Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 11, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • SA Ports must stimulate economic growth in South Africa - SAPO

  • Royal Navy undertakes to help train SA Navy officers

  • Kumba expects iron ore exports to double by 2015

  • Kenya-Somalia: Refugee camps expanded as more Somalis arrive

  • Vandalism causes freight train to derail

  • South Africa must learn from China’s job and skills creation

  • Picture of the day

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    SA ports must stimulate economic growth in South Africa - SAPO

    South Africa’s ports have a new directive, which is to stimulate the country’s economic growth.

    This was the message given by Mervin Chetty, SA Port Operations’ Executive Manager at a business breakfast hosted by the South African Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF) in Durban yesterday.

    As part of this directive Transnet companies, which include SAPO, the National Ports Authority, Petronet and rail operator Spoornet, are now focusing on freight only, having done away with ‘people activity’ such as rail passenger services and the airways which have been hived off to other government parastatals.

    Transport costs in South Africa remained high by international standards at 14 percent of GDP, compared with a worldwide average of 6 percent, Chetty told the meeting. Yet at the same time South Africa was competing on the global market, as for example with the South African motor vehicle chains which now compete on an equal basis with similar operations elsewhere in the world.

    Yet in South Africa transport is applied cost ineffectively with too much transport on the road and too little on rail and virtually nothing being transported by multi-modal methods.

    “Reducing seafreight costs is the key to improving South Africa’s competitiveness,” he said, “which can be achieved through saving causative costs such as ship delays and having better multi-modal systems.” With 65 percent of Durban container cargo being for Gauteng it was clear that changes leading to more efficient handling and costs savings are required.

    Chetty stressed the importance of efficient interfaces within the delivery chain. He pointed out that in Singapore trucks would be cleared through the terminal gates in an average of 25 seconds, having in that time cleared customs, checked weight of truck and container, checked the truck driver and cleared security. Such was the level of efficiency in that port.

    Royal Navy undertakes to help train SA Navy officers

    A fresh team of Royal Navy instructors is expected in South Africa in November to continue the training of officers of the South African Navy who will later be deployed among the new frigates and submarines.

    Arrangements were concluded some time ago for both the Royal Navy and the Indian Navy to assist with SAN training programmes – the Royal and Indian navies were chosen even though the new ships have been acquired from Germany – because of language commonality. Since then members of the SAN have been on training courses in India and several courses involving Royal Navy personnel have taken place in South Africa.

    One of those who has undertaken training in both the UK and in South Africa is Captain Bravo Mhlana, who is designated to take over command of the frigate SAS Isandlwana, when he will become the first black South African to have his own command of a large warship in the South African Navy.

    Meanwhile, the UK’s First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Jonathon Band is currently in South Africa visiting navy headquarters in Pretoria, where he held talks with the chief of the South African Navy, Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu.

    During his visit in Pretoria Admiral Band said that the world’s navies had to learn to work together to counteract what he called the ‘bad men’ at sea, including pirates, drug smugglers, human traffickers and terrorists. He emphasised the importance of the seas for global trade.

    Admiral Band will also visit Simon’s Town during his stay in South Africa.

    Kumba expects iron ore exports to double by 2015

    Kumba Iron Ore says it will expand iron ore exports in the ten years till 2015, reaching 70 million tonnes a year from the current 32mt achieved in 2005. It will achieve this to help meet increasing global demand, which in the next two decades will see the demand reach in excess of 350mt annually of new iron ore.

    The company expects to be able to add between 33mt and 53mt annually from projects in South Africa and Senegal. Thirteen million tonnes of this will come from the company’s Sishen upgrade, already announced which will increase output there to 42mt.

    The biggest challenge facing Kumba will come from having to deliver the ore to the coast, although Spoornet has plans to upgrade the Sishen – Saldanha railway including lengthening the ore trains. Two years ago Spoornet successfully tested a so-called mega-train with a payload of 34,200 tonnes and a length of 3.9km and more recently it operated a 342-wagon ore train successfully. The normal length of a train is 216 wagons. Further ore train tests are expected.

    Spoornet current plans call for capacity along the railway to be increased from its present 29mt to 41 million tonnes a year, of which 35mt would be for Kumba. This capability is due to be reached by 2009.

    The port of Saldanha’s iron ore terminal, which is currently closed due to a breakdown of one of the ship loaders while at the same time the second ship loader is down for maintenance, will undergo a R5 Billion refurbishment to equip it for handling the increased volumes. This will include the capacity to handle even larger ships than at present.

    Kenya-Somalia: Refugee camps expanded as more Somalis arrive

    Further signs of increasing tension in the Kenya-Somalia region is clear in the following UN report. Last week the US donated a number of patrol boats to Kenya to help patrol its coastline up to the Somalia border, partly to keep in check the movement of people migrating towards Kenya. This week the Union of Islamic Courts threatened that ‘war can be expected at any time’ over what it called an invasion by Ethiopian and Somalia government armed forces (see yesterday’s News Bulletin). While the following report is not directly about maritime matters the subject it covers has the potential to spill over and affect shipping in the region of the Horn of Africa and areas further south.

    map courtesy IRIN

    Nairobi, 10 Oct 2006 (IRIN) - The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, is expanding camps for Somali refugees in eastern Kenya to accommodate an increasing number of people fleeing the troubled Horn of Africa country.

    "We are really concerned about the large number of refugees who continue to arrive every day," said Emmanuel Nyabera, spokesman for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Nairobi.

    An estimated 2,000 have arrived in Kenya from Somalia via the Liboi border post since Friday, Nyabera said.

    "As it is now we are expanding the existing camps, but if the numbers continue to rise we will have to discuss with the government the possibility of opening new camps," he added.

    On Monday, about 1,300 refugees jammed temporary reception centres set up by UNHCR on Kenya's border with Somalia, according to the agency. The agency also said operations to screen and transfer newcomers at border areas to the three existing camps were disrupted briefly on Saturday when the Kenyan police at Liboi, some 184 km northeast of Garissa, stopped refugees from entering the reception facility. Kenyan authorities have since assured UNHCR of continued cooperation.

    An estimated 30,000 Somali refugees have arrived in Kenya since the beginning of 2006, with a dramatic rise in the number of newcomers recorded in the past two months. Those who came earlier in the year said they moved because of food insecurity that gripped much of the Horn of Africa during a severe drought, according to Nyabera.

    The latest arrivals have told aid workers they left their country because of rising tensions between armed groups there, including rivalry between the Transitional Federal Government and the Union of Islamic Courts, which has extended its authority to much of southern Somalia since it seized control of Mogadishu, the capital, from an alliance of armed faction leaders.

    Some 130,000 Somali refugees had already been living in three sprawling refugee camps in the remote, arid Dadaab area in the country's Northeastern Province since 1991. Expanding the camps has entailed demarcating additional areas for setting up new shelters and ensuring adequate water and sanitation facilities for the rising number of refugees, Nyabera said.

    UNHCR has also been distributing shelter materials and other non-food survival kits to the new arrivals, he added.

    On Monday, Somali elders from Dobley, a Somali town near the border with Kenya, told a visiting team of UN officials that people were fleeing because of increased military activity in Somalia's Middle Juba region and hunger following crop failure in many parts of the Juba Valley. The elders told the UN team that the current influx of refugees was not expected to end soon. The elders knew of at least 3,000 to 4,000 Somalis en route to Kenya via Dobley, according to a UNHCR update.

    (This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations)

    Vandalism causes freight train to derail

    Johannesburg, 10 October (BuaNews): The Railway Safety Regulator has attributed the derailment of a Spoornet goods train in Krugersdorp, to vandalism.

    Railway safety inspectors at the scene confirmed the accident may have been caused by the theft of railway sleepers resulting in the derailment of one locomotive and seven empty wagons.

    The regulator has since condemned the culprits, saying the theft of railway infrastructure is a matter of serious concern and places people's lives in serious danger.

    The derailment is also said to have negatively affected Metrorail commuter trains on the line, inconveniencing a significant number of rail users.

    The organisation said it was determined to work with law enforcement agencies and the operators to put measures in place to safeguard the public.

    "These acts also have a negative impact on the economy and undermine efforts to improve efficiency," said the regulator.

    South Africa must learn from China’s job and skills creation

    by Shaun Benton (BuaNews)

    Cape Town, 10 October: South Africa must learn from China's experiences in skills development and employment creation, if it wished to make the most of the world's economy, Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana said Monday.

    Mr Mdladlana said he was impressed by China's economic progress and that if South Africa wished to be "a player" in the global economy, "we must use the experiences of China."

    The minister was speaking in Cape Town after signing a memorandum of understanding on job creation with Zhang Xiaojian, the Vice Minister of Labour and Social Security in the People's Republic of China (PRC).

    "I believe that South Africa can learn a lot in that process," the minister told BuaNews.

    Mr Mdladlana said the MoU on Cooperation in the Fields of Human Resource Development and Employment Creation would mean that "we rearrange ourselves" in South Africa regarding human resource development and skills development.

    In order to meet the Millennium Development Goal of halving unemployment by 2014, "we must make sure we develop the skills of our people fairly quickly" and for this, the MoU signed with China "makes business sense," the Labour Minister said.

    To meet this goal, South Africa needs to create more than the 500,000 jobs it has created over the past year, he said.

    "We want to halve unemployment by 2014 - that's our goal," said Mr Mdladlana.

    Mr Zhang said the MoU would result in "practical cooperation" that would benefit both countries.

    For its part, China is looking to create no less than 10 million jobs a year, said the Chinese vice minister for Labour and Social Security, adding that the foreign investment pouring into China had helped to solve "certain employment issues".

    This investment, however, depends on the skills and qualifications of the workers themselves, said Mr Zhang, saying this was why the Chinese government paid "a lot of attention to skills development and vocational training."

    He added that the Chinese government emphasised that Chinese companies must "run their businesses legally and with integrity and honesty."

    Mr Zhang said his ministry had studied the employment experiences of many countries and had combined these experiences with China's own policies to implement active employment policies.

    He added that his delegation also wished to take back to China, lessons learned in South Africa.

    Mr Zhang had brought officials with him who had particular experience in certain aspects of job creation, such opportunities in the tourism industry and in "practical agriculture technologies."

    South Africa's engagement with China through the MoU "will mainly be learning the experiences of the Chinese people - how they managed to participate in this tough global economy, to make themselves to be in the top five, as we speak today, being a developing country".

    The Chinese visitors and the Labour Department's top officials will visit several skills training projects in the Western Cape and Gauteng in between meetings where they are expected to exchange expertise and ideas on enhancing skills development.

    Picture of the day
    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    Hamburg Suds’ container ship Cap Frio sailing from Durban. Picture Terry Hutson

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