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Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jan 11, 2011
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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The Cypriot-flagged chemical products tanker PRISCO ALEXANDRA (50,973-dwt, built 2008) in Cape Town harbour during December 2010. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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Pan-African Association for Ports Cooperation (PAPC) calls for tighter security in Africa’s ports

Delegates to last month’s 8th PAPC Conference held in Arusha, Tanzania heard that trade with Africa was under threat because of a need for greater cooperation and tightening of security at the continent’s ports.

According to PAPC Executive Secretary, Mr Jerome Ntibarekerwa, security agencies in Africa should close ranks in order to keep the seaways and waterways free of armed attacks.

“Piracy is a serious issue because it affects lives and it endangers port operations so much because of a lack of sophisticated equipment to fight it,” he said, stressing that this was a factor that was holding back the growth of Africa’s ports.

Ntibarekerwa called for simplified but harmonised customs’ reforms, saying that too many customs’ check-points brought about unnecessary delays and increased costs which have to be borne by the final consumer. He also highlighted the lack of poor road facilities and a dysfunctional rail network that added to the stunting of Africa’s ports and contributed to the prevalence of congestion in many of them.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicKhomotso Phihlela

His views received support from Transnet National Ports Authority Chief Executive, Khomotso Phihlela. “African nations need to subscribe to Information Technology as the fight against piracy needed technology and experience,” Phihlela said.

He pointed out that there has been a significant increase in piracy activity in the Africa region over the past three years and while incidents in the Horn of Africa and off the east coast of the continent are well documented and a coalition protection force is in place, this is not the case on the west coast. There is considerable uncertainty, he said.

The net result is that Africa’s importers/exporters are having to pay more to ship their goods, that traffic is not at the levels it should be and ports, therefore, are not fulfilling their potential.

Phihlela suggested that if the ports must improve on service delivery, governments should synthesize their role in the integration of infrastructure.

Phihlela said that by 2015 the global market shift would see China having risen to the position of number one in the world’s economy, with Brazil moving into position number five. He welcomed this development and the shift in global economic power from the Western world to the East and said that the major challenge facing Africa was lack of educational opportunity and poverty, which have weakened the state of developing countries. He urged more investment in Africa by the developed countries.

The African continent is currently home to approximately 15% of the world’s population but accounts for less than 2% of global trade.

“Despite the myriad of challenges, the growth story is changing the mindset of Africans, who are more confident about the continent global position and see a chance for a new era,” Phihlela said.

He called for a regional approach to build economies of scale and drive transport system efficiencies. The challenge, he said, is to have our ports fully developed with highly efficient management able to provide favourable conditions and quality transport services that will reduce transit time and logistic costs, improve production competitiveness, and promote trade and tourism development in the region. Ports will play a vital role in trade and tourism development as well as providing a distribution platform and becoming an integral part of logistics and the supply chain.

Phihlela, in pointing out that marine transport is an important channel for the communication between Africa and the world, said that African ports should review their ‘best’ operating practices and the results compared with existing operations to identify possible network operating indicators and operating alternatives.

“Therefore it is of great significance to strengthen the port development and cooperation in the region, aiming at ensuring and promoting the economic and trade growth of Africa.

“Successful port development is an essential factor in ensuring the dynamism and economic growth of the region,” Phihlela concluded.

The Pan-African Association for Ports Cooperation (PAPC) was formed by the three regional port authority bodies PMAESA, PMWACA and UAPNA to establish a continental platform to enhance cooperation between African ports, to facilitate development and encourage exchange of ideas and experiences among their members, and hence increase efficiency and productivity within them.

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Mozambique port dredging continues apace

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The trailing suction hopper dredger ISANDLWANA delivered recently for Transnet, seen here in Durban Harbour on a rainy day in December. Picture by Terry Hutson

The Danish dredging consortium of Johs GRM-Hanssen and Rohde Nielsen (JHG/RN) has been awarded an 18-month, €40 million contract to dredge at the Port of Beira.

The project is being funded by the Mozambique government and the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA).

Included in the contract is a dredger with a capacity of 2,500 cubic metres as well as a hydrographic vessel, both of which will be operated by EMODRAGA, the state-owned dredging company. The dredger was built at the Baltija shipyard in Klaipeda, Lithuania. The contract also covers the rehabilitation of one tug, a pilot boat operated by CFM’s central division, and technical assistance for EMODRAGA.

Emergency dredging has been underway at Beira for the best part of a year.

According to Paulo Zucula, Mozambique’s Transport Minister, the agreement means that an effective solution to keeping the Beira access channel, basins and quays free from silting and at their required depth, is now possible, which will enable the port to accept ships of up to 60,000-tonnes while also improving the safety of navigation.

“It is becoming pertinent to pay special attention to dredging the access channel and to provide the national dredging company with the necessary resources so it can respond in a more professional and efficient manner to the challenges of the present and the future,” the minister said.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Quelimane port

In a related event, dredging of the port of Quelimane in central Mozambique has been completed, the Maputo Portuguese language newspaper Noticias has revealed. The river port, one of Mozambique’s smallest has a single berth of 210 metres and handles an average of 650,000 tonnes of cargo each year.

Dredging consisted of maintenance dredging of the quay, basin and approaches to enable ships with a maximum draught of 5 metres to use the port. Domingos Muzeia, Cornelder Mozambique’s head in Quelimane, said that dredging at the port of Quelimane, which takes around three months, was an operation carried out every year to make it possible for cargo ships with a draft of five metres arriving at the port to moor without the risk of running aground.

The cost of the maintenance dredging – about US$ 200,000, was covered by the port’s Dutch concession holder, Cornelder Mozambique. Cornelder and its state-owned minority partner (30%), Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Mozambique have a 25-year concession and are obliged to make improvements to the port infrastructure and cargo handling equipment. The German Development Agency, Kreditantstalt fur Wiederaufbau has provided €23 million to help fund the project.

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Singapore gives way to Shanghai as biggest container port

For the first time, Shanghai overtook Singapore as the world's busiest container port last year with Hong Kong retaining its third spot but Shenzhen appears to be catching up quickly, reports cargonewsasia.com.

Shanghai's container throughput rose 16.3 percent to 29.1 million TEUs in 2010 while its cargo tonnage grew 17.3 percent to 428.35 million tonnes, according to the website of Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG), the Shanghai-listed port operator of the city, and reported the South China Morning Post.

Announcing Singapore's preliminary port throughput figures last week, Raymond Lim, Singapore's minister for transport and second minister for foreign affairs, said: “Our advanced estimates show Singapore's container throughput for 2010 was 28.4 million TEUs. This is an increase of about 10 per cent over 2009.”

Undeterred by losing the top position to Shanghai, Lim said: “As a major transhipment hub, we are well positioned to capitalise on the growth momentum in Asia.”

Last year, Shanghai and Singapore were in a see-saw battle in terms of monthly container throughput. Singapore beat Shanghai in January, February, March and October, but Shanghai was ahead in the other months. Finally, for the first time Shanghai overtook Singapore in annual container throughput.

Nomura's outlook for Shanghai's container throughput growth for this year is in high single digits, Nomura analyst Jim Wong said.

“Shanghai became the largest container port in the world in 2010 surpassing Singapore but Shanghai's December volume growth slowed to 3.2 per cent year-on-year from 17.7 percent in January to November 2010.” The world's container shipping volume would grow seven to eight percent this year, slower than last year's growth of 14 per cent, a Macquarie report said. This is largely due to the likelihood that weak demand could continue early this year in the US and to a lesser extent in Europe. – source: Cargonews Asia

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South Africa wants to push African agenda on UNSC

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The African Union – South Africa to elevate African agenda

Pretoria - South Africa intends using its position as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to elevate the African agenda and bring peace to the continent.

To achieve this, the country will work closely with Gabon and Nigeria, fellow members of the Security Council, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana- Mashabane said.

“South Africa and Nigeria will, at the same time, be members of the African Union Peace and Security Council, presenting a unique opportunity to bring greater alignment to the work of these two bodies regarding conflict in our continent,” she added.

The country will aim to strengthen its cooperation with Nigeria and Gabon, who with South Africa form the G3, in order to coordinate its efforts regarding the continent more efficiently.

But the focus will not only be on Africa. According to Nkoana-Mashabane, South Africa wants to make a meaningful contribution to peace, security and development globally.

South Africa began its second term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for 2011 and 2012 term on 1 January 2011. The first term was in the 2007 and 2008 period.

The country will serve alongside the permanent members - China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States - and elected members - Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Colombia, Gabon, Germany, India, Lebanon Nigeria and Portugal.

Nkoana-Mashabane said South Africa would contribute to the Security Council's work by participating in its committees, working groups and other structures.

“In 2011, South Africa - in line with its foreign policy priorities - will chair the 1540 Committee dealing with weapons of mass destruction and non-state actors and the Working Group on Conflict Prevention in Africa,” she added.

South Africa will also serve as the vice-chair of the Cote d'Ivoire and Liberia Sanctions Committees.

Nkoana-Mashabane also noted that power configuration of the security council was not in favour of non-permanent members and that national interests sometimes overrode international commitments.

Security Council membership will provide an opportunity for South Africa to work towards achieving a representative, legitimate and more effective Security Council, she added. – BuaNews

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See South Africa’s coastal gems while cruising on board MSC Melody

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MSC Melody arriving off Cape Town

Three new cruise options out of Cape Town being offered this month by MSC Cruises aboard the elegant cruise liner MSC MELODY provide the perfect opportunity to explore some of Africa’s Southern-most tourist gems while enjoying cool mid-ocean breezes and the absence of holiday season traffic.

The classic and extremely comfortable 1,500 passenger cruise ship MSC Melody which has proved so popular in South Africa during previous cruise seasons arrived back in Cape Town at the recent weekend (Saturday 8 January) and will be a regular visitor in the port until the 23rd of this month. The ship has just returned from a 6-night cruise from Durban to Fort Dauphin in Madagascar.

On offer during January are two surprise two-night ‘cruise to nowhere’ Atlantic Ocean voyages; two four-night cruises to Walvis Bay in Namibia where the accent will be on the regions rich bird and marine life; and a unique three-night cruise to Mossel Bay on the Indian Ocean’s Southern Cape coast with the option of a full day ashore to enjoy some of the best of the Garden Route’s outdoor excursions.

“As this is the first time that Cape Town is being used as a home port by MSC Cruises, we will be using this period as an opportunity to evaluate how the City, and in general our potential passengers from this exceptionally beautiful part of South Africa, will respond to our cruise offerings,” said Mr Stefano Vigoriti, Managing Director of MSC Cruises, South Africa. “Even though it will only be for two short periods, now in January and again from the end of February, we feel we will be able to correctly identify the interests of the market for our future seasons in the Southern African hemisphere”.

The excursion highlights of the Mossel Bay cruise departing Cape Town this Friday, 14 January feature the Tsitsikama Forest Canopy adventure, dune sand boarding, a quad bike safari, a predator walk as well as game viewing by 4x4 at a safari lodge. Passengers can also opt to spend a lazy day on the beach or enjoy the many natural, cultural and historical features of this seaside resort made famous by Portuguese navigator Bartolomeu Dias who landed there in 1487. A must visit is the Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex which features the 500 year old Post Office Tree used by passing ships, a life size replica of the Dias Caravel, a Shell Museum, an Aquarium and an Ethno-Botanical garden.

The Mossel Bay cruise, which will be repeated again on Friday 4 March, will also give passengers the rare treat of sailing past Cape Point where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, as well as Cape Agulhas, Africa’s most southerly tip - both spectacular landmarks which led early explorers to declare the region the ‘Fairest Cape of them all’.

The four-night Walvis Bay cruises departing Cape Town on Monday 10 and Monday 17 January will be led by Ian Sinclair, a renowned birding expert and author of over 25 successful bird books. This round trip Atlantic Ocean cruise along the famed Diamond and Skeleton coasts promises sightings of a myriad of birds and much marine activity attracted by the plankton laden Benguela current which sweeps north from the Antarctic up the Cape West coast.

Sinclair will host sunrise whale watching and birding sessions out on deck during the cruise as well as conduct onboard lectures. In Walvis Bay itself passengers can visit the local museum, the Birdlife information centre and huge natural lagoon where over 120,000 birds were recently counted, including large flocks of flamingos and pelicans which are joined annually by 200,000 migratory birds that fly south for the summer. Another option is to visit the nearby holiday resort of Swakopmund famed for its German restaurants.

The Cape cruises in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans also all promise magnificent views of iconic Table Mountain and the Cape Peninsula mountains as well as long days brought to a close by glorious sun sets into the ocean.

Ticking off the region’s famous natural landmarks, birds and marine life is only part of what is on offer while cruising aboard MSC Melody. For many – especially those opting for a ‘cruise to nowhere’ the ship, with its high standards of Italian style and sophistication and relaxed and informal environment, is the destination itself.

Entertainment and activities are npn-stop and cater for all interests and age groups. There is deck quoits, shuffleboard, table tennis or volleyball games to play on deck or simply a comfortable chair to relax in and watch the waves go by. A gymnasium, aerobics classes, dance lessons, bridge and other card game competitions, irresistible duty-free shopping and even a crèche to leave the kids in while enjoying a short siesta, a session in the MSC Aurea SPA or a movie in the comfort of your own air-conditioned cabin.

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MSC Melody’s main restaurant

Nights become a dazzling experience with spectacular floorshows, cabaret artists, comedians, dancers, magicians and three bands performing every night at sea. The casino offers blackjack, roulette and slot machines and the disco will have you dancing until the early hours.

Delectable Italian cuisine is on offer at every meal, plus there are midnight snacks, teas and pastries, real Italian ice cream and coffee.

MSC Melody departs Cape Town for Durban on 23 January for a cluster of cruises out of Durban to Mozambique and the Indian Ocean islands of Madagascar, Mauritius and Reunion. She returns to Cape Town again on 26 February for a second mini-season through to 7 March when she departs on a 18 night north bound cruise to Genoa, Italy, in the Mediterranean Sea.

MSC Melody is the smallest ship in MSC Cruises’ fleet. With a capacity of 1,500 guests, the ship creates a welcoming, almost intimate feel on board, especially being the only ship designed with family in mind with 5 bed cabins available. Graceful public areas with grand high ceilings lend the MSC Melody to a sense of openness with comfortable, stylish staterooms, spacious and well-appointed. The ship's retractable, transparent Magrodome allows guests to enjoy one of the two swimming pools and whirlpools even if the skies cloud over.

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Pics of the Day – FORT DAUPHIN and PORT d’EHOALA

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The old harbour at Fort Dauphin, or Toalagnaro as it is also known, on the south western tip of Madagascar. The town had to make do with this little harbour and landing place from the days settlements were first attempted by the French during the Napoleonic wars.

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More recently heavy sand mining in the area near the picturesque town resulted in a need for a proper port that could accomodate large ocean going ships, in particular bulk carriers to export the ores. The result is the new port of d’Ehoala, which was built for and operated on behalf of the mining company Rio Tinto. One immediate advantage is that cruise ships can now include Fort Dauphin as a cruise destination and already this year MSC MELODY will be making three calls here. See our report of 12 January 2010 Madagascar’s new port of d’Ehoala is in business
Both pictures by Terry Hutson

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