed into service eight diesel electric locomotives from India and Panama at a cost of US$3.5 million.

    Six of the locomotives have already entered service during 2008 and the final two were commissioned last week in Cuamba. The latest locos will enter service on goods and passenger trains between Cuamba and the Niassa Provincial capital of Lichinga, in addition to between Cuamba and Nampula.

    Although the locomotives will add considerably to the railway network’s ability to increase traffic volumes, the rehabilitation of the railway between Cuamba and Lichinga remains a necessary requirement. It is estimated the rehab work will cost US $ 80 million to complete. Trains using the line currently do so at slow speeds and to an irregular timetable.

    Nigerian port congestion – containers removed to Onne

    Nigeria’s Federal Government has begun moving containers from the congested Lagos ports to the Onne port in Rivers State as one of the measures aimed at relieving the pressure in Lagos.

    Up to 2000 uncleared containers have been identified for removal but so far no more than 225 have actually been moved, although even this small number is seen as a step in the right direction and signifies the FG intention of carrying out its threats.

    Although no instruction has yet been give it is known that the uncleared containers are to be auctioned. A spokesman for one of the terminals said he thought the delay was because paperwork was still being processed in Abuja.

    A spokesman for the Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANCLA) said government should review freight charges to the eastern ports as part of its drive of ridding the Lagos ports of congested cargo. He said that incentives to use the eastern port could have the desired effect and would encourage the use of the underutilised ports at Onne, Port Harcourt, Warri and Calibar.

    We appeal to the Federal Government to encourage importers and shippers to ship their cargoes direct to Port Harcourt, Calibar and Warri instead of congesting Lagos, he said, adding that the eastern ports were idle and underutilised. – source The Guardian

    Top UN envoy condemns recent rash of piracy off the coast of Somalia

    New York (UN News Centre) – The United Nations envoy to Somalia has condemned the recent upsurge in piracy off the coast of the Horn of Africa nation, calling the hijackings an “insult to international legality.”

    Last week alone Somali pirates sequestered six ships in as many days, later highlighted with reports of the capture and subsequent release of the American container ship, MAERSK ALABAMA.

    “The response must be clear and firm condemnation in words and in action against this pandemic,” said Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Somalia.

    “These acts of criminality must not be allowed to follow the same path of impunity of the past,” he added.

    With some of the attacks carried out 900 kilometres from the coast, Mr Ould-Abdallah said that piracy brings with it threats to freedom of navigation, political and economic stability in the region, delivery of humanitarian assistance, as well as risks to the environment.

    “Their proliferation is an insult to international legality but also an invitation to the international community to bring an appropriate and new support to the Somali authorities to help them address effectively the root causes of piracy,” he said.

    He stressed that he had no doubt that a meeting later this month between the UN, the African Union (AU), the League of Arab States, the Organization of Islamic Conference and the European Union/European Commission to support Somalia and address its security situation will bear successful results.

    On top of combating widespread lawlessness, the fledgling Government of National Unity, established in February, has the task of healing the country, which has been riven by factional fighting and had not had a functioning central government since the overthrow of Siad Barre in 1991. Source - UN News Centre

    In late news it is being reported that the St Vincent-flagged bulker IRENE E.M. (21,947-gt, built 1980) has been highjacked by Somali pirates who took control of the ship in a night-time attack. The ship is Greek managed and is thought to be Greek owned although the registered owner is listed in Liberia. The vessel, which was attacked on Tuesday night, was en route from the Middle East to South East Asia, and has a crew of 23 Filipinos.

    If the report is confirmed it marks yet another development by the pirates who have until now confined their activities to daylight hours and also suggests the likelihood of them having acquired new technology enabling attacks at night time.

    In an even later development the Togo-flagged general cargo ship SEA HORSE (4,932-gt, built 1973) has become the latest vessel to be captured, also during the hours of darkness. No other details are available at this time except the ship is owned and managed by Lebanese interests.

    In slightly earlier attacks two Egyptian fishing boats were seized in the Gulf of Aden – between 18 and 24 crew members are involved.

    On Monday US President Barack Obama addressed the issue of piracy at a press conference in Washington, when he called for a halt to the rise in piracy and saying the United States would work with other nations on this problem.

    “I want to be very clear that we are resolved to halt the rise of piracy in that region (Somalia) and to achieve that goal, we're going to have to continue to work with our partners to prevent future attacks," Obama said.

    It is not certain how far the American president is prepared to go in ridding the region of piracy, although speculation has resolved around an escalation in the use of force including the disabling of mother chips used by the pirates and attacks on pirate bases within Somalia itself.

    Several observers dismissed any talk of land attacks as saying that the US had been down that road previously and wasn’t likely to go there again. It was also unlikely that world opinion would support attacks against coastal villages where private citizens including women and children live among the pirates.

    Pic of the day – VICTORIA MXENGE

    The coastal sea fishery patrol vessel VICTORIA MXENGE seen off Cape Town harbour. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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