Ports & Ships Maritime News
28 July 2015
Author: Terry Hutson
Bringing you shipping, freight, trade and transport related news of interest for Africa since 2002
TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS
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FIRST VIEW – MINNA
The Polish-built 3,100-TEU container ship MINNA (41,850-dwt, built 2002) seen in Cape Town during the month of July. The self-geared ship is owned by Germany’s Doehle Peter Schiffahrts. Picture is by Ian Shiffman
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TANZANIAN STANDARD GAUGE RAILWAY PROJECT TO LINK RWANDA, BURUNDI
A new East African initiative is exploring prospects for a standard gauge railway (SGR) from the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam, to landlocked neighbours Burundi and Rwanda.
If the project is successful it can have a significant impact on the port of Dar es Salaam and the future port at Bagamoyo.
The proposed 1,661-km long railway, to be built to the 4ft 8 ½ ins standard gauge as used in most of Europe and North America, will operate in competition with a similar SGR under construction in Kenya. The Kenyan line, from the port of Mombasa is being built only as far as Nairobi but it is intended that the line will link Uganda and Rwanda with the Kenyan port.
However, according to reports Uganda is having second thoughts about the feasibility of instead prioritising a connection by way of a new railway with South Sudan in the north, which has become a major trade partner with Uganda.
The option now open to Rwanda, which would otherwise have depended on Uganda becoming part of a Mombasa – Uganda – Rwanda SGR, is to focus instead on a shorter route to Dar es Salaam. The Rwanda Transport Development Agency (RTDA) has been established to look for partners to help finance such a project, which is expected to cost US$7.6 billion which would then be run on the basis of a finance, design, build, operate and maintain under a public/private partnership.
The southern railway from Dar es Salaam would run from the port to Isaka, then to Kigali, and a link from Keza to Musongati in Burundi through Gitega. Expressions of interest have been called for and will close on 14 August 2015.
The railway will be designed to handle trains with a maximum length of 2,000 metres and an axle load of 32.5 tonnes.
Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda have a 2013 tripartite agreement to fast-track a SGR from Mombasa but since then Uganda has, according to reports, decided that it needs to focus its energy and resources on building a railway north to South Sudan where Uganda shares strong economic partnerships, and to place the southern line to the Rwanda border on hold.
“Uganda wants to consider South Sudan because it is a bigger market, and this will definitely delay the Uganda-Rwanda line,” a Rwanda government official said.
A $8.6 million contract was signed in June 2014 between Rwanda and Uganda with German consulting firm Gauff Ingenieure Consultancy Services to design the SGR line between Kampala and Kigali.
In other related railway news, operations on the TAZARA railway on the Zambian side have resumed after union members went on strike demanding that they be paid for the four months owed to them.
Following a settlement both the Mukuba and Kilimanjaro passenger express trains have resumed cross-border services while other Zambian passenger trains operate only as far as the border, where they are met by trains from Tanzania.
Goods trains between the two countries are also back in service.
Tanzanian rail authorities had already paid Tanzanian employees their outstanding wages. – sources : East African Business Week and The East African (Nairobi)
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CASEFILE: BULK CARRIER AGATIS AND HER DISTRESSED CREW
Cape Town attorney Alan Goldberg (in the centre with jeans, striped shirt and black jacket) poses with the crew after they had signed off from the bulk carrier Agatis and were about to start the long trek to their homes in India and Myanmar
An example of the difficult life that many seafarers face when they sail across the oceans far from home and familiar places involves the bulk carrier AGATIS (27,254-dwt, built 1996) which spent three months at anchor while under arrest outside the port of Cape Town earlier this year.
The vessel was carrying a cargo of bagged rice loaded in Myanmar, intended for delivery at Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire.
Alan Goldberg, maritime attorney of Rose Street Chambers in Cape Town acted for the crew stranded on the vessel, as well as for an international bunker trader. He reports that conditions and morale on board the ship were abysmal, with no sanitation, the heads not flushing, piles of garbage lying everywhere, no drinking water and of course, no pay for the crew.
At one stage there was almost a hunger strike as crew turned to the only weapon that seemed available to them but with the help of the media, the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and the attorney, pressure was placed on the charterers and the owners and conditions on board the ship gradually improved.
With the vessel at anchor for almost three months in the No.1 Anchorage, which is off Sea Point, the logistics facing Goldberg and other officials such as the ITF member, Cassiem Augustus, seemed insurmountable. It was only thanks to the generosity of Servest Marine, which operates a fleet of workboats that service the ships in the anchorage, that these were able to hitch rides to the ship.
Even so, they faced dangers on climbing the pilots’ ladder each time and as it happened, the ITF man fell while descending the ladder, landing heavily in the aft section of the service boat and breaking an arm and several ribs. Once ashore he was taken to hospital to receive attention and is still recovering.
Goldberg not only arrested the ship on behalf of the crew but also for a bunker trader who had several outstanding claims. Eventually, all were paid in full and the crew was able to be repatriated home to India and Myanmar.
Since the event the ship’s former chief cook, Otto Lasrado has as a result of his experiences, become an activist with the Goan Seamen Association of India. During his enforced stay on board the ship he became the voice of the other seamen, speaking out against their mistreatment. Otto used the social media to publicise the case, becoming very in the process well-known back in India and also something of a TV celebrity, having subsequently appeared in a number of television shows in Goa. It is unlikely that he will ever go back to sea again.
Most seafarers are afraid to speak out against the abuse they often face for fear that they will not be able to find positions on board ships again. Despite the conditions this is the only work they know and the only means of supporting extended families.
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MSC CRUISES LAUNCHES VOYAGERS CLUB
MSC Cruises has launched its MSC Voyagers Club, the company’s new loyalty programme that rewards experienced travellers and reinforces the company’s commitment to offer guests an exceptional all-around experience before, during and after their cruise.
With 53 percent of the local upcoming cruise season already sold out, the addition of Voyagers Club for South African passengers rewards cruisers’ passion for adventure and their love of discovering new places as well as their commitment to cruise MSC.
For the local season MSC Voyagers Club points are earned according to the cabin category booked: Inside, outside, balcony and suite. Points can be earned on international departures according to the on-board experience that guests opt for when sailing: Bella, Fantastica, Aurea or Yacht Club.
In addition, prepaid onboard services and expenses will earn additional points. Joining the MSC Voyagers Club is free of charge, and is possible even before taking the cruise – all that is needed is a confirmed booking. Personalised cruise cards will be made available to MSC Voyagers Club members at the beginning of each sailing.
Local season cruises will also be rewarded with upfront discounts as well as earning points on the pre purchase of on board services.
The range of privileges extended to MSC Voyagers Club members includes, among others, dedicated events, milestone rewards and exclusive onboard offers.
From 20 July 2015, MSC Voyagers Club members have an exclusive 5 percent discount on all future cruises. In addition, a broad array of select cruises – called Voyages Selection – will be available to them in advance at an accruable discount of up to 15 percent. When MSC Voyagers Club members book a cruise from the Voyages Selection, Silver, Gold and Black members will receive €/$50 of onboard credit per person. Source – MSC Cruises
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MOZAMBIQUE SUGAR INDUSTRY WARNS OF CHEAPER IMPORTS
Marromeu Sugar Mill, one of Mozambique’s largest sugar producers
Mozambican sugar producers on Thursday (23 July) warned the Minister of Industry and Trade, Max Tonela, that the domestic market is being swamped by cheap, imported sugar, threatening the continued existence of the Mozambican industry.
The warning came at a seminar of “Challenges of the Sugar Industry”, held in the sugar town of Xinavane, in Maputo province.
In Maputo, national producers find they are competing with Swazi sugar. In the central province of Manica, it is Zimbabwean sugar that is inundating the market. Malawian sugar is sold in Niassa and Tete provinces.
On the coast, sugar from Asian countries such as India or Thailand is smuggled in, or dumped at prices below the cost of production, benefitting from the subsidies the governments of those countries pay to their sugar industries.
The difference in price has become substantial - Mozambican sugar sells at an average price of 42 meticais (1.1 US dollars) a kilo, while the average price of the imported sugar is 38 meticais a kilo. - Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (AIM)
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NEW APPOINTMENTS: BGAG APPOINTS DAVID FORFAR…
BGAG APPOINTS NEW HEAD OF OIL & GAS
Pan-African corporate law firm, Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group (BGAG), has announced the appointment of David Forfar as head of their Oil & Gas sector group.
Forfar will be based in the Cape Town office of BGAG where his substantial experience in Africa will complement the sector group’s expertise across the continent.
Having worked and travelled in Africa, he has considerable knowledge of, and experience in, the oil and gas sector throughout Africa. This includes international restructurings and Bilateral Investment Treaty advice on oil and gas asset holdings, advice on licence block applications and environmental regulatory regimes, as well as government regulations and HGI’s in South Africa, Mozambique and West Africa.
For the past few years, he has been based in Aberdeen, a global hub for the oil and gas industry where he has developed critical relationships in both technical and legal circles.
Forfar worked as a Senior Legal Counsel for Canadian Natural Resources International (CNRI) for five and a half years before returning to private practice at an oil and gas team where he has spearheaded the firm’s relationships in Mozambique. During his time at CNRI, he worked extensively on Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) matters relating to South African assets and on assets in Gabon and Cote d’Ivoire.
“We are delighted to welcome David as head of our Oil & Gas sector group and know that with his extensive upstream exploration and production experience, and wealth of overall knowledge, the group and our clients will benefit greatly from his appointment,” said Rob Legh, Chairman.
“David’s arrival will strengthen our offering to clients in this sector. We are already advising a number of leading players on the MPRDA and David’s upstream production skills and experience will complement our mid and downstream track record, as well as support our offices across Africa,” said Ezra Davids, Chairman of Corporate/M&A.
David Forfar trained and practiced as a lawyer within the Energy group at Ashursts in London having previously come from academia where he was in a Fellow in Modern Japanese Studies at Wadham College, Oxford.
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PORT DIRECTOR INDICTED FOR SABOTAGE, THEFT & CONSPIRACY
Matilda Parker, the suspended Liberian National Port Authority’s managing director has been indicted by the Monteserrado County Grand Jury in Liberia.
Ms Parker was suspended in April and faces charges of economic sabotage, theft of property and criminal conspiracy. She was arrested on 21 July and released on a $1 million bond.
Parker is accused of awarding a falsified wreck removal contract to Denmar Enterprises valued at $800,000. Denmar Enterprises is owned by Parker’s co-defendant Deneah M Flomo.
Parker’s suspension was announced by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf following an investigation by the Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission (LAAC).
According to the findings of the investigation, Parker is alleged to have awarded contracts without the approval of the Public Procurement and Concession Commission on behalf of the NPA for wreck removal projects at the ports of Monrovia, Buchanan and Greenville.
The grand jury’s indictment also alleges that Parker made fraudulent payments to her co-defendant Deneah M Flomo.
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PICS OF THE DAY – MAGELLAN
Trevor Jones has recently visited Europe during which time he was able to visit a number of places of shipping interest for himself. One of these was Aalborg in Denmark and among the ships seen and photographed was the cruise ship MAGELLAN.
“This was quite a significant vessel and a rather significant event,” says Professor Jones. “The vessel is the Magellan, now operating in the British market, but of course better known as Carnival's Holiday. The significance of the visit was quite notable, as she was built in Aalborg, as the last vessel to be completed by the Aalborg Vaerft, delivered in June 1985, just over thirty years ago.
“She had not been back to her birthplace since, and the event elicited gigantic interest in the city, with coverage in local papers and television, and huge interest from the local populace. A cannon salute was fired from the site of the former shipyard as she came up the Limfjord, and a special lunch was laid on board for former shipyard workers and other locals of note.
“When she sailed, the waterfront was lined with thousands of onlookers, over a wide age spectrum, and frankly quite an emotive scene. The disintegration of the European shipbuilding industry must have hit cities like this very hard, and its passing is really quite sad.”
Pictures are by Trevor Jones
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