Ports & Ships Maritime News

Feb 23, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Cyclone Favio landfall leaves Mozambique coastal town in ruins

  • Nigeria intends legalising bunkering

  • Zimbabwe sets out to rehabilitate railway system

  • Tanzania railway to be electrified

  • Grindrod increases earnings by 18 percent

  • SA Helderberg update

  • Pic of the day – SAS ISANDLWANA

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    Cyclone Favio landfall leaves Mozambique coastal town in ruins

    map IRIN

    Johannesburg, 22 February 2007 (IRIN) - Cyclone Favio crashed into Mozambique’s central province of Inhambane on Thursday (yesterday) leaving a trail of destruction as it headed towards the country's second city, Beira.

    Favio struck the coastal town of Vilanculos, a popular tourist destination, as a category four tropical cyclone, reportedly ripping through rooftops, uprooting trees and damaging the electricity grid. Power to the town has been cut off.

    "In one word: devastation," Cally Donaldson, who runs a tourist complex three kilometres outside the main town, told IRIN.

    The first signs of Favio’s arrival were felt in the early morning and "by 9 am we were loosing our roofs and it is still going. The wind is pounding and the rain is pelting down," Donaldson said.

    Later on Thursday evening (22 Feb) Favio was reduced to a category three tropical cyclone with winds reaching 110 knots (204 km/h) and it is projected to decrease in strength as it tracks further inland at 16 km/h.

    "It is very bad in Vilanculos but now it is heading towards Beira where they will start feeling it soon," Manuel Max, information officer at the Mozambique National Institute for Disaster (INGC), said.

    Torrential rains accompanying the storm has sparked fears of further flooding in the Zambezi valley where an estimated 120,000 Mozambicans have already been driven from their homes.

    But, Manuel said, the INGC had initially expected Favio to head further west, avoiding the areas devastated by the ongoing floods. "We are closely monitoring its trajectory," he added.

    The impact of Favio has already been felt in Madagascar after it scraped the southern tip of the Indian Ocean island on Tuesday, disrupting relief operations trying to reach 582,000 people struggling to cope with the aftermath of a drought in the south, and flooding that has left at least three dead and displaced 33,000 throughout the country.

    The storm caused heavy rains that reduced road access to the southeastern parts of the island, said Gianluca Ferrera, WFP deputy country director for Madagascar.

    Madagascar is currently in the middle of a "cyclone season" with the next one, Gamede, expected to slam into the island's east coast early next week. Six cyclones have already hit, with ‘Bondo’ at the end of December and ‘Clovis’ in January, causing the most damage.

    The Malagasy government has declared a national emergency and appealed for US $ 243 million in international aid - mainly for infrastructure reconstruction and agricultural rehabilitation.

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

    Nigeria intends legalising bunkering

    Nigeria’s Federal Government has indicated its keenness on introducing legal bunkering in the country.

    Minister of State for Water Transportation, Mallam Mohammed Habibu Aliyu said that Nigeria’s bunker industry could no longer be ignored but there was a need to regulate and ensure acceptable guidelines were introduced for the overall interest of the country.

    Until now Nigeria’s bunker industry has operated in what has been little more than a legal no-mans land and without proper licensing procedures being in place. As a result a number of Nigerian businessmen had ended up on the wrong side of the law with some even been imprisoned.

    This has led to Nigeria’s bunker industry, in a country that has become a leading oil producer, having poor growth as a result of no-one being prepared to invest.

    The minister said that with the proliferation of petroleum tank farms in the Lagos and other coastal districts, bunkering could no longer be ignored but needed to be regularised and made legal.

    Zimbabwe sets out to rehabilitate railway system

    The National Railways of Zimbabwe – not too many years ago one of the best managed and operated railway networks on the African continent, says it has begun rehabilitating the country’s railway liens as part of a turnaround strategy to boost rail traffic.

    The first line to be upgraded is the strategic Victoria Falls – Bulawayo main line which serves the Zambian and DRC copperbelt as well as local traffic.

    NRZ public relations manager Fanuel Masikati told Zimbabwe media that the rehabilitation work began in January and has involved the replacement of sections of the rail within the route. New rail is being supplied through China.

    He also announced a maintenance programme that will ensure safety practices on the railway.

    NRZ intends achieving 10 million tonnes of traffic by the end of the 2007 fiscal year and is optimistic of exceeding this amount.

    Tanzania railway to be electrified

    The consortium which is about to take over the management and operation of the Tanzania Railways Corporation (TRC) says it intends electrifying the central line from Dar es Salaam to the lakeside ports of Kigoma and Mwanza within the 25-year lease period.

    The concession is held by India’s Rites Consortium of India in partnership with the Tanzanian Government and will invest sufficient funds into the network – a figure of US $ 43 million is to be invested as soon as the consortium takes over the rail company from the Tanzanian government in May this year.

    The concessioning process has been something of a stop-start affair but it now seems that all difficulties have been ironed out and the May deadline will be met. According to the Tanzanian minister for Planning, Economy and Empowerment the priority is for the railway to be modernised and rehabilitated. In addition he said the government was keen that the lines from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma and Mwanza be electrified.

    The railway from Dar es Salaam to the junction at Tabora is 850 km in length, with a 453km section then extending to Kigoma on the east coast of Lake Tanganyika while another section of 386km extends to the port town of Mwanza on the southern bank of Lake Victoria. The latter connects with the Uganda and Kenya rail networks (now concessioned to Rift Valley Railway) by lake steamer.

    The delays that bedeviled the concessioning process resulting in several delays were in the past and all problems had been sorted out, said the minister.

    Rites Consortium holds a 70 percent stake in the company with the Tanzanian Government holding the balance of 30 percent. The Rites Consortium is a government of India consultancy enterprise and is able to draw on India’s considerable experience in electrified rail operation.

    source – East African and own input

    Grindrod increases earnings by 18 percent

    Shipping and freight services group, Grindrod, has increased earnings by 18 percent to R1008 million for the year ended 31 December 2006.

    Grindrod’s new CEO, Alan Olivier said that due to strong markets together with the benefits from a growing fleet and a weaker Rand/US $ exchange rate, Shipping Services performed extremely well. He went on to say: “We are pleased with the positive performance from the Trading, Freight and Financial Services divisions in the second half of 2006, resulting in an increase in earnings of 59 percent over the previous year and contributing 14 percent of group earnings.”

    The current high level of ship values and long term charter rates indicate an expectation of continued firm shipping markets in the foreseeable future. The group has a significant level of contracted income in its shipping division with 74 percent of the fleet fixed out for 2007, 54 percent in 2008 and 36 percent in 2009. Contracted profits from these fixtures and from contracted ship sales amounts to US $ 84,2 million in 2007, US $ 40,2 million in 2008, and US $ 18,9 million in 2009.

    Trading Services contributed significantly to non-shipping profit and Ships Agencies achieved record profits.

    The Grindrod Freight Services division had an active year with significant acquisitions and major capital expenditure projects being concluded. This division’s contribution was 94 percent up over last year. The latter half of the year, in conjunction with the consolidation of certain operations, the group also commenced a restructure of Grindrod Freight Services division into distinct operations namely; Grindrod Terminals, Grindrod Intermodal, Grindrod Logistics, Grindrod Rail, Grindrod Port Holdings, Grindrod Seafreight and Grindrod Ships Agencies. Significant expansion of these operations will continue into 2007.

    There were significant changes in the Financial Services division during the year. The property and asset management operations of Marriott were sold and the remaining 50 percent of Marriott Corporate Property Bank was acquired. The latter transaction was approved by the South African Reserve Bank on 16 October 2006 and the Bank has been re-branded as Grindrod Bank and recapitalised with the introduction of additional equity. The Bank performed favourably in the latter part of the year growing its advances book and expanding its operations. The Bank acquired a wealth management division and in early 2007 entered into an agreement with Net 1 to provide a card based payment system to the retail market.

    Group Borrowings & Cash Flow
    Investment of R1 063 million was made in ship acquisitions, expansion of Freight and Financial Services operations and increased working capital requirements in the bulk product trading business. However, due to strong operating cash flows and the further issue of R263 million in preference shares, net borrowings reduced from R878 million at 31 December 2005 to R848 million. The group’s debt/equity ratio has reduced from 33 percent to 19 percent.

    Ordinary shareholders’ equity increased from R1937 million at 31 December 2005 to
    R2825 million due to the strong earnings, the issue of preference share capital and the effect of the weaker Rand/US Dollar exchange rate.

    During the year, the group repurchased 19,4 million ordinary shares at an average price of R12,22. The treasury shares are held by a subsidiary company, Grindrod (South Africa) (Pty) Limited.

    At a general meeting held on 15 August 2006 Grindrod shareholders approved the creation of an additional 12,5 million cumulative, non-redeemable, non-participating, non-convertible preference shares.

    Distribution to Shareholders
    A distribution of share premium in the amount of 38 cents per ordinary share (2005: 32 cents) has been approved by the directors in lieu of a final dividend. A dividend of 470,3 cents per preference share was declared on 1 December 2006 and have been provided for in the group’s results.

    source - Grindrod

    SA Helderberg update

    The damage to the container ship SA Helderberg, which was in collision with the tanker Ocean Sapphire shortly after sailing from Tanjung Pelepas in Malaysia, appears to be more serious than at first thought.

    See our news report dated 20 February 2007 and Safmarine’s statement on the incident which was republished in Ports & Ships yesterday, 22 February.

    According to sources in SE Asia the damage to the hull of SA Helderberg requires dry docking. The ship had commenced her voyage in South Africa and it is likely that she was carrying cargo from this country and this will in all likelihood be discharged once the vessel reaches Singapore.

    Safmarine is believed to have already made arrangements for a replacement vessel to take her place on the Safari II service between the Far East and South Africa.

    Pic of the day – SAS ISANDLWANA

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    Ships company of SAS ISANDLWANA (F146) line up ahead of a ceremony at the Simon’s Town Naval Base yesterday. SAS ISANDLWANA, one of four South African frigates and the second to be commissioned into service, underwent a change of command at Simon’s Town Naval Base yesterday (Thursday), when the officer commanding, Captain Karl Wiesner formally handed over command of his ship to Captain Bubele (Bravo) Mhlana.
    The new officer commanding (O/C) has served in the navy since 1994, during which period he served as an officer on minesweepers and later rose to the rank of officer commanding SAS KAPA, one of the City class minesweepers. He also attended an International Principal Warfare Officer (A) course in the British Royal Navy and subsequently attended courses on the frigate SAS AMATOLA plus other courses before being appointed O/C designate SAS ISANDLWANA.
    Ports & Ships will feature a full report on the handing over ceremony in the Naval Review section of this website within the next few days as well as in Monday’s News Bulletin. Picture Terry Hutson

    NB Shipping pictures submitted by readers are always welcome – please email to info@ports.co.za

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