Ports & Ships Maritime News

May 23, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Private partnership for Ngqura confirmed but questions remain

  • MOL upgrades India/Pakistan/UAE - Africa service

  • Mombasa container depots to reduce port congestion

  • DAL KALAHARI delayed in Germany – Las Palmas and Cape Town calls omitted

  • Kenya introduces electronic tracking for inland traffic

  • Pic of the day – SCOTTISH STAR

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    Private partnership for Ngqura confirmed but questions remain

    Transnet’s brief statement issued on Sunday that it has applied for approval from its shareholder (government) to enable it to enter into a partnership with an “external partner” and operate the Port of Ngqura container terminal is not a surprise, although subsequent statements by the minister of public enterprises Alec Erwin leave more questions than answers.

    According to Transnet the application “follows the good progress made in the construction of the four-berth container terminal at the Port of Ngqura.” It said that the exact nature of the partnership would be revealed in due course.

    On 7 May Ports & Ships revealed in a news bulletin that private participation in the running of the Ngqura container terminal had not been ruled out. We reported that ongoing discussions were being held with international terminal operators which could affect how the new container terminal at Ngqura is operated when the first phase opens at the end of 2008 (News Bulletin 7 May 2007 -

    But as is so often the case, once the politicians get the bit between their teeth the water becomes muddied and issues confused.

    Take for example Minister Erwin’s statement that the terminal’s capacity is to increase from a two-berth terminal with a 500,000 TEU capacity to 3 million TEU over four berths. Few will have a problem with the sudden increase in capacity – in fact 750,000 TEU per berth is what everybody would like to expect but has never dared dreamed possible for South Africa.

    Erwin made the statement while addressing a media briefing late last week ahead of his budget speech in parliament. For the sake of those of us unable to journey to Cape Town and attend these briefings, it would be nice to have reason to know that this sudden jump in capacity wasn’t a slip of the tongue.

    The minister also said the project would now cost R8 Billion, considerably more than any figure previously admitted. However if the four berths now envisaged can produce a turnover of 3 million TEU then port users may feel the money was well spent.

    Whether private enterprise will be bringing a chequebook to the partnership is not clear.

    At this stage two container berths are basically complete but remain unequipped in terms of ship and container-handling gear. Money expended on the new port, which includes three additional berths for dry bulk and liquid bulk cargo so far amounts to somewhere between R1.3 and R2 Billion making the final estimated amount of R8 Billion appear rather steep.

    In his statement Minister Erwin confirmed that the Eastern Cape railway line would be upgraded as far as the Northern Cape, presumably to allow heavier ore trains to operate.

    Manganese is currently railed from the Northern Cape to Port Elizabeth and is one of the cargoes projected to be transferred to Ngqura once the new port opens. Ngqura is approximately 20km northeast of Port Elizabeth.

    In terms of contingency planning at the port of Durban, where container capacity is expected to run out by 2010, the idea put forward by the NPA is to use Ngqura as a overflow port until such time as further development at Durban (the Bayhead dig out) can be completed in 2014.

    MOL upgrade India/Pakistan/UAE - Africa service

    Tokyo, Tuesday 22 May - Mitsui OSK Lines, Ltd today announced an upgrade of its service network linking India, Pakistan, the UAE, and Africa, starting in July. The service will be offered in partnership with Singapore-based Pacific International Line (PIL) and Mauritius-based Laurel Navigation Ltd. (LNL). Each company will provide three ships in the new service plan.

    Upgrade of India/Pakistan/UAE - East Africa service

    The joint service, currently offering India/Pakistan/UAE - East Africa - South Africa service under the name of MRX, will discontinue calls at South Africa and dedicate the service to the East Africa market. The move allows the three lines to stabilise ship schedules with less exposure to serious congestion at ports in South Africa and East Africa.

    Space for cargo bound to East Africa will be increased in response to rising demand in that market by having four 1200-TEU container ships deployed on the service operating a fixed-day frequency with a port rotation of Karachi – Nhava Sheva – Jebel Ali – Mombasa – Karachi.

    Opening of New India/UAE - South Africa - West Africa service

    At the same time, the three partners will start a new service between India/UAE - South Africa - West Africa. Along with seamless coverage of South Africa, the new service will add direct links to India/UAE and West Africa with the fastest transit time in the market as well as enough space capacity for this emerging market.

    According to MOL, by having the addition of regular calls at Cape Town on return voyages a more competitive service can be offered, especially for reefer cargo which is a dominant commodity in that market.

    “And by using its established service network centered on South Africa, MOL will offer a variety of services including reefer service from the East Coast of South America to the UAE,” said the company.

    The service will consist of five 1200-TEU container ships operating on a 12-day frequency with a port rotation of Jebel Ali – Nhava Sheva – Durban – Lagos – Cotonou – Tema – Cape Town – Durban – Jebel Ali.

    Mombasa container depots to reduce port congestion

    Two container depots which have been approved by the Kenya Ports Authority will commence operations in June, it has been announced in Mombasa.

    The two depots, Mombasa Container Terminal and Consolbase, each with a capacity of 3000-TEU are situated within close proximity of the port and have been licensed by the port authority to act as satellite terminals and help reduce mounting congestion within the port’s container terminal.

    The port is currently handling about double its design capacity of 7,000 boxes a month.

    A process of tendering for the two freight stations was entered into before the two successful container depots were shortlisted. One of the requirements was that the depot had to be within an 8-km radius of the port, which ruled out at least one of the other companies that entered bids.

    Kenya is currently experiencing container congestion at the port of Mombasa and is under threat of surcharges by shipping lines. The newly privatised railway, Rift Valley Railway has so far failed to increase dramatically the number of containers carried to inland addresses while Kenya’s road system is proving equally unable to cope with the demand.

    DAL KALAHARI delayed in Germany – Las Palmas and Cape Town calls omitted

    Two ports have been omitted from the current schedule of the container ship DAL KALAHARI which is employed on the South Africa Europe Container Service (SAECS) between South Africa and Northern Europe.

    The cause of the two omissions is berthing congestion at Bremerhaven.

    As a result of this the northbound call at Las Palmas voyage 704B and the southbound call at Cape Town (voyage 705A) have been omitted in order to regain the lost time.

    Kenya introduces electronic tracking for inland traffic

    Kenya Revenue Service (KRA) will shortly introduce electronic cargo tracking on all goods in transit through the East African country.

    A tender process for the system is currently being processed and the KRA expects to have it up and running by August this year.

    Until now all transit cargo is supposed to have been escorted to the border with neighbouring countries but in a number of cases cargo is known to have been delivered into the local market or even dumped somewhere by truckers. The KRA says it expects to phase out physical escorting of cargo once the new electronic system, sourced from Israel, is installed.

    The KRA believes that much of the cargo imported for transit through Kenya ends up within the country and is used by dishonest importers as a means of avoiding duties payable. Only licensed transit trucks are allowed to transport transit cargo from the port at Mombasa to neighbouring countries but the system is being abused.

    In future cargo will carry electronic tags that can be monitored from a central point and any deviation observed and followed up, say the KRA.

    Local trucking firms say the system which prevents licensed transit carriers from handling cargo for delivery within Kenya entices its abuse as truckers are unable to compete with truckers from Uganda and other neighbouring states that carry no such restriction and which carry both transit and local cargo, making them more cost effective.

    Pic of the day – SCOTTISH STAR

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    Reefer ship SCOTTISH STAR at Durban’s N Shed loading citrus fruit at the start of the 2007 citrus season. The 10,291-gt ship, which was built in 1985 is one of a number of Star Reefers vessels that will visit South African fruit ports this year. Star Reefers owns and operates a fleet of 42 reefers ships making it one of the bigger such companies around. Another two Star vessels are due in Durban in the next couple of weeks - ANDALUCIA STAR and AFRIC STAR and others will no doubt also call during the season. Picture Terry Hutson

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

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