Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jul 10, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Beira dredger inaugurated

  • African rail news

  • EU bans South African pineapple shipment

  • MSC Napoli refloated

  • International shipping briefs

  • Pic of the day – URSA

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    Beira dredger inaugurated

    The port of Beira’s new dredger, named ALCANTARA SANTOS, was officially inaugurated on Friday (6 July) by Mozambican President Armando Guebuza.

    The 70m long trailing suction hopper dredger, which was built in Japan at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries yard in Kobe and donated to the Mozambique people by Japan, will enter service in the port of Beira (see PORTS & SHIPS News Bulletin report of last Thursday, 5 July).

    The dredger is due to be handed over to Empressa Mozambique de Dragagens (Emodraga) on completion of a 30-day period of trials.

    Built at a cost of US $18 million, the blue-hulled Alcantara Santos, which is named for a former transport minister who died in the aircraft crash with President Samora Machel, can handle a load of 1,000 tonnes and is expected to go to work on maintaining the required depth of channels in the port of Beira to ensure the port remains competitive and available to shipping.

    Japan’s ambassador to Mozambique, Tatsuya Miki said that Beira is a strategically important port in the context of Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries and that Japan has recognised that the lack of dredging capacity had placed constraints on the port’s capacity. He said that in addition to donating the dredger Japan had also provided the opportunity for Emodraga personnel to attend a training course in Japan to help equip them for the task of maintaining and operating the vessel.

    During the inauguration President Guebuza said that most important challenge facing Mozambique’s transport sector is to ensure that the ports remain accessible and competitive to enable them to compete for business with neighbouring countries.

    To this end it was announced during Friday’s function that Emodraga, the state-owned dredging company is negotiating for a second larger dredger with potential overseas partners.

    African rail news

    Rift Valley Railways, the South African-led company now operating the railways of Kenya and Uganda on the basis of a concession entered into last December, has paid its first concession fee to the Kenyan government n terms of the original concession agreement.

    RVR paid over two amounts – Sh122.5 million (US $1.834m) for the freight operation, and Sh17.5 million ($ 262,000) for passenger service fees for the period between November 2006 and January 2007.

    RVR has come under considerable criticism in some Kenyan quarters over a perceived lack of progress in getting the railway refurbishment underway. Much of the criticism has been levelled at railways inability to assist with clearing cargo from the port of Mombasa. Management for RVR and the Kenyan government however point out that time is required to reorganise the operation and introduce new rolling stock.

    Roy Puffet, RVR’s managing director said last week that by being in a position to hand over the concession fee as per the agreement and based on an agreed formula of 11 percent of revenue was a success story in itself

    The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) says it intends including in the next master plan a regional railway system for Nigeria that will connect all nine states under its jurisdiction.

    Nigeria has embarked on an ambitious programme of rebuilding its neglected railway networks with a new standard gauge system to replace the Cape gauge currently in use.

    Transnet says it would like to build a new rail hub to replace City Deep outside Johannesburg and at the same time is considering a feasibility study for a rail ring around greater Johannesburg in order to circumvent delays.

    The idea for a new hub is based on using land owned by Transnet near Springs to the east of Johannesburg while the ring rail route would help avoid highly congested existing rail services throughout the Gauteng area. At present Spoornet shares the railway network with Metro passenger services with the suburban trains receiving priority on the operational grid.

    The proposal has yet to be taken before the Transnet Board for approval.

    EU bans South African pineapple shipment

    A shipment of South Africa pineapples has been rejected by the European Union (EU) on account of excessively high levels of cadmium, a carcinogenic substance and unsafe for human consumption.

    It is believed the pineapples became contaminated after being treated with fertiliser imported into South Africa from China.

    Revealing the rejection of the shipment the opposition Democratic Alliance said in a statement on Sunday that it was “completely unacceptable that we should have to rely on European Union testing to have the dangers lurking in our own food pointed out to us.”

    A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture being interviewed by the SABC yesterday afternoon confirmed that imports of fertiliser were not tested prior to being sold locally. She said the department lacked the personnel to undertake this task and added that existing legislation did not allow for compulsory testing of imported fertilisers.

    It is not known whether cans of the affected pineapples have been sold on the local South African market.

    The incident raises question marks about testing of other commodities being imported into South Africa in increasing quantities. With the economic boom experienced particularly in the building trade which is leading to excessive demand for basic building materials such as cement, speculators have become involved with the importing and marketing of this commodity. The question should therefore be raised whether South Africa possesses the ability to examine and test the quality of such products before release. The case of Chinese fertiliser suggests the answer might be no.

    MSC Napoli refloated

    MSC Napoli, the container ship on charter to Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) for its Northern Europe – South Africa service, which developed stress fractures during a storm in the English Channel early this year and was subsequently run aground off the English coast, was successfully refloated yesterday.

    Salvors had laboured for a number of months preparing the ship by removing the remaining 2000 containers (a number had washed overboard) as well as any contaminants on board including fuel oil. This past week the task was completed and efforts turned to pumping dry several flooded sections of the 53,000-gt ship and allowing the vessel’s list to correct itself. With the ship floating off the sandbank where it has been held prisoner for nearly six months, tugs were able to begin pulling the ship away and into deeper water where divers began a full examination of damage to the hull.

    It has been reported that the ship’s back has broken but this has not been confirmed. Pending the divers’ examination and report salvors will now decide what action to next take, which could include taking the vessel into deep water for sinking, or beaching the ship elsewhere for cutting up.

    International shipping briefs

    On 1 July Australia introduced new regulations requiring that all foreign members of crew (except New Zealanders) on board non-military ships entering an Australian port should apply for a Maritime Crew Visa (MCV) prior to entering the Australian migration zone. The ruling applies similarly to accompanying spouses of foreign crew or dependent children.

    A transitional period will apply between I July and 31 December 2007 to enable the maritime industry to adapt to the ruling and for crew to secure the new MCV – in the interim current existing arrangements for crew entering an Australian port will apply.

    The ruling applies across the board to all commercial cargo and cruise ships, as well as fishing vessels and is intended to strengthen Australia’s border security. The MCV will have to be applied for from outside the country and needs to be granted before arrival. It is free of charge and will be valid for three years for travel to Australia by sea (not air). Source - Department of Immigration and Citizenship Australian Government

    Mumbai’s Jawarlal Nehru port is experiencing severe congestion owing to a shortage of railway rolling stock, according to the Business Standard of India. The port currently has over 6,000 containers clogging the terminal area in an area with a design capacity of 2,500 TEU. The port normally handles an average of 39,000 TEU a month and has been experiencing congestion since 2002, according to the Western India Shippers’ Association. Other reports said that Container Corporation of India (CONCOR) was failing to provide adequate rolling stock to move the boxes.

    The takeover of the English Welsh & Scottish Railway (EWS) and Spain’s Transfesa logistics group by Germany’s Deutsche Bahn has ‘closed important gaps in the DB Logistics rail freight network,’ says DB Logistics chairman Norbert Bensel. It is believed the takeover of the EWS has cost DB €400 million.

    EWS is represented in France through its subsidiary Euro Cargo Rail and the takeover now provides
    DB with direct links to the transport and logistics markets in western and southern Europe - source IFW.

    Belgian shipping group CMB (Compagnie Maritime Belge) has announced the acquisition of a 27 percent stake in the Anglo-Eastern Group by the CMB subsidiary Bocimar Hong Kong. The Anglo-Eastern Group focuses much of its activities on ship and crew management and newbuilding consultancy services and the buy-in gives CMB a position in this specialised sector as well as providing access to ship management and crew management services. While still subject to due diligence, CMB says it expects to finalise the deal during August.

    Pic of the day – URSA

    Speaking of dredgers…. (see report above), the cutter suction dredger URSA, which is owned and operated by Dutch firm Boskalis Westminster Dredging, is seen arriving off Durban late last year from Port Louis, Mauritius. URSA went onto the Eldock for repairs and maintenance before heading off again for a contract in Maputo.  Picture by L Riphagen

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

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