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Ports & Ships Maritime News

19 October 2011
Author: Terry Hutson

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

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Cape Town’s Sturrock Dry Dock with the crane ship SAIPEM 3000 (20,639-gt, built 1984) in the foreground and a smaller research type vessel in the dock’s smaller section. Picture by Frank Vennard/ Videographics

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Apapa Container Terminal and port. Picture by OTAL

APM Terminals, which holds the concession to operate West Africa’s largest container terminal container terminal of Apapa, is reportedly considering a US$120 million development and upgrade that will take the terminal’s capacity to one million TEUs annually. The terminal is expected to handle approximately 650,000 TEU this year.

A decision won’t before the end of the year is unlikely but local APM personnel are said to be confident that the enlargement of the container stacking yard will go ahead, along with new container handling equipment and improvements to the customs area.

The Danish group is already spending $2.5 billion on a fleet of 22 containerships designed specially for the West Africa trades, the so-called ‘Wafmax’ ships of which six have so far been delivered. Two of these carry the prefix of Maersk’s sister company Safmarine. Delivery of all 22 should be completed by 2013 of which six will be Safmarine vessels.

The ‘wafmax’ vessels have a capacity of 4500 TEUs, and are considerably larger than the 2500-TEU ships they are replacing and also the 3500-TEU vessels previously thought to have been the maximum that West African ports, with their shallow draught limitations could handle. The ‘wafmax’ vessels have been designed with a shallow draught and a wide beam, taking 17 boxes across and following recent dredging of the Lagos port are able to come to Apapa fully almost laden.

Earlier this year Maersk announced that it saw future growth in the African and South American trades and said it would be making strong investments in this area.

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Computer generated picture of the new Namibian fishery research vessel

Namibia’s Department of Fisheries and Marine Resources will be taking delivery of its new N$300 million (R300m) research vessel in June next year.

The vessel is being built in Finland and is being financed by that country along with an interest free loan which amounts to savings of about N$185 million for Namibia.

The vessel has been specially designed for the purposes of Namibian fisheries research, reported STX earlier this year. STX Rauma is the builder.

The new vessel will be approximately 62m long and 14m wide with a draught of 4.5m. She will carry accommodation for 45 crew and research personnel. Her design meets the latest standards set for this type of vessel, including special care in the design of the laboratory equipment, propulsion and power generation systems. Her speed will be in the region of 15 knots and her gross tonnage is likely to be around 1950 tons.

The ship is also designed for ease of serviceability and low maintenance costs.

On delivery the as yet unnamed ship will replace the Namibian research vessel RV WELWITSCHIA, which suffers from limited capacity for deep-sea and multidisciplinary research. RV Welwitschia was donated to the Namibian people by the government of Japan in 1994.

“The RC Welwitschia does not have the capabilities to trawl at deeper depths where deep sea resources are found,” said Namibian Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernard Esau. “The Welwitschia also has limited deck space and scientific accommodation on board.”

The ship features a dynamic positioning system and it is operational in any African sea and weather condition in all seasons without restrictions.

The tasks of the research vessel include monitoring of fish stock, as well as sorting, processing, freezing and storage of fish. The multi-purpose specialised vessel will also be used for collecting biological samples for seabed research and analysis and provide assistance for control of fishing. The vessel also features facilities for meteorological research.

"This order is very important for STX Rauma shipyard,” said Timo Suistio, Director of STX Rauma shipyard. “The contract shows that the shipyard has succeeded very well in its long-term research and development efforts focused on specialised vessels. The R&D will continue with the construction of the research vessel now ordered by Namibia. In the design we can apply the same technologies as in the icebreaker for research purposes ordered by the South African Department of Environmental Affairs, to be delivered in 2012, since the two vessels, to a certain extent, carry out similar tasks and use the same kind of equipment. In the case of the fisheries research vessel, the areas for further development include enhanced hydroacoustic characteristics and hull protection techniques.”

According to STX Rauma the support of the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Embassy in Windhoek were of crucial importance in the promotion of this project and in realising the ship contract.

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AURORA OPAL at Durban’s Island View 1. Picture by Terry Hutson

Seascapes (Bimco) has in past months, shown how the shipping industry continues to make ships and their machinery more environmentally sustainable with substantial improvements to efficiency through better design of hulls and engines, and operational changes. All combine to reduce the impact a ship, whether in port or at sea, has upon the environment in minimising harmful emissions and other undesirable factors.

The shipping industry believes that it is right that the ‘polluter pays’ and is doing its best to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Besides its own environmental conscience, it is driven by high fuel prices that seem set to further increase, so the incentive towards mechanical efficiency is very strong. But is this spur sufficient to “persuade” ship operators to reduce their carbon footprint?

There is an argument which suggests that voluntary technical improvement can only go so far in persuading people to reduce their CO2 emissions and that “market-based measures” will be necessary to incentivise further improvement. Those so far suggested take two distinct forms.

First is the proposal of a tax on bunker fuel that would provide revenue for mitigating measures, and an incentive for owners to use the most energy-efficient ships and machinery. This would have to be universally applied by some international agency if it was to be wholly fair, and arguably has been thought to be the most practical of the schemes yet proposed.

Secondly, and equally controversial is a proposal for emission trading permits, which have already been implemented in a number of shore side contexts within single nations. This would have ship operators purchasing permits to emit carbon, with these permits having a tradeable value. Once again the scheme would reward those operators employing ships that are more efficient and emitting less carbon.

The contention arises with both these market-based instruments over a number of details, not the least being the demands of developing countries that they should be the beneficiaries of the sums raised from such schemes. There are also considerable concerns about which agency might be capable of operating on a global scale to implement such schemes and the risk of corrupt practices, which have already emerged in some national schemes involving emission trading in shore-side industry.

The jury is still out on what market based measures might be most appropriate for a global shipping industry with perhaps 100,000 ships of every type, all over the world, or even whether such schemes are really necessary or desirable. The progress towards more efficient and cleaner ships and machinery continues. source – BIMCO

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Pretoria, 18 October 2011 - Trade relations amongst IBSA countries has improved, according to Trade and Industry (dti) Minister Rob Davies.

“We have set ourselves a target of achieving 10 billion US dollars of a combined intra IBSA trade by the year 2010, and in fact we achieved that in 2009, in the midst of the first wave of global economic recession,” Davies told an IBSA Business Forum on Monday.

The India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) is a trilateral, developmental initiative between the three countries aimed at promoting South-South cooperation and exchange.

Davies said IBSA had done well in the targets it set for increasing intra trade with current figures suggesting that the new 2015 IBSA intra trade will be achieved.

“The current figures suggest that in 2010 we achieved 16.1million US dollars, which places us somewhere in striking distance to achieve the current target which is 25 billion dollars combined intra trade by the year 2015,” he told the forum which was also attended by his Indian and Brazilian counterparts.

Davies urged IBSA countries to build trade relations based on complementary areas.

“As South Africa, we have learned an enormous amount in terms of our own policies on small business development from the relationship which we have in the tri-nations with NSIC [National Small Industries Corporation Ltd] of India and the Sebrae of Brazil. We follow very closely what you are all doing in terms of Industrial Policy. We study what you are doing, we learn from you and it helps us enormously and we hope as well that we are able to contribute in terms of the development of your own policies as well,” he explained.

The minister also called for the formation of an IBSA CEOs Forum with a permanent secretariat to continuously assess what needs to be done to enhance IBSA business cooperation.

Monday’s Forum is part of the 5th IBSA meeting hosted by President Jacob Zuma of which yesterday the Heads of State and Government dialogue will be held. – BuaNews

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After almost two decades of agitation by stakeholders, the Nigerian federal government last week wielded the big stick and threw out nine agencies and various units operating at the nation's seaports. Francis Ugwoke writes (in THIS DAY) on the corruption and fraudulent practices involving some security agencies at the ports, and the policy decision which industry stakeholders say was long overdue

Last Monday's decision of the federal government to evict over nine agencies operating at the nation's seaports was in answer to two decades of agitation by importers, freight forwarders and the general public. It came as a surprise, and some stakeholders described the decision as far-reaching, because no agency was spared the hammer, including the beneficiary of the policy, the Nigeria Customs Service, which had some of its units restrained.

Past Attempts at Rationalisation

Yet, because of bureaucracy, policy inconsistency, and high level politicking in the corridors power, Monday's pronouncement is still being viewed with skepticism by stakeholders. The reason for this is apparent. This is not the first time such a directive has been made. In fact, the first order to reduce the number of agencies at the ports was given by the administration of former military President Ibrahim Babangida. But it was not enforced. Another directive was issued during the regime of late General Sani Abacha, yet, nothing happened, even with all the genuflections from then Minister of Finance, Chief Anthony Ani.

Instead, the same regime ended up introducing the Professional Import Duty Administrators (PIDA) to address import duty scams, including leakages in revenue generation caused by racketeering in the system. When PIDA could not change anything, as revenue targets were hardly met in the face of deep-seated corruption, government threw out the professionals, who later accused of complicity along with some customs officers, including importers and agents in sharing the 'spoils' at the ports.

With the port reform agenda in 2006 when the seaport terminals were concessioned to private operators, many thought that this was going to address the issue of multiplicity of agencies at the ports, but again, it did not. Before Monday's decision, government had in 2009 also reduced the agencies to four. The Joint Intelligence Board of the federal government was to effect this, but it equally failed. Stakeholders who were disappointed at the ineptitude had no choice than to bottle-up their grievances and find ways of remaining in business. This was after two industrial actions at the ports. They simply resigned themselves to fate.

So it was until Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was re-appointed Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister of the Economy two months ago. Okonjo-Iweala's appointment sent jitters not just through the agencies of government at the ports but also at the NCS. This is because her reputation in the industry as a 'no-nonsense' person. When she was minister under the Olusegun Obasanjo regime, the leadership of the Customs service was kept on its toes. She had information on the rot in the system and at one of the Comptroller General's Annual Conference's held in Jos, Plateau State, the entire customs came under heavy bombardment from Okonjo-Iweala on the malfeasance in the system.

When she was reappointed for the second time, this newspaper learnt that it was bad news for several top customs officers, because they knew she would strike hard without giving notice. This was more so because of Okonjo-Iweala's personal integrity and is seen as one government official who one cannot be bribed with sacks of money or overtime containers often reserved for some government officials and a few other influential Nigerians.

Enforcement Remains a Problem

At an informal meeting with some industry operators, Iweala, a source said, had indicated her resolve to reduce the agencies at the ports to four, a development that was exclusively reported by THISDAY last month. But after the promise, it took over two weeks before she visited the ports with the Transport Minister, Senator Idris Umar, to break the news. Apart from reducing the agencies to four, both ministers also announced other measures that would impact positively on cargo clearance and revenue maximisation at the ports.

But owing to the experience of the past when such measures were announced without their implementation, stakeholders remain skeptical, and did not hide their feelings and told the minister. However, they were quick to point out that coming from Okonjo-Iweala, they were optimistic that the directive would be implemented. This, the Finance Minister affirmed.

Port Operations

Concessioned in 2006, the ports' terminal are currently under the management of private operators, referred to as terminal operators. Until 2006, terminal operations were the responsibility of the Nigerian Ports Authority, which is now the landlord and is meant to oversee technical regulation, among other responsibilities.

The terminal operators or concessionaires receive all cargoes coming into the country on behalf of shipping companies. Importers who are owners of these goods go to both the terminal operator of each port or shipping company to start the process of taking delivery of their goods. In the process of clearing goods, the importer or his agent faces considerable challenges. Most times, these problems are self-inflicted, as the importer attempts to cheat government in the payment of duties.

Other times, as clean as the importer may be, the agencies of government, including some customs officers insist on extorting the importer or his agent before the goods are released. But it must be pointed out that many importers first under-declare, under-value or embark on the importation of prohibited items which are the reason they fall prey to government agencies at the ports.

When an importer is given a Debit Note which is a bill ordering it to pay appropriate duty, the amount is usually reduced as the importer through his agent must have greased the palms of some officials whose responsibility it is to evaluate the duty payable. The importer does the same thing during examination of its consignment where all the government agencies are present. Those not present expect to get their share to sign the papers authorising release of the goods.

At the gate, the importer or his agent is also expected to settle officials stationed there, otherwise, he will not be allowed to leave. As he exits the port, a few meters away, he meets officers and men of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) who may have received information from their colleagues. Like policemen would accost commuters on the roads, these official must look for a fault in the cargo, compelling the agent to part with at least N50,000.

However, the matter may not end there, as the importer may even in some cases be trailed to his warehouse for extortion. At the border stations, the scenario at the entry port is the same. The importer bribes his way out of the station, only to be arrested as he leaves the immediate environment for another round of settlement. Influential smugglers are given special treatment as they are known to settle bribes well in advance and are therefore given time when to move their goods.

Agencies at the Ports

Among the agencies currently at the seaports are the State Security Service (SSS); Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON); National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC); Directorate of Naval Intelligence (DNI); National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA); Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA); the Port Police alongside its Bomb Disposal Unit; Plant Quarantine with Veterinary Quarantine; Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS); Port Health; Nigeria Customs Service (NCS); Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA); and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

However, with the decision reducing the number to four, only NPA, the Customs Service, Ports Health, NIS, Port Police, SSS and NIMASA will remain at the ports. The rest were given two weeks beginning from last week to leave the ports. Under the new policy only the resident customs offices and others under the Customs Investigation Unit (CIU) will remain at the ports. The FOU was asked to stop intercepting containers leaving the ports. In a swift move, NPA has already formally informed the agencies affected by the ministerial order to vacate the ports as directed. This order was contained in a press statement signed by the general manager, Public Affairs, Michael Ajayi, who said on the expiration, the authority and the Ports Police Commissioner will move to enforce the order.

Read the balance of this report HERE Use your BACK BUTTON to return to this page.

This article was published on 16 October in THIS DAY.


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Two semi-submersible heavylift ships that recently called at Cape Town are seen here. Ownership is not clear although both ships are in the care of a Scottish company based in Glasgow. Pictured above is the TALISMAN (42,515-gt, built 1993), seen alongside the quay in Cape Town harbour while below the TRIUMPH (42,515-gt, built 1992) rides at anchor in Table Bay. Picture by Frank Vennard / Videographics

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