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Ports & Ships Maritime News

9 March 2011
Author: Terry Hutson

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

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Mossel Bay and the offshore tug SEACOR ACHIEVER (1951-gt, built 2003), with SMIT-LlOYD 33 (1089-gt, built 1984) further along the quay. Picture by Aad Noorland

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South Africa has great economic potential


Pretoria, 8 March - South Africa may be the smallest economy and population in the BRICS grouping but it comes with a great deal of political influence and economic potential domestically, in the SADC and the African continent.

This is according to South Africa’s High Commissioner to Canada, Mohau Pheko, who said the invitation for South Africa to join an expanded BRICS partnership – which consists of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - was both mutually beneficial and an astute recognition by the other partners that South Africa has a significant contribution to make in the grouping.

He said South Africa had over the past decade been able to prominently position itself on the continent and create a great deal of leverage through its investment footprint.

“This brings to BRICS a new dimension that exposes new opportunities and creates an avenue for greater economic and political interaction,” Pheko said in a statement, noting that Africa was undeniably vital to the economic interests of the powerful emerging markets with a high growth potential. He said the importance of Africa in South Africa's trade profile was often ignored.

Pheko also pointed out South Africa's commitment to international financial stability through the G20 and the work of the Financial Services Board, which is strengthened by its role in seeking greater democracy in and the reform of the Global Financial Architecture.

“The country's foreign policy agenda mirrors much of the focus of the other BRIC members, the unity of purpose amongst BRICS members in calling for the reform of the global governance system, international trade and climate change to name a few, undoubtedly lends to a natural partnership.

“A Russian Foreign Ministry statement, which was echoed in similar statements by other BRIC members, celebrated the invitation of South Africa to join the partnership, it stated that ‘South Africa's inclusion is in line with sustainable trends of global development, including the emergence of a polycentric international system’," said Pheko.

He further noted that BRIC may have had its roots in an economically- focused Goldman Sachs Report but the genesis and evolution of BRIC to BRICS has a deep-rooted political and economic dimension to its current existence.

“Since June 2009 in Yekaterinburg, the grouping has ushered in a new dimension to the global political discourse: The world has changed fundamentally since the end of the Cold War, the global political and economic system is reconfiguring to reflect the new realities that characterize this environment.

“Global interdependence and national interests which have a deep political economic dimension has come to characterize the contemporary international system, BRIC is a political voice for emerging markets, the economic dimension of BRIC has a clear and unequivocal political will behind it and this was strongly highlighted at the 2010 Brasilia Summit,” said Pheko. – BuaNews

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SAMSA says newly installed LRIT tracking system is in operation

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Karl Otto, SAMSA Executive head, Centre for Sea Watch & Response

Durban, 8 March - At an international conference being hosted by the Responsible Packaging Management Association of South Africa in Durban this week Karl Otto, executive head of the South African Maritime Safety Authority’s (SAMSA) Centre for Sea Watch & Response (CSWR) told delegates that in the face of the escalating threats and risks at sea the organisation has installed a sophisticated Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) navigation satellite system.

Otto said that SAMSA has a responsibility to ensure the safety of life and property at sea, be it cargo which may cause an environmental risk if improperly packaged, or vessels and seafarers who come under threat.

This surveillance tool covers waters around Africa south of the equator and monitors and tracks all vessels at sea and in port. The introduction of the LRIT follows concerns over the safety of seafarers, the standard of ships within South African waters, the high levels of cargo which are at risk such as fuels and oils, the number of wrecks along the coast, and the threat of pollution of the marine environment by ships. It also serves as a mechanism to prevent piracy.

The CSWR, through the LRIT system, now has the capacity to identify and track vessels up to 1,000 nautical miles from the South African coastline.

This system enables the maritime authority to communicate directly with ships, improving the quality of information exchanged with the vessel's master. LRIT has been a revolutionary development in the security of the world’s oceans – for example until recently South Africa had very limited capacity to identify, track and monitor shipping beyond its horizons. Numerous ships have sailed in South African waters without our knowledge, Otto said and some may even have polluted our waters unbeknown to us.

“Until now we have not been able to track vessels which may have carried toxic and hazardous cargo to South African ports or were transiting our waters to foreign destinations.”

Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, shipping enjoys ‘innocent passage' through territorial waters. However, coastal states are required to protect their marine resources and to prevent and combat pollution of the marine environment.

Otto told delegates that SAMSA was determined to protect seafarers, the coastline and the marine environment. It was important, he said, to protect the maritime environment.

“With any cargo transported we must ensure there is no risk of pollution. With any negative publicity of marine catastrophe this has an impact on our exports and the economy.

“We have to ensure that South Africa’s trade routes, which is the backbone of our economic growth and which is responsible for over 95% of imports or exports, will not be compromised. Any mop up or clean up has huge cost ramifications.”

SAMSA recently created an Office for Dangerous Goods to ensure compliance, and to see that the movement of cargo remains safe and that all possibilities of damage is avoided.

“We need to ensure,” Otto said, “that the pressures of making profit do not force companies to compromise on safety.”

International trade makes up over 50% of South Africa’s GDP and over 95% of our international trade is transported via the sea.

LRIT an anti-piracy tool

While to date the movement of cargo along the South African coast has not been affected by piracy, the LRIT navigation system is in place to monitor our waters and safeguard them against such incursions, said Otto. SAMSA, through the International Maritime Organisation, has extended an invitation to other African countries and member states to utilise the equipment on hand.

In addition, a Maritime Safety Committee, which includes the Department of Transport, SAMSA and the SA Navy has been established to deal with the problem of piracy. The threat of piracy is costly to international trade and by extension to the economy. This can be quantified based on direct costs (ransoms, insurance, re-routing, security equipment, and cost of naval forces) and indirect costs (trade, food supply, reduced revenue).

According to a report by One Earth Future Foundation, piracy costs the world economy between US$ 7 to $ 12 billion per year.

South Africa handled over 247 million tons of cargo (both imports and exports) including almost 4 million TEUs in 2010. With non-stop warnings of piracy moving closer to South African waters, it has put the government on high alert. To this end the South African government recently despatched one of its navy frigates, SAS MENDI to the Mozambican waters to assist with anti piracy patrols.

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SAS Mendi at sea off Durban - Picture by Steve McCurrach www.airserv.co.za

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Trade corridors will boost African marketplace - Davies

Cape Town, 8 March - South Africa is helping neighbouring African countries to develop various transport corridors in a bid to boost regional integration and create a larger marketplace for Africans, the Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies said today.

Speaking at the 5th Africa Economic Forum, Davies said poor transport links between African countries had long stifled trade between the continent's states.

He said South Africa's assistance in developing transport corridors aimed to remedy this.

This includes the rolling out of the North South Corridor, which will link central Africa to the port of Durban, via Zambia, and the Trans-Cunene Corridor, which will link the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with South Africa through Angola and Namibia.

Davies said the completion of Trans-Cunene Corridor would effectively give South Africa a road and rail link to Angola, one of Africa's fastest growing economies, as the corridor would link with the existing Trans-Kalahari Corridor between Botswana and Namibia.

Added to this, African states, he said, also needed to work together to set common standards and develop common strategies, through a body such as the Council of African Ministers of Industry - which is made up of trade and industry ministers from Africa.

Presently South Africa exports three to four times the value of goods that it imports from neighbouring Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries.

Davies said the massive trade imbalance was as a result of inadequate transport infrastructure and supply capacity in neighbouring countries, as well as their inability to produce goods that can sell in the South African market.

He said it was essential that Africa focuses on creating a local market on the continent, pointing out that the expansion of the domestic market had been central to recent economic growth in emerging countries.

While it had fuelled growth of over 8 percent an annum in India, growth last year in Brazil's domestic market had helped cushion Latin America's largest economy from the effects of the global economic crisis, while China was now trying to develop its domestic market after seeing the limits of growth through exports developed countries, Davies said.

McKinsey's ‘Lions on the Move’ report, which was released last year, had already identified expanding domestic markets as a one of two key drivers in Africa's recent growth spurt - the other factor being the minerals boom.

Davies said the development of a grand trade agreement between SADC, the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for East African States (Comesa) would open up a market of 26 countries consisting of 500 - 700 million people.

He said negotiations were set to kick off around the middle of the year, adding that the agreement was expected to initially focus on trading goods.

Davies said Asia had recently overtaken the EU as a key trade destination for South Africa, and China, in 2008, became South Africa's number export destination and import source.

He said 36 percent of South Africa's exports were to Asia, 27 percent to the EU, with 18 percent of exports destined for sub-Saharan Africa.

Manufacturing in terms of South Africa's trade composition had been increasing in recent years and now made up about 60 percent of the country's trade, but South Africa's trade to developing countries and Asia was still dominated by primary products, he said. South Africa and Africa had to development more equitable economic growth and add more value to the minerals it mined, he said.

Davies said South Africa needed a job-rich growth strategy to tackle high structural unemployment, which he believed could be traced back to cheap unskilled labour in the mining sector back in 1970s. – BuaNews

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Mayoral welcome for International Transport Conference

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The Deputy Mayor of eThekwini Municipality (Durban), Councillor Logie Naidoo, pictured here with Liz Anderson and Quade Corder, President and Chairman respectively of RPMASA (the Responsible Packaging Management Association of Southern Africa) extended a warm welcome to all present at a Civic Reception held at the ICC in Durban on Monday night in honour of the organisation’s second biennial Conference and Exhibition on the Transport of Dangerous Goods and the Environment.

“I’m very glad that RPMASA, in partnership with the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has made Durban the city of choice to host this conference,” the Deputy Mayor said in his address.

“The safe transport of dangerous goods is important for trading of essential commodities throughout the world. Tons of industrial and consumer chemicals are transported by air, rail, road and sea. During this transfer of chemicals we must ensure that proper safety is considered for the sake of the people and the environment. This must involve all sectors in the supply chain. As eThekwini Municipality we take such issues seriously and have introduced programmes and projects that enable industry and citizens of this city to look after themselves and the environment for the sustainability of our natural resources and humankind,” he continued. Durban will also be hosting the International Climate Change Conference later this year, a testament to the City’s dedication to protecting the environment and its people.

The conference and exhibition were made possible thanks to the generous sponsorship of major sponsors Transnet and SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority) as well as the Department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural Development and City of Durban amongst others.

The conference and exhibition is continuing over two days (8 and 9 March) followed by topical training courses on 10 and 11 March. The GHS training (Globally Harmonised System of classification and labelling of chemicals, which is being phased in globally for safety data sheets and labels) presented by an International team in conjunction with UNITAR will be repeated in Midrand on 14 and 15 March.

For more information visit the RPMASA website at RPMASA.

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Delays at Lebombo border addressed

By Mandla Khoza and Sharon Hammond

Komatipoort, 8 March - Delays at the Lebombo border post between South Africa and Mozambique, caused by a new declaration system that border officials had to get to grips with, have been addressed.

“The delays last week were caused by the instalment of new systems that were put in place to make it easier to process travel documents,” said Chief executive of customs modernisation and strategy at the South African Revenue Service (SARS), Beyers Theron.

He said that the delays, which related to declaring goods being transported across the border, only occurred on Wednesday last week.

The delays were reported by the Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative (MCLI), which aims to improve trade and infrastructure like the road and rail link between the two countries as part of the Maputo Development Corridor. The MCLI is also lobbying for a one-stop 24-hour border post at Lebombo.

MCLI chief executive, Brenda Horne, welcomed the speedy response of both SARS and the Border Control Operations Coordinating Committee (BCOCC) to the logjam.

“Additional resources, processes and procedures were reviewed and adapted to better facilitate the system implementation. We'd like to express our sincere appreciation to all the relevant leaders from SARS and BCOCC, who immediately responded to our call and we request all travellers to work with the border post team to make this modernisation step as smooth and efficient as possible,” Horne said.

The new system eliminates the need for travellers with South African registered motor vehicles to complete the DA65 form relating to re-importing vehicles.

Blank DA331 forms, in which travellers declare any purchases worth more than R5,000, will also be kept at the MCLI's and clearing agents' offices to reduce the amount of time spent at the border post. – BuaNews

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West African Piracy – ship seized off Benin

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Benin, scene of latest piracy act

A maritime security alert has been issued for the Gulf of Guinea after fourteen armed pirates approached and boarded a chemical tanker off the coast of Benin.

The pirates took control of the crew members and ordered the master to sail the tanker to Gabon in order to offload the cargo. After several failed attempts to offload the cargo near Gabon, Warri and Lagos in Nigeria, the pirates abandoned their plans and instead stole the crew members' personal belongings and took the master and two engineers with them ashore. The tanker was left three nautical miles of Badagri, off the coast of Nigeria. The three abducted crew members were later allowed to return to their ship. The crew received some injuries and the bridge and crew cabins were physically damaged.

In a separate incident three persons approached a chemical tanker at anchor, three nautical miles off Lagos, fired their weapons in the air and demanded the gangways to be lowered. The master refused and moved away from the anchorage and no one was injured during the incident.

Vigilance, crew preparation, watch rotas and security measures are all recommended when approaching ports in the Gulf of Guinea. – GAC Risk Alert


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Two Namibian Fishery Patrol ships, ANNA KAKURLIKAZE MUNGUNGA and NATHANIEL NAXUILILI in Walvis Bay harbour. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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The Walvis Bay harbour tug ONTATI alongside the MSC Melody in Walvis Bay harbour. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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