Ports & Ships Maritime News

May 26, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

We apologise for the lack of a news bulletin over the past two days.


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  • First View – GOLDEN GEORGIA

  • Strike continues – week 3 and mixed messages

  • Strike: Agricultural losses over R1bn - Joemat-Pettersson

  • Grindrod expands bunker barging business into Europe

  • Safmarine adds Sharjah to Gulf East Africa Service

  • Pics of the day – JAN LEEGHWATER


    First View – GOLDEN GEORGIA

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    A photograph from Australia for a change. The Japanese handysize products tanker GOLDEN GEORGIA (16,337-dwt, built 1996) leaving Newcastle for New Zealand. Picture by Alan Calvert

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    Strike continues – week 3 and mixed messages

    As the Transnet strike lengthens into week 3, with SATAWU (South African Transport & Allied Workers Union) holding out for a minimum 13 percent pay hike, Transnet reports that overall attendance levels reached 60 percent in some areas. The company conceded however that the strategically important Durban Container Terminal and Durban’s Pier 1 Container Terminal were far more seriously affected than at other places.

    “The level of operations at DCT and Pier 1 is, however, showing steady improvement and numerous recovery interventions are in place,” said Mark Gregg-Macdonald, Acting Group Executive: Commercial & Freight Corridors.

    “The focus at DCT over the next 72 hours is the removal of import containers from the terminal in order to create space in the stacking area. As at 12h00 today (Tuesday) more than 100 containers per hour are exiting the gate via road and the gate will remain open on a 24/7 basis for the collection of import containers. In addition, we have containers exiting via rail and have 3200 trans-shipment containers in stacks that are to be loaded onto vessels presently on berth.”

    Gregg-Macdonald said that Transnet Port Terminals hoped to open the first import stacks by the weekend.”Advice of these details will be communicated in the normal manner,” he said.

    Yesterday, Satawu frlexed its international muscle by means of an open letter to Transnet CEO, Chris Wells, from David Cockroft, General Secretary of the ITF, which hinted at the dispute being further escalated internationally.

    “I am writing on behalf of more than 5 million transport workers in 751 unions in 154 countries who are affiliated to the ITF to express our strong condemnation of the current intransigent attitude being adopted by Transnet in its dispute with the ITF affiliated South African Transport & Allied Workers Union, the largest union in Transnet,” said Cockroft.

    He said that ITF affiliates around the world, including the vast majority of organised railway workers, port workers, and seafarers stand ready to take whatever lawful solidarity action is necessary in their own countries in support of SATAWU. “They have been informed that you have not only made no improvement on its offer on basic wages despite two weeks of strike, that it is attempting to reduce conditions for future workers, including housing allowance and medical subsidy, and that you are refusing any improvement in maternity leave.

    “The ITF is totally committed to the interests of young transport workers and women transport workers, both of which will suffer considerably as a result of your current proposals. I strongly urge you to seek an immediate meeting with SATAWU in order to arrive at a negotiated settlement. The eyes of the world's transport workers are on you.”

    Cockroft offered the services of the ITF in resolving the dispute.

    On Monday Satawu had announced its intention of stepping up the pressure by calling for support by the International Transport Federation.

    The union also advised that secondary strike notices had been issued to a number of locally port related companies. These include Richards Bay Coal Terminal, Safmarine, AP Moller Maersk, Bidfreight Port Operations, Grindrod, Hazard Marine, Hermes Ship Chandlers, National Ship Chandlers, and South African Container Depots.

    “Notices have also been issued on the former Transnet company Arrivia.kom as well as the motor ferry companies Motorvia and Auto Carriers. Should the strike not be resolved by 1 June sympathy strike action will be legal in these companies.

    “After further consultation with members it is the intention also to issue secondary strike notices on the Road Freight Association, whose members are road hauliers, as well as on aviation companies including SAA.”

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    Strike: Agricultural losses over R1bn - Joemat-Pettersson

    Cape Town - Farmers and producers in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors had lost over R1 billion since transport unions embarked on a two-week strike.

    Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said as the strike continued, the biggest concern was the potential loss of jobs and the risk that the country's reputation as a competitive player on the world market would be harmed.

    “As from this week our losses are becoming acute, so we are entering a very risky period,” she said, adding however that the department had “confidence” that the negotiators would come to some resolution.

    She said though 30,000 of the 100.000 jobs that had been lost over the last year had been reclaimed in the last quarter, the department feared that this would be undone if the strike carried on because it put jobs at risk.

    The fruit industry had lost R1bn alone, while the department was now compiling estimates in the grain, livestock, fisheries and forestry sectors.

    At least R650m of the losses were in the citrus industry and last week exporters were levied with an R80 million port congestion fine for 70,000 pallets that were awaiting loading at the Cape Town harbour.

    The minister also confirmed that it was experiencing difficulty with plug points as more fruit was held in cold storage.

    The department had requested farmers to delay the ripening of certain fruit, but Joemat-Pettersson said this was no longer possible.

    Added to this the citrus season had already begun and the country was beginning to experience “bottlenecks”.

    “At the moment the 2010 deciduous fruit industry is peaking in the apple and pears commodity groups. In addition the agricultural sector is entering the citrus and avocado season,” said Joemat-Pettersson.

    The fruit sector had been particularly hard hit as it had also been affected by the volcanic ash which struck Europe late last month and again in recent weeks which had halted air traffic to the northern continent.

    In certain instances air freight is being utilised to get produce out, while some fruit was being re-routed through the Namibian port of Walvis Bay, however the strong Rand was making these options rather expensive, she said. - BuaNews

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    Grindrod expands bunker barging business into Europe

    The Grindrod Group has announced the acquisition of the Associated Bunker Oil Contractors (ABC) group based in Rotterdam for an undisclosed amount. The ABC group is a well established physical supplier of marine bunker fuels in the Rotterdam and surrounding port areas.

    The ABC group operates 4 bunker tankers delivering marine fuels to ships in the ports of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Antwerp (ARA). ABC also supplies marine bunker fuels for its own account. The ABC group is linked to the Vinotra Pool, a scheduler of bunker tanker delivery services in the ARA ports.

    Laurence Stuart-Hill, executive director of Grindrod Limited said “The acquisition of ABC in Europe expands the recently established bunker barge business in South Africa. The expansion of our bunker barge business into Europe supports our strategy of expansion into international and niche market sectors”. Grindrod operates 3 bunker barges under long term contracts to the oil industry in South Africa.

    The two components of ABC, namely barge operations and physical supply will be separately managed by the Shipping (in respect of barge operations) and Trading (in respect of physical supply) divisions of the Grindrod Group.

    Laurence Stuart-Hill added “The acquisition of ABC provides a base from which Cockett Marine can further enhance its position in the Rotterdam market.

    Cockett Marine is Grindrod’s Trading arm which trades and supplies marine bunker fuel and is based in London with other offices in major international bunkering centres.

    ABC’s existing senior management will continue in their management roles.

    Hans Boer, shareholder and Managing Director of ABC states “The acquisition by Grindrod Limited of the ABC group of companies will provide a major benefit to our customer base. They bring a level of expertise and experience that will complement and enhance our core services in both the trading and physical supply disciplines. I am confident that the acquisition will allow us to further improve our already excellent quality of service to our customers and grow our market share”.

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    Safmarine adds Sharjah to Gulf East Africa Service
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    Safmarine Zambeze

    Regional shipping line Safmarine has enhanced its Masiika Express service between the Arabian Persian Gulf and East Africa with the addition of a direct call at the UAE port of Sharjah. The call provides direct access to the East African ports of Dar es Salaam and Mombasa.

    “Sharjah is currently served via a feeder to Jebel Ali and a direct call will allow Safmarine to further improve on the service we’re currently offering our growing customer base in the Gulf and Africa,” said Safmarine’s Liner Executive, Jan Scheck. “The first call at Sharjah will be made on 9June, 2010 by the vessel, ER ELSFLETH.”

    Capacity will not be increased and the service – which is a joint Safmarine-Maersk Line service - will continue to deploy its current fleet of 2500-TEU vessels. The revised port rotation will be as follows: Sharjah - Jebel Ali - Salalah - Dar Es Salaam - Mombasa - Salalah – Sharjah.

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    Pics of the day – JAN LEEGHWATER

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    Van Oord's Number 2 new self propelled split barge hopper dredger JAN LEEGHWATER (5,100-gt, built 2010) arriving Cape Town ex China to take on bunkers earlier this week. Pictures by Aad Noorland

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