Ports & Ships Maritime News

Nov 23, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • Industrialization will help Africa fully join world economy, says Ban

  • Namport having a record year with passenger ships

  • Wanna buy a tourist train?

  • Repairs to Port Bell will cost USD13 million

  • Piracy – Somali coastguard admits it is powerless against piracy

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Pics of the day – VLADIMIR IGNATYUK



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    SEVEN SEAS VOYAGER is today completing her journey along the southern African coast with a visit to the Namibian port of Walvis Bay, having already called at Richards Bay and Cape Town along the way. In this picture the ship is seen alongside the somewaht misnamed small craft berth at Richards Bay, where the ship overnighted. Picture by East Coast Safarisl.

    Industrialization will help Africa fully join world economy, says Ban

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    Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) addresses a panel discussion in industrialization strategies for Africa. The discussions organised by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) takes place on Africa Industrialization Day, observed annually on 20 November.

    New York (UN News) – Armed conflict, inadequate infrastructure, weak governance, limited financing and technological abilities, and policies that stifle entrepreneurship, limit competition and raise the cost of doing business are hindering the industrialization that Africa needs to fully join the global economy, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned at the weekend.

    “Efforts to address these challenges must be rooted in a shared global responsibility for our planet’s prosperity,” he said in a message marking Africa Industrialization Day, observed annually on 20 November and whose theme this year is ‘Industrialization for integration.’

    “We know what is needed, including a green agricultural revolution linked to industrial transformation. Indeed, there is great industrial potential in the emergence of a new, green economic paradigm,” he added.

    African leaders must provide a supportive regulatory and financial framework for such changes to gain strength, he noted.

    Meanwhile, the international community must work with African Governments and institutions to do the research, make the investments and deploy the technologies for a climate-resilient, low-carbon growth path to feed Africa’s growing population and raise living standards by building the industries of the future.

    Mr Ban cited encouraging economic growth on the continent in the past few years but stressed that increased industrialization is necessary if the transformation of African economies is to be sustained.

    “Industrialization will help Africa increase its share of global output and trade, and become more fully and meaningfully a part of the global economy,” he said. “But integration itself will help Africa industrialize, since African economies need improved access to global markets if its industries are to be competitive.

    “Greater integration of regional markets on the continent itself can also foster industrial development by making it easier to produce at economic scale.”

    Speaking at a panel discussion at UN Headquarters in New York to mark the Day, the Secretary-General noted that last year was the fifth consecutive year in which Africa registered economic growth of more than 5 percent, but he warned that the industrial sector has not lived up to its potential.

    “Africa still accounts for just over one per cent of world industry, and industrial development on the continent has lagged behind other developing countries,” he said.

    Namport having a record year with passenger ships

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    P&O Cruises’ magnificent AURORA, which will be calling at Walvis Bay next April. Picture Terry Hutson

    Namport is having a record year as leisure travelers on passenger ships visit Namibia and discover the unique attractions of a coast once thought inhospitable.

    According to the port authority, by the end of September 2009 21 passenger ships had visited the port of Walvis Bay this year, bringing more than 8,400 passengers to the town. This compares to the 10 passenger ships and 4,000 passengers of 2008, which represents a record growth of 47 percent.

    These numbers might not seem impressive by the standards of the Caribbean or Mediterranean but for Namibia and southern Africa in general they are significant as it indicates that more cruise ship operators are discovering the different attractions of this part of Africa.

    Namport says that also of significance is the size and stature of the ships calling at the port, which indicates that there is a heightened awareness of Namibia’s coastal attractions.

    Another factor is that September is not even the start of the summer ‘cruise season’, and a look at the Cruise Schedule in PORTS & SHIPS shows that Walvis Bay stands to have another 11 cruise ships calling before the end of July 2010. These will include such ships as P&O’s Aurora, Silverseas’ Silver Wind, Fred Olsen’s Balmoral, Ocean Princess, Delphin Voyager and Holland America’s trio of Amsterdam, Noordam and Westerdam. The latter two ships are involved as hotel ships for the Fifa Soccer World Cup.

    This morning Seven Seas Voyager is due to arrive in Walvis Bay for an overnight stay, sailing at 2pm tomorrow (Wednesday).

    Even Luderitz is getting a look in, with Amadea and Tahitian Princess already having called in recent weeks and Amsterdam and Ocean Princess lined up between now and May next year.

    According to Namport the increase in passenger ships in addition to cargo vessels is a clear indication of the confidence portrayed in calling at the port of Walvis Bay. “In addition to this, Namport is in alignment with international security standards which have been reaffirmed by the US Coast Guard and Holland America Cruise Lines,” the company said.

    Despite the challenging times of the global economic downturn, these arrivals provide a significant boost to Namibia’s economy and can be attributed at least in part to the determined and continuous efforts of Namport in promoting the port as the preferred destination in southern Africa.

    Wanna buy a tourist train?

    Ever fancied owning your own railway? Well now’s your chance. Transnet is calling for expressions of interest, which is another way of saying would you like to make a bid, for its last remaining tourist railway operation.

    It used to be every boys dream to be an engine driver when he grew up, such was the attraction of trains and their large, noisy, powerful and often dirty locomotives. South Africa was blessed with an abundance of steam engines, for this was a country rich in coal reserves and steam outlasted most other countries, remaining a force right into the early 1980s before the dreaded diesel and electric locomotion took total control.

    More than one person has since nodded in agreement that that was when the decline in railways in South Africa really began!

    Today only a few remnants of this once proud and famous steam railway network remain, mostly in the hands of enthusiasts who have defied the odds by keeping steam alive and operating across scattered corners of South Africa. And now steam railways, as a tourist attraction are making something of a comeback – one might even call it a resurrection. In southern KwaZulu-Natal the little village of Creighton is about to become a centre for luxury steam-hauled tourist trains operating in amongst some of the most magnificent scenery possible, while not far away at Ixopo a narrow gauge railway is kept alive by love and enthusiasm.

    In the Eastern Free State the Sandstone Trust has established a truly impressive operating steam railway museum complete with a working narrow gauge railway while elsewhere, principally in and around Johannesburg and Pretoria and in the Durban area other enthusiast organisations have created some surprisingly large operations that cater for the local and visiting public.

    But the real jewel of steam preservation was, at least until the time when Transnet ran itself out of steam, at George in the southern Cape with the establishment of the official Transnet Railway Museum. Here was to be stored and maintained the national collection, with at least one of each class of steam locomotive intended for preservation along with trains of coaches that could be used for countrywide steam safaris and other excursions, including those over the awe-inspiring Outeniqua Mountain Pass to Oudtshoorn and along the scenic branch line to Knysna.

    For a time this was achieved with varying success while attracting international interest and fame, but then Transnet entered its current phase of easing its way out of whatever it decided was not its ‘core business’. And so the decision was reached to discontinue the world-famous Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe.

    This decision was no doubt aided by disastrous flood damage and washaways along the scenic line between George and Knysna, which has resulted in Transnet basically abandoning that section, except that even Transnet isn’t able to simply abandon a national treasure. In the meantime the Choo-Tjoe operation was moved, on the few occasions when it ran, to a tourist service between George and Mossel Bay, with occasional forays over the Outenqiua Pass.

    But now Transnet has decided enough is enough, and the tourist train must go the way of other branch lines and unwanted operations, or be sold off. Hence the latest development involving this section of South Africa’s railway history, the calling for expressions of interest from parties that consider themselves capable of taking over and operating the line as a tourist operation and attraction.

    The notice from Transnet reads:

    Transnet Limited is calling for expressions of interest (EOI) from parties interested in acquiring the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe (OCT) steam train service.

    The OCT is an iconic heritage steam train service that initially started operating between George and Knysna on a line that was officially opened in 1928. In 2006 severe storms in the Southern Cape caused extensive damage to the George-Knysna railway line, resulting in rail operations being discontinued. The OCT service is now operated between the
    Outeniqua Transport Museum in George and the Dias Museum complex in Mossel Bay.

    Transnet has appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers Corporate Finance (PwC) as its financial advisor to assist with the disposal of the OCT service.

    Interested parties are hereby invited to express interest in taking over the management and operation of the OCT steam train service between George and Mossel Bay. The assets used in the operation of the service include steam locomotives, carriages, spare parts and supporting equipment and infrastructure.

    It is envisaged that initially the use of the assets will be transferred to the successful private party on a lease-lend basis. Ultimately, subject to heritage legislation and authorisation, full ownership of the assets would be transferred to the private party.

    Interested parties should be able to demonstrate that they have the necessary skills and experience to finance, own, operate and manage heritage steam locomotives and rolling stock, or similar heritage and/or tourism assets.

    It is anticipated that the private party will pay an access charge to Transnet for the use of the George-Mossel Bay railway line. A separate call for expressions of interest will be issued regarding the George to Knysna route, whereby proposals from interested parties will be invited.

    Interested parties may obtain an information pack which contains information about the OCT, EOI submission requirements, rules, etc. The information pack will only be made available upon signing a confidentiality undertaking. A non-refundable fee of R5,000 is payable by all respondents upon submission of EOI responses. The confidentiality undertaking and information pack can be obtained from PricewaterhouseCoopers by contacting: Ms Hombisa Mbokotho on +27 11 797 5915 or by emailing hombisa.mbokotho@za.pwc.com.

    Responses must be submitted in the required format electronically before 09h00 on Tuesday, 1 December 2009

    Repairs to Port Bell will cost USD13 million

    Repairs to Port Bell, the Ugandan harbor at the northern end of Lake Victoria, will cost USD13 million, Uganda’s Director of Transport has revealed.

    The lakeside harbor has been neglected for several years and is in need of more than TLC, according to those with first-hand knowledge of the port. James Itazi, Uganda’s Director of Transport at the Works Ministry told New Vision last week that the government wanted to kick-start the process and had allocated USD1.7 million to the task.

    This would include the rehabilitation of the dry dock and to equip the port to handle container traffic as well as general breakbulk cargo.

    “However, the space for expansion is too small to handle multipurpose and containerised ships," he told the newspaper.

    Port Bell is connected with Kampala some 9km away by road and rail and is close to the Kampala Industrial & Business Park in Namanve.

    The use of the lake for moving cargo is seen as providing Uganda with an alternative to being dependent on the northern route through Kenya to the port of Mombasa. This dependence has been under close scrutiny since political strife in Kenya during 2008 effectively blocked Uganda’s access to the sea – something which Uganda obviously remains sensitive over.

    On the other hand the country, like its neighbours Kenya and to some extent Tanzania has allowed the infrastructure along the lake to fall into disuse with the result that Uganda is currently unable to rely on the alternate route to Dar es Salaam, which necessitates carrying cargo and passengers across the lake to the southern port of Mwanza and from there by rail to Dar es Salaam.

    In his interview with New Vision Itazi acknowledge this, saying that Uganda’s development strategy would involve addressing physical infrastructure constraints like ports, railways, roads and the provision of adequate associated maritime facilities. Uganda will be looking to outside funding to finance these improvements. “The development partners and the private sector are requested to provide the required funding to develop the route,” Itazi said.

    Piracy – Somali coastguard admits it is powerless against piracy

    The officer commanding Somalia’s Coast Guard, General Farah Ahmed Omar has admitted that he is powerless against pirates operating along large sections of the Somali coast. He repeated the claim that piracy would remain a problem for as long as illegal fishing was carried out by foreign ships off the Somali coast, because he said that pirates claimed they were acting in Somali’s interests by combating the foreign fishing fleets.

    “Under the prevailing circumstances, the pirates can be classified as youth that reacted to illegal practices taking place along the Somali coast,” he said while appealing to the international community to take action against those who exploited Somalia’s marine resources.

    To strengthen his claims the general displayed a number of objects including long range fishing nets and sonar devices that he said had been recovered from the sea some seven miles off the coast, after having been used by foreign fishing vessels. “The items do not belong to local fishermen,” he said.

    Kenyan sources have reaffirmed that pirates have highjacked a Greek bulk carrier named RED SEA SPIRIT (10,968-gt, built 1977) owned by Sekur Holdings of Piraeus. The ship was seized some 36 n.miles opposite the Yemeni port of Balhaf. The Greek Coast Guard Command on Sunday denied that the ship had been taken, saying that Red Sea Spirit came under attack twice but was able to evade capture.

    An officer on board the MAERSK ALABAMA, which has twice come under attack and escaped from Somali pirates, says that sonic and other defensive weapons such as fire hoses are not capable of stopping a determined group of pirates. First Officer Shane Murphy was quoted in the American BYM Marine and Maritime News as saying that pirates are becoming increasingly sophisticated and daring and were not shy to use heavier fire power to get what they wanted. “Industry needs to adapt,” he said, adding that it appeared the pirates were making use of tracking devices to identify and target certain ships.

    India has deployed another warship, the offshore patrol vessel INS SAVITRI to take up anti-piracy patrols in the waters of the Seychelles and Mauritius. The ship will remain in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Seychelles and Mauritius until January 2010 and will operate in close cooperation with naval vessels from the two Indian Ocean island countries. INS Savitri carries a Chetak helicopter and a squad of commandos. India has also maintained a warship on patrol in the Gulf of Aden since October 2008.

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    SA Navy sub calls at Durban

    The South African Navy submarine SAS QUEEN MODJADJI (S103) paid a brief operational visit to Durban at the weekend, arriving on Saturday and sailing again on Monday.


    Railway bosses meet to talk about region

    The 29th annual meeting of the Southern African Railways Association (SARA) took place in Maputo last Friday, with railway managers from across the southern African region attending. Among the topics covered were capacity requirements and standardization of services. It was acknowledged that much of the region’s railway network was run down and in need of rehabilitation.

    Pics of the day – VLADIMIR IGNATYUK

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    The Russian offshore tug and icebreaker VLADIMIR IGNATYUK (4,391-gt, built 1983), the former ARCTIC KALVIC which arrived in Cape Town this past week to take bunkers. The tug was designed as an anchor handling tug and for ice breaking in the Beaufort Sea and built at the Victoria Yard in British Columbia, Canada. Picture and information from Aad Noorland

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