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Ports & Ships Maritime News

July 21, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

Shipping, freight, trade and transport related news of interest for Africa

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The Safamrine container ship SAFMARINE CUNENE (27,322-gt, built 2002) seen sailing from Durban one day in 2003. Picture by Terry Hutson


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Mozambique and Botswana sign MoU on new deepwater port and railway

The governments of Mozambique and Botswana signed a memorandum of understanding on Friday (16 July) to develop a deep water port at Techobanine point, in Mozambique’s southernmost district of Matutuine.

Besides building a port that can receive bulk mineral ships, oil tankers and passenger vessels, the project also involves a new 1,100 kilometre railway linking Techobanine to Botswana, and passing through Zimbabwe.

The document was signed, in Techobanine itself, by Mozambican Transport Minister Paulo Zucula, and his Botswanan counterpart, Frank Ramsden.

Speaking during the presentation of the project, Adelino Mesquita, the Chief Executive Officer of Mozambique’s port and rail company, CFM, said that the budget for studies and for the construction of the port and railway is estimated at around seven billion US dollars.

The preparatory phase, including the mobilisation of finance, should be completed by the end of 2011, and the first phase of construction will take place between 2012 and 2015.

Mozambican Transport Minister Paulo Zucula told the ceremony that the memorandum of understanding marks the rebirth of a dream for a deep water port in Matutuine that dates from the 1960s. The original site indicated for such a port was Dobela Point, but it has been shifted to Techobanine largely for environmental reasons.

“This memorandum of understanding has been long awaited, given its importance in relaunching the foundations for a common strategic vision for the Techobanine Point project, in order to meet the challenges of the transport sector and the expansion of the regional market”, said Zucula.

For his part, Ramsden declared that the memorandum marks an important stage in strengthening the relations of cooperation between the two countries.

“As a country of the hinterland, Botswana needs exits to the sea in neighbouring countries, to facilitate its imports and exports”, he said. “With this port we shall encourage trade and tourism between our peoples.”

Botswana believes a new port and railway will dramatically reduce the time taken to move its imports and exports. According to Taolo Sebonego, the chairperson of the Botswana rail company, with the country’s current dependence on South African ports, it takes up to 22 days for merchandise to arrive, be unloaded and reach its destination.

He expected the new port and railway to reduce this period to an average of just six days.

The Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Tomas Salomao, stressed that SADC will give its full support “because we believe this project is important for the region”. SADC would also encourage other member states, such as South Africa (which is just 30 kilometres from Techbanine) and Swaziland, to participate in the initiative.

The Mozambican and Botswanan governments believe that private finance will be forthcoming, since the port and railway can be leased out to private management.

But when AIM asked Zucula what would happen if the private sector failed to provide the money, he replied “if there is no interest from private business, then there will be no problem in arranging public investment, because the project justifies this.”

The main cargo expected to use the new port is coal from Botswana. The country has an estimated 212 billion tonnes of coal reserves. Using Techobanine would free Botswana from dependence on the South African ports of Durban and Richard Bay which, apart from congestion problems, give priority to South African exports.

See related article published by PORTS & SHIPS on Monday, 12 July- HERE


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Pirates release two ships

The captured Norwegian tanker UBT OCEAN and a Kenyan-flagged fishing vessel have been released by Somali pirates, presumably after suitable ransoms were paid.

The UBT Ocean, with its crew of 21 seafarers mostly from Myanmar, is now heading south towards Dar es Salaam, while the fishing vessel, named Sakoba, is heading for Mombasa.

UBT Ocean was seized by pirates on 5 March this year while the fishing boat with a crew of 16 drawn from Spain, Poland, Namibia, Kenya and Cape Verde was taken hostage on 26 February.

According to reports the Somalis still hold at least 21 ships for ransom along with their 387 crew members.

Meanwhile, with the onset of the monsoon, piracy has become less of a problem although there have been indications of increasing activity in the southern reaches of the Red Sea.


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YESTERYEAR: those classic ships - RANDFONTEIN


The first RANDFONTEIN (5,653-gt, built 1920) was built in 1920 for the Norwegian shipping company of Fearnley & Eger, known as Christiana Shipping, Christiana being the then name for Oslo. The new ship was built at the Greenock Shipbuilding yard in Greenock and was named STAUR, but after only one year the passenger/cargo ship changed hands, being purchased by Nederlandsche Zuid Afrikaansche Stoomvaart Maatschappij (NZASM) and renamed RANDFONTEIN.

Following NZASM’s liquidation in 1932 the ship was transferred to the VNS (Vereenigde Nederlandsche Scheepvaartmaatschappij, or in English, the United Netherlands Navigation Company). After survived the war, the decision was taken to convert the now aging ship for cargo purposes only and so her passenger accommodation was removed and the ship re-entered service as RANDKERK. But her remaining time at sea carrying cargo only was a short one and the ship was scrapped three years later. The lower picture shows her as the Randkerk in Table Bay. Pictures by Willem Kruk



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Fancy a cruise on the American Great Lakes?

Fancy visiting North America’s Great Lakes from the comfort and luxury of your own cruise ship? Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is making that possible by reintroducing the cruise ship COLUMBUS to the environment for which the ship was specially designed and built in 1997.

Columbus was designed with the locks of the Great Lakes in mind and is therefore one of the few ocean-going cruise ships that can successfully travel through the wonderful scenery of the Great Lakes of North America. The ship, which has visited South Africa on several occasions, offers a unique opportunity to experience a European cruise ship on two Great Lakes itineraries in 2011, as well as on another along the eastern coast of North America.

The two international (German/English) Great Lakes cruises provide the rare opportunity of visiting seven different states, two Canadian provinces, and all five lakes. A highlight of the Great Lakes journeys is when the Columbus proceeds through the eight locks of the 28-mile long Welland Canal, after tackling a height difference of almost 328 feet (about one hundred metres).

Guests will also be presented with numerous opportunities for outings which include: attending a real Pow-Wow and traversing the Agawa Canyon on an excursion that takes them where tourists seldom go, through a breath-taking wilderness with waterfalls, ravines and steep passes.

Also offered on the Columbus in 2011 at the end of the Great Lakes cruising schedule is an eastern United States and Canada cruise extending from Toronto to Florida. This itinerary cruises through the St. Lawrence Seaway, making stops at all the big cities along the route including Boston, Newport, New York City, Philadelphia and Baltimore.

This cruise is also a dedicated golf cruise, with an itinerary that allows golf enthusiasts the opportunity to work with a PGA golf professional and to practice on a 21-course golf simulator onboard. Additionally the golf package allows guests to tee off at 5 golf courses along the route (golf package at an additional cost).

Guests can expect a casual, friendly atmosphere aboard the Columbus, a 3-star-plus ship, according to the 2010 Berlitz Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships. Columbus provides excellent value for the price, plus the unique experience of travelling on an ocean liner, which includes sophisticated international cuisine, lounges, sports, a swimming pool and entertainment, for a maximum of 420 guests.

Although Hapag-Lloyd is primarily a German ship, all three of the dedicated 2011 Columbus international cruises are designed to ensure that English-speaking passengers will feel comfortable from the moment they step onboard.

Travel Documents and information is provided to guests in English prior to their trip – the onboard documentation includes daily programmes, menus, announcements, lectures/video presentations and safety drill instructions. Shore excursions are offered in English at each port of call. The entire crew is also fluent in English.

The Great Lakes Cruise, Toronto to Chicago is a 13-day cruises from 5 – 18 September 2011, visiting the following lake highlights: Welland Canal, Windsor, Tobermory, Parry Sound, Georgian Bay, Little Current, Lock “Soo,” Thunder Bay, Duluth, Mackinac Island. Rates start at USD 3,540 per person cruise only, with a 5 percent discount for early booking by 7 February 2011.

The second Great Lakes cruise is in the reverse direction, Chicago to Toronto from 18 September – 1 October 2011, also 13 days. Rates start at USD 3,470 per person/cruise only with a 5 percent discount for early booking by 20 February 2011.

As the Columbus exits the Great Lakes, it presents an opportunity for another unique cruise along the North American eastern seaboard including the mighty St Lawrence Waterway. Departing from Toronto on 1 October and arriving in Miami on 19 October, the ship visits Montreal, Quebec, Halifax, Boston, Newport, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Charleston, Savannah, Port Canaveral during the 18-day cruise, which starts at USD 4,280 per person/cruise only. A 5 percent discount applies if bookings are made by 5 March 2011.

The Golf Package is USD 1,160 which includes tee time on five courses.

Details are available from Hapag-Lloyd or through your travel agent.

Picture by Terry Hutson


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RBCT strike continues into week two

The strike by members of the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) at the Richards Bay Coal Terminal is continuing into week two over demands for higher wages.

Approximately half the labour force of just over 500 workers is reported to have downed tools but the terminal is managing to continue normal operations, says RBCT, although the loss of half of the labour force must mean something to production.

Workers are asking for an increase of 9.5 percent, which RBCT says is unreasonable given the already high wages and good work conditions paid to labour.

Last year RBCT exported 61.14 million tonnes of coal and this amount was expected to increase this year, but the earlier Transnet strike and now RBCT’s own version appears to make that scenario unlikely, no matter what spin is put on things.


Meanwhile an Indian report says that India is set to displace Europe as the largest coal buyer from South Africa. The report says that the rise in South African imports to India is coming on the back of rising demand for quality coal from Indian power stations. India already buys one quarter of its coal imports from South Africa and the rest comes from Indonesia.

In 2009 India’s coal imports rose 160 percent to 17.7 million tonnes. At the same time Europe’s imports from RBCT decreased 28 percent from 38.9mt to 28.1 million tonnes. The report suggested that up to 5mt of South African coal will be diverted away from Europe during this year to other export destinations.


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Pics of the day – AURORA OPAL and NIGERIA STAR


Two ships from the year 2003. Above is the ore strengthened bulk carrier AURORA OPAL, taking supplies at Durban’s Island View 1 berth. In the lower picture, the German-owned container ship NIGERIA STAR (16,233-gt, built 1993), which now sails as the KOLLMAR, was a regular caller in Durban during the early 2000s. Pictures by Terry Hutson



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