Ports & Ships Maritime News

Apr 2, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Cruise ship Madagascar sold to SA company – new cruise venture planned

  • Durban Container Terminal plays catch up

  • Go-ahead received for Maputo-South Africa petroleum pipeline

  • Trade and investment conference: Durban, 29-31 October 2007

  • How not to kickstart a railway

  • Pic of the day – AN HUA JIANG

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    WEB SITE: www.hugheship.com

    Cruise ship Madagascar sold to SA company – new cruise venture planned

    MADAGASCAR arrives in Durban 29 October 2005. Picture Terry Hutson. CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE

    Remember the Madagascar – the small cruise ship that arrived in Durban about 15 months ago amidst much hype and promise of an all-year-round cruising operation out of Durban? The project failed shortly after the ship’s arrival, leaving the Madagascar to become a long-time resident of the port of Durban.

    Readers may recall that the ship had been involved with not one but two ventures aimed at launching a purely South African owned cruise business based in Durban. The first venture involved the company Royal African Cruises and did not progress as far as having acquired the ship, although the Madagascar, then under the name Viking Bordeaux, was at one time given some serious consideration.

    Later a second company, Indian Ocean Cruising, with the backing and support of a well-known property developer and a leading hotel group, went so far as to have the ship renamed and brought to Durban where several cruises actually took place, with rather mixed fortunes. Shortly afterwards the venture collapsed and the ship was placed back on the market, while taking up a berth in Durban harbour.

    Now a Johannesburg based company says it has agreed to buy the ship and intends introducing cruising as from August 31. Johannesburg businessman Ian Powell told Ports & Ships at the weekend that the ship will transfer into the hands of Razzmatazz Ocean Cruises on May 1 after which she will undergo a refit at the ship repair jetty and be renamed Razzmatazz in preparation of her planned cruise operation.

    Mr Powell’s company, Razzmatazz Ocean Cruises has begun advertising cruises on the internet (http://www.razzmatazzoceancruises.co.za) which reveals an itinerary not unlike those of the successful Starlight Cruise setup but with subtle differences. There will be two-night cruises to nowhere, three and five-night cruises to Inhaca Island near Maputo and the Barra Lodge area of Mozambique and a three night cruise to Cape Town followed by a similar length return cruise back to Durban which is scheduled for September. The itinerary also lists a number of feature cruises – diving charters, Zest for Birding cruises to a remote and seldom visited Mozambique Channel island, and other niche-type cruises such as for Afrikaans-speaking passengers and cruises with a poker club theme.

    Details are obviously fairly fluid at this stage but Ian Powell claims to have done his homework and is confident he can make a success of the venture. He says he will be the sole owner of the ship having purchased it outright and he intends crewing the ship locally with South Africans where possible – no foreign accents on this ship, he says.

    Powell also says prices on board the ship will be kept to affordable levels – no R14 for a coke (based on dollar each) as with foreign ships nor any outrageous dollar prices in the on-board shop!

    From an earlier inspection and having sailed on the soon to be renamed Razzmatazz, the ship is surprisingly spacious given her mere 92m length. Cabins are extremely generous in size and are due to be completely refurbished by the time the ship sails in August on her inaugural two-night non-stop party cruise. The spacious public lounge and entertainment area runs the entire length of one of the decks ending in the pool area at the stern but the dining room is situated deep within the vessel where it can be disconcertingly noisy with a heavy sea running.

    Fares will be in the region of R1000 per day – much the same as for the Melody but this does not include port tax (R300) or optional insurance. Included are all meals and all entertainment as is found on most cruise ships.

    This becomes the latest attempt to launch a purely local cruise ship operation with a South African-owned ship. Given the unfortunate history of several other ventures attempting to establish themselves on the local market and in the face of what will no doubt become stiff competition from the Starlight/MSC operation, interesting times may lie ahead - particularly as it involves a ship that some knowledgeable seafarers consider to be on the small side for local waters. But as Ian Powell points out, it’s going to be a lot easier to fill a 220-berth ship than one that carries 1500.

    Razzmatazz Ocean Cruises can be contacted at 011 477 2994 or email them at info@razzmatazzoceancruises.co.za

    Durban container terminal plays catch up

    SA Port Operations (SAPO) says it is catching up with the backlog caused by the recent spate of bad weather at Durban.

    Delays of between 48 and 72 hours resulted after strong gale force winds struck the port and heavy swells prevented ships from entering or sailing for almost two days (see our News Bulletin reports).

    The neighbouring harbours of Richards Bay and East London were also affected with all three ports being closed to shipping for different periods until the seas abated.

    SAPO reacted by introducing a contingency plan to catch up the backlog as quickly as possible and a spokesman said last week he was confident this would soon be cleared.

    Go-ahead received for Maputo-South Africa petroleum pipeline

    Petroline RSA (Pty) Ltd announced last week that the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) has issued a licence for the construction of a liquid petroleum pipeline from the border of Mozambique at Komatipoort to Kendal via Nelspruit. The license also includes the construction of a petroleum storage depot in the vicinity of Nelspruit.

    The pipeline will run from an existing coastal fuel storage facility at Matola Harbour in Mozambique (Maputo) to the Nelspruit area in Mpumalanga, South Africa, where an inland storage depot will be constructed, complete with rail and road offloading infrastructure. The pipeline will continue to Kendal where it will potentially join the current petroleum pipeline network for inland distribution of the petroleum product.

    Petroline said the issuing of this license is an important milestone for the company. Detail design and environmental impact assessments (EIA) for all elements of the pipeline and storage facilities have already been initiated.

    It is anticipated that construction of the liquid pipeline and storage facilities in South Africa will start towards the end of 2007, depending on the duration of the required regulatory compliance process. It is anticipated that the upgrading of the storage facility in Matola Harbour will be completed by middle 2008 and the commencement of temporary finished product importation by rail or road can then begin.

    The project is being implemented as a 50/50 joint venture between Petroline RSA and Petroline SARL of Mozambique.

    "MCLI is very excited about the news and would like to congratulate Petroline with this break-through - now it can be all engines rolling!” said a spokesperson for the Maputo Corridor Liaison Initiative (MCLI) which markets the transport corridor.

    “This is exactly what our corridor needs - the economic impact will be substantial and we wish Petroline all the success they need in the next phase of this very strategic project - MCLI will endeavour to keep interested parties up to date with the progress as it enfolds"

    source - MCLI

    Trade and investment conference: Durban, 29-31 October 2007

    A trade and investment conference is to be staged at the Durban International Convention Centre (ICC) from 29 to 31 October 2007, hosted by Trade & Investment KwaZulu-Natal (TIKZN) in collaboration with the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government and the national Department of Trade & Industry (Dti).

    The decision to host the event is a result of a provincial legislature resolution that calls for an international event of this nature annually.

    While the conference will be international in its appeal, TIKZN is targeting countries and regions with which South Africa and KZN already have good relations, such as the European Union, the Far East, the Americas, Africa and the Gulf region, e.g. Oman and Bahrain.

    There are three legs to the event:

  • the conference itself: 29-30 October
  • an exhibition: 29-31 October
  • business-to-business sessions: 29-30 October

    Preparations towards the conference are already in full swing: the venue has been secured and the launch took place in the course of March. TIKZN sees the conference as being able to showcase the possibilities of not only that province but the rest of South Africa too.

    Details are available from http://www.tikzn.co.za/ContactUs220.aspx
    or telephone +27 031 366 0600.

    NB Trade & Investment KwaZulu-Natal (TIKZN) is a government trade and investment promotion agency that falls under the KZN provincial Department of Economic Development (DED). In the course of the previous financial year TIKZN facilitated investment totalling R500 - million.

    How not to kickstart a railway

    We’ve reported previously about the rehabilitation of the Kei Railway between East London and Mthatha in the former Transkei region of South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province.

    We’ve done so despite Ports & Ships being primarily a news and information service about maritime affairs, because we recognise the close and important synergies that exist between rail and road transport and the ports and shipping, and in the case of the Kei Rail project we saw this as an important step that could materially assist the port of East London with additional much needed cargo (timber in particular).

    Recently we reported how the railway was due to commence operations at the end of March (see our News Bulletin dated 23 March 2007) with an inaugural passenger service between the port city of East London and Butterworth. This was due to take place on Thursday last week, 29 March.

    Unfortunately the ceremonial rail journey did not happen. The reason? According to a report in the EP Herald a qualified diesel train driver who ‘knew’ the road could not be found for the trip – Spoornet claimed it is battling with a national shortage of train drivers.

    If this is truly the reason then frankly it is not only embarrassing but ridiculous – even laughable – and displays another example of the lack of cooperation between the respective departments. It is well-known that Spoornet was not initially in favour of reinstating the railway to Mthatha, in the same manner in which it has shown a reluctance to reopen or maintain other branch and secondary lines.

    There will be many who will argue that this is just another example of the sad state to which South Africa’s once proud railway network has slumped.

    Pic of the day – AN HUA JIANG

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The 1987-built Chinese general cargo ship AN HUA JIANG of 10,511-gt, in Cape Town harbour earlier in March 2007. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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

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