Ports & Ships Maritime News

Apr 25, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • Maputo lines up direct calls to the Far East

  • Ferry disaster report slams shipping company and government

  • IMO confident about long range vessel identification and tracking

  • Six companies shortlisted for Nigeria’s inland container depots

  • PSA strikes back by buying 20 percent of Hutchison Whampoa

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    Maputo lines up direct calls to the Far East

    The Mozambique port of Maputo may soon have its first direct container liner link with Far East ports and could start operations as early as mid May.

    At least one company has agreed to quote on a monthly direct service between Maputo and the Far East, according to the Maputo Corridor Liaison Initiative (MCLI) which reports that the first vessel may be ready to call during the forthcoming MCLI Commemorative Event scheduled to be held in Maputo between 15 and 18 May 2006.

    All that prevents this taking place, it seems, is for shippers to commit to handle their cargo through Maputo in time to line up the service for a mid May start. The MCLI says there are several vessels available for a direct service.

    In theory all it takes is to have a vessel calling at Durban to make an additional call at the Mozambique port en route back to South East Asia, although a totally new dedicated service is also possible.

    Maputo offers Gauteng shippers the most direct and closest route to any port. In colonial days the port closely rivaled Durban for this traffic and only lost ground following the revolution and ensuing civil war.

    Ferry disaster report slams shipping company and government

    Cairo 24 April 2006: A report submitted to parliament last week assigned blame for February's Al-Salam 98 ferry disaster, in which more than a thousand passengers died, to the ship's owner and government transportation agencies.

    "The parliamentary findings showed up the situation at Egypt's Red Sea ports," said Hafez Abu Seada, Secretary-General of the non-governmental Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR). "There are no real rules currently governing ports and ship maintenance."

    "There's a lack of certification and examination of ships," Abu Seada added, "especially the passenger ferries operating between Egypt and Saudi Arabia."

    On 2 February, the Al-Salam Boccaccio 98 set out from the Saudi town of Dubah carrying 1,414 passengers, en route to the Egyptian port of Safaga, some 500 km southeast of Cairo. Not long after its departure, however, a fire broke out on one of the vessel's lower decks, causing it to sink 91.7 km off the Egyptian coast. Of all passengers on board the 35-year-old ship, only about 400 were saved during the several days of rescue efforts that followed.

    The new parliamentary report aimed its harshest criticisms at the owner of the doomed vessel, the Al-Salam Maritime Transport Company, which it accused of gross negligence. "Testimony provided by passengers confirmed that [the ferry] regularly carried more than 2,000 people", in spite of regulations limiting passenger numbers to 1,200, Hamdi El-Tahhan, chairman of the parliamentary fact-finding committee on the disaster, was quoted as saying in the state press.

    The report went on to note that the ferry had been inadequately maintained and lacked basic emergency equipment. The report further noted that the validity of the life jackets on board the vessel had expired five years earlier.

    Al-Salam company owner Mamdouh Ismail, who enjoys a close relationship with the government through his position in the upper house of parliament, was also criticised for fleeing to London following news of the disaster. The report suggested that Ismail's position on the board of the Red Sea Ports Authority allowed him to both sidestep safety regulations and unfairly monopolise the Red Sea shipping business.
    Government transport agencies were also blamed by the fact-finding commission for allowing the ferry to sail without meeting minimum safety standards, as well as for their slow response to the unfolding catastrophe. The report concluded by making an appeal "to reform and restructure the maritime transport sector".

    Local human rights officials, meanwhile, expressed approval of the report's findings. "I think the parliamentary report was fair and revealed the main reasons for the disaster," commented Abu Seada. "Hopefully, it will now be used to improve procedures and establish new regulations so as to avoid similar disasters in the future and ensure the safety of passengers."

    In mid-February, the EOHR issued its own 46-page report that also noted a number of institutional failures on the part of the private and government agencies involved.
    "National institutions failed to adequately deal with the sinking of the Al-Salam 98," the EOHR study stated at the time. "This tragedy illustrates how far the level of service in all sectors, without exception, has fallen."
    (This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations)

    IMO confident about long range vessel identification and tracking

    International Maritime Organisation (IMO) secretary-general Efthimios Mitropoulos says he is confident that a draft resolution on long-range vessel identification and tracking (LRIT) will be agreed and signed next month (May) when the IMO Maritime safety Committee meets in London.

    The secretary-general said the IMO has been developing LRIT as a tool for security and for search and rescue purposes. It was intended that it become a mandatory regulation added to Solas Chapter V and applying to all SOLAS vessels and mobile offshore drilling units.

    Vessels built before the regulation comes into force would enjoy a phased-in implementation, says the IMO, but ships will not be required to pay for transmitting LRIT data. However, governments requiring this information will be required to pay for whatever they request and receive.

    Data processed by LRIT would be made available free of charge to any search and rescue service and flag states would also enjoy free access to LRIT information about ships on their register.

    Proposals to adopt LRIT as a means of enhancing maritime security were first adopted by the UN body in 2002. The IMO was subsequently invited to "carry out, as a matter of urgency, an impact assessment of the proposals to implement the long-range identification and tracking of ships and, if found necessary, develop and adopt appropriate performance standards and guidelines for long-range ship identification and tracking systems."

    Six companies shortlisted for Nigeria’s inland container depots

    Nigeria’s Federal Government has identified six companies as the preferred bidders to establish and operate inland container depots in Nigeria. The intention is that the inland terminals will relieve pressure on congested port terminals while also speeding up delivery to the respective economic regions.

    The six companies shortlisted are Catamaran Logistin, Dala IP Ltd, Duncan M Ltd, Eastgate IT Ltd, Equatorial M Ltd, and Migfo Nigeria Ltd.

    Transport Minister Mallam Muhammad Habib Alivu said the proposed inland container depots would play a critical role among port reforms aimed at eliminating congestion at the country’s seaports as well as easing delivery of cargo to inland centres. Although the concept was the brainchild of the Nigerian Shippers Council, the Federal Government had embraced it willingly and had adopted it on the basis of a BOOT system – Build, Own, Operate and Transfer.

    PSA strikes back by buying 20 percent of Hutchison Whampoa

    Thwarted in its efforts to acquire the assets of P&O Ports, which it lost in a bidding war with Dubai Ports World, Singapore-based PSA International has negotiated a USD 4.388 Billion deal to acquire a 20 percent stake in Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa’s port business.

    Hutchison is acknowledged as the world’s largest privately-owned port operator and has agreed to close the deal by the end of May ‘if possible.’ It says it will use the net proceeds as working capital for its port operations, which would leave Hutchison with a neat profit of USD 3.14 Billion.

    Hutchison operates 42 container terminals in 20 countries handling 51.8 million TEUs in 2005, while PSA operates 19 port projects in 11 countries and handled 41.2 million TEU in its terminals during last year.

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