Ports & Ships Maritime News

Apr 8, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – STURDY FALCON

  • SA transport workers go on strike

  • Richards Bay bunker barge to go to Durban for double-hulling

  • African Conference looks at north-south corridor development

  • News from the shipping lines

  • Madagascar: A Cyclone in a Political Storm

  • Pic of the day – AMSTELGRACHT


    First View – STURDY FALCON

    One of a diminishing band of SD14 freighters is the 1980-built Vietnamese-flagged STURDY FALCON departing Cape Town on April 3, 2009 and looking quite good despite her years. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    SA transport workers go on strike

    Tens of thousands of transport workers went on strike yesterday (Tuesday), a move that has generated the likelihood of crippling the country’s transport system not only through stayaways but with a resultant shortage of petrol at the filling stations.

    The Engen oil refinery in Durban was quick to deny this, pointing out that the refinery makes use of third party drivers to deliver petrol, who are not members of SATAWU, and the strike would therefore have little effect on Engen’s deliveries.

    SATAWU responded by warning Engen about using what it called scabs to deliver fuel.

    “Satawu wishes to caution Engen not to place the lives of scabs at risk just for the sake of maximizing profit during the strike. Engen should be careful not to position itself as a reactionary force even before the strike begins as they would regret having to deal with the wrath of Satawu and its members.”

    There were several reports yesterday of long distance drivers being forced out of their trucks at toll plazas in the KZN Midlands and in the Jacobs area of Durban, which is close to the refineries and to the port. Several incidents of cars and trucks being stoned have been reported.

    Fuel deliveries from the country’s other refineries, including Sapref in Durban (Shell and BP) and Chevron (Caltex) in Cape Town are also affected.

    Richards Bay bunker barge to go to Durban for double-hulling

    SMIT Amandla Marine has advised that with effect Friday 17 April its bunker barge named SMIT BONGANI, presently based at the port of Richards Bay, will be withdrawn from service and will proceed to Durban for double hulling at the Dormac Marine shipyards.

    While this is taking place the bunker barge MARINE EXCELLENCE will transfer from Durban to Richards Bay where it will operate delivering fuel and gas until Smit Bongani is completed. This is expected to be in July this year.

    The mandatory double hulling of the Smit Bongani is in order to comply with a MARPOL requirement. This is the second SMIT Amandla Marine barge to undergo this process, the first having been another Durban-based barge, the SMIT ENERGY which was double hulled in 2008.

    SMIT Amandla also has the newly built double hulled bunker barge SMIT LiPUMA operational in the port of Durban – the barge was built at the Dormac Marine shipyard during 2007.

    Traders and oil companies are requested by SMIT Amandla to take note accordingly.

    African Conference looks at north-south corridor development

    A meeting of leaders from four African states as well as representatives of the European Commission (EC), the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the World Bank (WB), the African Union Commission, and the African Development Bank (AfDB) met in Lusaka on Monday to look at an ambitious plan to rebuild the continent’s north-south corridor system.

    The four African presidents attending were South Africa’s President Kgalema Motlanthe, Zambia’s President Rupiah Banda, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki, who individually represented the SADC, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Community (EAC).

    The three communities have pledged to work together for the creation of a free trade area across the entire 26-state region, with a transport corridor as the first major project of the newly formed Tripartite Task Force.

    The World Bank, the AfDB, the EC, Britain and a number of other donors have pledged US$1.2 billion towards the upgrading of the north-south corridor. The objective of the initiative is to help improve Africa’s competitiveness by upgrading transport, trade opportunities and energy supply in which a north-south transport corridor will help reduce time and costs of land transport. The meeting was told that transport costs in Africa amount to between 20 and 40% of production costs compared with less than 10% in the developed world.

    Delays at border posts average between six days and several weeks, while delays in the continent’s ports can be equally notorious. The cost of trading in Africa, including transport, is 73% higher than that in Europe and the United States, the meeting was told. These costs could be significantly reduced by improving regional road infrastructure, which would benefit local communities across the entire region. Some 8,000km of roads will have to be upgraded or rebuilt.

    The proposal seeks to create an efficient road system extending from the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam to the Copperbelt in Zambia and the DRC, which would connect with the existing north-south corridor system from the Copperbelt to the ports of South Africa. A number of spurs would be added linking eight countries in total – Tanzania, the DRC, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa.

    This particular corridor had been selected because is it is the busiest in the region and if it continues to grow at the current rate it will soon outstrip existing infrastructure and collapse unless remedial measures are taken.

    News from the shipping lines

    Japan's Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd (K Line) has announced it intends reducing the size of its container fleet by approximately 10% within the next year. The number of ships will be reduced from 95 to about 85, it has been learned. K Line also intends reducing the number of auto carriers it has in service from 85 ships to around 80 by the end of the 2009 financial year.

    A year ago K Line said it intended increasing the size of its fleet, including bulk carriers and oil tankers to number in the region of between 560 and 570 by the end of the 2009 financial year. Instead the fleet will now number approximately 500 ships by the time the year has ended.

    Malaysian shipping company MISC Berhad appears to be readying itself to take advantage of the current economic downturn by acquiring smaller subsidiary companies belonging to some of the shipping lines currently experiencing financial difficulties as a result of the recession. Analysts says that MISC is earning a stable revenue from its liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker business in which between 70% and 80% of its vessels are on long-term contracts, with the earliest expiring only in 2013. MISC owns the world’s largest fleet of LNG tankers – 27 ships which is to be extended to 29 by the end of this year. The company also has extensive and profitable offshore interests and a heavy engineering division with a healthy order book.

    Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) recently named its latest and largest container ship, MSC DANIT, in honour of the daughter of MSC Israel’s CEO, Edni Simkin. Danit Simkin performed the naming ceremony. The new ship, capable of carrying 14,000-TEU (but probably considerably more) is 365m in length, 51.2m wide and 29.9m high. The ship was built at the Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) yard in South Korea.

    The design of the new ship sees the wheelhouse positioned amidships while the engine room remains located at the stern of the vessel. It is claimed this presents better visibility and stability while maximising container stackability. The ship is designed to operate at a speed of 25 knots.

    Madagascar: A Cyclone in a Political Storm

    The course of Cyclone Jade across Madagascar   IRIN

    Johannesburg (IRIN) — Aid agencies and Madagascar's disaster management authority, which has been paralyzed by months of political turmoil, are scrambling to asses the damage after tropical cyclone ‘Jade’ struck on 6 April.

    According to Tropical Storm Risk (TSR), a forecasting consortium supported by the UK's Meteorological office, Jade made landfall in northeastern Madagascar as a category 1 cyclone and is projected to weaken when it veers south along the east coast of the island.

    “We still have no data - assessments are still underway and the situation remains unclear,” Dia Styvanley Soa, spokeswoman for Madagascar's disaster management authority (BNGRC), told IRIN.

    Styvanley said accounts by people in the northern parts of the country hit by Jade in the morning - Maroantsetra, Mananara-Nord and Antalaha - revealed considerable damage, with trees uprooted and electricity and water supplies cut off in most areas.

    Aid agencies were also awaiting further reports. "At the moment we don't have much information on the impact," Krystyna Bednarska, head of the World Food Programme in Madagascar, told IRIN. The harsh weather conditions have made it impossible for helicopters to be dispatched to affected areas.

    Concerns over capacity

    The Indian Ocean Island has been reeling from a political storm of its own making since January 2009, and Bednarska raised concerns over Madagascar's capacity to manage the natural disaster. “Because of the situation, national institutions have been quite non-operational,” she said.

    The political infighting that ousted President Marc Ravalomanana and replaced him with his rival, Andy Rajoelina, who is backed by the military, has drawn international condemnation.

    Aid agencies are warning that the ongoing humanitarian crises - caused by a severe drought in the south, rocketing food prices and the aftermath of two other cyclones - are already being sidelined.

    In a cyclone season that starts in December and runs into April, Madagascar has already been hit by two tropical cyclones: ‘Eric’ struck the east coast on 18 January, followed by ‘Fanele’, which made landfall on the west coast two days later. Extensive damage and flooding across the island affected more than 60,000 people and left more than 4,000 homeless.

    Styvanley said the BNGRC could “function properly” in the current political situation “at this stage of collecting data and information”, but would quite possibly run into serious difficulty if it had to deliver food and humanitarian assistance.

    BNGRC's emergency stocks and “food items in storage in some of those regions where Jade passed were burgled during the political crisis,” Styvanley told IRIN, and the national radio system, “an important tool for us in emergencies” had stopped broadcasting.

    “Remember, the national radio was [set alight] during the political crisis.”

    TRS said a storm of Jade's strength at landfall meant that at the very least, Madagascar could expect damage to building structures and flooding from heavy rain.

    (This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations)

    Pic of the day – AMSTELGRACHT

    The rather attractive looking Dutch general cargo ship AMSTELGRACHT (7,949-gt, built 1990) was a caller at Cape Town this past week. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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