Ports & Ships Maritime News

Dec 14, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – BLUE SKY

  • Most African ports unprepared for changing trends in shipping industry

  • No Father Christmas this year after DoT bans high-cubes

  • Pirates take another ship

  • News from the shipping lines

  • Further delays for the Sena – Beira railway

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Pics of the day – MSC LORETTA


    Our News Bulletin for tomorrow (Tuesday 15 December) will be our final news column for 2009 as we will be taking a short break until early January. If any important news occurs in the interim this will be added online but no newsletters will be emailed. We will also continue with the regular ship movement reports so keep monitoring PORTS & SHIPS. We take this opportunity to wish all readers and users of the site a very enjoyable and blessed festive season

    First View – BLUE SKY

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    Angola South Line’s general cargo ship BLUE SKY in Cape Town harbour earlier this month. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    Most African ports unprepared for changing trends in shipping industry

    In a paper titled ‘Challenges facing ports in Africa’, Joseph Atonga, Chief Operations Manager of Kenya Ports Authority says most African ports are unprepared for the dramatic changing trends taking place in the shipping industry.

    Atonga was speaking at last week’s Port Management Association of Eastern and Southern Africa (PMAESA) conference which was held over two days at the Durban ICC. He said Africa’s ports were generally poorly equipped and productivity levels remained relatively low.

    “Most are small with low draught hence they are unable to handle the current generation of ships,” he said.

    However, ports have become an integral part of the supply chain and therefore play a crucial role as logistical platforms for international trade, with value-adding services. He said they need to have high quality infrastructure and superstructure and have reliable and well developed feeder and inland transport connections and services.

    “World class ports have a low cargo dwell time and these ports can offer a very cost effective service. They are big in area size and draught alongside and their clientele is well developed and organised and able to make use of Information Technology for better services.”

    Unfortunately there was a clear lack of capacity among ports in the PMAESA region to meet growing demand and faster growth in cargo volumes was not being matched by growth in capacity and port infrastructure. This, he said, was most visible in container handling capacity.

    Citing as an example the ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam, Atonga said they were initially designed for 250,000 TEUS but the port of Mombasa was presently handling over 600,000 TES and Dar es Salaam over 400,000 TEUs, well beyond their design capacities while using the same facilities.

    He criticised the inadequate maintenance of existing transportation facilities around Mombasa, saying this had a negative impact on the port’s ability to remain competitive and efficient.

    “In Kenya it is only recently that the main road from Mombasa port serving the Northern Corridor has been improved after years of neglect and in Tanzania major sections of the Central Corridor network from Dar es Salaam to the Great Lakes region is being improved.”

    The rail network across East Africa was also performing poorly, he said, saying that in Kenya there had been no improvements on the railway between the port of Mombasa and Uganda since it was built in the early part of the 20th century, hence it is now dilapidated and carries only 5% of the port traffic.

    In Dar es Salaam the railway was little better, he said. “Even though the container terminal was privatised several years ago, they did not fully realise the full benefits of improvement in operational performance because of congestion occasioned by poor cargo off-take, particularly by rail.”

    According to Atonga a recent study commissioned by the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank, NEPAD and the World Bank emphasised the importance of infrastructure. The report headed Africa’s infrastructure: A time for transformation stated that the poor quality of Africa’s infrastructure is costing the continent’s economies about 2 percent of its potential growth. It further stated that “the state of infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa – its electricity, roads, water and information and communication technology – also reduces business productivity by as much as 40 percent.”

    Atonga said that Africa had many inland rivers like the Nile, Zambezi and the Congo which are only partially navigable. Transportation on lakes like Tanganyika, Victoria and Malawi should be fully developed as part of the Inland waterways network, to present a cheaper inland connection for better trade. He compared this to Europe where inland waterways are a very integral part of the transport network for cargoes. “For example, in the port of Rotterdam inland barge transport handled 30.2 percent of the total port container traffic in 2008.”

    Atonga added that piracy in Somalia had to some extent frightened away some business in Eastern Africa. He said it also led to a slowing down of cargo movement and was increasing the cost of transport in the region.

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    Port of Mombasa Container Terminal, berth 16

    No Father Christmas this year after DoT bans high-cubes

    Tell Junior that there won’t be any delivery by Father Christmas this year… That was the tone of message from the Road Freight Association (RFA) when it issued a media release last week advising that the movement of any truck carrying an international ISO standard “high cube” container has been banned by the Department of Transport with immediate effect.

    By Friday more than a hundred road vehicles loaded with high cubes had been pulled off the road between Durban and Johannesburg and impounded, but just as importantly road hauliers were saying that they could not collect any further high cube 40ft containers from the port container terminals or inland depots for fear of also being impounded.

    “As we speak, trucks are being impounded by the Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI) causing major delays in the port, opportunities for criminals to fleece containers and vehicles, increasing traffic congestion and threatening the delivery of much-needed goods over the December festive season,” said the RFA in its statement. It accused the RTI of eagerly implementing the act after having been given the go-ahead by the Department of Transport.

    The RFA says that the provincial MEC in charge of the Road Traffic Inspectorate has been instructed not to issue abnormal load permits because “operators are abusing the system.” The association has queried how the prosecutorial arm of the DoT can issue such an instruction to the MEC. It said that until last week road freight operators were granted abnormal load permits to allow the movement of high cubes containers. “It appears that the RTI has rescinded on the agreement we had,” the RFA said.

    Meanwhile the South African Association of Freight Forwarders-KZN (SAAFF-KZN) has written to the national Minister of Transport about the matter and has warned that under the circumstances transporters will decline to take high cubes for transport. This, it said posed dire consequences for the economic well-being of the country.

    Pirates take another ship

    Somali pirates highjacked a Pakistani fishing vessel, the MV SHABAIG a week ago, it was learned late last week. The fishing vessel with a crew of 29 on board was captured 320 n.miles east of the island of Socotra off the Horn of Africa.

    According to the European Union’s NAVFOR, the European naval presence in the region helping to protect and escort merchant shipping, Somali pirates now hold 11 ships and 283 hostages.

    In another development, the 69,041-DWT Greek bulker ARIANA has been released following the payment of a ransom said to be worth USD2.6 million. The ransom money was dropped onto the ship by helicopter. The Ariana was captured with a crew of 24 Ukranians on 2 May southwest of the Seychelles and taken to an anchorage off the coast of Somalia. The ship is carrying a cargo of soya and corn from Brazil.

    Meanwhile the head of the IMO, Secretary-General Efthimios Mitropoulos says that the environment is at risk from tankers like the MARAN CENTAURUS which was highjacked with a cargo of more than two million barrels of oil on board on 29 November. The secretary-general warned that an ecological disaster awaited the world should anything happen to the vessel or another like it in a region that has no infrastructure, equipment or resources to cope with it. He said that adverse weather conditions or several other factors could trigger such an ecological catastrophe.

    News from the shipping lines

    Bollore to link Ethiopia with Gulf of Aden

    French company Bollore says it wants to create a road link connecting the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa with the Gulf of Aden port of Berbera in the semi-autonomous region of northern Somalia.

    According to a Bollore spokesman, Dominique Lafont, the Ethiopian government is very interested and Bollore has the right experience in Africa to make the project work. The link would be in the form of a road network allied to improvements to the port at Berbera. Ethiopia currently relies on the port of Djibouti for its access to the sea, having lost a previous link with Berbera when Eritrea took independence in 1993.


    MSC applies Gulf of Aden surcharge

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    MSC ANNA Picture by Terry Hutson

    MSC has announced the introduction of a Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean surcharge of USD40 per TEU with effect on 1 January 2010. This applies to services from Europe and the Mediterranean to the Middle East and the Far East and has been applied because of ongoing piracy in the region. MSC has also announced a bunker contribution (BUC) of USD510 for cargo originating in Asia with destination in the Red Sea, west and east Mediterranean, Black Sea, the UK and North-West Continent (Europe). The company’s BUC for cargo originating in Asia and destined for West Africa will be USD691 TEU as from 1 January.

    Further delays for the Sena – Beira railway

    Construction of the Sena railway line between the port of Beira and the Moatize coal mines in Tete province has been further delayed, according to a notice in the Maputo newspaper Noticias.

    The paper reported that work on the line’s reconstruction has slowed dramatically and has even come to a halt at times on account of the contractor, India’s Rites and Ircon International (RICON), having run out of material.

    It appears the problem lies with the supply or manufacture of concrete railway sleepers and with supply trains reaching the work front. Supplies of steel used in the manufacture of concrete sleepers at Dondo and Sena has apparently been delayed from India, with a ship carrying the steel having been delayed in arriving at Beira.

    Nevertheless the end is in sight, or almost so. The total length of the line under reconstruction is 574 kilometres and only 32km remain unfinished at the Moatize end.

    The paper reported also that CFM, Mozambique’s state-owned port and rail company is dissatisfied with RICON on account of uncompleted station buildings and houses for the railway workers. CFM had apparently instructed RICON to complete the station buildings and houses as well as a sanitation system and to provide a water supply by 15 December but that this was now not possible.

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    Navy midshipmen graduate

    Fifty-seven midshipmen were commissioned into the South African Navy at a graduation ceremony held at the SA Naval College in Gordon’ Bay last week. The midshipmen had completed 32 weeks of intensive training.

    Read a full report of the graduation HERE


    UN concern for pre-positioning of emergency stockpiles for Madagascar

    On 25 November the UN Country Team in Madagascar appealed for USD6 million in donations to stockpile emergency supplies, including tarpaulins, medicines and water purification tablets against the imminent cyclone season that annually devastates the island.

    The cyclone season usually starts in December and runs through April and coincides with the main growing season for rice, the main staple food crop in the country. In the last two years five cyclones struck Madagascar affecting over 463,000 people and caused widespread flooding and the destruction of thousand of hectares of farmland.

    This year the cyclone season appears to have started early with two cyclones Anja in mid November and Bongani in early December bringing heavy rains in the northern tip of Madagascar. Fortunately they caused no substantial damages. A third cyclone Cleo formed last week in the Indian Ocean but by the weekend had weakened to a tropical storm and appeared to pose no danger.


    Third new rig arrives for crew change

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    DISCOVERER CLEAR LEADER, sister drill ship of the DISCOVERER INSPIRATION which arrived off Durban at the weekend. Discoverer Clear Leader was off Durban in May 2009. Picture by Kevin Moore of Rennies Ships Agency

    The drill ship DISCOVERER INSPIRATION arrived off Durban at the weekend to affect a crew change and to take on supplies. Approximately 120 crew members had to be flown out to the vessel and another 120 taken off and brought ashore, using the port of Durban helicopter and involving something in the order of 40 flights. Rennies Ships Agency as ships agents handled the matter as with two previous drill ships that exchanged crew off Durban earlier this year, Discoverer Clear Leader and Discoverer Americas.

    Pics of the day – MSC LORETTA

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    Mediterranean Shipping Company’s MSC LORETTA (73,819-gt, built 2002) which called at Cape Town during a routine Europe-South Africa rotation early in December. The 304m long ship, which displaces 112,636 tons and carries up to 6,720-TEU, is one of eight sister vessels in the fleet, the others being MSC Barbara, MSC Marianna, MSC Marina, MSC Melissa, MSC Michaela, MSC Stella and MSC Viviana. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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