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Ports & Ships Maritime News

November 17, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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MUR Shipping’s bulker AFRICAN GLORY (24,252-dwt, built 1998) which arrived at the Saldanha Multi Purpose Terminal yesterday (Tuesday) to load steel products. In the background is one of the port’s three tugs, the 1977-built Voith Schneider propelled MEEUW (486-gt). Picture by Derek Berry

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Port tariff increases excessive and unjustified, says Cape Chamber of Commerce

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Maydon Wharf scene, Durban. Picture by Terry Hutson

The proposed port tariff increases of nearly 12 percent were excessive, unjustified and could have a devastating effect on exports, says the Cape Chamber of Commerce.

Addressing Riad Kahn, the Ports Regulator, the Chamber said it had been shocked to learn that the Transnet National Ports Authority had requested tariff increases averaging 11.9 percent for next year, despite the fact that the ports had made a healthy profit last year.

South African port tariffs were already among the highest in the world and the requested increase was well in excess of the inflation rate.

“We fear the new tariffs will be the last straw for many of our exporters who are already suffering in the wake of the world financial crises made worse by the sharp increase in the value of the rand,” said Albert Schuitmaker, Director of the Chamber.

“As business we understand that costs go up every year, but we have to find ways to manage increases and improve efficiencies. We know that in difficult times extraordinary measures are sometimes required and many companies in the private sector have had to reduce margins, freeze wages, work short hours and even reduce staff in a bid to survive.”

He said the aim of the Ports Authority should be to reduce tariffs to bring them into line with those of comparable ports in other parts of the world.

“Simply increasing tariffs year after year is not acceptable, and when the increase sought is double the inflation rate it becomes clear that something is very wrong,” said Schuitmaker.

“The Ports Authority is a public sector monopoly and, as such, it is free of the restraints and discipline imposed by the kind of competition to which any normal South African company is subject. We feel that the only yardstick by which the reasonableness of present application can be judged is a comparison with the port tariffs in a selection of other countries in both the developed and the developing world.”

Schuitmaker quoted the vision set out in the national commercial ports policy which stated that ‘South Africa’s commercial ports system should be globally competitive, safe and secure, operating at internationally accepted levels of operational efficiency consistent with the goals and objectives of the Government’s macroeconomic strategies. The commercial ports system must serve the economy and meet the needs of the port users in a manner which is economically and environmentally sustainable.’

He said the proposed increases were excessive and likely to be counter-productive. “We urge Transnet to rethink its proposed increases in much the same way as any private sector company operating in a competitive environment would have to do. We ask the Ports Regulator to adjust the proposed increase accordingly.” - cbn

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West African shipping and port news

Cameroon fruit terminal takeover

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Port of Doula

Management and operation of the Port of Doula’s fruit terminal has been awarded to Upper Penja Plantation which has acquired a 15-year concession from the Doula Port Authority. The new operator intends upgrading the terminal and installing new cold storage facilities and will seek to help market Cameroon’s bananas on the international market. – source Cameroon Terminal

Singapore firm to help develop Congo’s special economic zones

Singapore Cooperation Enterprise (SCE) has agreed to help develop the Congo’s three economic zones, which includes building a new city and port astride both banks of the Kouilou River, some 65km north of Pointe Noire.

The ambitious project envisages a city built to house up to 10 million people and to include the construction of a new international airport and seaport; an industrial zone development 50km north of Pointe Noire that will interconnect with the Congo’s oil extraction industry; and a land development adjacent to the new international airport to cater for high value added agricultural and manufacturing activities.

OT Africa Line now offers Kinshasa

French line OT Africa says it has reopened its CTBL service to Kinshasa via Matadi. The estimated transit time by road between unloading at Matadi and arrival at the Kinshasa terminal is 15 days. OTAL draws attention to its tariff including delivery at city limits after customs clearance by the consignee. A FERI (Ogefrem Waiver) is required. OTAL offers cargo consolidation, clearance and loading, in addition to warehousing, customs, stevedoring and forwarding services. – OTAL

Liberia agrees to railing Guinean iron ore to the port of Buchanan

Following the refurbishment of the railroad from the Liberian side of Mount Nimba, Guinea has been given the go-ahead from Liberia to transport iron ore by rail across Liberia for export from the port of Buchanan. Terms of the agreement will however only be reached following the election of a new Guinean president.

Jan de Nul to dredge Sierra Leone’s Queen Elizabeth II quay for larger ships

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Jan de Nul’s JAMES COOK which is currently in Sierra Leone

Belgian-based Dredging & Marine Construction Co Jan de Nul Group has been awarded the contract to dredge Sierra Leone’s Queen Elizabeth II quay to a depth alongside of 11 metres. While still waiting for the formalities to be signed off, Jan de Null has redeployed the training suction hopper dredger JAMES COOK (12,065-gt, built 1992) from Spain to the West African country.

The current depth alongside the quay averages 9m and places restrictions on the type and size of ships using the port. A second dredger is to be brought to Sierra Leone and will go to work alongside the Kissy Targrin Ferry Terminal to similarly deepen the berth.

Zim out of Tin Can Island

As previously reported by PORTS & SHIPS, Israel’s ZIM Integrated Shipping has sold its 47.5% stake in the Tin Can Island Container Terminal for a figure of US$ 154 million, netting a cool gross profit of $120 million on the deal.

The buyer of Zim’s shares is a joint venture between China Merchants (60%) and the China-Africa Development Fund (40%). The holder of the majority share in the terminal is the French Bollore Group which will remain in partnership with the Chinese. The transaction remains subject to regulatory approvals.

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Piracy: Uganda critical of international pirate strategy

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AMISON peacekeepers from Uganda on duty in Mogadishu

Uganda, which is providing the bulk of African troops for AMISOM, the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia, has issued some harsh words regarding the international community’s strategy towards piracy.

Instead, said James Mugume, permanent secretary at Uganda’s foreign ministry, the international community should spend its money on the African Union instead of funding naval operations off the Somali coast.

Many Africans from across the continent will applaud Uganda for having the courage to speak out on such a sensitive issue. Probably it is only Uganda that can say these words, given the extent to which the East African country has gone in bolstering the AMISOM forces now trying to keep the peace and an internationally-recognised interim government in power.

Mugume said the naval patrols were not working. He said European and American navies [and a number from the east and from India] have been patrolling the Somali coast to protect merchant vessels from attack by Somali pirates. Currently however, the pirates hold 30 ships [the number changes almost daily] and more than 500 crew hostage.

Mugume urged the UN Security Council to strengthen the African Union force in Somalia, where Ugandan troops make up the bulk of the 7,500 force. This small force has succeeded only in protecting the Somali government which controls only a part of the capital Mogadishu.

He said that Uganda’s plan to contain piracy was cheaper and more efficient. “The concept of operation we presented to the Security Council is to let us (the AU) take over the territory of Somalia. Let’s block the ports… and the issue of piracy will automatically be reduced.” – source Radio France Internationale (RFI)

EU NAVFOR warship goes to the aid of capsized Yemeni fishing vessel

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the overturned Yemeni fishing vessel. Picture courtesy EU NAVFOR

Early Sunday morning (14 November) the Belgian warship BNS LOUISE MARIE came across a capsized Yemeni fishing vessel in the Gulf of Aden, 70 n.miles off the Yemeni coast.

The Belgian ship was on regular patrol as part of the EU NAVFOR Operation Atalanta.

Clinging to the overturned vessels were six fishermen – two Yemeni, two Somalis and two Tanzanian, who said they were part of an original 10-man crew. BNS Louise Marie immediately launched its helicopter and conducted a wide search of the area but no sign of the missing men was found except for the body of one man which was recovered. The surviving fishermen were taken on board the warship and given medical assistance, food and water. The dead fisherman was buried at sea and on Monday BNS Louise Marie handed over the survivors to Yemeni authorities.

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At least ten people drown when Mozambique ferry capsizes

At least ten people drowned on Saturday morning, when the boat carrying them sank off Chiloane island, in the central Mozambican province of Sofala, reports AIM, the Mozambican news agency.

According to sources in the Sofala Maritime Administration, cited by Radio Mozambique, the reasons for the shipwreck are not yet known.

The boat, named Nossa Senhora de Fatima (Our Lady of Fatima), belonged to the Catholic Church and was taking 38 passengers up the Mozambique Channel to the city of Beira.

The death toll may rise, since four people are still missing despite the efforts of a rescue team over the weekend. AIM

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Rail News – Moz govt to intervene in Vale/RITES squabble

Maputo, 16 November – The Mozambican government will intervene if negotiations fail between Brazilian mining company Vale and India’s RITES for use of the Sena railroad, the Minister for Transport and Communications said in Maputo.

According to daily newspaper Notícias, Paulo Zucula said that the process was still under negotiation and that only the interested companies were currently involved.

However, he gave assurances that the government was watchful and noted that, “at no point will we see the State’s interests affected and if the two companies cannot agree the government will intervene.”

The minister also said that talks had been underway with the Indian government with a view to altering the position of state group RITES in the management of the Sena railroad and in order to carry out a capital increase.

Last week, the chairman of Vale said in Maputo that the group was facing difficulties in its negotiations with India's RITES for use of the Sena railroad to transport coal from Moatize, in Mozambique's Tete province.

Speaking to Mozambican newspaper O País, after a meeting between Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and representatives of Brazilian companies operating in Mozambique, Roger Agnelli said there was ‘bad faith’ on the part of the concession-holders of the Sena railroad.

The chairman of Vale noted that a lack of consensus with the Indian state company could affect the start of the coal mining project, in that initially only the Sena railroad will be available to transport coal produced at Moatize.

Agnelli noted that the disagreement was due to tariffs, which are allegedly impossible to bear, which the Indian company is demanding to ensure transport of the coal from Tete. (macauhub)

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Navy blues… Half speed ahead for Aussie Navy while the SAN blows a fuse

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HMAS ANZAC – it’s half-speed ahead for now. Picture SAN

So you thought the South African Navy was having money problems? So are many other navies, by all accounts, with cut-backs the order of the day. Talk to Britain’s Royal Navy! But here’s one story about our neighbours from across the Indian Ocean.

The Royal Australian Navy has ordered its warships to cut speeds to save fuel and help slash A$ 2.5 billion from the navy budget. Ships’ menus are also being standardised and the number of days spent at sea cut as part of a plan that aims to save $ 2.5 billion in the coming decade.

“When ships are operating normally, commanding officers are expected to operate them at the most economical speed,” a navy spokesman said.

At the same time, the navy has been forced to beg the New Zealand navy for places on board the multi-role ship Canterbury for 89 officer trainees and seven staff because its own amphibious transport ships HMAS MANOORA and HMAS KANIMBLA are laid up in Sydney Harbour with huge mechanical and structural problems. In September, the Kanimbla drifted dangerously close to shore without power after a fire near Sydney Heads. According to navy insiders, there are now grave doubts that the two 8000-tonne vessels will ever return to sea.

The navy maintains there have been no cuts to ‘training demand’ but has admitted it is using more shore training compared with sea days in the wake of the ‘operational pause’ for the Manoora and Kanimbla. “This impact is being mitigated by increased training in other platforms and simulation ashore,” it said.

The Canterbury exercise is the first time an entry officer course has been conducted on a foreign ship. The Australian trainees, working as junior sailors, will spend their first 15 days at sea on the ship during an 18-day deployment this month. Such deployments at sea take place twice a year, but it is not clear whether the New Zealand navy will be called on for future training cruises. The training cruise will be conducted free of charge by the New Zealand Navy. - Shiptalk

SAN submarine blew a fuse, or two…

Admiral Bernhard Teuteberg of the South African Navy told parliament yesterday what a number of people already knew or suspected, but were reluctant to discuss, which is to the effect that when some bright spark connected the dockside battery charger incorrectly, a number of very expensive fuses in the submarine SAS MANTHATISI promptly blew.

The admiral also disclosed that one of the frigates was out of commission because an engine had been damaged and would cost R16 million to replace.

Referring to the unfortunate submarine, which has been out of commission for some considerable time and which has been the subject of some media attention, Admiral Teuteberg said it had flaws in the banks of batteries and some would have to be replaced, although this would be done free of charge by the German builders.


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No excuses offered for showing another of those lovely old Holland Africa ships, this time the GIESSENKERK (8478-gt, built 1956) arriving in Durban one day in 1970. The ship was built by C van der Giessen & Zonen and in 1970, the year in which this picture was taken, was transferred to Nedlloyd. In 1976 the ship was sold to a Panamanian concern named Mercury River Inc who renamed her MERCURY RIVER. A year later they in turn sold the ship to Pacific International Lines (PIL) who renamed her KOTA SERAJAH. After trading with PIL until 1982 the ship was finally scrapped the following year. Picture is by Trevor Jones. Acknowledgements to The Ships List for some of the details.

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Grossing just 1,396 tons the 1955-built TATANA came from the Ardrossan Shipyard and was built for Tasmanian Steamers. It appears she traded for the Tasmanian company for the next 15 years and when that company closed down the ship was acquired by a Singapore-based company called Express Navigation. Tatana then became the BONAWIND. In 1972 a company called Oceania Inc, which was registered in Liberia, bought the ship, renamed her PISANG TEMBAGA under which name she continued for the next two years, when she went into the ownership of an Indonesian company, PT Astri Lines. The little ship was finally broken up in 1986, having run up against Indonesia’s rule that none of their registered ships should exceed 25 years. This picture courtesy Robert de Lange

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