Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 28, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – ASIAN BRIER

  • Tragedy at Mossel Bay as trawler capsizes

  • Mozambique clarifies plans for Moatize coal and Nacala

  • Government vows to transform the economy

  • Ouch, oops and eina as three Japanese lines post half-year losses

  • Gordhan announces relaxing of exchange controls

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Pics of the day – UNDINE


    First View – ASIAN BRIER

    Lyttelton Harbour, New Zealand: The Japanese reefer ASIAN BRIER (6.973-gt, built 1998) discharging bananas and pineapples from the Philippines on Sunday, 25 October. Picture by Alan Calvert

    Tragedy at Mossel Bay as trawler capsizes

    The gale force winds and high seas off the Cape south and east coasts brought drama and tragedy with it on Monday when the Mossel Bay Sea Harvest fishing trawler Mandy capsized near The Point outside Mossel Bay harbour.

    Of the six crew on board only one has survived, despite the efforts of rescue services including the National Sea Rescue Institute, SA Police Services, ER-24 and Netcare 911 ambulance services and private individuals who assisted in the rescue operation.

    According to NSRI Mossel Bay station commander Dawie Zwiegelaar, the NSRI volunteer duty crew was activated at 12h18 by the Port of Mossel Bay that the fishing trawler had capsized near The Point.

    “The SA Police Services 6-metre rigid inflatable craft launched and the NSRI launched our rescue craft Vodacom Rescuer. The SA Police Services, Mossel Bay Fire and Rescue Services, the Metro Ambulance and Rescue Services, ER-24 ambulance service and Netcare 911 ambulance service responded and local businessman, Kobus Krause, volunteered and activated his private helicopter to assist in the search and rescue operation,” Zwiegelaar said.

    He said that on arrival on-scene, in 57-knot winds and 8-metre swells, a search commenced for survivors, with the police craft rescuing one of the fishermen who was brought into the harbour and transported to hospital in a stable.

    “According to reports a bystander on a private jet-ski had located the survivor but was unable to load him onto his jet-ski as the survivor was too exhausted. The jet-skier remained with the survivor until the police craft arrived to rescue the man.”

    Zwiegelaar said that parts of the search area were not accessible to the rescue craft due to the extremely rough seas. “Those areas that were not accessible by rescue boats were searched by the helicopter. The trawlers life-raft was located afloat but on investigation no survivors were found in the life-raft.”

    He said it then became apparent that the fishermen were being washed ashore and rescue resources concentrated efforts in this direction.

    “The body of one fisherman was located on Debakde Beach and he was confirmed to be dead on the scene. During the afternoon during an extensive ongoing search operation a further three bodies were located and recovered from Dias Beach at different times during the search. All three fishermen found on Dias Beach were confirmed to be dead on the scene. The skipper of the fishing trawler was among the bodies recovered.

    “A search is continuing for one missing fisherman.”

    It was later reported that the fishing trawler was hard aground and lying on her side in the surf-line at Dias Beach and appeared to be breaking up in the pounding surf.

    “SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority) have been alerted and will begin investigations into the capsizing of the trawler and an inquest docket has been opened by the SA Police Services,” said Zwiegelaar.

    According to other reports the trawler had been on approach to enter the harbour when massive seas and wind pushed the vessel away. A harbour tug had attempted to go to assistance of the trawler but was unable to cope with the huge swells.

    Earlier on Monday the NSRI issued a warning to all boaters to take extra care when going to sea in the worsening conditions and to ensure that life jackets were worn at all times.

    Mozambique clarifies plans for Moatize coal and Nacala

    The Mozambique government has clarified its plans for moving coal from the mines near Moatize to the coast for export purposes. Two new railway lines are planned, one a dedicated coal line for the Brazilian company Vale which will connect the mine with the port of Nacala.

    “We shall have a line dedicated to coal, and Vale, for reasons of economic and financial viability, will clearly choose the cheapest route”, Mozambique’s transport minister Paulo Zucula told the Mozambique news agency AIM.

    He said there would be a second line dedicated to development, which would go ahead with or without the coal. “The government projects this line to cross Zambezia province, starting in the area of Mutarara (in Tete province), crossing into Zambezia in Morrumbala, crossing Gurue district, and linking up with the Nacala line in Malema, Mutuali or Ribaue (in Nampula province)”.

    This line would also connect with the existing Sena railway from Moatize to Beira which is now under reconstruction.

    “So we will have two lines, but they won’t have the same function, they won’t cost the same, and they don’t have the same structure,” said Zucula.

    Zucula stressed the importance of Malawi, whose traffic keeps the existing Nacala – Malawi railway open and functioning.

    The railway from Moatize to Nacala would be about 900 kilometres in length but if existing railways are used it will require only an extra 200km of track to be built, although much of the railway through Malawi will have to be relaid. A further 77km of existing track near the Malawi border on the line from Nacala is also in poor condition and will have to be refurbished.

    Other sections will require strengthening of bridges and culverts and eliminating tight curves to handle heavy coal trains of up to 100-wagons.

    The project is part of a US$1.6 Billion investment that has been approved, and comes from the realization that the port of Beira and railway from Moatize to Beira via Sena, which is currently being refurbished by India’s Rites, will be incapable of handling the export quantities envisaged. Vale, which is developing one of the largest open cast mines at Moatize says it is now likely to export up to 12.7 million tonnes annually of hard coking coal plus 2.5mt of thermal coal in the first phase.

    An Australian company, Riversdale is also developing a new mine in the Tete province and is talking of shipping export coal on barges down the Zambezi River to the coast.

    The deepwater port of Nacala

    Government vows to transform the economy

    Cape Town, 27 October (BuaNews) - Government plans to transform the economy by expanding growth and job creation, while developing a more effective public service, says Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

    Presenting his Medium Term Budget Policy Statement in Parliament today, Gordhan said a sound fiscal position has allowed government to sustain public services and to increase spending on investment aimed at raising future growth.

    A Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 1.5 percent is forecast for 2010, with a forecast growth of 3.2 percent in 2012.

    There are signs that the economy is recovering, said the minister.

    While the GDP is expected to decline by 1.9 percent for 2009, South Africa is expected to experience a growth in GDP in the last quarter of this year.

    Consumer price inflation has fallen from a peak of 13.6 percent in August last year to 6.4 percent for the same period this year largely as a result of moderating food and oil prices and a stronger rand.

    A deficit of 7.6 percent is projected for this financial year, from a deficit of 1 percent last year. Revenue projection is expected to recover over the next three years.

    Employment levels fell by 3.4 percent in the first half of this year, with the highest ratio of jobs lost in the agriculture, domestic work and informal sector.

    Low levels of public debt have enabled a rapid increase in infrastructure spending, much of it supported by government-guaranteed borrowing by state-owned enterprises.

    Government's investment in infrastructure of gross fixed capital formation by the public sector increased from 5.9 percent of the GDP in the second quarter of 2007 to 9.4 percent in the same period in 2009.

    The Expanded Public Works Programme has accelerated in drawing more people into employment.

    The government has taken various steps to support the recovery including: sustaining public spending and government employment programmes; helping state-owned enterprises to increase their investments; bolstering municipal capital spending through development finance institutions; maintaining expansionary fiscal and monetary policies for only as long as necessary and reinforcing the social-security net.

    Yet the country's biggest challenge remains job creation.

    Only 42 percent of the population between the 15 and 64-years-old are in some form of employment. In the former homelands only 30 percent of adults have jobs.

    This compares unfavourably with fellow emerging economies, Brazil and China where about two thirds of the adult population have work.

    The country's labour absorption rate is also lower than Ghana, South Korea, Brazil, China and India.

    "If the country does not find a way to resolve this problem, there will be catastrophic implications for social stability and future growth," said Gordhan.

    The country also requires a higher productivity and government plans to take steps to raise employment and lower the costs of products to boost competitiveness.

    The volatility of the rand has also drawn some attention, because it affects exports. Since 1994 nominal exchange rates have depreciated by 60 percent, making the rand more competitive today than it was 15 years ago.

    With this in mind, the government will relax exchange controls to lower the cost of doing business and promote investment.

    The inflation rate will be kept in check to ensure that it is not higher than trade partners, as this will lead to a decrease in competitiveness.

    Over the next three years government will clamp down on spending, to be conducted in three phases. This is aimed at developing a more effective public service.

    Tax revenue has fallen by about 3.2 percent of GDP, with the biggest declines in VAT receipts, company taxes and trade taxes.

    To widen the tax base, government is considering improving tax compliance and introducing new taxes - such as environmental levies.

    Ouch, oops and eina as three Japanese lines post half-year losses

    MOL FORTITUDE in Cape Town harbour - picture by Ian Shiffman

    Three major Japanese shipping lines have each posted losses for the first half of the current fiscal year and have reduced their full-year forecasts.

    While Mitsui OSK (MOL) says it remains confident that it will make a full-year profit, it warns that this will now be considerably less than originally forecast.

    NYK and K Line have both reaffirmed expectations of full-year losses for 2009. NYK which made a profit of US$991 million in the first half of 2008, has posted a loss of $318.7m for the 2009 half year. K Line says it lost $469.6m in the first six months of fiscal 2009, compared to a profit of $555m for the same period a year earlier.

    MOL’s loss for the half year was a more modest $108m, compared with a $1.4Bn profit for the first six months of 2008. MOL says it believes it will still earn a profit at year end, although it has cut the previous profit forecast of $326m to $21.7 million.

    Gordhan announces relaxing of exchange controls

    Cape Town, 27 October 2009 (BuaNews) - The Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, has announced the further relaxation of exchange controls in a bid to reduce the cost of doing business in the country and attract more foreign investment.

    Presenting his Medium Term Budget Policy Statement in Parliament today, Gordhan said the foreign capital allowance for residents, which was last adjusted in 2006, would be increased from R2 million to R4 million, while the single discretionary allowance will be increased from R500,000 to R750,000.

    To improve access to domestic credit in the financing of local foreign direct investment, restrictions on the granting of local financial assistance to affected persons have been further liberalised with the doing away of the 3:1 ratio.

    Among a number of proposed reforms to reduce red tape on business transactions, is a plan to allow South African companies to invest in Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states through offshore intermediaries.

    Other proposals, which the Reserve Bank will soon provide more details on, include increasing the current R50 million limit for company applications to undertake outward investment, to R500 million.

    The Reserve Bank would also consider removing the 180-day rule requiring companies to convert their foreign exchange into rand. However SA companies will still be required to repatriate export proceeds to South Africa.

    There was also a proposal to do away with the R250,000 limit on advance payments for imports and another to allow SA companies to open foreign bank accounts for permissible purposes without prior approval, subject to reporting obligations.

    Also being considered was a plan to replace the current paper-based monitoring system for exports - through Form F178 - with a more efficient electronic system.

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    Rotterdam Rules ratified

    Niger became the 20th nation to indicate its intent of ratifying the Rotterdam Rules, which provides for a new cargo liability regime. The signatures of 20 nations were necessary to indicate that the regime could become international law. Despite Niger becoming the 20th signatory, it is expected that it will take until at least 2013 before the Rotterdam Rules are fully ratified.

    The World Shipping Council has welcomed the news, saying it is pleased to see substantial international support despite the entry-into-force process having begun only four weeks ago. The 20 nations to have signed up are: Armenia, Cameroon, Congo, Denmark, France, Gabon, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Madagascar, Niger, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Senegal, Spain, Switzerland, Togo, and the US.


    British yachting couple missing off Somalia

    A search is underway for a British couple and their yacht, the Lynn Rival which have gone missing while sailing between the Seychelles and Tanzania. A distress beacon signal was picked up last Friday but since then there has been no contact. Seychelles coast guard searches have so far been unsuccessful and the British Foreign Office said on Tuesday that it was checking reports that the couple, Paul and Rachel Chandler, may have been seized by Somali pirates.


    Iranian weapon ship seized off Yemen

    Yemeni security forces say they have seized an Iranian merchant vessel that was carrying a cargo of weapons intended for Al Houthi rebels in Yemen. The unidentified ship, with a crew of five – four Iranians and one Indian, was said to have loaded the weapons in Eritrea, where Iranian Revolutionary Guards are said to be training Al Houthi rebels in special training camps. The ship and its cargo were taken to the port of Sanaa for investigation.

    Pics of the day – UNDINE

    The Wallenius Wilhelmsen car carrier UNDINE (67,378-gt, built 2003) in Durban harbour with some of her cargo on the quayside. Pictures by Terry Hutson

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