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Ports & Ships Maritime News

November 16, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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Ports & Ships has begun updating the Cruise Schedule for the coming 2010/11 cruise season and beyond. Find it HERE and don’t forget to come back often, as more updates are due shortly


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Princess Cruises’ ship SUN PRINCESS (77,441-gt, built 1995, 1950-passengers) seen here in Lyttelton, New Zealand, is due in African waters in mid 2011. Picture by Alan Calvert

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Port tariff hikes anger timber industry

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The Durban Wood Chip Terminal and wood chip carrier Hokuetsu uShaka on berth. Picture by Steve McCurrach www.airserve.co.za

Proposed port tariff hikes, averaging a supposed 11.91%, have upset importers and exporters who describe the port authority as being one of the more expensive in the world and over-greedy and manipulative.

Transnet National Ports Authority has proposed a range of adjustments and increases which it says averages 11.91% and which are due to come into effect on 1 April 2011, subject to approval by the Port Regulator. The Regulator has held a series of roadshows to give industry the opportunity of commenting on the proposed hikes but a number of port users say they fear the new tariffs if applied will make South African exports of certain commodities prohibitively expensive.

The timber industry in particular has been hard hit by the proposals which will result in an increase of almost 650% on cargo dues on some types of exports. Wood chip exports through the ports of Richards Bay and Durban will be hard hit by these adjustments, which the TNPA has described as ‘realignments’. In the proposal cargo dues on wood chips will increase from R5.74 a ton to R40.89 a ton while logs will go up from R5.49 a ton to R40.89 per ton.

A senior officer at one of the wood chip exporting companies told Ports & Ships that the hikes risked putting thousands of people out of work. “The timber industry is not just a few large enterprises, able to absorb these costs,” he said. “It is made up of lots of small farmers and growers, some of whom can almost be called subsistence farmers, who have a few acres under timber and rely on this for their living.

According to Business Day there are 1300 commercial timber farmers and 20,000 emerging black timber growers which represent 90% of South Africa’s forestry industry. The report quoted a senior manager of NCT Forestry Co-operative, James van Zyl as saying that between 60 and 70% of the gross value of the commodities that NCT exported comprised logistic costs and that the proposed increases in cargo dues might put a number of smaller timber growers out of business.

He pointed out that the timber industry had already been forced to move away from rail transport in favour of using road transport because of rail freight increases that had risen above the inflation rate.

Importers and exporters will be pinning their hopes on the decision to be made by the port regulator, but will take hope from his incidation that studies undertaken on his behalf showed that the Port of Durban Container Terminal was the most expensive among 12 international ports surveyed.

The head of MSC in South Africa, Captain Salvatore Sarno concurred with this report in public recently, saying that he had conducted his own survey using ports that his container ships make regular use of, and that Durban came out as the most expensive. In addition, he said, the service that MSC received was below the standard of that of the other ports. “We are losing efficiency and the productivity is being affected accordingly,” Sarno said, adding that exports will decrease because South African goods will no longer be competitive and clients will buy from elsewhere.

“It is absolutely unacceptable that we pay for a first class ticket and then we travel in third class. It is unacceptable that Transnet thinks that we are like cows to be milked.”

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Northern Mozambique to be covered by new radar network in Pemba

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Port of Pemba (the former Porto Amelia) from the air. Picture by Terry Hutson

The Mozambican Navy is working on a project with the United States to develop a radar system in the northern port of Pemba that can monitor ships in the country’s territorial waters. The US assistance is part of growing military aid for the Mozambican armed forces (FADM).

Earlier this month the US Ambassador Leslie Rowe visited the navy base at Pemba for the formal handing over of 12 boats and six towing vehicles which were donated by the US to the Mozambique Navy. Ambassador Rowe said that the donation was another example of the US support for the development of the Mozambican armed forces as part of the military partnership between the two countries.

She added, “I recall that in February two US naval ships visited Mozambique, and in August an intensive joint exercise took place focussing on peacekeeping and humanitarian operations. During these exercises, training was held on the maintenance of vehicles and boats, military leadership, demining, first aid and medical treatment.”

The diplomat added that the US has also helped renovate the Military Hospital in Maputo and has donated a field kitchen.

The hard-hulled inflatable boats donated to the navy came with communication and navigation equipment and are fully equipped with ropes, anchors and lifejackets. In 2007 and 2008 five similar boats were donated by the US Africa Command (AFRICOM).

The Press Attaché, Tobias Bradford, told reporters that apart from the radar system mounted at the naval base in Pemba, a study is currently looking at the possibility of using mobile telephone antenna. Source AIM

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The port of Pemba, from the land. A radar network is currently being installed nearby that will cover Mozambique’s northern waters. Picture by Terry Hutson

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Piracy: Chinese ship seized as the UN speaks out again

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Yuan Xiang photographed in Cape Town in February 2009 when the ship was named Dong Hua Men, but soon to be renamed. The vessel seized by pirates at the weekend is a regular caller at South African ports. Picture by Ian Shiffman

EU NAVFOR, the European Union naval presence in the Somali Basin, reports that on Saturday 13 November a Panamanian-flagged Chinese general cargo ship YUAN XIANG (14,538-gt, built 1978) was highjacked by Somali pirates.

At the time of the attack the ship, with a crew of 29 Chinese on board, was sailing 650 n.miles east of Salalah, an area outside that which is patrolled by ships of the Chinese and most other navies. Information received indicates the Yuan Xiang is now on a heading towards Somalia.

Yuan Xiang was last in a South African port in Durban on 17 August this year.

Pirate whaler destroyed by Spanish warship

Meanwhile, a Spanish warship, the frigate SPS INFANTA CRISTINA intercepted a whaler with four suspected pirates on board on Saturday, 13 November. This was 200 n.miles off the Somali coast while the warship was on a routine patrol as part of the EU NAVFOR operation.

The whaler, which was originally spotted by a EU NAVFOR surveillance aircraft, was seen to be operating with a skiff and was therefore suspected of being a ‘mother ship’ on a piracy mission. On the approach of the warship the skiff fled the scene and because of insufficient evidence the pirates captured on the whaler are being returned to Somalia, while their whaler has been destroyed.

Kenya Navy kills three pirates, fourth drowns

Further south three pirates mistook a Kenyan Navy vessel for a merchant ship and proceeded to try and board the vessel. Navy personnel on board the Kenyan vessel defended themselves by opening fire on the approaching boat, killing three men on board while a fourth jumped overboard and drowned.

The attack took place in Kilifi waters off the Kenyan coast.

Reports of another rig attacked off Nigerian coast

Unconfirmed reports indicate that another offshore oil rig has been attacked by Nigerian militants, possibly from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Nigerian Delta (MEND).

The rig is operated by US firm Exxon Mobil and is in operation off the coast of Akwa Ibom. There has been no confirmation or announcement of this attack – when an Afren rig was attacked a week ago and seven crew members taken hostage, it was left to MEND to make the announcement, with the outlawed group saying that they were doing so because Nigerian authorities would either deny the action or decline to report it. The seven taken then by the militants remain in captivity although MEND indicated it would eventually release them.

Piracy announcement at the UN

by Paul Ridgway, Correspondent London

The Round Table of international shipping associations includes BIMCO, ICS (the International Chamber of Shipping), Intercargo (The International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners) and INTERTANKO (The International Association of Independent Tanker Owners). These organisations represent all segments of the industry including the owners and managers of all types of ships.

During the week ending 13 November the Round Table group gave the UN Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia an insight into industry-wide activity in support of deterring and defeating piracy off Somalia and in the wider Arabian Sea. The presence of industry representatives at this meeting provided a significant opportunity for industry to work together with the UN in addressing the problem of piracy off the coast of Somalia which continues to endanger the safety, and even the lives, of the seafarers who keep these vital trade routes open.

The Round Table of International Shipping Associations (otherwise known as RTisa) attended the 7th Plenary Session of The Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, at the United Nations in New York, as NGOs in an advisory capacity, and was invited by the chair of Working Group 3 to make a statement in Plenary on the industry’s continued commitment to deterring and defeating piracy off the coast of Somalia.

In particular the industry brief focused on its development, production and distribution of the latest (third) edition of the Best Management Practices document (BMP3). It went on to refer to the direct and indirect costs of operating continuously in a high-risk environment (willingly borne to safeguard crew, cargo and ship) - including implementation of BMP, crew training, passive protective measures, increased insurance and crew costs and provision of Merchant Navy Liaison Officers (MNLOs) to the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR: The EU NAVFOR Operation Atalanta consists of units from Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden. Contributions from third countries such as Norway are participating as well. Also, a number of Cypriot, Irish, Maltese and Finnish military personnel supplement the team at the Northwood Operation Headquarters in NW London).

Furthermore, consideration was given to urging all Governments to robustly pursue the prosecution of those committing acts of piracy on the high seas. There is a need for better co-ordination of independent national convoys which, however much they may be a useful and appreciated part of the counter-piracy operation in the IRTC, are irregular and clearly uncoordinated. Finally there is a need to provide industry associations with information on ships which are not following the reporting requirements of BMP3.

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BRIC countries should cut red tape and boost infrastructure, says DHL chief

Developing country governments - more than most - would decrease their shipping costs 30 percent by 2020 if they cut paper work and upgraded infrastructure, says DHL Global Forwarding CEO Hermann Ude.

“Thirty per cent improvement is a big ambition but one that governments, shippers and service providers can achieve and must work towards achieving if countries are to enjoy rising standards of living,” Mr Ude said.

Speaking ahead of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO summit in Tokyo Mr Ude said that world trade growth, which grew from a third to over 50 percent is an important driver to economic growth, and that inefficient logistics is a roadblock to market growth.

“For example BRIC [Brazil, Russian, India and China] countries require twice as many export/import documents versus Singapore or Germany,” he said. “Paper work can be the single most time consuming element in the life of a shipment, with days lost and costs increasing as products spend time in warehouses.”

Of the 60 days it currently takes from order to delivery in a typical ocean freight shipment from India to Mexico, goods were on the move for less than half of that time, with over 323 days spent on export and import documentation and customs.

“Customs and security are of paramount importance in this day and age, but increased physical security requirements alone are not the panacea. BRIC countries do 10 times more physical inspections than best-in-class countries without improving security,” said Mr Ude.

“Infrastructure bottlenecks or sub-standard transport facilities can force logistics companies such as DHL to use sub-optimal routes in order to guarantee delivery and this increases costs. For example, insufficient port capacity can lead to 15 per cent to 30 per cent higher sea transportation rates on otherwise comparable routes and these costs come with additional CO2 emission,” he said.

“Savings are not the only benefits emerging economies could enjoy. Trade transit times could also be cut by 65 percent, and 20-40 percent more trade generated,” he said. Schednet

[South Africa has applied to become the fifth member of BRIC.]

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Motor export news – GM opens new Coega centre

General Motors opens new Coega IDZ centre

General Motors South Africa has opened a R250 million export and local Parts Distribution Centre in the Coega Industrial Development Zone. Consisting of four warehouses totaling 38,000 m² under a single roof, the state-of-the-art facility will accommodate 144,000 part numbers, a GMSA spokesman said.

John Astbury, GMSA vice-president of Aftersales said the plant will cater to 139 GMSA local dealers, as well as dealers in 10 African/SADC countries and to Israel.

Ford to export new Ranger to Africa, Europe, Russia, Turkey

Ford Motor Company of South Africa will next year begin exporting its new one-tonne Ranger pickup into the rest of Africa, into Europe, Russia and Turkey. The Australian- designed Ranger is being manufactured at Ford’s Rosslyn plant outside Pretoria as part of a R3 billion investment, which includes the local manufacture of diesel engines for Ford’s pickup range at the company’s Port Elizabeth engine plant.

Ford will next year commence production of cylinder heads, blocks and crankshafts of which about two thirds of the production is for export to Argentina and Thailand, where the Ranger is also to be manufactured. The balanced goes into the local production of the Ranger pickup, due to commence after mid 2011.

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Interesting Read: Dasftnet STS cranes offer 400+ moves and hour

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Imagine a container terminal working a ship at a rate of around 450 cranes moves an hour and all bays at one time. Fanciful dreaming? Maybe not. APM Terminals recently unveiled its new ship-to-shore crane design that would allow adjacent bays of a large container ship to be worked simultaneously, effectively doubling crane productivity. Read about it in this Cargo Systems article written by Benedict Young HERE

Pics of the Day – MSC SARAWAK and KARIN RAMBOW

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MSC SARAWAK (33,405-gt, built 1983) on berth 202 at the Durban Container Terminal. Picture by Terry Hutson

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The container ship KARIN RAMBOW (9957-gt, built 2005) sails from Durban, with the pilot boat LUFAFA already alongside. Picture by Terry Hutson

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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