Ports & Ships Maritime News

Aug 13, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – IRIS

  • Government nominates Prof Everingham as acting chairman of Transnet

  • Call to prioritise freight logistics and corridor development as a pillar for economic development

  • US destroyer USS ARLEIGH BURKE concludes Africa Partnership Station mission

  • Malawi-Mozambique transport canal a step closer

  • Piracy report – Maltese-flag ship disappears en route to North Africa

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Pics of the day – ELBRUS


    First View – IRIS

    Two views of the general cargo ship IRIS (10,225-gt, built 1980) in Durban harbour at the recent weekend. Pictures by Trevor Jones

    Government nominates Prof Everingham as acting chairman of Transnet

    The Minister of Public Enterprises, Ms Barbara Hogan, has nominated Prof Geoff Everingham to be the acting non-executive chairman of Transnet Limited. The appointment, which follows the retirement of Mr Fred Phaswana, becomes effective once all the necessary governance processes have been complied with.

    The nomination was unanimously endorsed at the Company’s Annual General Meeting which took place this week.

    Prof Everingham, an experienced and widely respected chartered accountant, is an Emeritus Professor of Accounting at the University of Cape Town. He has been a non-executive and independent member of the Transnet Board since August 2004. In addition, he is the chairman of the Company’s Audit Committee and serves on numerous committees of the Board.

    The entire Board of Directors, save for three non-executive and independent members, were reappointed for another term. A while back, the three had respectfully indicated to Transnet’s only shareholder, the Government of the Republic of South Africa, that they would not be available for continued service to the Board after their terms expired at the AGM. They are Mr Phaswana, independent and non-executive director Dr Iraj Abedian, and independent and non-executive director Mr Bulelani Ngcuka, who has, however, agreed to remain the Chairman of the Transnet Foundation’s Advisory Board.

    The three have been members of this Board since August 2004.

    “On behalf of the rest of the Board, I wish to thank our shareholder for the support throughout the life of this Board. We trust that the continuing members will enjoy the same. And, we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to all of Transnet’s various stakeholders, especially the employees, their representatives, financiers and investors, customers and clients, regulators and members of the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises,” said Mr Phaswana.

    The Minister congratulated the Board for the considerable progress made in steering the Company through the turnaround in the last few years which has significantly strengthened the financial position of the business and is evident in recent improvements in quality service delivery.

    Looking ahead, she called on Transnet to step up efforts to improve operational efficiencies and productivity, especially in rail and port operations, to world-class benchmark standards and in keeping with the mandate for Transnet to contribute to lowering the costs of freight logistics.

    “In the ports and pipeline businesses, volumes have increased and vessel waiting times have declined. Of concern (though) is the reduction in the volume of rail business and a reduced overall share of the growing freight logistics market,” she said.

    The New Transnet Board of Directors consists of: Prof GK Everingham (Acting Chairman); Mr CF Wells (Acting Group Chief Executive); Ms NBP Gcaba; Mr MJ Hankinson; Dr ND Haste OBE; Mr PG Joubert; Ms NNA Matyumza; Mr MP Moyo; Ms NR Ntshingila; MS KC Ramon; Mr A Singh (Acting Chief Financial Officer).

    Call to prioritise freight logistics and corridor development as a pillar for economic development

    The scarcity of skills, the inadequacy of technology and a lack of infrastructure development in Africa are stunting its economic growth and capacity to take advantage of opportunities in the rest of the world, says Mr Sibusiso Ndebele, South African Minister of Transport.

    Ndebele was delivering the keynote address at the 5th annual general meeting of the Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative (MCLI) which was held in Maputo last week.

    “Economic development cannot be achieved without improved and increased infrastructure in our countries and within our borders.”

    He said the development of freight logistics and economic corridors has the potential to add value to trade and development and facilitates the movement of goods and people throughout the region.

    “Freight Logistics supports economic growth by channelling goods and services into key areas of the economy such as telecommunications, transportation, rail and road, manufacturing, automotive, energy and power sectors. It is clear that we must prioritise freight logistics and corridor development as a pillar for economic development.”

    The minister pointed out that the port of Maputo is only 590km by road from Gauteng and 581km by rail. “This presents the shortest route to a port for South African exporters from Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and surrounding areas. Cargo through the Lebombo border post has grown significantly from almost zero in 2002 to above 3.5 million tons per annum over the years. Transnet Freight Rail moves 3.5 million tons of cargo per annum, mostly being coal and magnetite exports.”

    He said the rail sector in the corridor has capacity to handle 7 million tons depending on the economic up-turn; however, the long-term aim is to increase its capacity to 15 million tons. “Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) works closely with CFM, the Mozambican rail operator, on operations and marketing, and Grindrod, the South African head-quartered operator of the Maputo Port Terminal. TFR rolling stock runs through to the Port of Maputo, with the change of drivers at Komatipoort. These trains return largely empty, due to insufficient cargo imports from Mozambique to South Africa.”

    Major commodities transported on the Maputo Corridor by road include fuel, sugar, timber, vehicles, paper and cement. Commodities transported by rail include coal, phosphate, ferrochrome, fuel and ore. Some of these commodities have moved from rail to road, because of certain efficiency challenges on rail.

    “We are glad that progressively Transnet Freight Rail and CFM are addressing these challenges,” Ndebele said.

    The minister added that the South African Department of Transport has committed to a joint quarterly bilateral meeting with Transnet, to raise every issue that needs immediate intervention with regards to freight logistics infrastructure and operations in South Africa and across the borders.

    “We have established Freight and Logistics Forums in all our nine provinces, to allow joint government and private participation in the streamlining and implementation of freight logistics interventions. Key to this process is the identification and implementation of projects such as the N4 Truck Stop.”

    He said that jointly with the Departments of Public Enterprises and Trade and Industry, the Department of Transport has agreed with the Shippers Council to work on a programme of action, on how to take forward the policy statement of shifting cargo from road to rail.

    “The draft programme of action will be tabled in the next few weeks for a broader consultative process. It is encouraging that the CEO of MCLI is also part of the core group from the Shippers Council who will launch this platform.

    “Ongoing bilateral engagement on the implementation of the Freight Logistics Strategy has started and we will continue our consultation with Business Unity South Africa (BUSA). We will also ensure that the leadership of the Mpumalanga provincial government plays a bigger role in directing and re-directing ownership and joint corridor vision with regards to the Maputo Development Corridor.

    “We aim to have all these fragmented government and private sector platforms integrated and streamlined to form one seamless freight logistics in the country and also lower the cost of doing business.”

    US destroyer USS ARLEIGH BURKE concludes Africa Partnership Station mission

    USS ARLEIGH BURKE in Simon's Town, South Africa - picture by Ian Shiffman

    USS ARLEIGH BURKE arrived in Tanzania's largest port and city of Dar es Salaam yesterday (Wednesday), marking the final stop of the guided-missile destroyer's Africa Partnership Station (APS) initiative in South and East Africa.

    While in port at Dar es Salaam, USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) will participate in community relations projects and office calls with local officials. The ship will also host tours for invited guests and a reception aboard the ship.

    Arleigh Burke is deployed as part of the multinational APS initiative developed by Commander, US Naval Forces Europe-Commander, US Naval Forces Africa, which aims to work cooperatively with US and international partners to enhance maritime safety and security on the African continent. Although Arleigh Burke will conclude its APS initiative in Tanzania, the ship will continue to conduct operations in the 6th Fleet area of responsibility as part of its regularly scheduled deployment along the east coast of Africa.

    Arleigh Burke, homeported in Norfolk, Va., is the second APS platform to visit South and East Africa, and recently conducted military-to-military engagements with navies in Djibouti, Kenya, Mauritius, Reunion, and Seychelles. The ship also visited South Africa for exercises at sea with the South African Navy. source US Naval Forces Africa

    Malawi-Mozambique transport canal a step closer

    An agreement is in the throes of being finalised that is hoped will lead to the construction of the Chire – Zambezi river canal, providing an economic link between Malawi and the sea coast of Mozambique.

    A three-way accord involving Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia is expected to be signed by the end of August 2009, Mozambique’s Foreign Minister Oldemiro Baloi said this week. The accord will result in an economic viability and environmental impact study being undertaken.

    Provided it gets the go-ahead the canal will link the Chinde district in Mozambique’s Zambezia province with Nsanje in Malawi over a distance of 240kms. The study is being undertaken by a Zambian consultancy.

    The development of a canal would provide Malawi with a cost-effective access to Mozambique ports, in particular the port of Beira. The canal will link with the refuribished Beira – Tete Province railway currently nearing completion.

    The Durban harbour tug UMHLALI in her new Transnet colours featuring an all red funnel. Picture by Trevor Jones

    Piracy report – Maltese-flag ship disappears en route to North Africa

    The scourge of piracy knows no bounds – the latest ship to be reported as highjacked by armed pirates, the ARCTIC SEA (3,988-gt, built 1992) appears to have been seized by pirates off the coast of Sweden in the Baltic Sea.

    Since then the Latvian-owned, Russian-crewed ship has sailed through the English Channel and down the French coast before being spotted by a patrolling Portuguese military aircraft. The ship subsequently disappeared and an international search has been organised, with reports that even the Russian Navy intends sending warships to help look for her.

    “Under the orders of President Dmitry Medvedev all Russian navy ships in the Atlantic have been sent to join the search for the Arctic Sea. These ships include [the] corvette Ladny and submarines,” said navy commander Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky, as quoted in the news agency Tass. The agency added that up to five Russian warships may take part in the operation.

    Arctic Sea is carrying a cargo of timber worth an estimated £1 million which is owned by a Finnish pulp and paper manufacturer. According to Dutch reports the ship was highjacked while off the Swedish coast by up to 10 armed men who came on board claiming they were undertaking a narcotics search. One report said they left the ship after ransacking it but others indicate they probably stayed on board, holding the crew at gunpoint while the ship continued her voyage to Algeria. The vessel was due in Bejaia in Algeria on 4 August but failed to arrive.

    If these reports are factual it will mark the first pirated ship to sail through the English Channel in modern times.

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    Chinese imports of iron ore and crude oil reached record highs in July thanks to strong domestic demand, according to China Daily. The newspaper said imports of raw materials were likely to continue expanding despite overall trade showing a decline over the same period for 2008. This would be of special benefit to resource-rich regions such as Africa, Australia and Latin America, the article concluded. During the period China has spent 13.8 billion US dollars on these two commodities, equal to 15% of its total imports.

    US oil giant Chevron says it will work with USAid and another group to support economic development in Angola. The Memorandum of Understanding for the project was witnessed in Luanda by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her recent African visit. According to the San Francisco Business Times the new MoU will focus on agricultural initiatives to increase yield and market share for small and medium scale farmers in Angola. Chevron’s oil interests in Angola include the Tombua-Landana Project which is expected to reach a production level of 100,000 barrels of crude oil a day by 2011.

    Global Patriot in Durban harbour - picture by Terry Hutson

    The former US Military Sealift Command supply ship GLOBAL PATRIOT (26,409-gt, built 1978) sailed from Durban harbour yesterday bound for Chittagong. The Ro-Ro vessel was placed under arrest in Durban earlier this year and came under judicial auction in mid July, when she was sold to a company registered in the Marshall Islands for US$2.65 million – the sale being subject to a further payment of $552,000 for 1200 tons of bunker fuel on board. It is not certain whether the ship is heading for the breakers yard or to resume trading.

    Pics of the day – ELBRUS

    The general cargo ship ELBRUS (13,327-gt, built 1992) was a recent caller in Cape Town. Pictures 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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