Ports & Ships Maritime News

Feb 14, 2006
Author: P&S


  • SA ports get a brisk start to the year

  • South African industry overlooked by offshore crane order

  • Richards Bay coal line to get new locos

  • Eastern Cape strike now set for Friday

    EMAIL: jhughes@hugheship.com
    WEB SITE: www.hugheship.com

    SA ports get a brisk start to the year

    South African ports got the year underway in a brisk manner and are already on target to achieve and exceed 2005’s total cargo handled of 173.5 million tonnes.

    Total tonnage handled in January 2006 by all seven commercial ports (Richards Bay, Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth, Mossel Bay, Cape Town and Saldanha was 17.064 million tonnes. Tonnages by port were as follows, given in figures of Bulk, Breakbulk and Total Tonnage:

    Richards Bay: 8.778Mt; 0.381Mt; 9.160Mt
    Durban: 3.824Mt; 0.692Mt; 4.518Mt
    East London: 0.154Mt; 0.015Mt; 0.169Mt
    Port Elizabeth: 0.260Mt; 0.025Mt; 0.286Mt
    Mossel Bay: 0.144Mt; 0.003Mt; 0.147Mt
    Cape Town: 0.341Mt; 0.133Mt; 0.403Mt
    Saldanha: 2.248Mt; 0.133Mt; 2.381Mt

    Bulk: 15.753Mt
    B/Bulk: 1.312Mt
    Total: 17.064Mt

    The container terminals also reflected a good start to the year with Durban handling a total of 165,718 TEUs for January; Cape Town 77,258 TEUs and Port Elizabeth 27,907 TEUs. With a small input from East London (1,557 TEU) and Richards Bay (286 TEU) the total containers expressed during January was 272,726 TEU.

    Ships handled at the seven ports amounted to 1,085, with Richards Bay receiving 143 ships with a gross tonnage of 5.154Mt; Durban 393 ships with a GT of 8.253Mt; East London 35 ships for a GT of 0.742Mt; Port Elizabeth 110 vessels with a GT of 2.140Mt; Mossel Bay 77 ships with GT of 0.245Mt; Cape Town 295 vessels with a GT of 4.154Mt and Saldanha 32 ships with a GT of 1.489Mt.

    South African industry overlooked by offshore crane order

    Once again questions are being asked why local South African companies – which count among its ranks some of the world’s leading heavy engineering outfits, were overlooked when it came to the placing of a billion rands worth of cranes with an Irish/German manufacturer.

    The order, announced last week but actually concluded last November and only now revealed publicly, is for 14 ship-to-shore gantry cranes for the container terminals at Durban and Cape Town. There is no question that the cranes are sorely needed and will be welcomed by shippers and shipping lines, but as one unhappy would-be supplier said this week, “It has taken them (Transnet and SAPO) months if not years to reach a decision about these cranes. Now they are required in one hell of a hurry and are placed offshore.”

    SAPO says that all eight cranes destined for Durban will be delivered and commissioned between March and mid October 2007, which is about standard for this type of equipment. The six for Cape Town will be commissioned between January and July 2008. Delivery of STS cranes normally takes between 18 and 24 months from placing of order.

    Three post-panamax STS cranes were recently completed in Durban by Argentine manufacturer IMPSA utilising local content and manpower – click on image to enlarge

    Local companies were hoping for at least a piece of the pie, in much the same way that several local companies, including black economic empowerment interests were able to participate meaningfully in the delivery of three STS cranes built by Argentine manufacturer IMPSA. These were built at a Durban site near the container terminal, from where they were rolled into position.

    The legs, booms and main girders of these IMPSA cranes were manufactured by a Gauteng-based firm and other local companies participated with the manufacture of machined components and with the installation and testing of the imported electrical and instrumentation systems. In the process a new skills base was developed by the local companies, and in the knowledge that further orders were in the offing these suppliers had reason to assume they would be again involved.

    Instead, according to SAPO the 14 Liebherr cranes will be delivered in component form and erected on site at Durban and Cape Town.

    This shiploader – one of several that has been manufactured in South Africa, was delivered by heavylift vessel to a Canadian customer in September 2000 – click on image to enlarge. Picture Terry Hutson

    Local South African engineering companies have on numerous occasions demonstrated their ability to design and construct heavy equipment including port cargo handling equipment. In 2000 giant ship loaders were completed at a Bayhead site and exported to Canada – these weren’t the first to be constructed locally using local steel and components plus imported machinery and electrical systems. The same Bayhead has been the scene of much shipbuilding over the years, right up to container vessels and warships. Most of the tugs in harbour service were built locally and recently a Cape Town shipyard delivered two tugs to the South African Navy.

    Government has recently set its sights on employing local shipping companies to carry local goods both on the coast and deep sea, a move that is generally welcomed and regarded as overdue. But how does that tally with the seeming contradiction of going offshore whenever new equipment is required. If government intends developing local skills and empowering local people, then the recent contract for new port infrastructure might have been a good place to start.

    Richards Bay coal line to get new locos

    Transnet yesterday confirmed that an order has been placed with the Japanese locomotive manufacturer Mitsui for 110 new electric locomotives as part of a R3.5 billion upgrade for the Richards Bay coal line.

    The locos are to be supplied jointly by Mitsui of Japan and a local consortium African Rail Solutions and follows three years of negotiation and design work. The purchase is in line with Spoornet’s recent commitment to increase the capacity of the coal line from the existing 72 million tonnes to 92Mt by the end of this decade.

    Eastern Cape strike now set for Friday

    Clarification has been received from the trade unions regarding the postponed Transnet strike in the Eastern Cape, which was originally set for yesterday (Monday, 13 February).

    To provide more time for the unions to organise their own logistics, the strike in this region (Port Elizabeth and East London) has been delayed until Friday, 16 February and will follow on two days after the Western Cape strike which is reset for tomorrow (Wednesday 15 February).

    The following stage of the strike action will be next week over the three days of 20 – 22 February when workers in Gauteng and other provinces not previously affected will shut up shop.

    The proposed nationwide action on 6 March remains on the table and is subject only to a successful conclusion being reached with Transnet ahead of that time.

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