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Ports & Ships Maritime News

7 March, 2011
Author: Terry Hutson

Bringing you shipping, freight, trade and transport related news of interest for Africa since 2002

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First View – BBC EMS

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You can’t keep a good port down! Shortly after the devastating earthquake that caused such tragic damage in the New Zealand city of Christchurch, the city’s port at Lyttelton, which is just a few miles away and was closer to the epicentre of the earthquake, was back in business with ships able to arrive and berth, discharge their cargo and load and sail again.

In this picture is what at first glance looks like just another container shipment arriving, but there’s a little more to it than that.The BBC EMS (12,936-gt, built 2006) was arriving at Lyttelton back from McMurdo Sound in Antarctica. Some weeks earlier the ship had loaded supplies in Lyttelton for the American and New Zealand research stations on Antarctica and this was her return voyage.

On arrival in Lyttelton the ship discharged some containers before sailing to Tauranga for bunkers. From there she was heading to Port Huname, California to discharge the remainder of her cargo.

Picture is by Alan Calvert

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AARTO roll out not delayed – Dept of Transport

Pretoria - The Department of Transport says the national rollout of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Act has not been delayed.

"Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele is still to announce a date for the national roll-out of AARTO and the minister has not announced any date as yet," said the department in a statement.

It said once the minister was fully satisfied that the national roll-out of AARTO may proceed a date would be announced.

This comes after claims in the media that the 1 April 2011 deadline had been postponed once again.

The national roll-out of AARTO as well as the points-demerit system that goes with it was postponed last year based on representations received from various sectors, including certain provinces, municipalities and organized labour who had requested a postponement.

Over the past few months, the department, Road Traffic Management Corporation and other stakeholders have been working all out to ensure that all outstanding issues for the national implementation of AARTO are resolved, according to the department.

The roll-out of AARTO is envisaged during the new financial year, which commences on 1 April 2011 and ends on 31 March 2012. – BuaNews

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DTI launches system for South African exporters

Pretoria - An early warning system has been launched by government to help ensure South African export companies are aware of technical changes to export regulations.

The system comes as a result of the observation by the National Industrial Policy Framework and the Industrial Policy Plan (IPAP) of the increasing role that Technical Barriers to Trade (TBTs) and Non Tariff Barriers (NTBs) by developed and developing nations are playing in the global trading regime.

South African exports are required to comply with a range of standards in order to ensure access to markets.

Speaking at the formal launch of the system, Deputy Director General at the Department of Trade and Industry, Nimrod Zalk, said the system which has been in operation since October 2010 has many benefits for the South African export industry.

“It alerts exporters rapidly to proposed changes. This makes it possible for them to submit comments on the proposed changes. It also makes affected South African industries and companies aware of possible changes that may be required to its processes in order to comply with the requirements of the trading partner,” explained Zalk.

The system was developed and is being administered by the South African Bureau of Standards and works in terms of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreements on Technical Barriers to Trade.

According to the agreements, countries are required to publish and notify the WTO of all new as well as amended technical regulations 60 days in advance of adoption - to allow comments and trading partners to get acquainted with new regulations before they become effective.

Through the use of the system exporters can join a mailing list where weekly notifications on changes are sent to subscribers on Mondays. Companies can register on the SABS website: www.sabs.co.za.

Exporters who feel that changes may result in their products being denied access to the markets due to unjustified technical regulations can also notify the DTI which will make enquiries with the relevant trading partners while the system will also protect South Africa from dumping.

From 1995 to December 2009 South Africa put through a total 172 notifications specifically in the food safety and health sector. China was the leading country to put through notifications from 1995 to 2009 at 11564 also around matters of human health and safety, Dr Elsabe Steyn of the Industrial Development Division at the DTI said.

Geoff Visser of the SABS said should subscribers to the weekly emails want to comment, this should be done within five days of receiving the email after which emails that have been collected will then be sent to the DTI offices.

South Africa exports iron and steel among other commodities to various countries around the world. – BuaNews

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Mystery over four containers of American weapons found on Maersk Constellation

The container ship MAERSK CONSTELLATION (21,213-gt) has been released by Angolan authorities in the port of Lobito after suspicions were aroused that the ship was carrying four containers of contraband.

The ship was en route from Senegal to Mombasa and while in port Lobito authorities discovered that four containers of soy, loaded on behalf of an unidentified non-government organisation operating in Benguela, another Angolan port, in fact contained a supply of guns, ammunition and rocket launchers hidden behind a covering of the soy.

Lobito Police claimed that the ship’s captain was aware of the shipment, which belonged to the Kenyan Ministry of Defence, and had failed to declare them. Authorities then requested that the four containers be unloaded in Lobito, to enable the matter to be further investigated. The ship was meanwhile prevented from sailing.

The Maersk Line spokesman, Kevin Speers, provided a different angle to the story in a written statement.

“On this particular voyage, the vessel was carrying US-government food aid to several African nations as well as four containers of small arms ammunition (bullets) destined for a US-allied country under a US Department of State export license arranged by the shipper, a US company that is not affiliated with Maersk,” he wrote.

Speers said said the cargo of ammunition was “moving in full conformance with US and international law and is not destined for Angola.”

“On arrival in Lobito to discharge a portion of the food aid cargo, all the ship's cargo was declared. Twelve days later the Angolan authorities raised questions about the four containers onboard and elected to detain the vessel until the documentation was verified,” he explained.

“On Wednesday evening local time, Angolan authorities informed the ship's captain that the verification process was complete, the cargo will be returned to the vessel, and Maersk Constellation will be permitted to proceed with its voyage. We are now awaiting the cargo so Maersk Constellation can be underway, and until then, we will continue to work with Angolan and US government officials,” said Speers.

Maersk Constellation is a US-flagged vessel operated by Maersk Line Limited. The ship operates regularly along the African coast. According to Speers the ship often carried American humanitarian assistance to the Middle East and Africa under contract from NGO’s. It is not generally known however that the ship also carries weapons and ammunition as part of its regular cargo.

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Mozambique news: Police play mum on report of weapons found in Maputo port

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Port of Maputo

Police and authorities in Mozambique have declined to confirm or deny reports in the local newspaper O Pais that a container of guns and drugs was seized in the port of Maputo.

The Portuguese language newspaper said the container has been seized after police and Customs had waited about two weeks for it to be collected. When the container was not collected in that time the police, who were presumably acting on a tip-off, decided to seize and open the container, which was found to be loaded with a quantity of drugs and weapons.

In a later story carried by the Mozambique news agency AIM, the Mozambique Tax Authority (AT) sent a note to O Pais saying it was surprised by the report and asking for the newspaper’s source.

“Since the AT is not the source of this information, we request O Pais to give an express and public clarification of its source for the good of preserving the ethics of the mass media,” said the note.

The Thursday issue of O Pais reports that the newspaper sent reporters down to the port where they observed that an unusually sizeable security operation was under way. Sources inside the port told the paper that joint teams of the State Security and Intelligence Service (SISE), the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC) and Customs were overseeing the opening of the containers.

Meanwhile, the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) has issued a statement saying that the government of Mozambique is assisting Swaziland to import arms through its port. SSN said the arms being imported were to be used to suppress dissent in the landlocked kingdom, where opposition to the autocratic rule of the Swazi King Mswati III has been increasing. It said a consignment of two containers of arms and ammunition had passed recently through the port of Maputo.

“The shocking thing about this is that this arms shipment comes at a time when the political climate in Swaziland is becoming more volatile by the day and a mass uprising is being organised for next month,” said SSN.

Massive investment planned for Nacala port

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present Nacala Port concession area

The Nacala Development Corridor (CDN) is planning a US$ 200 million development of the northern Mozambique port of Nacala to raise the capacity of the port.

Currently the port handles up to 1.5 million tonnes of cargo annually but with the likely advent of coal exports from the Moatize and Benga mines in Tete Province, and other developments the port needs to gear up capacity to 16 million tonnes annually.

According to CDN executive director Agostinho Langa the Nacala port could soon be handling coal exports from the Moatize and Benga coal mines if the Sena railway line linking the mine with the central Mozambique port of Beira is not completed on time this year.

Langa said there was a “100% possibility” of using the Nacala port. “We will start with the shipment of smaller amounts of at least 45,000 tonnes coal from the mine in September or October this year then gradually raise it in the long run,” he said.

The Nacala and Malawi railway network is not connected directly with the Moatize mines and any exports in the short term will require the trucking of coal to the railhead in Malawi. Nacala offers a deepwater bay in which the largest of bulkers could operate, although the existing port is incapable of handling ships of a large size. A new quay or even port would have to be built to facilitate any future large scale coal shipments.

CDN is owned by the Sociedade de Desenvolvimento do Corredor do Nacala, a Mozambique company (51%), and the Mozambique Ports and Railway company known as CFM (49%).

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Arrivederci as MSC Melody sails into the sunset

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MSC Melody off Cape Town – the ‘Fairest Cape of the all’

Later today (Monday) one of two MSC cruise ships operating in Southern African waters for the summer season, says ‘arrivederci’ as she heads out of Cape Town to return to Genoa in Italy.

The popular ship, which arrived in South Africa in December to undertake cruises out of Durban and Cape Town, is leaving on an 18-night cruise back to the Mediterranean but will be returning to South Africa later in the year. In the meantime she is to undertake a season of cruises in the Mediterranean during the European summer months.

According to Starlight Cruises, which has marketed the MSC Melody and her larger sister MSC Sinfonia in South Africa, the ship has enjoyed record numbers of guests as she introduced a number of new destinations for South Africans, from Durban to the ports of Tulear and Fort Dauphin in Madagascar and a longer cruise that incorporated Mauritius, Reunion and the Madagascan ports.

In addition MSC Melody reintroduced coastal cruises to Cape Town after a gap of several years, with cruises along the west coast to Walvis Bay, and along the east coast to Mossel Bay. That all these have been a success is attested by the ship returning to an extended season in the 2011/12 summer.

Starlight says that occupancies for the ‘Cape Collection ‘ of cruises offering three and four nights out of Cape Town have been high, as they have been for the combined cruises including those of MSC Sinfonia which cruised exclusively out of Durban.

“In fact local cruise ship tourism has bucked recessionary trends with a record 100,000 passengers booked so far,” says Allan Foggitt, marketing director for MSC Starlight Cruises.

“Our initial forecast was 100,000 for the entire 2010/11 season but we will easily top that now as MSC Sinfonia will still be cruising here until early May. We attribute the record sales to holiday makers recognizing the incredible value for money offered on a cruise vacation,” he said. Present indications are that MSC and Starlight will increase this number by at least ten percent.

“Cruising is one of South Africa’s best value and most exciting local holiday options and the economic downturn hasn’t put a damper on it. Our comment cards show that people are having the time of their lives with over 80 percent of passengers rating the cruise experience as excellent or very good,” Foggitt said.

He confirmed that both cruise ships, the luxurious 2,100 capacity MSC Sinfonia and the more intimate 1,500 capacity MSC Melody, will return to South Africa for the 2011/2012 cruise season.

Starting in November this year the ships’ will offer a full schedule of short and long cruises out of Durban to Mozambique and the Indian Ocean islands and a range of Atlantic Ocean cruises from Cape Town.

“Bookings are already open for both ships and we are delighted to announce a new pricing policy that rewards passengers with discounts of up to 40 percent on a wide selection of departures if they book early.”

On her northbound re-positioning cruise starting today MSC Melody will make ports of call in Walvis Bay in Namibia, Jamestown on the mid-Atlantic island of St Helena, Dakar in Senegal, Arrecife de Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, Cadiz and Barcelona in Spain before docking in Genoa, Italy.

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Pics of the Day – KOPER and MSC LESOTHO

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The bulk carrier KOPER (22,150-dwt, built 1993) seen departing from Durban harbour yesterday with a cargo of logs. Picture by Trevor Jones

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Another ship to sail from Durban yesterday afternoon was the container ship MSC LESOTHO (75,637-gt, built 1997), on which can still be seen the markings of her previous operator, NYK. The ship is British owned. Picture by Trevor Jones.

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