Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jun 12, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Truckers get angry over delays outside Durban Container Terminal

  • Cape Town cut from weekly southbound Europe-South Africa services

  • Coastwatch: pirates tell their story

  • African govts urged to improve economic growth

  • Pic of the day – SAFMARINE MAFADI

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    Truckers get angry over delays outside Durban Container Terminal

    Durban Container Terminal has been described as ‘constipated’ even though this is not yet a peak period for container handling.

    The complaint came this past week from frustrated road operators who say they are fed up with delays at the terminal in which they accuse SA Port Operations (SAPO) of showing little inclination to get things moving.

    “It’s all very well spending hundreds of millions on new infrastructure, which was long overdue,” one port user told Ports & Ships, “but what’s the point when SAPO adopts the same old attitude and there is no marked improvement in moving the boxes in and out of the terminal?”

    “The problem is that the worse they perform the more money they make, because of overstays for which they penalise us,” said another.

    He highlighted the amount of time taken with shift changes at the terminal, mentioning 54 minutes for one shift change and 96 minutes for the following on one of the crane towers, during which no handling of containers was possible.

    “That’s time lost, for which we pay. And where else do you find companies closing their doors so that staff can knock off before others take their place?” he added.

    But the biggest complaint comes as a result of chronic congestion on the roads outside the terminal gate, which are regularly blocked by long queues of arriving heavy trucks that back up as much as five kilometres and more along Langeberg and Bayhead Roads and even into South Coast Road.

    The problem with the gridlocked Bayhead Road has become so frequent that national radio now regularly highlights it on daily road updates.

    Durban truck operators say they average little more than two round trips a day whereas they need to run at least four trips to stay profitable. Long distance drivers have no choice but to wait in the road queue while unable to get rest or have use of bathroom facilities. It is not uncommon for vehicles to be delayed by between three and five hours before gaining entry at the terminal gate. This is after a six or more hour journey from Gauteng.

    Several truck operators said they estimated the congestion outside DCT is costing the industry between R1.5 and R1.8 million a day.

    In the past week the problems of congestion were compounded by a systems failure within the terminal when the COSMOS operating system failed. According to SAPO this involved exports containers only which had to be offloaded into a buffer zone until the system failure was resolved.

    Kevin Naidoo, chairman of the South African Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF) told Ports & Ships that whereas trucks used to be turned round in 30 minutes when collecting containers at DCT, it now took an average of four hours, including the time spent outside the gate. However SAPO in its statistics gathering measures only the time spent inside the terminal.

    Naidoo said no-one was prepared to take ownership of the problem.

    “It’s an attitude issue,” said Naidoo. “This is a service industry in which we should all be pulling together and working 24 hours a day but we’re restricted by some departments like the documentation office shutting down after hours.” He said that SAAFF would like to become part of the solution.

    Recently a director of Oriental Shipping, Ricky Omar emailed his customers and others in the industry challenging them to take action to address the congestion at DCT and other terminals because of what he called ‘unacceptable levels of service’.

    He said the queue to enter the gates at DCT sometimes stretched for kilometres as far as Rossburgh Junction and King Edward Hospital in Sydney Road. When the trucks eventually reached the gates it was usually to find them closed but even once inside they faced further delays.

    “The port frequently misplaces containers which can take hours to find, during which the driver must either wait or return later – to face the same queues. At other times the truck may arrive inside to coincide with the dreaded shift change!”

    “The point to remember is that nobody goes to DCT to waste time – time is money – so why do we have to wait four hours and more,” said another owner-driver operator. This lady who runs a fleet of trucks said she thought the reason was poor management within the terminal.

    Cape Town cut from weekly southbound Europe-South Africa services

    Cape Town, which has been an intrinsic part of north and southbound calls by ships of the South Africa – Europe Container Service (SAECS) since its inception in the 1970s, has been suddenly cut from all southbound sailings until further notice.

    The last vessel to make the Cape Town call before the ruling comes in is that of SAFAMARINE NOMAZWE, voyage 705A which has an ETA in the Mother City of 16 June 2007.

    The measure has been introduced to improve reliability following a period of delays caused by congestion at South African and European ports, which has disrupted scheduling of the core service, said a communiqué from the group. Northbound calls at Cape Town will continue unaffected.

    The southbound Cape Town call will be reinstated on the core service as soon as circumstances permit, says SAECS.

    Meanwhile the weekly Intermediate service from Europe ‘…will continue to call Cape Town on the southbound leg as first South African port call, and continues to provide shippers for Cape Town with a competitive product. Alternatively, cargoes from Europe for Cape Town may be loaded on the Core Service for discharge on the northbound call.’

    In a related notice MOL, one of the SAECS members announced the following:

    Kindly note that in order to recover the schedule for the MOL CULLINAN 705A, the port of Cape Town, (1st call / Import call) will be omitted.

    Please see the below mentioned updated schedule:

    Port Arrival Departure

    CPT 25 / May / 07
    LPA 02 / Jun / 07 03 / Jun / 07
    RTM 06 / Jun / 07 07 / Jun / 07
    TIL 07 / Jun / 07 09 / Jun / 07
    BRV 09 / Jun / 07 10 / Jun / 07
    LP2 14 / Jun / 07 14 / Jun / 07
    PLZ 23 / Jun / 07 13:00

    Coastwatch: Pirates tell their story

    Somali pirates have laid the blame for their acts of piracy on the unrest in Somalia and the need to provide food and a living for their families.

    Speaking by satellite phone with a French news agency at the weekend the pirates responsible for the capture of a Taiwanese fishing vessel in recent weeks, and the murder of one of the crew when they became frustrated over negotiations with the ship’s owner, claimed there was no other work available for them in troubled Somalia.

    Since the overthrow of the Union of Islamic Courts by the Ethiopian-backed Somali Interim Government, piracy has re-reared its head in dramatic fashion with numerous attacks taking place.

    In most if not all cases the seizure of ships operating in waters up to 200km from the Somali coast results in demands of ransom for both the ship and crew – ransom which it is believed has been paid by the owners or representatives of all the ships subsequently released.

    At least five ships are currently still in custody at anchorages or small harbours along the Somali coast. Some of the highjacking has taken place under the eyes and guns of coalition naval forces – in one instance this month a US warship fired shots across the bow of a ship just highjacked and fired on small motor boats used to seize the larger vessel. A French warship stood by in the vicinity but took no action on account, so it is reported, of it having been in Somali waters.

    The highest amount paid for the release of a ship and crew is reported to be US $ 2.5 million but usually the amounts are much lower. Vessels attacked vary from motorised dhows and international fishing vessels to freighters. In one highly reported case a luxury American cruise ship came under attack but managed to evade the pirates using sonic weapons and evasive manoeuvering.

    The interim Somali government hangs on to an as yet tenuous power on land and has little time to concern itself with what is happening off its coast. During the brief period in which the Islamists held power over much of the country during 2006 piracy was rapidly stamped out.

    African govts urged to improve economic growth

    Lusaka (BuaNews) - Zambian Ambassador to the United States Dr Inonge Mbikushita Lewanika has urged African governments to put in place measures aimed at removing obstacles that hinder economic growth on the continent.

    "Africa must strive to create conducive business environments in order for business to flourish on the continent," Dr Lewanika said in a keynote address at the African Business Forum 2007 held at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) here over the weekend.

    IMF Africa Investment Club, in conjunction with the Africa Trade and Investment Council held the Africa Business Forum 2007 that focused on Africa's most dynamic business sectors and promoting relationships between African business people and their foreign counterparts.

    Dr Lewanika said there was a need for African economies to grow at a faster rate in order to create job opportunities for the people and add more revenue to the continent's development.

    She noted that creating a conducive business environment in African countries would play a critical role in improving general infrastructure and ensuring that the African people have access to affordable health services.

    Dr Lewanika also called on the African business fraternity to join hands with their governments in fighting corruption.

    She said corruption needed to be uprooted as it was a major impediment to sustainable economic development.

    The 2007 African Business Forum provided an opportunity for foreign investors to learn about operating in Africa by creating a forum where partnerships can be forged.

    The forum created a platform for African business people to interact with the United States and worldwide.

    The forum focused on those industries that have the potential to be the foundation of sustainable economic growth in this century.

    It was structured to help foreign investors to familiarise themselves with the possibilities of working in the African market, and to provide both African and foreign businesses a forum where they can meet possible partners.

    The forum agenda was divided into trade, investment, information technology, finance, energy, travel and tourism, doing business with the World Bank.

    This year's forum in Washington was attended by participants from various African countries, businesses, the World Bank, IMF and the International Labour Organisation.

    Pic of the day – SAFMARINE MAFADI

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    Safmarine’s latest newbuild, SAFMARINE MAFADI and one of the larger ships on the South Africa service, made its maiden call at local ports this past week, and is seen here departing Cape Town on 7 June. The 292m long ship, which it is believed carries up to 5,000 TEU (officially 4154-TEU), joins recent newbuild sister ships SAFMARINE MERU and SAFMARINE MULANJE on the Far East - South Africa Safari Service. A fourth newbuild remains to be delivered by Hyundai Heavy Industries. Each of the ships is named after an East African mountain. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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

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