Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jul 17, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Venus a rising star

  • Court reins in SARS over seized goods

  • SA takes United Sates of Africa issue to the people

  • Uganda Tanzania business held back by poor transport infrastructure

  • International shipping briefs

  • Pic of the day – SPRUCE ARROW

    EMAIL: jhughes@hugheship.com
    WEB SITE: www.hugheship.com

    Venus a rising star

    A new rising star on the South African horizon is Venus Shipping Agency, which has been appointed as the liaison office in South Africa for Evermont International, a leading Taiwanese marketing company acting for Conch Cement of China.

    Durban-based Venus Shipping Agency was formed earlier this year by Capt Zhao Xu Ting, well-known in local shipping circles during his many years with COSCO, the Chinese shipping line, where he served as managing director of COSCO South Africa.

    COSCO is China’s major shipping company with a fleet of ships numbered in the many hundreds and has become a principal caller between the Far East and South Africa with bulk, breakbulk, tankers and container ships. On his retirement Capt Zhao and Basil Ramsami, who worked with Capt Zhao at COSCO and who has over 30 years of experience in ships agency, port operations, forwarding and landside logistics, teamed up to form Venus Ships Agency.

    Evermont holds a SABS permit to export cement into South Africa of which several large shipments have so far been landed with Venus Shipping handling all the South African logistical requirements.

    Venus Shipping can be contacted at 031 361 1149 or email

    Court reins in SARS over seized goods

    South African Revenue Services (SARS) may no longer drag its heels when it comes to determining the value of seized goods for duty purposes, following a recent court judgement.

    Featured in Shepstone & Wylie Attorney’s latest Customs Review, ‘Customs @ Wylie’, the case concerned the seizure of three different consignments of shoes destined for sale in branches of Pep Stores by SARS, on the basis that the value of the consignments was believed to have been under-declared for duty purposes.

    The importer of the shoes, Trend Finance (Pty) Limited, furnished SARS with security in exchange for the release of all three consignments, shortly after seizure.

    “The problem came in after the Commissioner made a value determination in respect of the first consignment almost 2 years after seizing it, but failed to make a value determination in respect of the remaining two consignments at the same time,” comments Prè Prinsloo of Shepstone & Wylie’s International Transport, Trade & Energy division.

    “The importer first approached the Cape High Court and thereafter our Supreme Court of Appeal in order to have its security released.”

    The Supreme Court of Appeal then decided that the Commissioner's power to determine the value of imported goods for duty purposes must be exercised within a reasonable period of time.

    “If this power is not exercised within a reasonable period of time, then the right to retain the goods or security falls away,” explains Prinsloo.

    Considering that the Commissioner had not exercised its power to determine the value of the remaining two consignments within a reasonable period of time, it was ordered to return the security to the importer.

    “The importance of this judgment lies in the fact that it sets a precedent for all conduct by the Commissioner for South African Revenue Services, which requires the exercise of a power or discretion,” says Prinsloo.

    From now on, the Commissioner will have to ensure that it exercises any power or discretion within a reasonable period of time.

    SA takes United Sates of Africa issue to the people

    by Lavinia Mahlangu (BuaNews)

    Pretoria 16 July 2007 - The South African government is embarking on an intensive countrywide campaign to gather the views of its citizens on the envisioned United States of Africa.

    "We must arrive at a government of Africa that is of the people and not a government of Africa composed of governments," Ambassador Jesse Duarte told heads of mission to South Africa, at a briefing following the African Union's Grand Debate earlier this month.

    Ambassador Duarte, who is Deputy Director-General of Africa Multilateral in the Department of Foreign Affairs, described the recent Heads of State Summit in Accra, Ghana, as one which had been robust and had placed emphasis on developing a “people-focused” approach towards Africa's integration.

    Speaking to BuaNews, Ambassador Duarte said the country had crafted a campaign which would extend until February 2008, to gather the views and vision of South Africans from local government level, regarding a unified continent.

    “Our campaign already kicked off on the 14th of June with a Parliamentary Debate during which the Minister (Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma) addressed the House and the views of elected representatives were heard,” the ambassador explained.

    “The representatives all showed support for the position which was eventually adopted, namely that of a gradual process of integration, strengthening of multilateral institutions as well as the strengthening and integration of Regional Economic Communities (RECs).”

    South Africa falls under the 14 member SADC REC, whose other member states are Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

    “During this year until February next year, we will conduct peoples’ forums in the old style, talking to communities around the country about how they would like to see Africa being integrated,” said Ambassador Duarte.

    “We will have focus groups, and also host discussions on community radio stations and on SABC Africa to canvas our citizens’ views on this important matter.”

    Ambassador Duarte told BuaNews that these discussions, starting in around November, would “go quite deep” into the complexities of continental integration, and be used as a forum to both educate and inform communities, as well as to gather their input.

    Timelines and the method for Africa's integration are to be set out according to the Accra Declaration, adopted at the conclusion of the three day summit.

    The approach will entail strengthening AU organs, including the AU Commission, as well as speeding up the integration of RECs, with the final objective being the creation of the United States of Africa.

    “Your Excellencies, I think we can all agree that the notion of a United States of Africa has evoked within us a keen sense of inquisitiveness,” Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sue van der Merwe told the Heads of Mission in Pretoria.

    “By its very nature it has stimulated a sense of wonder about its nature and for some even a wait and see attitude as to what we as Africans hope to achieve.”

    Ms Van der Merwe also touched on the strengthening and review of organs such as the Pan African Parliament (currently hosted by South Africa), the courts and the banks of the African Union.

    Regarding the RECs in particular, Minister Van der Merwe said; “Already, within this month, Ministers responsible for integration will meet in Kigali, Rwanda to further guide and give impetus to the need to rationalise and harmonise Regional Economic Integration and to ensure that the building blocks are strengthened to enable us to achieve the African Common Market in shorter timeframes.”

    The Accra Declaration expresses the AU leaders' conviction that the ultimate objective of the AU is the United States of Africa, with a Union Government, as envisaged by the founding fathers of the Organisation of African Unity and, in particular, the late visionary leader, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, former President of Ghana.

    Uganda Tanzania business held back by poor transport infrastructure

    A lack of transport infrastructure is one of the key factors holding back business between the port of Dar es Salaam and Uganda, the East African Business Week has been told.

    Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) planning and statistics manager Damas Ndawi said that much of Uganda’s traffic was being diverted from Dar es Salaam to Mombasa because of poor transport infrastructure. He said the Uganda traditionally made use of Dar es Salaam for goods destined for Kampala but of late these had diminished in favour of the Kenyan port.

    He revealed that cargo moving between Dar es Salaam and Uganda had almost halved between 2005 and 2006 which he said was the result of delays along the road and rail networks linking the two countries.

    Tanzania’s railways have recently been concessioned to the Indian consortium operator Rites Rail but it is too soon for any effect to have been measured. Tanzania has also embarked on a large-scale reconstruction of roads throughout the country.

    The East African Business Week also reports that cargo handling at the Kenyan port of Mombasa has risen 40 percent since December 2006.

    Quoting figures released by the Kenya Ports Authority, cargo arrivals (imports) have risen by 122,528 tonnes or 20.2 percent in the first quarter 2007.

    During the same period transit cargo from Uganda reached 728,798 tonnes, compared with 606,270t for the same quarter in 2006.

    Kenya Ports Authority has embarked on a three year programme to upgrade port facilities and accommodate greater port traffic as well as enhance customer service. The KPA report said that last year Mombasa handled 14.4 million tonnes of cargo compared with 13.2mt in 2005. In the past five years cargo throughput had increased 40 percent or over 4 million tonnes.

    source – East African Business Week

    International shipping briefs

    Safmarine warns of Algeciras reduction
    Safmarine has issued a warning that its Algeciras terminal in southern Spain is facing a reduction in capacity because of essential crane maintenance, dredging activities and a general shortage of labour during the summer holidays.
    “In addition the port is facing increased passenger ferry congestion during the summer vacation period,” says Safmarine on its website. The company adds that in order to reduce the impact a structured plan has been put in place using alternate hubs where appropriate which will last throughout the (northern) summer).

    'K' Line forecasts a return to profit for container shipping
    ‘K’ LINE is forecasting a first quarter turnaround for its box ship division in which profits will be 20 percent higher than earlier forecast, which it says is because of high freight rates as a result of a rising demand for exports from China. The Japanese shipping line increased its rates on from the Far East to North America by $100 per 40ft container (FEU) and says that China’s demand for iron ore has not yet abated, helping to boost earnings from freight transportation of the commodity.
    ‘K’ Line forecasts a doubling of operating profit for the six months ending September to $384 million but cautions that higher fuel prices will impact on profits.

    EU brings new waste shipment regulations into force
    Following last year’s Probo Koala debacle, when a shipment of toxic waste was dumped in the Ivory Coast, resulting in a number of deaths and illnesses, the EU brought into force last week a set of new rules governing the shipment of waste material. The EU was determined to ensure that traffic accidents never happened again, said Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas. The new regulations aim at ensuring waste and hazardous material is properly handled while also banning it from being disposed of in certain countries, according to a press release issued by the EU. Member states are required to conduct inspections and spot-checks including opening of containers for inspection where necessary.

    Pic of the day – SPRUCE ARROW

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    Another of Gearbulk’s handsome general cargo ships, the 32,458-gt SPRUCE ARROW has completed loading cargo at Maydon Wharf and is seen heading into the Esplanade Channel as she makes her way out of Durban harbour. Picture Terry Hutson

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

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