Ports & Ships Maritime News

May 10, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson


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  • First View – SMIT AMANDLA

  • CLOSED – Expect ports to be hit by strike

  • South African Port Statistics for April now available

  • SA Port Statistics for the 2009/2010 financial year available here

  • First call in Durban for Hanjin box ship

  • Piracy update: Russian Navy retakes tanker Moscow University, one dead but pirates released

  • Bad roads and inadequate rail force costs up

  • Today’s recommended Read – Old railway thinking stifles the 'can-do' mentality

  • Pics of the day – CHEMBULK TORTOLA and GRAND WAY


    First View – SMIT AMANDLA

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    The South African-based and flagged tug SMIT AMANDLA (2,918-gt, built 1976, former name John Ross) leaving Cape Town on Thursday, 6 May 2010. Picture by Glen Kasner

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    CLOSED! Expect ports to be hit by strike

    As we go to press (via the electronic equivalent) on Sunday night the news from the South Africa Transport & Allied Workers Union (Satawu) is that the nationwide strike from Monday is set to go ahead. What is not certain and will only be known during the morning is how many union members have heeded the call to stay away.

    On Friday one of the unions, United Transport & Allied Trade (Utatu) broke ranks with fellow trade union Satawu by provisionally accepting an offer of 11 percent from Transnet, up from Transnet’s earlier proposal of 8 percent.

    Both unions were demanding an increase of 15 percent across the board plus several other benefits, including the fairly sensitive area of temporary workers.

    Utatu said on Sunday that it had not signed the new offer adding that it will present it to its members. Union general secretary Chris De Vos said if its members reject the offer it will join Satawu on Wednesday.

    “We believe it’s a very good offer under the current financial position of the company and the country and we will do our utmost best to ‘sell’ this to our members as our country cannot afford a strike of this magnitude,” he said.

    Late on Friday Satawu referred to Transnet’s ‘take it or leave it’ offer as unacceptable, saying that it was misleading and that the clause concerning contract workers was also not acceptable. The union said it regretted Utatu’s indications that they would accept Transnet’s offer and was disappointed at the break in unity but still expected a 100 percent turnout of its own 18,000 members on Monday (today) plus a considerable number of non Satawu members. “The impact will be considerable with or without Utatu.”

    “The problem with Transnet’s new offer is that it is misleading, the previous offer [of eight percent] was an increase for things like medical aid and housing allowance however with this new offer there are some reductions . We will however present the offer to our members tomorrow but our negotiation team does not recommend the new offer,” Jane Barrett, Satawu’s spokesperson said yesterday.

    Barrett said that Monday’s strike is not a Metrorail strike (Transnet Freight Rail owns some of the stations). She added that that some Metrorail areas may be affected by the strike action.

    Late last week the South African Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SACCI) said it was concerned at the news of a possible strike which had far reaching implications. Among these were the halting of coal deliveries to power stations with consequent power disruptions and the possible crippling of deliveries of avgas and bunker fuel to airlines and shipping lines.

    The workforce would also be affected as passenger trains ceased to operate, SACCI pointed out, and the general effect was a negative one in the lead-up to the Fifa Soccer World Cup, with the number of visitors attending being substantially reduced as a result.

    Earlier PRASA (Passenger Rail Agency of SA) said it intended suspending its passenger train operations from Monday 10 May “to secure and protect people and the assets of PRASA.” The organisation urged passengers to make alternative transport arrangements. IT is not clear whether Utatu’s withdrawal from today’s strike action will have altered this.

    Meanwhile it has been learned that the Blue Train, which was on a visit to Durban where the annual Tourist Indaba is taking place, was recalled to Johannesburg and planned weekend dinner trips on the South Coast cancelled. Also cancelled is the luxury train’s scheduled journey to Cape Town leaving today.

    A spokesman for the Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa described the threatened strike as not good news for the motor industry, in particular the component flow. He said Ford carried a week’s inventory and things could get tight very quickly. The motor industry is already engulfed in a strike affecting the motor ferry industry.

    SAASOA (South African Association of Ship Operators & Agents) said it has written to the Minister of Public Enterprises with copies to Transnet and the unions, requesting that the minister intervenes urgently in order to assist in avoiding the strike. “The objective of economic growth is equally important for the economic well-being of a vast majority of our citizens, and trying to avert costly strikes seems only reasonable. As noted in the newspapers, the impact of the recession had a negative impact on unemployment and the strike will indeed place a strain on the employment activity within the supply chain.”

    In the port of Durban Transnet advised that the following gates only would be operational from midnight on Sunday (9 May). Maydon Wharf gate 1 (Canal Road), gate 6 (Parker Road), Gate 8 (Maydon Wharf Road between TPT and Agriport), and gate 14 (Johnstone Road). All other gates would remain locked for the duration of the strike.

    Strikers’ official picketing points will be in Johnstone Road near the Maydon Wharf Police Station, and Maydon Wharf Road opposite TPT (berths 9 and 10).

    Transnet said the strike was also likely to affect the movement of vessels into and out of port. It is reported that all leave for Transnet employees including management has been cancelled. Pradeep Maharaj, Transnet Human Resources Executive said that in some places managers “will come down and operate equipment.” He said that others who would assist in keeping operations moving included trainees and retired employees. Some services would be prioritised but he declined to identify these, indicating that these might be targeted by labour action.

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    Durban Car Terminal – closures ahead. Picture by Steve McCurrach

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    South African Port Statistics for April now available

    South African port statistics for the month of April 2010 are now to hand, courtesy Transnet.

    As is customary the figures shown in this report reflect an adjustment on the overall tonnage to include containers by weight – an adjustment necessary because Transnet NPA measures containers in terms of the number of TEUs and no longer by weight - for which PORTS & SHIPS estimates an adjustment of 13,5 tonnes per TEU to reflect tonnages. This figure is on the conservative side with 14 tonnes or even more being a more realistic figure, particularly in view of the increasing quantity of bulk cargo which is now being handled in containers.

    For comparative purposes readers can see statistics from 12 months ago (April 2009) by clicking HERE Use your BACK button to return to this page.

    Figures for the respective ports during April 2010 are (with March 2010 figures shown bracketed):

    Cargo handled by tonnes during April 2010

    Richards Bay             5.336 Mt million tonnes (Mar 7.307Mt)
    Durban                     5.419 Mt (Mar 5.658)
    Saldanha Bay            5.629 Mt (Mar 4.404)
    Cape Town               0.956 Mt (Mar 1.134)
    Port Elizabeth            0.906 Mt (Mar 0.662)
    Ngqura                     0.148 Mt (Mar 0.466)
    Mossel Bay                0.173 Mt (Mar 0.150)
    East London              0.175 Mt (Mar 0.171)

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    Ngqura Harbour with MSC MAGALI on berth. Picture courtesy TPT

    Containers (measured by TEUs) during April 2010
    (TEUs include Deepsea, Coastal, Tranship and empty containers all subject to being invoiced by NPA)

    Durban             197,031 TEU (Mar 187,075)
    Cape Town         59,855 (Mar 63,676)
    Port Elizabeth     23,253 (Mar 20,834)
    Ngqura              10,977 (Mar 34,533)
    East London        3,877 (Mar 3,448)
    Richards Bay       1,404 (Mar 1,776)

    Total containers handled during April 296,397-TEU (Mar 311,342)

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    Cape Town Harbour. Picture by Steve McCurrach

    Ship Calls for April 2010

    Durban: -       356 vessels 9.866m gt (Mar 330 vessels 9.527m gt)
    Cape Town: -  383 vessels 4.511m gt (Mar 204 vessels 4.215m gt)
    Port Elizabeth:  75 vessels 1.993m gt (Mar 91 vessels 2.084m gt)
    Ngqura: -         23 vessels 1.108m gt (Mar 23 vessels 1.086 gt)
    Richards Bay:  163 vessels 5.217m gt (Mar 163 vessels 5.167m gt)
    Saldanha: -       40 vessels 2.978m gt (Mar 39 vessels 2.577 gt)
    East London: -  28 vessels 0.734m gt (Mar 20 vessels 0.564 gt)
    Mossel Bay: -    68 vessels 0.243m gt (Mar 59 vessels 0.245m gt)

    Total ship calls for April 2010: 1111 ships for 25,542,061-gt
    (Mar 906 ships for 24,379,835-gt)

    - source TNPA, with adjustments made by Ports & Ships to include container weights

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    SA Port Statistics for the 2009/2010 financial year available here

    Annual figures for the financial year ended 31 March 2010 reveal a year of slight growth in total port volumes, thanks mainly to a significant increase in the export of iron ore through Saldanha. The port of Cape Town held its own against the previous year but all other ports (excepting Saldanha) showed decreases in overall volumes.

    Containers dropped by 150,000 TEU during the year, after more than a decade of sustained growth, with volumes dropping from 3.797 million TEUs to 3.646m TEUs. Cape Town held steady against the previous year but Durban and Port Elizabeth had substantial decreases. The new port of Ngqura which began operations in October 2009 handled 70,000 TEUs, of which the majority of boxes would previously have been handled at Port Elizabeth.

    Ship calls remained steady with a small increase in gross tonnage perhaps reflecting the trend towards larger ships.

    The figures shown below include a calculation made for the number of containers handled, based on an average weight per container of 13.5 tonnes.

    Including containers the respective ports handled the following tonnages:

    Cargo handled by tonnes during 2009 financial year

    Richards Bay     80.442 million tonnes (2008 82.734Mt)
    Durban             71.848 Mt (2008 74.683)
    Saldanha Bay    55.732 Mt (2008 50.283)
    Cape Town       13.471 Mt (2008 13.422)
    Port Elizabeth     9.560 Mt (2008 10.068)
    East London       2.321 Mt (2008 2.683)
    Mossel Bay        1.737 Mt (2008 2.014)
    Ngqura               0.954 Mt (2008 not applicable)

    Total cargo handled at all ports in 2009 (financial year) was 236.076 million tonnes (2008 was 235.888 Mt; 2007 was 231.779Mt)

    Containers handled in 2009 measured by TEUs
    (TEUs include Deepsea, Coastal, Transship and empty containers and subject to being invoiced by NPA)

    Durban          2,437,031 TEU (2008 2,560,366)
    Cape Town       771,230 (2008 774,238)
    Port Elizabeth    315,635 (2008 398,638)
    Ngqura              70,210 (2008 n/a)
    East London      41,862 (2008 55,413)
    Richards Bay      10,306 (2008 8,323)

    Total TEU handled during 2008 was 3,646,274 TEU (2008 was 3,796,978 TEU; 2007 was 3,734,165)

    Ship Calls

    Durban: 4554 vessels 114.723m gt (2008 4554 vessels 114.723m gt)
    Cape Town: 3163 vessels 53.610m gt (2008 3163 vessels 53.610m gt)
    Port Elizabeth: 1258 vessels 30.579m gt (2008 1258 vessels 30.579m gt)
    Richards Bay: 1750 vessels 59.576m gt (2008 1750 vessels 59.576m gt)
    Saldanha: 452 vessels 25,423m gt (2008 452 vessels 25,423m gt)
    East London: 333 vessels 8.822m gt (2008 333 vessels 8.822 gt)
    Mossel Bay: 1567 vessels 3.317m gt (2008 1534 vessels 3.317m gt)*
    * includes large number of fishing vessels

    Total vessel calls at SA ports:

    12,708 vessel calls for 2009 financial year for a total of 311,481,000-gt (2008 was 13,077 vessels for 296,050,936-gt; 2007 12,829 vessel calls - total of 280,499,298-gt)

    - source Ports & Ships records using compilations of monthly Transnet figures plus adjustment for container weights.

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    First call in Durban for Hanjin box ship

    The recently announced new service between the Far East and East Coast South America via South Africa involving five shipping lines saw the arrival in Durban last week of the first Hanjin Shipping container ship, Hanjin Rio de Janeiro. This is believed to be the first Hanjin box ship to call in South Africa on a regular company scheduled service. (see Ports & Ships report HERE

    Hanjin Rio de Janeiro arrived from Asia and is going on to South America, helping to inaugurate the new service involving four other lines. Hanjin and Zim are deploying three vessels each, CCNI (Compania Chilena de Navegacion Interoceanica) and Wanhai two each and Hapag-Loyd one vessel, for a total of 11 ships each in the 4,200-TEU range.

    The service connects Korea, Central and South China, Singapore, South Africa (east and west sailings), Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina.

    Hanjin Rio de Janeiro’s arrival in Durban was last week was commemorated with a dinner function attended by several leading executives from Hanjin, including Mr Jay H Kim, Regional Executive for Southeast and West Asia.

    Hanjin Container Lines was established in 1977. In 1988 the company merged with Korean Shipping Corp to found Hanjin Shipping Company.

    The company’s ships agent in Southern Africa is Sharaf Shipping Agency, which has its head office in Durban, tel 031 584 2900.

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    Piracy update: Russian Navy retakes tanker Moscow University, one dead but pirates released

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    Marshal Shaposhnikov

    A German-owned chemical tanker, MARIDA MARGUERITE (13,168-dwt, built 2008) was seized by Somali pirates 120 n.miles south of Salalah in Oman on Saturday afternoon.

    The vessel has a crew of 22, consisting of 19 Indian, one Ukrainian and two Bangladeshis and was attacked by pirates in a skiff who opened fire with automatic weapons before boarding the vessel. EU NAVFOR reports that a passing merchant ship responded to the radio call from the tanker saying it was under attack but was told soon after by VHF radio to “go away”.

    Meanwhile, the Russian Navy destroyer MARSHAL SHAPOSHNIKOV freed the highjacked Russian oil products tanker MOSCOW UNIVERSITY from pirates after discovering that the all Russian crew had secured themselves in a safe place on the vessel. One of the pirates was killed in the recapture of the vessel but the remaining 10 Somalis were later all released in yet another bizarre case of uncertainty over proper jurisdiction.

    Citing imperfections in international legal frameworks, a Russian spokesman said the Somali pirates did not fall under the jurisdiction of any state and international law.

    There was also the matter of identification, he pointed out. The pirates claimed they were not part of the group that captured the ship but were hostages placed on board the vessel by the real pirates. The crew of the tanker was unable to identify anyone as everyone hid themselves as soon as the pirates began storming the ship.

    As a result the navy was ordered to release the pirates.

    In another pirate Attack the Japanese Peace Boat OCEANIC came under attack in the Gulf of Aden but managed to out-manoeuvre the pirates and make its escape. The passenger ship was attacked last Wednesday.

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    Bad roads and inadequate rail force costs up

    The worsening condition of South Africa's roads was affecting the maintenance and repair costs of freight trucks and vehicles negatively, thus escalating logistics costs. Two years after Transnet began its multibillion-rand capital investment, rail capacity is still insufficient to offset South Africa's high logistics costs; and South Africa saw an increase of 6.9 percent in logistics costs to R339 billion in 2008, compared with the previous year's R317bn, and 2004's R213bn. These are among the key findings of the latest State of Logistics Survey released last week.

    The sixth State of Logistics Survey, published by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Imperial Logistics and Stellenbosch University, states that despite the increase, 2008 costs were at their lowest as a percentage of gross domestic product since the survey was first introduced in 2004, totalling 14.7 percent of GDP – down from last year's 15.9 percent.

    However, when compared with other countries' logistics costs, such as the United States’ 9.4 percent of GDP, domestic costs remained high. While the improvement in terms of GDP may appear positive at first glance, it did not mean all was well in the local logistics sector, said director of the Stellenbosch University Centre for Supply Chain Management, Dr Jan Havenga.

    The survey breaks down logistics costs in South Africa into transport costs, inventory carrying costs, storage and port costs, and management and administration costs. Transport made up 50 percent of logistics costs in the country.

    Havenga said his estimate of the required capital investment in rail was about R200bn. Transnet plans to invest R93bn over the next five years.

    Rail traffic had stayed the same over the past 15 years, while the roads workload had more than doubled over that period. For the period under study, 1.4 billion tonnes of a total of 1.6 billion tonnes of freight were transported by road over an average distance of 185 kilometres in 2008. Rail transported 204 million tonnes at an average transport distance of 640km.

    Transnet required the involvement of the private sector to create adequate rail capacity. On Transnet's investment plan, Havenga said he expected "marked improvement" in rail capacity after three to 10 years, "if we are lucky”.

    He added that the country required more transport to keep the economy going than the rest of the world. One reason for this was that the economic centre is located deep inland, 600km from the nearest port. This meant that a jump in the fuel price, undoubtedly to follow soon after the receding recession, would have a far higher cost impact on South African logistics costs than the rest of the world.

    The survey further showed that the percentage of bad roads in South Africa's secondary road network increased from 8 percent (1998) to 20 percent (2008), with significant deliveries routed via this road network. The percentage of bad national roads increased from 7 percent to 9 percent over the same period, said CSIR Built Environment executive director, Hans Ittmann.

    He added that high transport demand and poor network configuration, worsening road conditions and higher storage and inventory costs required increased funding to bolster capacity.

    Alex Masianoga, executive manager at Transnet Freight Rail (TFR), said the company embraced public- private partnerships. Transnet was developing a public-private partnership framework and was examining this concept broadly. For example, talks over a public-private partnership between TRF and Sasol were at an "advanced stage".

    Commenting on the survey, Mutshutshu Nzumalo, president of South African Road Federation, said the country's roads were not being maintained and repaired properly.
    Total vehicle maintenance and repair can increase by as much as 121% for a truck travelling on a road with a bad condition rating, with an increase of as much as 10 percent in total logistics costs of a company, Ittmann said. - ROAD AHEAD

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    Today’s recommended Read – Old railway thinking stifles the 'can-do' mentality

    There is huge potential for rail freight in Australia, but the sector is behind the times, writes Tony Berkeley, chairman, Rail Freight Group.

    In some ways, he says, the Australian sector is like Europe’s: it has national services operating often in very different conditions with varying track gauge, safety regulations and other rules, and sometimes with local passenger services having priority over freight (except at night), and sometimes with difficult port access and variable amounts of competition.

    The trans-Australia services are very similar to European cross-border traffic. East-west, from Perth to Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney, many of the containers are moved double-stacked and rail has enjoyed a whopping 85 percent of the market share.

    The article contains messages for South Africa. You can read it HERE.

    If you have any suggestions for a good read please send the link to info@ports.co.za and put GOOD READ in the subject line.

    Pics of the day – CHEMBULK TORTOLA and GRAND WAY

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    The Japanese-owned, American operated chemical and oil products tanker CHEMBULK TORTOLA (20,809-dwt, built 2007) in Cape Town harbor last week. Picture by Aad Noorland

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    The Hong Kong flagged and owned bulker GRAND WAY (44,006-dwt, built 1994) seen on berth in Cape Town also this past week. Picture by Aad Noorland

    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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