Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jun 18, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – AURORA OPAL

  • Namport reveals details of the new Walvis Bay container terminal

  • Mozambique signs EU’s Economic Partnership Agreement but SA stands firm

  • Piracy update – Australia increases its response

  • Kenya’s Ndua is new IAPH President

  • Australian port set to challenge Richards Bay’s claim to fame

  • Pic of the day – REEFERS IN DURBAN


    First View – AURORA OPAL

    The bulk carrier AURORA OPAL (19,340-gt, built 1984) taking bunkers at Durban’s Island View 1 in January 2003. Today after having gone through several name changes the ship sails undr the name of XING AN DA for Chinese owners although flying the Panamanian flag of registry. Picture by Terry Hutson

    Namport reveals details of the new Walvis Bay container terminal

    Further details of the proposed new Walvis Bay container terminal, to be built in shallow water opposite the present harbour, has been revealed. See our earlier report of 9 June HERE

    At a scoping feedback meeting held in Walvis Bay further details of the terminal were discussed. According to Namport the present container terminal is limited to handling container ships up to 3,500-TEU capacity and has only two container berths with a depth alongside of 12.8 metres and faces capacity problems by 2011.

    The proposal calls for the construction of a man-made island 2,400m x 500m northwest of berths 1-8 directly opposite the present port, using dredgers to reclaim sand from the harbour that can then be used as infill for the terminal. The terminal would be able to handle ships up to 8,000-TEU in size, says Namport’s Background Document and the expansion would take place in three phases.

    Phase 1 would provide a terminal of 20 hectares with a 350m quay length and container throughput of 250,000-TEUs a year. Phase 2 provides another 20ha and a further 350m of quay length, increasing the throughput to 500,000-TEU while Phase 3 would add 80ha of terminal area and an additional 1,600m of quay length with a throughput of 1 million TEU annually.

    It was also stated that the man-made island would act as a barrier against the incoming tide and rough weather which would be of added benefit to the nearby yacht club and small craft section.

    The area chosen for the container terminal island is presently under shallow water ranging between 1 to 1.5 metres deep. Access to the terminal would be via a causeway built just north of the yacht club, with the causeway carrying road and rail to the terminal.

    Namport believes that a larger container terminal able to handle bigger ships will make the difference in attracting more shipping lines directly to the Namibian port, instead of mostly feedering type services as at present. The increase in traffic from this trade will also generate more cargo for Namibia’s neighbouring countries, thereby benefiting the road and proposed rail corridors.

    Walvis Bay would also benefit financially and from an employment angle.

    Namport says that increasing its capacity the port’s container terminal can play an important role in facilitating trade in Sub-Saharan Africa.

    In other news from Walvis Bay the port has received its fifth mobile crane to assist with port expansion. The R40 million machine was received from Liebherr and comes equipped with a Litronic computerised operating system and self levelling undercarriage.

    Mozambique signs EU’s Economic Partnership Agreement but SA stands firm

    In a development that spells interesting times ahead for the South African Customs Union – the world’s oldest customs union – Mozambique this week signed an interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU) which enables Mozambique products to enter the European market free of duties and quotas.

    In so doing Mozambique became the fourth Southern African Development Community country to sign the interim agreement, following in the footsteps of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. South Africa and Namibia have so far declined to sign and there have been warnings that SACU will be unable to continue with such fundamental economic differences between the member states.

    Referring to the countries that have already signed the EPA, European Commissioner for Trade Catherine Ashton said the signatures (on the agreement) are an important step. “In the first place because it guarantees access to the European market for the countries who have signed the agreement so far. More important than this, it is a vote of confidence in the process we have launched to build a strong and lasting economic relationship.”

    South Africa’s Minister for Trade and Industry, Rob Davies said on Monday that the signatures on the EPA by Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland should not be allowed to undermine the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and added that South Africa was not threatening to “pull it apart”.

    “South Africa doesn’t want the EPA to create a climate where the SACU is undermined. In fact South Africa is in favour of even deeper integration in SACU. We don’t want to see it as only a form of convenience for transfers of revenue.”

    At last week’s World Economic Forum on Africa, held in Cape Town Davies repeated that South Africa was not prepared to sign the EPA, despite appeals from economic experts calling for a regional approach to the global economic downturn.

    Davies said that strict trade policies, regulation and exports to developed countries were the best mechanisms to provide protection for the national economy.

    “We will resort to regulation and tariffs. The rules-based trading system gives us policy space and it would be naïve to imagine countries won’t use this policy space,” he said at the Forum.

    According to Davies developed countries have the finance and resources to deal with the economic crisis, whereas developing countries have to rely on non-financial instruments such as tariffs.

    South Africa did not receive much support on this topic at the Forum, with several African countries being outspoken about South Africa’s regulatory policies and control measures.

    “There is too much protectionism, even against its African neighbours”, said Chris Kirubi, head of a leading Kenyan consumer goods company, Haco Industries.

    The need for African countries to create strong regional markets was emphasised by several speakers, along with opening borders to each other before talking to developed countries.

    Now read Africa calls for regional approach to economic crisis HERE

    Piracy update – Australia increases its response

    Australia is increasing its commitment to international efforts of combating piracy off the Somali coast and will provide A$500,000 and skills and expertise to assist Kenyan authorities in dealing with pirates handed over to them for prosecution.

    Australia has already provided an Anzac-class frigate and an Orion AP-3C reconnaissance aircraft to assist other international navies on patrol and convoy duty in The Gulf of Aden and adjacent areas. Australia will also provide a specialist – an officer from the Office of the Inspector of Transport Security and the Australian Federal Police to work with the Joint European Commission/United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Counter Piracy Program in the Nairobi Office in Kenya on dealing with piracy in the region.

    “The international community, and particularly the UNODC, recognises that if an effective deterrent is to be created in the prosecution of suspected pirates, there needs to be a capacity for the legal processing to occur within the North East African Region,” said Anthony Albanese, Australia’s Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government.

    “This is one of a range of measures undertaken by the Australian Government to combat the growing international problem of piracy.”

    Albanese said the threat of piracy needed to be taken seriously, especially by countries such as Australia, which relies almost exclusively on international shipping for our exports and imports.

    “Piracy is an issue that impacts on the entire international community, as the attack on the Italian cruise ship MSC Melody in April demonstrated. With over 1500 passengers and crew, including 74 Australians, the Melody was attacked by pirates in a speedboat at least 600 miles from the Somali coast- a practical demonstration that this issue is a global one that affects every country.

    “With 99 percent of our exports by volume being transported by sea, a safe and secure maritime industry is paramount - to our economy, to our maritime industry, and to the safety of many Australians who travel through international waters each year.”

    Note South Africa remains silent on any intention of assisting international efforts of bringing rampant piracy off the African coast under control.

    In other pirate-related news Somali sources are suggesting that the Indian seafarers on board the dhow VISHVAKALYAN which was captured and later released by Somali pirates, may have been carrying contraband goods. See yesterday’s News Bulletin HERE

    The 14-man crew told the Portuguese Navy when it came to their assistance that they had been held captive for ten days and roughed up before being released. But according to local reports exports of charcoal from Somalia to Sharjah in the UAE have been banned for many years. The cargo was reportedly loaded at Brava, south of Mogadishu, whereas locals say that foreign vessels may only call at the ports of Mogadishu, Bosaaso and Berbera.

    In an unrelated matter, a fleet of barges on the Sobat River, a tributary of the White Nile in South Sudan came under attack by armed men, last Friday, in an incident that has been described by the UN as having delivered a “major blow” to the work of the World Food Programme (WFP) of the United Nations. The 27 barges were carrying UN food aid to displaced persons in South Sudan when armed gunmen attacked. The food aid was meant for 19,000 displaced people in Akobo County. The barges had a total of 735 tonnes of sorghum and other food aid on board and was intended for refugees who had fled ethnic violence in South Sudan. Sixteen of the barges were able to return to Nasir but without the food they were carrying. The Sobat River is said to be the only effective way to deliver food aid into the region as the type of aircraft available can only carry 5 tons of food at a time.

    Kenya’s Ndua is new IAPH President

    Kenya Ports Authority Corporate Services Manager Gichiri Ndua has been elected the new President of the International Association of Ports & Harbours (IAPH).

    Ndua was elected the 28th president of the association at the closing of the annual IAPH Conference which was held in Genoa, Italy.

    He succeeds Madame OC Phang, former General Manager, Port Klang Authority.

    The bi-annual conference was attended by more than 700 delegates from 70 countries.

    At the closing of the conference a resolution was adopted on ‘Ports Preparing for Economic Recovery’ with the added comment that ports that have been severely affected by the economic downturn should remain positive about the future and to move ahead with necessary investments to improve productivity and to expand capacity. The resolution stated that ports are indispensable and vital to local, regional and national economies.

    The IPAH said that otherwise ports would not be able to cope with the demand once the world economy starts to grow again. “The world economy today depends so much on a smooth, efficient and seamless network of logistics, of which ports are an indispensable part.”

    Australian port set to challenge Richards Bay’s claim to fame

    Those who continue to think that Richards Bay has the world’s largest coal terminal should take note.

    Reports from Australia indicate that almost a billion dollars is being spent to further develop the world’s largest coal export port, Newcastle, in New South Wales.

    The new terminal, which is owned by a consortium of six coal producers, is being built at a cost of A$900 million and when completed will have a capacity to export 66 million tonnes of coal (about what RBCT exports each year), but will be just one of several coal terminals at the port. In the 2007/08 financial year ending the Port of Newcastle exported 88.8 million tonnes of coal.

    Pics of the day – REEFERS IN DURBAN

    Two scenes of company ships in port together, all at the Durban Fresh Produce Terminal on the T-Jetty. In the top picture, taken last Friday 12 June are NYK Cool reefers AUTUMN WAVE (13,077-gt, built 1993) at P berth, IVORY DAWN (10,412)gt, built 1991) at O-P berth (centre) and GLORIOUS HARVEST (8,519-gt, built 1989) on O berth. The two latter ships are loading citrus for Japan while Autumn Wave is loading citrus for Europe. Picture by Neville de Klerk of FPT.

    On another occasion in 2005, it was three Seatrade reefers that made the line-up. Their names weren’t recorded unfortunately. Picture FPT

    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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