Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jul 23, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Ford’s focus on exports

  • Growing dissatisfaction over road chaos outside Durban Container Terminal

  • Dispute over Puntland/Yemeni agreement

  • Maritime briefs

  • DAL KALAHARI omits Durban call

  • Pic of the day – ANASTASIS

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

    Ford’s focus on exports

    Seen presenting a scale model of a Höegh Autoliners car carrier to representatives of Ford Motor Company on board mv Höegh Treasure in Durban harbour on 18 July are, from left, Per Folkesson – Höegh Autoliners, Paul Allday – Ford, Fernanda de Sousa – Höegh Autoliners, and Richard Wyatt – Ford. Picture and report by Chris Hoare

    Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa was honoured at an on-board function last week when their 40,000th Ford Focus motor car was driven onto a Höegh Autoliners vessel in Durban for export to Australia.

    The vehicles are built at the Ford assembly plant in Silverton, Pretoria. The export contract alone created 600 new jobs at the Ford plant, and it is estimated another 3,600 new jobs among service providers and suppliers.

    "We have been exporting approximately 2,000 Focus vehicles a month since February 2005, and they are all exported through the Durban Car Terminal," said Richard Wyatt, Ford’s manager PPM, Scheduling and Exports. "We have an excellent partnership with Höegh Autoliners who have handled all these vehicles in three vessel sailings per month.”

    At the function, there were also representatives from ships agent ISS-Voigt Shipping, Motorvia, NYK/BLL, Greystones Cargo Systems, and Surveyco. The host, Per Folkesson, Höegh’s general manager, operational area Africa, thanked them all for their part in making the complex logistical operation flow smoothly. Höegh Autoliners is one of the largest car carriers in the world.

    Growing dissatisfaction over road chaos outside Durban Container Terminal

    There is mounting dissatisfaction at the lack of action being taken by port and city authorities over road congestion outside the gates of the Durban Container Terminal.

    Instead of things improving matters have got worse and came to a head last week when roads leading to the terminal were gridlocked on each weekday, resulting in heavy duty trucks loaded with containers being backed up for kilometres along Bayhead Road and into South Coast Road and extending beyond the southern freeway underpass.

    Frustration over the hundreds of heavy trucks, loaded with containers for the terminal, is not confined to truck owners, many of whom are owner-drivers who are being driven (although that’s probably an inappropriate word to use) out of business, but is also of concern to other port stakeholders who find their business in the Bayhead area has been negatively affected. Road hauliers said last week that delays were costing them millions of rand a year because of wasted time while other port stakeholders complained of being denied reasonable access to their premises.

    Ports & Ships requested comment from SA Port Operations (SAPO), which bears responsibility for the Durban Container Terminal, but this drew no response other than to be informed that the matter may be dealt with at a media briefing which SAPO intends holding on Thursday (29 July).

    The problem of road congestion outside ports is not unique to Durban or South Africa and is not even an ‘Africa’ problem. In this age of a global economy many countries are experiencing similar challenges. In Europe recently the EU transport minister appealed to ports along the north Europe seaboard to change their attitudes and encourage shortsea (coastal) transportation.

    He said the road systems of Europe were gridlocked because of the phenomenal growth of containerised cargo and appealed to everyone to find alternate answers, such as shipping cargo across Europe by ship rather than by road and rail.

    But at least Europe has a rail service capable of handling large volumes of containers. In South Africa Transnet tells port users they must wait while new locomotives and rail wagons are purchased – a process that will take several years. Yet when asked what steps Transnet are taking to alleviate the build-up of road traffic outside the terminals, stakeholders are told that the plan is to put at least half the containers back on rail.

    In the late 1990s Spoornet’s container division operated on a daily schedule of a minimum of seven block container trains in each direction between Durban and Johannesburg, with each train carrying 100 TEU (20ft container equivalents). That’s 14 trains a day, seven days a week. Not all trains were full but it was then estimated that Spoornet carried about 40 percent of container traffic between the port and Gauteng.

    Today Spoornet runs with no more than two or three such trains a day each way and most stakeholders have serious doubts about the rail operator’s ability to win back that lost traffic. No-one bothers to estimate what percentage of containers is carried by rail.

    In 2006 Durban handled 2.335 million TEU. By 2010, in less than three years it will be handling in excess of 3 million TEU, based on conservative estimates. The frightening prospect is that if the past 12 month’s growth rate of 19.2 percent is maintained, then Durban will be handling 4 million TEU in 3 years, and most of those will still be coming or going from the port by road.

    And by the way, that’s on the same roads that are in use today in 2007.

    Building the new Khangela bridge over the southern freeway won’t help – it is simply going to move the problem someplace else and at the end of next year people living in and using the streets of Umbilo can look forward to having their road system also blocked by heavy trucks for much of the day.

    But the problem extends beyond Durban’s two container terminals. Off-port container depots are an intrinsic part of the container revolution – these are the container parks where empty boxes are taken to be stored and where consolidation of cargo takes place (where part loads are made up).

    These are the container depots that are now mushrooming all around the Durban South area, particularly in the Edwin Swales Drive and Clairwood region, with concurrent road congestion occurring and placing strain on existing road systems never designed for commercial traffic.

    Stakeholders, which include the public affected by the congestion, have the right to know how the problem is going to be managed. It is one that surely requires a holistic approach involving more than just SAPO or the NPA or eThekwini Municipality making the decisions unilaterally (although some sign of decision-making might even be welcomed).

    In the meantime the word on the street is that truckers intend taking independent action this week unless the situation improves. This could take the form of an air horn campaign that should let everyone know that Durban is facing a crisis.

    Dispute over Puntland/Yemeni agreement

    Somali’s Transitional Federal Government says it is unhappy with discussions between Yemen and the semi-autonomous region of Puntland in Northern Somalia regarding maritime security.

    The minister for Somalia’s fishery department says his ministry was not informed about the talks in which Puntland’s fishing and marine resources minister visited Yemen to discuss fishing rights and mutual naval co-operation.

    Puntland and Yemen face each other across the Gulf of Aden and have a joint problem involving human trafficking and illegal fishing.

    Now Somalia’s ministry says that any decision reached that hasn’t gone through the Somalia federal government will be illegal.

    Nevertheless, two days later Somali’s minister of fisheries signed an agreement with his counterpart in Yemen to provide protection for fishermen against piracy in the Gulf as well as to protect each other’s fishing rights. As a South African might say, Ya well no fine.

    Maritime briefs

    Canary Islands - Three people died and more than 50 are missing after a wooden boat carrying approximately 100 African migrants capsized off the Canary Islands last week. Reports said that a large wave swamped the boat shortly before dawn just as a Spanish patrol boat was approaching. The people on board the wooden boat, who were from the West African country of Guinea-Bissau, apparently began standing up when they saw the boat, which affected it’s stability and when the 5m wave struck it capsized, throwing the occupants into the water.

    Earlier the boat had been spotted by a Spanish search aircraft while about 90 n.miles south of Tenerife. A patrol ship was sent out to intercept and escort the boat to safety.
    Three bodies were recovered along with about 50 survivors, leaving another 50 or so missing at sea. Women and children were included among the boat’s passengers.

    Lyme Bay, England – The container ship MSC NAPOLI was successfully broken in two by further controlled explosions on Friday (20 July), which separated obstinate longitudinal joists that earlier resisted two sets of explosions. The separation will allow salvors to take the front section of the ship to Lyme Bay and await a tug which will tow it elsewhere. A decision has yet to be taken as to how to go about demolishing this section. The aft section of the ship, which remains firmly on a sandbank off the English coast and which contains the heavy engine and machinery, is to be cut up in situ.

    DAL KALAHARI omits Durban call

    The SAECS service (South Africa – Europe Container Service) announced on Friday that the port call of Durban was to be omitted from the current rotation with DAL KALAHARI in order to bring the ship back on schedule.

    DAL KALAHARI has been experiencing engine troubles on her current southbound voyage 705B which has caused the ship to run late.

    With the ship terminating her southbound voyage at Port Elizabeth, the revised schedule reads:

    Date Voy Port Voy Date

    Omit 705A Cape Town 705B Omit
    070707 705A Port Elizabeth 705B 070710
    Omit 705A Durban 705B Omit
    070713 705A Cape Town 705B 070715
    Omit 705B Las Palmas 705B Omit

    070726 705B Rotterdam 706A 070727
    070728 705B Tilbury 706A 070729
    070730 705B Bremerhaven 706A 070731
    070803 706A Las Palmas 706A 070804

    Omit 706A Cape Town 706A Omit
    070813 706A Port Elizabeth 706B 070815
    Omit 706A Durban 706B Omit
    070818 706B Cape Town 706B 070820

    Pic of the day – ANASTASIS

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    Last week in our News Bulletin for Friday, 20 July we reported the arrival in Cape Town of the Mercy Ship ANASTASIS, which stopped to refuel while en route to the breakers yard in India. This picture was taken of the ship while making that short call – her last visit to an African port. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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

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