Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jun 9, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • Concern over SA Custom Union fall-out

  • Namport plans to expand Walvis Bay container terminal

  • Piracy update – Nigerian tug released

  • Kenya’s new Merchant Shipping Act aims at breaking port cartels

  • Sierra Leone opts to privatise its ports

  • Pic of the day – MSC LINZIE



    Work is progressing more or less to schedule with the widening and deepening of the entrance channel leading into Durban Bay, with the focus now on the deepening aspect and completion and reinforcing of the breakwaters. In this picture the shortened north breakwater is on the right – at left beyond the south breakwater can be seen one of the dredgers working at the Bluff sand trap. The multi-billion rand project is due for completion early next year. Picture by Steve McCurrach

    Concern over SA Custom Union fall-out

    Strong concern has been expressed over the future of the Southern African Customs Union which analysts believe is at risk over disputed trade agreements with the European Union.

    At stake is more than just membership of the world’s oldest customs union. What matters more is the after-effects of a split that that will be felt mostly by member countries Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland over South Africa and Namibia’s refusal to sign the EU interim economic partnership (EPA).

    A less than veiled warning came last week from Rob Davies, South Africa’s trade and industry minister, who said that South Africa would have to tighten its border controls with those countries if they broke ranks with South Africa and Namibia over the EPA.

    Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland have indicated they will sign the interim document, whereas South Africa and Namibia have refused, calling the EPA “seriously flawed” and warning that it that will set back efforts to boost economic cooperation in southern Africa for “many years”.

    Analysts described Davies’ warning as a possible forerunner to pulling out of SACU and point out that the three countries who have agreed to sign with the EU have the most to lose if forced out of the SACU, with massive economic repercussions on each country’s state revenue base and GDP. Such a development would also result in large scale job losses, they warn.

    They point out that South Africa is legally entitled to disband the customs union in terms of the agreement of 2002 which among other stipulations prohibits members from signing new trade deals without each other’s consent.

    Namport plans to expand Walvis Bay container terminal

    Namport, the port authority that administers the port of Walvis Bay, is considering a new container terminal for the port as part of the port’s expansion programme, according to The Namibian.

    An independent study came to the conclusion that the most efficient method would be to construct a new terminal on reclaimed land inside the port limits. Namport apparently agrees and is proposing a new terminal opposite the existing port berths on reclaimed land, which will be connected by a causeway at the southern end of the port close to the Walvis Bay Yacht Club.

    In this event the terminal will have an expanse of 1.2 million m² with longer and deeper berths than it currently has to accommodate larger container ships. Namport would be able to use the sand dredged from this new basin for reclaiming the land on which the terminal would be built.

    An environmental impact assessment study has been launched with an inaugural public meeting in Walvis Bay set for 11 June 2009.

    According to The Namibian the government intends buying a ferry to operate goods and passenger services across the Zambezi River between Katima Mulilo and Impalila Island in the Caprivi, North East Namibia. The report said the ferry should be capable of carrying up to 80 passengers and 3.5 tonnes of cargo.

    Piracy update – Nigerian tug released

    Somali pirates released the Nigerian tug YENEGOA OCEAN which has been held in captivity since August 2008. The tug and crew were reported underway from the Somali coast under escort by a Dutch navy frigate, HMNS DE ZEVEN PROVINCIEN. At the time of its capture the tug was returning to Nigeria from Singapore where it had undergone maintenance and repairs.

    Kenya has meanwhile invited specialists to assist in drafting regulations that can be used to deal effectively with piracy. The request for assistance follows the signing into law of the Merchant Shipping Bill by Kenyan President Kibaki.

    The new law defines penalties to be imposed on piracy for the first time and closes any loopholes in Kenyan legislation relating to its jurisdiction in allowing international sea crimes to be brought to justice in a Kenyan court.

    “There has been a vacuum in the laws of most countries in the world in regard to piracy,” said Kenya’s Maritime Authority Director-General, Ms Nancy Karigithu. She said this was why so many countries were reluctant to hold on to suspected pirates for trial.

    Up to now 74 captured pirates have been handed over to Kenyan authorities for trial and prosecution. Ten are currently serving seven-year jail sentences in a Kenyan prison – an appeal by the ten was recently rejected by the court.

    In a related matter Russia says it is seeking closer co-operation with UN and NATO ships engaged in counter-piracy activities off Somalia. Since last year Russia has been deploying warships in the region and a system of co-operation has evolved but according to Russia’s envoy to NATO it would like to formalise these activities more closely.

    Kenya’s new Merchant Shipping Act aims at breaking port ‘cartels’

    Unfair monopolies that have helped raise the cost of transportation will soon be a thing of the past in Mombasa, says Kenya Shippers’ Council CEO. And according to the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) local transportation costs average between 20 and 24 percent of cost, insurance and freight, compared with just 4 percent of total cost for ocean freight elsewhere in the world.

    “This cost can directly be attributed to the unfair monopolies that currently characterise the sector,” the KMA says in its report.

    “Traders have over time raised serious concerns of being left at the mercy of cartels of the international maritime transport service operators who even dictate what container freight station will receive cargo and in this way frustrate local operators,” the KMA report states.

    Shippers’ Council CEO Gilbert Langat said the new Merchant Shipping Act of 2009 highlighted shipping lines that invest in cargo handling logistics that lead to an increase in freight costs. The new law will limit the amount of operations undertaken by ocean carriers (shipping lines).

    He described the new law as giving hope to a sector that has become a theatre of extortion for Kenyan and regional importers using the Port of Mombasa. Langat says the shipping lines have an advantage over other local operators when they also take responsibility for the landside transportation and logistics.

    “They have first hand information on the cargo and can employ unorthodox practices that lock out competition,” he accused. He said that if properly regulated, shipping lines can be helpful since they have resources that local investors may lack.

    Section 15(a) of the Act sates that “no owner of a ship or person providing the services of a shipping line shall either directly or indirectly, provide in the maritime industry services of crewing agencies, clearing and forwarding agents, port facility operators, shipping agents, terminal operators, container freight stations, quay side service providers, general ship contractors, haulage, ship breakers, ship chandlers, cargo consolidators, ship repairers, maritime training or such other services as the minister may appoint.” source East African

    Sierra Leone opts to privatise its ports

    A survey instigated by the National Commission for Privatisation has concluded that the Sierra Leone Ports Authority (SLPA), which operates and manages the country’s ports, should be made available for privatization as soon as possible, reports the Concord Times.

    An initial meeting between the Commission and the SLPA has been held to break the news and to “sensitize key players about the privatisation of the organisation”.

    Journalists who asked to attend the meeting were ushered out with the explanation that it as an in-house discussion between the board and management and that a press release would be issued later.

    “We are only having the meeting to sensitize the institution about the privatisation process,” a board member said.

    Pic of the day – MSC LINZIE

    The 294m long Panamanian-registered container ship MSC LINZIE (54,881-gt, built 2003) is a recent caller at South African ports. Here the ship is seen in unmistakable Cape Town. Along with her sister ships MSC ELENI, MSC EMMA and MSC NERISSA, MSC Linzie has a nominal capacity for 5,060 TEUs. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    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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