Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 25, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • Spoornet cuts back on ore deliveries

  • Tanzania leases out inland ports

  • Kenya Ports Authority calls for reduction in charges

  • SADC urges remaining countries to sign investment protocol

  • Commonwealth S-G calls for rules-based trading system

  • Mogadishu port back at work

  • Picture of the day

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    Spoornet cuts back on ore deliveries

    Just one week after the resumption of deliveries to the Saldanha ore terminal, after an enforced shutdown when one of the two ship loaders was damaged while the other was dismantled for maintenance, Spoornet has announced it will cut back on deliveries to the ore terminal to help redress an oversupply at the terminal.

    According to Spoornet’s CEO Siyabonga Gama, the rail company will reduce deliveries from 700,000 tonnes a week to 600,000 tonnes until early next year. At present the Saldanha terminal has a 3.7 million tonne stockpile on its hands and by cutting back it was hoped to reduce this to a more manageable 2.7mt.

    The cut-back will also help reduce stresses on Spoornet’s delivery schedules.

    Transnet has announced that 32 new electric locomotives will be ordered for service on the ore line, to complement 31 Class 9E electric locomotives currently in service. Once delivery of the new locos, designated Class 15E, begin entering service in 2009 a large number of aging diesel-electric locomotives will be released from the ore line.

    The two mining groups exporting iron ore through Saldanha, Kumba Resources and Assmang hope to increase exports from about 27mt annually at present to 47mt by April 2009. Both Spoornet and the ore terminal are ramping up to accommodate the increased volumes.

    As part of the long-term planning to handle increased exports of iron ore Spoornet is believed to be examining the pros and cons of refurbishing the existing railway between the iron ore mines at Sishen and the Eastern Cape port of Ngqura, now nearing completion about 20km from Port Elizabeth. The use of Coega/Ngqura as an iron ore outlet has long been considered a possibility and would go far towards helping justify the building of the deep water port, which after more than five years of effort still has no anchor tenant.

    Spoornet recently confirmed an order for 110 new electric locomotives for the Richards Bay coal line.

    Tanzania leases out inland ports

    In an effort to reduce its financial burden Tanzania Ports Authority hopes to lease out two inland terminals – both on Lake Tanganyika, for a period of three years beginning in January 2007.

    One of the terminals, the Kigoma Cargo Terminal, is situated strategically on the shores of the lake at the railhead of the central railway about 1,000 km from Dar es Salaam and is a traditional transit point for cargo to and from Burundi, Rwanda and the DRC.

    The other terminal is at the southern port of Kasanga, which is close to the Zambian border. Kasanga is a port terminal with a 300m long quay and a container yard plus general cargo yard.

    Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) wants to lease out the two terminals on short-term contracts to lessen its own responsibility of having to invest in these operations. The government also hopes that by leasing out the terminals greater efficiencies will result.

    In July this year seven inland ports which had previously been under the control and operation of Marine Services Co (Ltd), a subsidiary of Tanzania Railways Corporation (TRC), were handed over to the TPA in an effort to streamline and lessen the burden on TRC.

    From August the TPA has begun collecting harbour dues from boats and shipping using the seven inland ports on Lakes Tanganyika, Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi) and Lake Victoria.

    Meanwhile work is underway sorting through bids for the long-term concessioning of Dar es Salaam’s general cargo terminal in the harbour. The port’s container terminal is already concessioned to Tanzania International Container Terminal Services and the government hopes to find a suitable tenant to take over operations of the 7-berth general cargo section of the port.

    Kenya Ports Authority calls for reduction in charges

    Calling for a cut in charges levied against Ugandan importers, Kenya Ports Authority Abdallah Mwaruwa has asked shipping lines, clearing and forwarding agents, warehousemen, road hauliers and others involved in the logistics of handling cargo to look into a reduction of fees made against Uganda and other transit countries.

    His appeal follows the waiving of storage charges on containers and other cargo at the port of Mombasa as from 1 September. Cargo arriving in the port is allowed a period of 15 days before storage charges are levied and then are charged for six days only.

    Mwaruwa is hoping that his appeal will fall on responsive ears and lead to increased use of the port of Mombasa, which he says has spare capacity following recent modernisation programmes.

    SADC urges remaining countries to sign investment protocol

    by Oupa Segalwe, BuaNews

    Midrand - Four member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) which are still to sign the region's Finance and Investment Protocol were urged to do so at the body's Extra-Ordinary Summit.

    "..of importance, we urge the few remaining countries to sign," SADC Chairperson and Prime Minister of Lesotho Pakalitha Mosisili said on Monday, closing the SADC Extra-Ordinary Summit for Heads of State and Government.

    Botswana, Zimbabwe and Swaziland signed the protocol Monday, bringing the total number of signatory countries to ten.

    Zambia, Angola, Namibia and Malawi are the only countries that are yet to sign the protocol.

    The summit was attended by the heads of state of all 14 member countries, as well as ministers of finance, trade and investment.

    The protocol aims to harmonise the financial and investment policies of member states and ensure that changes in policies in one country do not affect the other countries.

    It is envisaged that the protocol will facilitate the creation of a favourable investment climate within SADC, the attainment of macroeconomic stability and convergence, cooperation in taxation matters and coordination and cooperation on trade control policies.

    It is also expected that through the protocol, member states will facilitate and create favourable conditions to attract investment into their countries via appropriate administrative measures and expediting clearance of project approvals.

    Prior to Botswana, Zimbabwe and Swaziland's signing, the protocol could not be taken to the next stages of ratification and implementation as a majority of signatory member states was required for the process to unfold.

    "Now that we have the majority of member states that have signed the protocol, we move into the second stage of ratification," Mr Mosisili told reporters.

    The chairperson also said he was certain the region would be a free trade zone in two years' time.

    "The report that we received is quite clear that we are on course to realising the Free Trade Area (FTA) by 2008 ... so all in all its all systems go," he said.

    However the summit noted that SADC's trade patterns consisted mainly of commodities and that there was a need to diversify the SADC economies and increase intra-regional trade and growth, Mosisili explained.

    "In addition, the summit noted that the establishment of the FTA should take cognisance of the developmental integration elements such as infrastructure, poverty alleviation and sustainable development," he said.

    The aim is to have 85 percent of all goods within the region trading at zero tariffs by 2008.

    This is part of the broader economic integration agenda for the region, which formed the core of the discussions at the summit.

    This includes the establishment of a SADC Customs Union by 2010, the region becoming a common market by 2015 and the region becoming an economic union and having monetary community with a single currency by 2018.

    Commonwealth S-G calls for rules-based trading system

    London, 24 October 2006. A rules-based multilateral trading system is critical for the survival of small developing countries in the face of competition from larger developed states with greater economic and political clout, said Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon.

    He was addressing a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association/World Trade Organisation (WTO) Regional Workshop for Pacific Parliamentarians in Korolevu, Fiji Islands, which began yesterday (24 October 2006).

    Mr McKinnon said the Commonwealth would like to see a successful conclusion of the WTO's Doha Round so that developing countries can benefit from globalisation. He pointed out that Special and Differential Treatment of products from developing countries and aid for trade will help develop national capacities for economic growth and sustainable development.

    The Secretary-General stated that the Commonwealth is working with the European Union to improve the trade policy and negotiating capacity of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of countries through a project known as the 'Hub and Spokes'. This Euro 20 million project involves the establishment of a network of senior ACP advisers based in the secretariats of regional organisations (the 'hubs') who co-ordinate networks of analysts ('the spokes') attached to trade ministries in individual countries.

    This technical assistance, said Mr McKinnon, is vital to enable small island developing states, including those in the Pacific, to overcome their inherent vulnerabilities.

    The Secretary-General's remarks on 'The Commonwealth and Trade' at the workshop were made on the sidelines of the Pacific Islands Forum in Nadi (located an hour's drive away from Korolevu) which he is attending as a Special Guest.

    - Commonwealth News and Information Service (London)

    Mogadishu port back at work

    Mogadishu, 23 October, 2006 (IRIN). Sacks of sorghum from the US swing out from the docked ship in a large rope net, are winched slowly to the port jetty, and loaded by chanting porters on to rusting trucks in Mogadishu port. The food is destined for southern Somalia - which means it must arrive at the port, be loaded on convoys of trucks, and driven out of the city, protected and intact.

    Until a few months ago, this was unthinkable. Mogadishu port was a no-go area for more than 11 years while heavily armed faction leaders fought over resources - particularly food aid.

    The 3,000 metric tonnes of food aid from CARE International are one of three food-aid consignments for Somalia to arrive in Mogadishu since 24 August. According to John Miskell, CARE Somalia, the consignment is destined for North Middle Shabelle, Hiran, Galgadud and North Mudug. Until the port was secured and reopened by the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) in August, food aid had to be delivered to El Man beach - where, in a costly and labour-intensive effort, it was moved on to barges and small boats and pushed to shallow waters.

    Humanitarian aid

    Transportation and delivery of food aid significantly improved, when, after the takeover in June, the UIC removed roadblocks manned by militia and bandits, Leo van der Velden, deputy country director, Somalia, World Food Programme (WFP), said. "The fact that the UIC has removed the check points and improved security in the south has cut costs because the transporters can move freely without extortion," he added.

    In addition, pirates, who used to attack and seize ships along the southern Somali coastline, have disappeared over the last few months, making sea transportation a safe option again.

    The UIC hired a Greek company to conduct a comprehensive survey of the state of the port; it concluded that vessels up to 9,000 metric tonnes could operate. Larger vessels must continue using El Man.

    Port security and equipment

    Port security is tight - but a far cry from the days of the faction leaders when 'security' meant truckloads of gunmen and heavy weapons. UIC security guards carry no visible weapons. The entrance to Mogadishu port is cordoned off with rope, and manned by a few armed guards and security officers. Vehicles and visitors are checked and identified. Inside the port, the main administration building is minimally staffed - and in serious need of renovation - but operational. As elsewhere in Mogadishu, the UIC stamp is distinctive in its protocol: shoes off before entering any office, and religious codes strictly observed.

    According to the port director, Omar Ahmed Weheliye, imports and exports are moving through the port, but it is not yet fully functional. He listed the main problems, including damage from the tsunami, sand pile-up, looting of handling equipment, and sunken ships.

    "There are two tug boats inside the water which we tell ships to avoid, and another small ship that sank during the 11 years of closure. We don't have the equipment to pull out the sunken vessels or to clear the sand dunes that have taken over," he said.

    He said the supply of electricity was very poor and remaining equipment rusted and broken. Six warehouses have been damaged by shelling. "Almost all handling equipment was looted and what remains is rusted, so we don't have fork lifts and lifts. We also need experienced workers," he said

    Since the collapse of the central government 1991, many experts and professionals fled the country, or were killed. In the absence of an education system and training, there is virtually no expertise to draw on. The UIC is trying to encourage professionals to return from the diaspora.

    Omar says at present there is no external support or assistance for the port, and the UIC is relying on its own ability to raise money from the business community and exiles. Announcements in the local media call on patriotic Somalis to donate funding.

    "But this cannot raise the sort of amounts needed to rehabilitate the port and government offices," Abukar al Badri, a local journalist said.

    Omar said essential equipment for the port was brought in by UNOSOM (United Nations Operation in Somalia) in 1992, but removed when the UN pulled out in 1995. Now, he said, the equipment should be returned.

    Imports and exports

    The first ship docked in the reopened port on the 24 August, bringing tea, food and household goods from Mombasa, Kenya. Most of the imported goods are from Dubai and Kenya.

    On the jetty, port tally clerk Ahmed Siad Haji - who records the goods arriving - says goods coming into Mogadishu since August are food, rice, tea, sugar, clothes, household furniture, fuel and materials for building and reconstruction.

    "Business is good," he said. "These days security is good where the Islamic Courts rule. But you know a trader always has to work, and you can't fear anything. You have to go anywhere, and do what you want. That's business."

    Officially, exports are primarily sesame seeds, hides and skins, shark fin, and livestock. The first export of 1,000 camels from southern Somalia left the port for Saudi Arabia on 8 October, the port manager confirmed.

    Restoring order

    The reopening of the port is a powerful and symbolic landmark for the authority of the UIC, and a critical achievement for security and the economy.

    In the absence of a government for the past 16 years, Somalia's ports have been used freely for illegal trade in guns, drugs and people, and it has become one of the world's major smuggling hubs. Somali waters have been abused not just by unscrupulous and violent locals, but also by the international community, including illegal fishing and waste disposal. All areas of the country have been affected.
    Reopening Mogadishu port is a major security and economic achievement for the UIC, and opens new opportunities, including for humanitarian aid but regularising and controlling imports and exports will remain a challenge.

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

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

    Freighter Shin Fuji in the Esplanade Channel heading for Durban’s Maydon Wharf. Picture Terry Hutson

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