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Ports & Ships Maritime News

22 August, 2011
Author: Terry Hutson

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

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Holland America Line’s SS ROTTERDAM (built 1959), ’stuffed and mounted’ since 2001 in her permanent berth in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam. Picture by Trevor Jones

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The embattled Durban Container Terminal

Congestion at the Durban Container Terminal is causing much concern among port users who say that far from getting better, things are getting worse.

This might sound like harsh criticism, considering the huge expense that Transnet has incurred in providing DCT, the country’s premier container terminal, with modern equipment and infrastructure. Next door to the original DCT is Pier 1, now a part of the DCT management structure and no longer operated as a separate terminal. Which is a great pity, say some of the port users who believe that having another terminal – even one owned and operated by Transnet – allowed for some degree of competitiveness and therefore hopefully, some all-round improvements.

Not so. While it was still a separate terminal Ports & Ships was told by several sources within Transnet that Pier 1 was not encouraged to talk about successes or to ‘show up’ its elder brother next door. Not long after being told this, Pier 1 was suddenly incorporated into DCT and any hope of a competing spirit disappeared.

All these thoughts came to mind later last week with mounting congestion, especially among the trucks trying to load or discharge containers at the Terminal. We quote from a memo from one of TPT’s customers to its clients:

“The queues of vehicles collecting containers at the Durban Container terminal are reported to be ‘enormous’. Waiting times for trucks collecting containers are up to 15 hours. Portnet (sic) yesterday asked hauliers not to send any further vehicles into the harbor (sic), but didn’t specify the causes of the delays being experienced.

“This will impact on deliveries to clients and will extend total transit times for import cargoes. We will continue to monitor the situation and will advise clients of any further deterioration.

“At present 13 ships are awaiting berths and a further 29 are expected to arrive off the port in the next 8 days.”

Ports & Ships own statistics, published in our SHIP MOVEMENTS section indicate that on Friday there were 20 container ships outside port and another 11 inside the harbour.

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Oman and Salalah facing the Arabian Sea. Map courtesy Wikitravel

After a quiet spell Somali pirates stuck again last week, this time a mere three kilometres from the Omani port of Salalah. The Indian tanker FAIRCHEM BOGEY (25.390-dwt, built 1020) was at Salalah’s outer anchorage when the pirates struck and came aboard the vessel, taking possession and ordering the Indian crew of 21 to take up the anchor and head for Somalia.

This is thought to be the first time that pirates have acted so audaciously by capturing a ship close to a major port.

Peter Ford, chief executive officer for Salalah port told a newspaper group that there were no reports of injuries on board the tanker. He said an investigation as to how the pirates managed to take possession of the ship was being undertaken together with the Omani authorities.

Fairchem Bogey is managed by Anglo-Eastern Ship Management and was at Salalah to load a cargo of methanol.

According to APM Terminals however, which operates Salalah’s port terminal, the pirates went on board while the ship was on the berth.

Ironically, Salalah has become home to a number of private security firms that use the port to ferry armed guards out to ships arriving in the vicinity and proceeding towards more dangerous waters.

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GAC strengthens India-South Africa trade lane

The GAC Group has announced a streamlining of its India-South Africa one-stop logistics service with fast-track Customs clearance technology and dedicated, specially-trained staff.

GAC says that the India-South Africa trade lane is growing in importance in various sectors, in particular the oil and gas industry and bulk minerals. “GAC has the experience, expertise and resources to provide a wide range of services to help expand that trade – and there are plans to boost that service further.

“There are four GAC Laser offices in South Africa currently, and over the next two years, another three will be added to further expand our South African coverage,” said Simon Hayes, CEO, GAC Laser.

“With over 26 GAC offices throughout India, this partnership will strengthen the relationship between export and import traders – the key players who are fuelling the massive growth of trade between these two countries.”

Grindrod half-year earnings take a dip

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IVS Kestrel, one of the Grindrod Group’s vessels. Picture by Alan Calvert

The Grindrod group generated earnings of R277,4 million for the six months ended 30 June 2011, compared with earnings of R435,5 million for the same period in 2010. This represented a 36% decline.

Headline earnings per share decreased by 42% to 55,7 cents per share (H1 2010: 95,4 cents per share). The company says that the decline in earnings and headline earnings per share was primarily as a result of weak shipping markets, lower profitability from ship operating activities and the impact of the exchange rate.

An interim ordinary dividend of 17,5 cents per share (H1 2010: 27,0 cents per share) has been declared, maintaining dividend cover at 3,5 times. Return on ordinary shareholders’ funds for the six months was at 10,4% annualised (H1 2010: 16,2% annualised).

The group’s balance sheet remains sound with a debt:equity ratio of 47,5% at 30 June 2011.”>P>

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John Atta Mills, president of Ghana

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma is to host the President of Ghana John Atta Mills, who will undertake a two day State Visit to South Africa from Tuesday.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation said in a statement on Sunday that the visit is aimed at strengthening the already existing “cordial relations” between South Africa and Ghana which dates back to the liberation struggle period.

“The two Presidents will discuss and cement cooperation in the key bilateral priority areas such as cooperation in trade, tourism, communication technology, energy, mining, agriculture, and science and technology,” said the department.

It is expected that three bilateral memoranda of understanding will be signed during the visit.

With regard to bilateral trade, Ghana represents a major export market for South African goods in West Africa after Nigeria and while total trade volumes are still relatively low in global terms, it is expected that these figures will grow.

In recent years, trade between South Africa and Ghana has grown significantly. South African exports have grown from less than R1 billion in 1998 to over R3 billion in 2009.

Equally, imports from Ghana have shown constant increase during the same period. Products such as vehicles, machinery, mechanical appliances; electrical equipment, base metals, aircraft, vessels & associated products contribute to the increased exports to Ghana.

In 2008 Ghana experienced a trade surplus owing to the large exports of waste and scrap metals, iron, steel as well as wood to South Africa.

There are more than eighty South African multinational and small scale companies registered in Ghana. The South African investors are prevalent in the following sectors: mining, retail, insurance, transport, tourism, banking, telecommunication, construction, services, franchising, manufacturing, fishing, advertising, aviation and energy.

The department said the two will also use the occasion to exchange views in respect of developments at regional level, both with regard to ECOWAS and SADC, as well as discuss broad issues affecting the continent within the context of the African Union.

“They will also discuss enhanced cooperation in dealing with multilateral issues such as reform of global institutions of governance such as the UN Security Council and the Bretton Woods Institutions.” – BuaNews

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The passing of a port legend occurred last Thursday (Aug 18) with the death of the highly respected Dick Jenkins. He was a few days short of his 91st birthday.

Jenkins first came to South Africa following World War 2 while serving as a second engineer on one of the old Union Steamship vessels, the General George Brink. He later went to live on the remote Tristan da Cunha where he was engaged in rebuilding the crayfish cannery plant following the volcanic eruption of 1961. This was followed by almost 10 years of shoreside operations with Vacuum Oil in Beira before he joined African Coasters here in Durban as marine manager.

After the creation of Unicorn Shipping and the amalgamation of several of the coaster lines, he continued as marine manager, developing a reputation as a straight-speaking, get-it-done type of man having something of a fiery personality when pressed. He left Unicorn under colourful circumstances that became part of the lore of the harbour and went into shipbuilding with Dorman Long at the Bayhead during the glory days of shipbuilding in the port.

After his retirement Dick Jenkins remained close to the marine industry that he loved so much and was especially active in SAIMENA (South Africa Institute of Marine Engineers & Naval Architects), of which he was a founder member and where he served as president and was the current national honorary secretary at the time of his passing. A year ago on his 90th birthday he was presented with a plaque commemorating his 75 years in the marine industry as a seagoing and shoreside engineer. He was also presented with a photographic collage of the many ships built under his management both here in Durban and elsewhere.

He is survived by his wife Dilys and two sons.



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Transnet’s departmental trailing suction hopper dredger ISANDLWANA (4885-gt, built 2010) returning to base at Durban’s Bayhead, seen here exiting the Esplanade Channel prior to moving along the Maydon Channel. Pictures by Trevor Jones

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