Ports & Ships Maritime News

Apr 13, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Presidents Mbeki and Chirac Discuss Economic Relations

  • New man at the helm of Port Elizabeth Container Terminal

  • SAPO East London gets high on breakbulk volumes

  • SADC, COMESA countries urged to implement trade protocols

  • Cloud over Mogadishu as fighting breaks out

  • Pic of the day – HMS ENTERPRISE

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    Presidents Mbeki and Chirac Discuss Economic Relations

    by Bongani Mlangeni (BuaNews)

    Tshwane (Pretoria) 12 April 2007 - President Thabo Mbeki held discussions with his French counterpart Jacques Chirac in Paris yesterday (Thursday), on issues including economic relations between the two nations.

    President Mbeki, who was invited for consultations and to bid farewell to President Chirac ahead of the French presidential elections this month, was accompanied by Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad.

    "The meeting takes place within the context of South Africa's priority to consolidate bilateral political, economic and trade relations with France as part of efforts towards advancing North-South relations," the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement issued yesterday.

    France is a member of the European Union, the Group of Eight (G-8) and one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

    Some of the issues topping the agenda of the president's meetings included:

  • The status of bilateral political and economic relations
  • the promotion of the African Agenda in a G8 context
  • conflict-resolution and post-election and post-conflict reconstruction in Africa, with reference to the situation in Cote d'Ivoire, DRC, Sudan/Darfur, Somalia and Zimbabwe
  • multilateral cooperation, including the comprehensive reform of the United Nations system; and
  • international issues of mutual concern such as Iran and the Middle East Peace Process.

    Bilateral and economic relations between the two countries are continuously expanding as France ranks among South Africa's ten most significant economic partners in trade, investment, development assistance and research and development.

    Bilateral trade has grown from R9 billion in 1998 to R25 billion in 2006.

    The total trade of R25, 2 billion last year comprised R8,2 billion in South African exports and R17 billion in imports from France.

    In 2005, South Africa exported R6,5 billion worth of goods to France while importing R15,4 billion.

    "It is obvious that the balance of trade between South Africa and France remains heavily in France's favour and renewed efforts are needed to promote South African exports," said the statement.

    According to Business Map, France is the ninth largest foreign direct investor in South Africa.

    About 160 French companies are operating in South Africa, which include Total, Alcatel, Renault, Lafarge, Danone and Peugeot-Citroen.

    Last November, France's Minister for International Trade, Christine Lagarde, visited South Africa with a large business delegation to inaugurate the SA-French Business Forum.

    The forum provides an opportunity for South African and French businesspeople to exchange views on doing business in Africa and to explore possible joint partnerships on the continent.

    President Mbeki is scheduled to return to South Africa later today (Friday).

    New man at the helm of Port Elizabeth Container Terminal

    Martin George, new Chief Operations Manager at the Port Elizabeth Container Terminal.  CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE

    South African Port Operations (SAPO) has appointed Martin George as its new Chief Operations Manager for the Port Elizabeth Container terminal as from 1 April 2007.

    Martin is not new in the container sector, having commenced his career in container operations in 1994 as a Planning Manager. During 2005 he took up the responsibilities of Landside Operations manager in the same terminal.

    He brings with him extensive knowledge of container operation and shipping industry. His international exposure in Belgium, where he attended the APEC course in Container management enhanced his passion for the field.

    On the same note Phindeka Madlavu has been appointed as the new Waterside operations manager. She used to be the operations manager at Bulk terminal in the Port of Port Elizabeth and also brings extensive and valuable knowledge in terminal operations.

    These appointments follow an increase in volumes handled through the container terminal at Port Elizabeth and SAPO’s quest to improve efficiencies in its operations in order to meet and exceed its customer expectations consistently, said a SAPO spokesperson.

    The container terminal last year achieved two handling records with the current record of 39,954 TEU (twenty foot equivalent units) which was achieved in September 2006. Year to date the volumes has shown growth of 13 percent as compared to the same period the previous year.

    Siya Mhlaluka, Business Unit Executive of SAPO said “We are pleased to welcome these new appointments, who will assist us in meeting and exceeding customer expectations consistently”.

    SAPO East London gets high on breakbulk volumes

    The Break-bulk cargo handled through South African Port Operations Multi-Purpose Terminal in East London has more than doubled if compared to the previous year same period. During 2006/07 123,251 tons were handled versus 57,222 tons imported in the 2005/06 financial year.

    The main contributors were cement and logs. The importation of cement contributed 68,030 tons, whilst log exports amounted to 21,226 tons.

    Whilst the logs shipped out of East London was a one time event, being cargo salvaged from the vessel Kiperousa that stranded off the coast near East London, the importation of cement has become somewhat steady business for the terminal. Terminal Management at East London is particularly pleased with the consistent manner in which productivity has been improved. The average handling rates achieved per hour have more than doubled from the first vessel when a gross handling rate of 43 tons per hour was recorded, to the most recent vessel when nearly 87 tons per hour was achieved.

    Piet Klinkradt, Business Unit Executive said SAPO was pleased with the handling rates being achieved with the cement operations.

    “The quicker handling rate means vessels are being turned around much faster than planned, allowing them to spend more time at sea moving cargo rather than sitting alongside a quay in a port. For the client it means that they get access to their cargo that much faster.”

    Klinkradt attributed the improved productivity to the level of preplanning and cooperation that exists between the importer and SA Port Operation’s own personnel. He went on to say: “I need to compliment SA Port Operations’ personnel for the positive manner in which they approach each vessel, identifying potential areas where delays could be eliminated beforehand. It is this focused approach that has brought about the consistent improvements, ensuring our clients excellent service”.

    According to Klinkradt further cement imports are expected for the next couple of months.

    SADC, COMESA countries urged to implement trade protocols

    Lusaka (BuaNews) 11 April 2007 - The Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) have been urged to implement trade protocols in order to enhance cross-border trade.

    The Cross-Border Traders Association (CBTA) of Zambia has urged SADC and COMESA governments to take these steps for the benefit of markets in these African regional organisations.

    CBTA Acting Chair Celeste Mwanakisi said Tuesday the association was saddened that there was a lack of implementation by member countries on some of the protocols that they had signed.

    Ms Mwanakisi said traders were still facing problems with Customs authorities in some COMESA member countries that had joined the Free Trade Area (FTA).

    The association, she said, was expecting trade barriers to be eliminated now that the regional bodies were moving towards regional integration.

    Ms Mwanakisi said the continued economic crisis in Zimbabwe, a member of both SADC and COMESA, has also had a negative effect on cross-border trade.

    Most traders have now cut off buying some of the goods from that country because of the weakening currency as they could not make a profit due to foreign exchange losses.

    The chair said it was sad that most of the Zimbabwean traders coming to trade in Zambia were trading in sweets as opposed to trading in merchandise of economic substance.

    Top officials are to meet at the 12th COMESA Summit in Nairobi, Kenya from 11 to 23 May.

    The COMESA Policy Organs and the Authority of Heads of State and Government meet at the summit to deliberate on important issues affecting the realisation of the COMESA vision.

    The 20 member COMESA region has an estimated combined population of 400 million people and covers an area of over 12 million square kilometres, compared to SADC's estimated 9.8 million square kilometre area and 233 million people.

    The two organisations have overlapping memberships.

    COMESA member countries are Angola, Burundi, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

    SADC's 14 member countries are Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

    The main focus during the Nairobi meeting will be to strengthen and consolidate the FTA, push forward the agenda of deepening integration through the Customs Union and consider progress on Economic Partnership Agreement Negotiations with the European Union (EU).

    Cloud over Mogadishu as fighting breaks out

    Nairobi, 12 April 2007 (IRIN) - The fighting that broke out in the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Wednesday, prompting more people to flee their homes, has cast a cloud over anticipated reconciliation talks between various political groups.

    Many of the families that fled the latest fighting came from areas that were previously unaffected by clashes between Ethiopian-backed government forces and insurgents.

    "There was fighting early Wednesday morning and later in the afternoon at Fagah and Jamhuriya areas [north Mogadishu] but the area is quiet today [Thursday]," said one resident. The fighting, he added, erupted when government forces tried to take over a prominent hotel in the area.

    Salad Ali Jeele, the Somali deputy defense minister, said the government forces fought back after being attacked. "We were only defending our positions," he told IRIN on Thursday.

    Eye witnesses said families in Sii Sii and Arjantiina suburbs, who had not had to leave their homes, began to leave for fear that the fighting would spread to their area. "These are areas where people stayed and now they are also displaced," a local journalist said.

    "They are leaving, some to other parts of the city and others going further north to Ceel Macaan [north of Mogadishu]," he added, noting that Wednesday’s fighting was less intense than previous clashes and confined mainly to one area in the north.

    Hospital sources told IRIN that at least seven people were killed and more than 40 wounded in the latest clashes. Most of those injured or killed were civilians, said the source.

    "I cannot confirm that the talks have been postponed," a top government official said when asked to confirm reports that the proposed national reconciliation talks had been moved from mid-April to May.

    The month-long talks, arranged by the transitional government, are intended to reconcile the politicians and pave a way forward for Somalia. Mogadishu is the proposed venue.

    However, diplomats have warned that the talks can only have a lasting effect if they are held in a spirit of forgiveness, true reconciliation and with the participation of all the parties involved including the Union of Islamic Courts.

    Fears that the talks may not take place in Mogadishu arose after three days of fighting between Ethiopian troops and insurgents that started on 29 March. At least 1,000 people died and more than 4,000 were wounded.

    A ceasefire was agreed between clan elders and the Ethiopians on 1 April, and further talks were due to be held. However, the proposed talks have also stalled. "This is giving some elements a chance to try and derail the ceasefire," said a civil society source.

    However, sources said talks between a committee set up by Hawiye elders and Ethiopian commanders were due to resume on Thursday, after stalling for almost a week. The Hawiye are the dominant clan in Mogadishu.

    "We are resuming the talks today [Thursday]," said Ahmed Diriye, one of the elders who started the negotiations. A general meeting of the Hawiye to discuss the situation in the city was also due to be held, to be attended by 100 elders and intellectuals.

    According to the United Nations Office for the Co=ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, about 100,000 people have fled the city since February. Of these, 47,000 left after 21 March, and have no access to shelter, water or food. Most of them went to Lower Shabelle, Merka and Qoryooley.

    On Wednesday, the NGO, Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF), said several weeks of fighting had raised concerns about the health of Mogadishu residents.

    MSF, which has treated 800 cholera patients since the disease was confirmed on 19 March, said worsening violence was making it increasingly difficult for patients to access a treatment centre which opened two weeks ago, and preventing its staff from reaching other areas of the city.

    "We are worried about the health situation of a population which has enormous difficulty in accessing the scarce health structures which exist in their surroundings," said Henry Rodríguez, MSF-Spain medical coordinator in Somalia.

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

    Meanwhile, two ships highjacked by Somali pirates off the coast of Somalia at the end of February, the Kenyan-based general cargo vessel ROZEN and Emirates-owned NIMATULLAH have been released.

    The Rozen is carrying cargo on behalf of the UN World Food Programme while the Nimatullah was en route to Mogadishu when it came under attack and was seized.

    WFP Somalia Director Peter Goossens said the WFP welcomed the release of the Rozen after 40 days in the hands of Somali pirates. He thanked leaders in the Puntland for their mediation efforts in securing the release of the ship.

    He said the threat of piracy remained very much alive in Somali waters and called on the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and authorities in Puntland to do their best to curtail piracy.

    Shippers are showing increased reluctance to carry cargoes to Somalia following the latest outbreak of attacks and seizures.

    Pic of the day – HMS ENTERPRISE

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    HMS ENTERPRISE (H88) in Durban Harbour on Easter Sunday, 8 April 2007. The vessel has been operating along the South African coast in recent weeks, having already called at Cape Town (see our Photo of the Day for 30 March 2007).
    The ship is one of two hydrographic survey vessels in the Royal Navy (the other is HMS ECHO) and are the first ships in the navy to use azimuth thrusters for greater manoeuverability. Picture by Allan Jackson. Visit Allan’s highly interesting website ‘Facts About Durban’ at http://www.fad.co.za

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

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