Ports & Ships Maritime News

May 17, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • SA visit to strengthen relations with China

  • Stowaways apprehended on Richards Bay ship

  • Plans to open Shire-Zambezi Waterway

  • Continent growth highest in two decades - African Development Bank

  • Coastwatch: Pirates seize two ships and further unrest in Nigeria

  • Pic of the day – SAM RATULANGI PB1600

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    SA visit to strengthen relations with China

    by Thapelo Sakoana, BuaNews

    PRETORIA - Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma is to meet her Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi on Sunday as part of South Africa's drive to consolidate political, economic and trade relations with China.

    The minister departed from Brussels for Beijing on Tuesday (15 May).

    In Brussels, the minister had led a government delegation to the South Africa - European Union Ministerial Troika meeting, which included Ministers Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula (Home Affairs) and Marthinus van Schalkwyk (Environmental Affairs and Tourism).

    In China, Ministers Dlamini Zuma and Yang are expected to discuss the status of bilateral political and economic relations between their two countries.

    This meeting comes three months after the Chinese President Hu Jintao visited South Africa and held extensive discussions with President Thabo Mbeki on economic, political, cultural issues, among other issues.

    Their discussions culminated in the signing of seven agreements of co-operation in different sectors.

    The Department of Foreign Affairs said Dr Dlamini Zuma would also brief her counterpart on political developments in Africa including peacekeeping and conflict resolution.

    They would also talk about preparations for the Bi-National Commission scheduled for the second half of 2007.

    This year would mark the third session of the Bi-National Commission, which was established in 2002.

    Ms Dlamini Zuma would also be briefed about the developments in Asia and other issues of global importance.

    While in Beijing, Minister Dlamini Zuma is also expected to pay a courtesy call upon the Chinese Premier and visit Shanghai.

    Minister Dlamini Zuma will depart from Beijing for Hanoi, Vietnam next Tuesday where she will provide political support to President Thabo Mbeki during his State Visit to Vietnam.

    South Africa and China share many of the same social and developmental challenges, including those brought about by globalisation and historic inequity.

    China has been identified as a key global actor with whom South Africa seeks to broaden relations in support of South-South cooperation, another key objective of South Africa's foreign policy.

    In this context, the department of foreign affairs said South Africa hoped to mobilise China's support to promote African concerns in the United Nations and other multilateral fora.

    The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, which was initiated in October 2000, has been identified as key platform for engagement between Africa and the People's Republic of China.

    South Africa is China's key trade partner in Africa, accounting for nearly 21 percent of the total volume of China-Africa trade.

    In 2006, South African exports amounted to nearly R14,02 billion, with imports reaching R46,72 billion.

    Last year, China became South Africa's second largest import trading partner and sixth largest export partner.

    South Africa's exports to China consist mainly of raw materials such as aluminum, nickel, manganese, zirconium, vanadium oxides, chromium ores, and granite, platinum and gold.

    China's exports to South Africa have included mainly manufactured products, such as footwear, textiles, plastic products, electrical appliances, tableware and kitchenware.

    "The complementary nature of the two economies provided the impetus for the growth of trade. At the same time, bilateral trade amounts to only a very small percentage of both China and South Africa's international trade profile, suggesting that there is still enormous potential for an increased exchange of goods and services," said the department of foreign affairs.

    Since 2000, China's trade with Africa had nearly tripled to 39,8 billion US Dollars in 2005. Trade between China and Africa reached 55.5 billion US Dollars in 2006, an increase of 40 percent year-on-year.

    Stowaways apprehended on Richards Bay ship

    FOUR Tanzanian stowaways were apprehended by security forces after having secluded themselves on board a ship in Richards Bay harbour this week.

    The four men were hiding in the forward hold of the bulker which was completing cargo handling at one of the port’s terminals. Prior to sailing the ships agents arranged for a stowaway inspection and search involving Magnum Shield Security’s Maritime Division.

    The security company has recently opened a branch at Richards Bay which follows the successful launch of operations in Durban and the ship inspection on Monday evening (14 May) was in fact the first job tackled by the Richards Bay team.

    Going on board the vessel with their ‘sniffer’ dogs – Jack Russell terriers, the Magnum Shield team soon uncovered the four stowaways hiding in the hold. The men have been taken into custody and will most likely be repatriated to Tanzania.

    Despite the more stringent security around the country’s ports stowaways continue to find their way on board vessels in the harbours. It is believed that many make their way on board disguised as stevedores, having bribed their way to acquire some ID and then go on board when the stevedores report for duty.

    There is also a belief among many port users that security at the ports is not as diligent late at night – either way the number of stowaways making their way onto ships remains as high as ever, said a ships agent yesterday on condition of anonymity.

    Plans to open Shire-Zambezi Waterway

    AMBITIOUS plans to reopen the Zambezi-Shire river waterways used by early explorers and to exploit it for commercial gain have been unveiled in Malawi, reports the Intel News Service.

    The proposal in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed recently by representatives of the governments of Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia and in the presence of representatives from COMESA and SADC.

    The idea, which has been under serious consideration since 2005, seeks to open the navigable sections of the Zambezi and Shire rivers to barge traffic to facilitate trade in the respective regions. Until civil war intervened in the early 1970s sections of the rivers were in use transporting molasses by barge from Nsanje in southern Malawi to Chinde at the mouth of the Zambezi River in Mozambique, a distanced of about 250km.

    Other sections of the Zambezi River in the Marromeu region downstream have also been used by barges carrying sugar.

    Malawi’s Minister of Transport Henry Mussa said he believes that once back in service the waterway can handle medium size ocean-going ships and has the potential of drastically reducing the cost of transporting trade goods across the region. However both rivers will have to be dredged and even canalised in places and port facilities constructed at both Nsanje and Chinde.

    Mozambique Transport Minister Antonio Munguambe put a dampener on the announcement however by saying that Mozambique could not buy immediately into the concept or until a full feasibility study had been completed. He said that his country was prepared to take part in the study which should take place as soon as possible. It was necessary to understand the sustainability or otherwise of such a project before going ahead, said Munguambe.

    COMESA’s secretary-general Sindiso Ngwenya confirmed that the organisation would make half a million dollars (US) available for the feasibility study with funding coming from the European Development Fund and used for a hydro-graphic survey.

    Continent growth highest in two decades - African Development Bank

    SHANGHAI, 14 May 2007 - Africa has experienced its highest economic growth in the last two decades, with the GDP growth rate, which averaged about 5 percent annually in the past six years, rising to 5.5 percent in 2006, and is expected to reach 6 percent in 2007, according to a new major report by the African Development Bank and the OECD released in Shanghai on Sunday.

    The African Economic Outlook 2006/2007 notes that the main factors supporting this growth performance were strong external demand for oil and non-oil minerals, increased investment in these sectors, and good weather conditions for agriculture. The continuation of sound macroeconomic policies in most of the countries has also increased business confidence leading to a pickup in private investment generally.

    “Yet, the continent still needs to accelerate and sustain growth to the level of 7 to 8 percent to be able to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by 2015” says Dr. Louis Kasekende, Chief Economist of the African Development Bank.

    Growth has been robust in Africa’s four largest economies, (South Africa, Algeria, Nigeria, and Egypt), termed the SANE, which account for half of the continent’s GDP and nearly a third of its population. The SANE countries averaged 5.1 percent growth rate. In the remaining African countries, economic growth rates were even higher at an average of 6 percent. Net oil exporters across the board enjoyed high growth, averaging 5.9 percent, while net oil importers recorded an average growth rate of 5.2 percent.

    Going by sub-regions, the average growth rate for Southern Africa is projected to increase from 5.4 per cent in 2006 to 6.1 per cent in 2007. Angola’s growth rate is expected to nearly double to 27 per cent in 2007 (largely due to rising oil sector activity in new oil fields, and to a lesser extent by increased diamond mining). In South Africa growth - at 5 percent, its highest since the end of Apartheid - has been broad-based and mainly driven by domestic demand. The projections for South Africa indicate that GDP growth should remain robust at about 4.5 percent in both 2007 and 2008, marking an important break from the relatively slow growth rates experienced over the past ten years. In Zimbabwe, economic activity continued to decline in 2006, contracting by about 5 percent.

    Real GDP growth in North African countries is expected to remain high at 6 per cent in both 2007 and 2008 on account of the exceptionally high growth rates estimated for Mauritania and Sudan mainly due to increases in oil and gas production. Strong growth was also recorded in Egypt (6.8 percent). In Morocco, the recovery of agricultural output with the ending of the drought led to a GDP growth of 7.3 percent in 2006.

    Economic growth in the countries of West Africa is projected to accelerate from 4.8 percent in 2006 to 5.9 percent in 2007. In Nigeria, GDP growth of 5.3 percent in 2006 is projected to accelerate to 7 percent in 2007 on account of recent increase in oil prices, increased oil production as stability is restored to the Niger Delta area, and non-oil sectors of agriculture and services continued their rapid growth. Sierra Leone’s and Ghana’s performance continued to be relatively strong in 2006 (7.4 per cent and 6.1 per cent, respectively). In the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), economic performance in 2006 were affected by the political situation in Côte d’Ivoire, reductions in the output of cereals and groundnuts, as well as industrial output.

    Average GDP growth in Central Africa is projected to increase from 3.9 percent in 2006 to 5.2 per cent in 2007 and an acceleration of growth to 6.3 per cent in 2008. Positive growth trends are, however, observed for Central African Republic and Rwanda Growth is projected to remain broadly at 2006 levels for the Democratic Republic of Congo (6.2 per cent) due mainly to donor supported reconstruction efforts.

    Economic growth in East Africa averaged 5.1 per cent in 2006, and is projected to accelerate to 5.8 and 6 per cent in 2007 and 2008, respectively. Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda remain the fastest growing countries in the sub-region. The growth prospects of Mauritius and Madagascar continue to be negatively affected by the increased competition from Asian textile producers and the end of the Multi-Fibre Agreement.

    The Outlook also includes a focus on a topic of high relevance for policy makers in African countries. The Outlook 2006/2007 includes the thematic analysis of issues on ‘Access to Drinking Water and Sanitation’. One of the important targets of the MDG is Access to Drinking Water and Sanitation. The report examines this theme and makes clear that progress remains inadequate in relation to needs and, as with other targets, the likelihood of reaching the MDG access targets for drinking water and sanitation is low.

    Some important exceptions are also noted. “Mauritius and Tunisia present a positive picture, having advanced well beyond the MDG goals for drinking water and sanitation. The situation in Tanzania, where access to sanitation is estimated at about 90 percent also demonstrates that progress is possible in Africa,” says Mr Kasekende.

    Dr. Katseli, Director, Paris-based OECD Development Center notes “that ensuring adequate financing remains a challenge for improving water and sanitation in Africa.”

    source – ADB Press Release

    Coastwatch: Pirates seize two ships and further unrest in Nigeria

    ONE day after pirates unsuccessfully attacked a general cargo ship, IBN YOUNUS 180 n.miles off the Somali coast (see our News Report dated 16 May), two Korean fishing vessels were also attacked and seized while sailing a similar distance from the coast, according to reports from the South Korean foreign ministry and reported by Fairplay.

    The two fishing trawlers, MAVUNO I AND MAVUNO II, which are both registered in Tanzania, were taken hostage in position 01.20N/049E, which is approximately 210n.miles from Mogadishu. The two vessels were sailing from Mombasa en route for Yemen when the attack occurred. There are at least 30 crew members on board both vessels.

    If this latest attack takes the same form as others, the two trawlers will be taken to an anchorage off the Somali coast and negotiations will begin with the owners for the release of vessels and crew. It is seldom that anyone is seriously hurt in the process but the drawn-out negotiations can take several months to conclude. Several other boats/ships are currently being held captive while arrangements for their release are concluded.

    West Africa

    IN Nigeria Hercules Offshore is reported to be withdrawing up to 10 workboats in service with Chevron, following the news that the oil major has begun withdrawing hundreds of workers from platforms and other installations in the Nigerian coastal oilfields (see our News Report dated 15 May 2007).

    Attacks on oil workers have continued in this so-called ‘month of mayhem’ with the latest being a Nigerian working for Agip who was kidnapped in Port Harcourt on Monday, reports local news services.

    Over in Bonny Shell has declared force majeure after protesters brought about the shutdown of an oilfield resulting in the loss of 170,000 bpd. It is estimated that up to 30 percent of Nigeria’s production capacity has been lost this year alone.

    source – Fairplay and Nigerian news services

    Pic of the day – SAM RATULANGI PB1600

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The container ship SAM RATULANGI PB1600 leaves Durban en route for South East Asia after completing cargo working at the Durban Container Terminal. The 18,257-gt ship is employed in the joint service operated by K Line, MISC and PIL between Asia and South Africa (recently upgraded) and has been a regular caller at Durban for several years.
    Despite his familiarity with the ship the photographer has been unable to discover the significance of the PB1600 in the ship’s name – even the Durban ship agents confess to being stumped. Perhaps it’s something mundane and ordinary but then why is it there? Sam Ratulangi was an Indonesian educator and hero from the nation’s independence and has several places named in his honour, including a regional airport.
    The ship’s owner is listed as the Indonesian Government and she is managed by Djakarta Lloyd?
    Does any reader perhaps have an answer to this little mystery? Picture Terry Hutson

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

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