Ports & Ships Maritime News

May 11, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – HUGIN R and MUNIN R

  • SA Port statistics for April

  • Transnet unions declare wage dispute – warns of port and rail strike

  • Zuma announces new cabinet posts

  • Piracy update

  • French warship La Grandiere in Durban

  • Pic of the day – SAFMARINE SOYO


    First View – HUGIN R and MUNIN R

    The self propelled split hopper barge combination of MUNIN R and HUGIN R (built 1974, rebuilt 1990) at work dredging in Cape Town harbour, where the container basin is being deepened. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    SA Port statistics for April

    The latest statistics for the month of April 2009 are now available.

    While these indicate an increase in total volumes of cargo handled in April as compared with March, they also reflect a significant decrease of almost 2 million tonnes when compared month for month with the previous year – another definite indication of the economic downturn and its effect on the port system and shipping.

    Despite this the number of ship arrivals is continuing to increase – 1304 vessels called at all ports compared with 1238 for the same period last year. The number of ships diverted away from the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea route is a likely factor here.

    The port that shows a significant increase in volumes handled during April is Saldanha, with the bulk of this being exported. In 2008 Saldanha handled 3.915mt of cargo compared with 5.750mt for this April.

    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 to be 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.

    For comparison purposes readers can see statistics from 12 months ago, ie April 2008 by clicking HERE

    Figures for the respective ports during April 2009 were (with March 2009 figures shown bracketed):

    Cargo handled by tonnes

    Richards Bay                6.296mt million tonnes (Mar 6.426Mt)
    Durban                        5.179 Mt (Mar 5.168)
    Saldanha Bay               5.750 Mt (Mar 4.398)
    Cape Town                  1.198 Mt (Mar 1.170)
    Port Elizabeth               0.586 Mt (Mar 0.419)
    Mossel Bay                   0.99 Mt (Mar 0.108)
    East London                 0.193 Mt (Mar 0.2152)

    Total monthly cargo in April 19.300 million tonnes (Mar 17.905 Mt)

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

    Durban                     180,585 TEU (Mar 178,874)
    Cape Town                 66,431 (Mar 67,744)
    Port Elizabeth              21,021 (Mar 18,145)
    East London                 2,562 (Mar 3,068)
    Richards Bay                     67 (Mar 38)

    Total containers handled during April 270 666TEU (Mar 267,869)

    Ship Calls for April 2009

    Durban:            422 vessels 10.593m gt (Mar 412 vessels 10.466m gt)
    Cape Town:      377 vessels 4.482m gt (Mar 201 vessels 3.920m gt)
    Port Elizabeth:   101 vessels 2.556m gt (Mar 97 vessels 2.166m gt)
    Richards Bay:    157 vessels 4.748m gt (Mar 144 vessels 4.546m gt)
    Saldanha:           46 vessels 3.432m gt (Mar 31 vessels 2.192 gt)
    East London:       26 vessels 0.658m gt (Mar 24 vessels 0.581m gt)
    Mossel Bay:       175 vessels 0.187m gt (Mar 111vessels 0.191m gt)

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

    Transnet unions declare wage dispute – warns of port and rail strike

    The South Africa Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu), together with fellow transport union Utatu has declared a dispute the Transnet after wage talks broke down last week in the Transnet Bargaining Council. Satawu (Cosatu) and Utatu (Fedusa) are the two recognised trade unions within the Transnet Group.

    A statement issued by Satawu says the dispute was declared after Transnet failed to budge from its zero percent “offer” which it had tabled previously. Initially the unions demanded an increase of 20% although this has subsequently been adjusted down to 12%. According to Satawu Transnet failed to respond adequately to other demands including one for improved maternity and pregnancy rights, parity in various allowances across the various Transnet divisions, and an undertaking to agree a timetable for the implementation of a new grading and salary progression system.

    “Currently, as a result of the unilateral removal of a previous notch system, most workers in Transnet have no path for pay progression within a grade.”

    The statement from the union continues: “The unions are mindful of the decrease in volumes and therefore revenues which Transnet has suffered as a result of the economic downturn. However our members have actively participated in a wide range of cost cutting activities, including a reduction in overtime and the redeployment of staff. For many, their real incomes have already declined as a result. A wage freeze is simply unacceptable.”

    It says that Transnet is continuing with its R80bn capital investment programme but is reluctant to continue investing in its people.

    “Skilled workers in the Group are already underpaid relative to the market, resulting in a dire shortage of electricians, traction linesmen, engineering technicians, millwrights, diesel fitters and diesel electrical fitters. What is additionally irking our members is the fact that at the end of the 2007/08 financial year, bonuses totalling R41.6 million were paid to executive managers. There are also strong rumours of retention bonuses (a la the SAA scandal) having recently been paid to some managers. The management negotiators in the wage talks were not willing to confirm or deny this rumour.”

    According to the union a conciliator will now be appointed in an attempt to settle the dispute. If it is not settled, warns Satawu, there is every possibility of strike action by Transnet’s 55,000 rail, engineering, port and pipeline employees.

    Zuma announces new cabinet posts

    South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma in his first day in office has made a number of significant changes to his cabinet following his appointment as the country’s fourth president on Saturday (9 May). Of the posts that interest ports and transport in particular, his new transport minister is to be Joel Ndebele, with Jeremy Cronin as deputy minister.

    The new public enterprises minister is Barbara Hogan, former health minister. As her deputy minister Enoch Godongwana has been appointed.

    The new minister of water and environmental affairs is Buyelwa Sonjica with Rejoice Mabhudafhasi becoming deputy minister.

    Piracy update

    Somali pirates have remained active with the Dutch general cargo vessel MARATHON (1655-gt, built 1976) reported as captured by pirates in the Gulf of Aden late last week. The ship has a crew of eight Ukrainian seafarers.

    Reports have also been received that the US Navy logistical support vessel LEWIS & CLARK (43,758-gt, built 2006) came under threat by pirates in an open skiff that pursued the vessel also in the Gulf of Aden. The navy auxiliary managed to evade its pursuers after making use of a sonic sound device aimed at the pirates and taking evasive action. Lewis & Clark is owned by the US Navy Military Sealift Command.

    Meanwhile a security alert has gone out advising that warships have been moved to the waters around the Seychelles following a series of attacks on ships close to the islands.

    The Seychelles lie considerably south and east of Somalia which had previously been regarded as a safe region free of piracy. Following these attacks it is now clear however that Somali pirates are operating from mother ships close to the islands and all shipping in the area is warned accordingly.

    This latest development also indicates that even for vessels making use of the Cape of Good Hope route while en route to or from India or the Persian Gulf or Oman ports are at risk, as their normal course would take them close to the Seychelles. Contrary to some reports there is no evidence of pirates having established bases among the Seychelles islands.

    French warship La Grandiere in Durban

    The French Navy Ship FNS LA GRANDIERE (L9034) commanded by Lieutenant Commander Stephan Quetard arrived in Durban on Friday, 8 May 2009 and is berthed at Naval Station Durban on Salisbury Island.

    The French are in the port to help celebrate Reunion Week, which is a cultural and economic cooperation pact between La Reunion and the City of Durban.

    FNS La Grandiere is a light transport ship of the French Navy and is based in Port-des-Galets, La Reunion. The ship displaces 1,386 tons fully loaded, is 80m long and is powered by two diesel engines giving her a speed of around 16 knots. She carries a crew of 44 but can also accommodate up to 138 fully equipped troops along with 12 vehicles and equipment and supplies for a landing type operation, along with a helicopter. Her armament consists of anti-aircraft guns, mortars and machine guns.

    The ship was built in 1985 and commissioned two years later and is one of four similar vessels in the French Navy, although the West African country of Gabon also has a similar ship in its navy, obtained from France.

    Most of La Grandiere’s operational duties take place in the Southern Indian Ocean Zone, except for a short deployment to Toulon in France from December 1994 to July 1996.

    These operational duties have taken her frequently on French military and scientific supply missions to the islands of Eparses and Mayotte.

    She also participates in sea-based rescue operations and the surveillance of fishing vessels. She has also taken part in humanitarian operations like those undertaken in Mozambique in January 1990 and in Madagascar after Cyclone Hudah passed through the island in April 2000.

    The ship was open to visitors during the weekend.

    Pic of the day – SAFMARINE SOYO

    The general cargo and container ship SAFMARINE SOYO (10,748-gt, built 1985) in Durban harbour recently. One of the former East German-built Neptun 421 class of ships, Safmarine Soyo is currently deployed along with sister vessel SAFMARINE LISBON on the company’s Durban – Cape Town – Walvis Bay - Angola service. Picture by Trevor Jones

    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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