Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jul 7, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • Transnet approves plans to enlarge Ngqura harbour

  • Global financial crisis to be hot topic at G8 Summit

  • Rail news – Namibia’s Chinese locos a costly disappointment – Tazara to boost capacity

  • Cunard starts work on a new Queen Elizabeth

  • African leaders agree on transformation of the AU

  • Pic of the day – QUEEN VICTORIA



    Bulgarian registered ships are not that common although not totally unusual in southern African waters. The bulker DIMITROVSKY KOMMSOMOL (23,444-gt,built 1984) was in Cape Town recently. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    Transnet approves plans to enlarge Ngqura harbour

    Ngqura from the air

    Is it Transnet putting the proverbial (in this case a political) cart before the horse, or does it possess great foresight? Only time will tell, but according to a report in the EP Herald, Transnet has already granted approval for the as yet unopened port of Ngqura to be greatly enlarged by up to five times her initial capacity.

    In the process the company has presumably opted against further large expansion for Durban or any future development of Richards Bay as a container port.

    The port of Ngqura, which has so far cost R9.8 billion to build, is due to open this October when the container terminal enters into service. With two berths and an initial capacity of around 700,000-TEU, the port is being presented as catering for container transhipment cargo and for relieving periodic congestion at Durban and Cape Town. According to Transnet’s own estimates, in its initial six months to the end of the current financial year the terminal will probably handle about 50,000-TEU.

    However, according to Transnet Port Terminal’s Chief Operating Officer, Solly Letsoalo, approval has been given for the port terminal to be expanded by up to five times its opening capacity, and the number of container berths increased from two in phase 1 to four in phase 2 (already underway) and ultimately to 20 container berths. This expansion will take place on the western side of the port beyond the existing container berths – moving in the direction of Port Elizabeth some 20km away and will be achieved in five-year stages.

    According to Letsoalo, a specialist consultant’s report has recommended that Ngqura becomes Southern Africa’s international hub port, ahead of Durban, Cape Town or Richards Bay. Letsoalo told a media and business gathering at Coega last week that the Transnet Board and its executive committee had agreed that Ngqura should be that hub port.

    “In becoming that, it would be the biggest port in South Africa and handle the most containers in the most efficient and cost-effective manner,” he is reported as saying.

    More than ten years after the announcement of a new port for the Eastern Cape and the establishment of an adjacent Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ), and following an expenditure which is now well in excess of R10 billion, the only substantial enterprise to be attracted so far into the IDZ and port region is the proposed PetroSA refinery – a development of yet another state-owned company. All efforts to attract what was referred to over a number of years as an ‘anchor tenant’ have proved unsuccessful and the Coega IDZ development, complete with office complexes and housing stands largely unoccupied and empty – most of the buildings in use are for contactors working on the port and IDZ construction.

    Transnet has yet to disclose the cost of redeveloping the railway network from Ngqura to the Gauteng region which would cater for the hub traffic that it now says will migrate to the new port. The existing railway was not designed to cope with any dramatic increase in traffic and the cost of increasing the line’s capacity will run into many billions of rand. The port alone has already cost the country R9.8bn and that’s before a single container has moved across its quayside. For the port of Ngqura and the Coega IDZ lies the unwelcome likelihood of becoming South Africa’s most costly piece of social engineering yet.

    Global financial crisis to be hot topic at G8 Summit

    Pretoria, 6 July 2009 - South Africa is expected to ensure the impact of the global financial crisis on Africa is discussed during the G8 Summit this week.

    The "Group of 8" world leaders are currently gathering in L'Aquila, Abruzzo, Italy, ahead of the meeting which kicks off on Wednesday.

    President Jacob Zuma will be attending the event, along with International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

    Departmental spokesperson Nomfanelo Kota said that during the three-day meeting leaders would hold a special Africa Outreach session with the G8, which will be attended by the African Union New Partnership for Africa Development (Nepad) 5+3.

    This consists of the five countries who initiated Nepad, including Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa and Libya (as Chair of the African Union), Ethiopia (as Chair of the Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee), and the AU Commission.

    Angola, as the eighth nation, was also invited by host Italy to attend the session, said Ms Kota.

    The G8-Africa Outreach, established in Kananaskis, Canada in 2002, was aimed at promoting the African Agenda.

    Ms Kota said they would discuss the response to the impact of the global financial and economic crisis on Africa as well as the fight against climate change leading to the Copenhagen Conference.

    The meeting will also ensure the implementation of all previous commitments agreed to by the G8, promoting the development agenda as well as strengthening peace and security in Africa with a specific focus on piracy and strengthening of North-South relations.

    Rail news – Namibia’s Chinese locos a costly disappointment – Tazara to boost capacity

    Four diesel-electric locomotives imported into Namibia from China have proved costly and ineffective due to breakdowns, Namibia’s parliament has been told.

    The four locomotives arrived in Walvis Bay in 2004 and during the ensuing five years were available for use for a total only of 33 months, giving an availability of approximately 40% after having experienced 265 failures in the period between October 2004 and June 2009. Parliament was told that TransNamib, the country’s rail operator had paid about N$36 million for the locos (R36m).

    In 2007 TransNamib had been forced to stop using the locos owing to their poor performance and lack of safety with respect to braking systems.

    “The decision to buy them was economically justified, but due to a lack of a proper technical analysis of the Chinese manufacturer's design and a lack of quality control, these locomotives were not suitable for the Namibian environment in which they had to operate,” Works and Transport Minister Helmut Angula reported. - source The Namibian

    Further north, the Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority, better known as TAZARA, has set out to boost its revenue by increasing the amount of freight it carries to and from the DRC, Rwanda, Burundi and Zambia.
    The Citizen (Dar es Salaam) reports that Tazara’s Deputy Managing Director, Damas Ndumbaro disclosed that the railway hopes to capture a greater percentage of cargo landing at the port of Dar es Salaam for those countries.

    He disclosed that when Tazara began on 1 July 1976 it had a fleet of 100 locomotives, but these had been reduced to just 22 in service. “We intend boosting our capacity by repairing the defective locomotives,” he told a press conference held to commemorate 33 years of the railway.

    This required refurbishing six locomotives at a rate of one a year. Just seven percent of all traffic into the interior is presently carried by rail, the balance of 93% going by road transport.

    The deputy MD announced plans to have a special passenger train operating by next year to carry fans to World Soccer Cup matches in South Africa via Zambia and Zimbabwe.

    Cunard starts work on a new Queen Elizabeth

    Work has begun in an Italian shipyard on constructing Cunard’s third new building in seven years, the 90,400-gt passenger ship QUEEN ELIZABETH.

    The new ship, which is due to enter service in October 2010 will join Cunard’s other modern passenger vessels, the 150,000-gt QUEEN MARY 2 and the 90,000-gt QUEEN VICTORIA. Queen Elizabeth will be similar in design to Queen Victoria which entered service in late 2007, but will have her own distinctive décor and finishes.

    At the so-called keel laying ceremony held alongside the Manfalcone dry dock of shipbuilder Fincantieri in Trieste, six pre-manufactured block sections were placed in position, marking the start of her construction. A total of 53 sections will be used in completing the ship’s hull and superstructure before the vessel is floated out in December this year for installation of her accommodation, public areas and other fittings and equipment.

    “We are delighted to be back here among our friends at Fincantieri so soon after we took delivery of Queen Victoria in 2007 - the first Cunarder to be built in Italy - and I am sure that Queen Elizabeth will be just as popular and successful as her two sister ships,” said Carol Marlow, president of Cunard Line.

    Queen Elizabeth will feature the unique Cunard traditions linking her with her sisters Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria and their predecessors, together with all the modern luxuries Cunard's guests have come to expect and some exciting features that will give the vessel her own style and personality.

    Named after the first Queen Elizabeth, one of Cunard's most famous ships, the new Queen Elizabeth will reflect her predecessor in interior grandeur, décor and style, but with a modern twist. From the outside, her distinctive black and red livery will hint at an experience that differentiates a Cunard liner from a modern-day cruise ship. This will be most evident in the ship's adherence to liner traditions, with elegant double and triple height public rooms on a grand scale, luxuriously endowed with rich wood panelling, intricate mosaics, gleaming chandeliers and cool marbles. Art Deco features will pay homage to the original Queen Elizabeth and will allow the new ship to reflect a more civilized era of travel.

    In addition to the extensive Cunard entertainment programme on board, Queen Elizabeth will offer some unique strands inspired by the era of the first Queen Elizabeth, such as country house parties at sea, evening piano sing-a-longs and period dancing, from traditional ballroom to the jitterbug and the jive, all within the setting of this 21st century ship.

    As successor to Queen Elizabeth 2, the ship will also reflect this great liner through artworks and memorabilia and its very own "Yacht Club." Her links with former Cunard ships will also be acknowledged by way of photography, memorabilia and exhibits.

    The ship’s first cruise was sold out within 30 minutes of bookings being opened. Subsequent fares for the remaining ‘maiden cruise season’ range from £1195 per person for the five-night Gallic Debut cruise sailing from Southampton and calling at Amsterdam, Zeebrugge and Le Havre, to £2395 per person for a 13-night voyage from Southampton to Madeira, with calls made at Vigo (for Santiago de Compostela), Lisbon, Seville (for Cadiz), Gran Canaria (Las Palmas), Tenerife, La Palma and Madeira (Funchal).

    On 5 January 2011 Queen Elizabeth will depart on what QE2 was especially famous for, the World Cruise. The new ship will call at 38 ports in 24 countries (unfortunately not in South Africa) as she sails westwards around the globe. En route to New York from Southampton Queen Elizabeth will sail in tandem with Queen Victoria where all three ‘Queens’ are due to meet for a Cunard Royal Rendezvous in New York harbour on 13 January.

    Later during her World Cruise Queen Elizabeth will meet again with Queen Mary 2 in Sydney and again in Civitavecchia (the Rome port) and with Queen Victoria at Aruba.

    To go on the entire World Cruise will set you back from £19 995 but shorter segments are available from £2545 per person, double occupancy. Details should be available from your local travel agency.

    see PIC OF THE DAY below...

    African leaders agree on transformation of the AU

    by Bathandwa Mbola (BuaNews)

    Sirte (Libya) - The establishment of an African Union Authority is a step closer towards the dream of the African union government, says Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping.

    Continental leaders agreed to create the authority during the 13th African Union (AU) Summit in Libya, Sirte, last week.

    It is said to be the starting point for the establishment of the United States of Africa, where countries will have a single African military force, a single currency and a single passport for Africans to move freely around the continent.

    “It is impossible to ignore 53 countries with almost one billion inhabitants speaking in one voice,” said Mr Ping, adding that the AU was a clear manifestation of the continent's collective demand for standing together and addressing problems in concert.

    Plans for an African government got centre stage at the 12th summit of African Heads of State and Government held in Addis Ababa in February.

    Countries raised their reservations over its establishment as they felt they did not want to lose their own sovereignty.

    However, Mr Ping said that the authority was expected to protect the sovereignty of states rather than reduce their independence.

    He said the authority would ensure that peace and security was maintained in the member states.

    “Regional peace and security is also an essential foundation for the authority. It will coordinate, harmonise and provide guidance in the continent's economic and social development and physical integration.”

    Regarding the size of the authority, Mr Ping said it would have its own president, vice-president, chairperson and their deputies.

    There will be eight commissioners employed to cover various jurisdictions such as poverty reduction, free movement of goods and services, interregional commerce, climate change, soil erosion, epidemics and pandemics, research and universities, transnational crime and foreign affairs that will involve developing common positions on international matters.

    African observers welcomed the decision, saying it would strengthen Africa's unity and continental integration. A new authority is being seen as a positive step towards forging a bigger say in the international arena.

    However, they warned that the transformation process would need to take time before tangible actions are taken. “The road ahead for the formation of the new authority will not be smooth and there will be more and higher hurdles waiting for the pan-African body,” said an observer.

    Also speaking at the close of the summit, South African President Jacob Zuma said the summit had realised a progressive step for building a new Africa.

    Pic of the day – QUEEN VICTORIA

    The second Cunard passenger ship to be built in recent years, QUEEN VICTORIA entered service in December 2007 and has since confounded more than a few purists and other critics as a ship eminently comfortable and luxurious to sail in. Next year she is to be joined by a near sister ship, QUEEN ELIZABETH (see story above), providing Cunard with three modern large passenger ships. In this scene Queen Victoria was seen at the New Zealand South Island port of Lyttelton. Picture by Alan Calvert

    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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