Ports & Ships Maritime News

Sep 12, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Five tugs ordered from Southern African Shipyards

  • Cargo handling equipment arrives at Mombasa

  • Further pressure on Rift Valley Railway

  • Nigerian port operators unhappy with concessioning

  • Pic of the day – SAS ISANDLWANA & HMCS TORONTO

    Five tugs ordered from Southern African Shipyards

    The long awaited contract to build a series of harbour tugs for Transnet National Ports Authority has been awarded, Ports & Ships can disclose.

    The R400 million contract to build five Voith Schneider propelled tugs of 70 and 60 ton bollard pull each was signed in July but made public yesterday by the shipbuilder, Southern African Shipyards.

    Three tugs (hull numbers T306, T307 and T308) are earmarked for the new port of Ngqura in the Eastern Cape, for delivery between October 2009 and May 2010. A further two tugs (hull numbers T309 and T310) will go into service in Durban between September 2010 and November 2010.

    The tugs have been designed locally to a Southern African Shipyard design by the Durban firm of Peter Volschenk Naval Architect, which was also instrumental in the design of five earlier tugs for the National Ports Authority, hull numbers T301 – T305.

    Each of the three tugs for Ngqura will be 31.8m long and have a bollard pull of 70 tons. The two tugs intended for Durban will generate a bollard strength of 60t but all will utilise the same Voith Schneider system of propulsion in line with five arlier tugs built at the same shipyard in recent years. Engines will be provided by the firm of M.A.N. for delivery in 2009.

    Southern African Shipyards Chief Operating Officer Louis Gontier said that with the experience built up on previous orders and with the latest contract the shipyard was aiming at being appointed a preferred Voith tug builder.

    The contract is worth R400 million and will involve the direct employment of some 250 skilled people plus another 350 in indirect employment. Gontier told Ports & Ships that the majority of vacant posts had already been filled, mostly with skilled workers who had worked at the shipyard previously and had rushed back to apply as soon as the word was out that more tugs were to be built.

    In addition to job creation the contract is also a considerable fillip for the local steel industry, with about 1800 tonnes of specialised steel being used in the manufacture of the new vessels. Much of the electrical and instrumentation work will be provided locally as well by the firm of Siemens and other suppliers as will other aspects of the construction including shopfitting.

    Turning to the question of security of tenure at the massive Bayhead shipyard, Prasheen Maharaj, Financial Director said that Southern African Shipyards had ‘been given the word’ from Transnet that they could expect five more years at the Bayhead site, assuming that the Bayhead container terminal construction receives approval, which would see them through the length of the contract. In the event of the Bayhead container terminal development the shipyard will relocate to another site within Durban harbour which has already been earmarked for its use.

    Gontier said the yard was close to securing contracts for a further two tugs for a European customer, similar to those to be built for Ngqura but slightly longer and wider. Recently the shipyard signed a contract to build 16 anchor handling craft for a South East Asian interest but was forced to relinquish the contract because of uncertainty at the time over the Bayhead development.

    The tug uThukela, one of five Voith Schneider propulsion tugs built in Durban in recent years and similar to a new series of tugs placed with Southern African Shipyards. Picture Terry Hutson

    Cargo handling equipment arrives at Mombasa

    A total of 17 new terminal tractors and three reach stackers have arrived at the port of Mombasa where they have been placed in service at the port’s container terminal.

    Costing US$3.4 million the new equipment was immediately commissioned by a Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) team and placed in service handling containers.

    KPA managing director Abdalla Mwaruwa praised the suppliers for delivering on schedule, saying that this meant the port now had necessary equipment to start meeting operational requirements. He also applauded terminal employees for their patience and hard work while coping with the current cargo congestion at Mombasa.

    He said that as a result of this patience the port had almost doubled its half year productivity in 2007 so far compared with the previous year. By the end of June this year the port had handled 7.7 million tonnes of cargo compared with 6.9mt for the same period in 2006. This reflected an 11.6 percent increase of 800,000 tonnes.

    However he spoke sternly about what he called deliberate mishandling of machines, citing the example of rubber tyre gantries cranes (RTGs) acquired several years ago that already required being written off.

    The new tractors are replacements for unserviceable equipment at the terminal. According to KPA Technical Services Manager Joseph Atonga, Mombasa Container Terminal needed a complement of 60 tractors, of which 45 required to be in service at any one time.

    A study financed by the Japanese Bank for International Co-operation is reviewing a feasibility study originally made in 2000 that looked at additional container-handling capacity at Mombasa, new stacking areas and the construction of new container berths.

    Since the original study Mombasa has embarked on a $59.7 million dredging programme of the port by way of appointing consultants to advise on the area to be dredged - see report in PORTS & SHIPS of 22 August 2007

    Spoil recovered by dredging will be used for the construction of Mombasa’s second container terminal – a project that is seen as necessary if the port is to avoid becoming merely a feeder port on the East African coast.

    In 2006 Mombasa handled a total of 14.4 million tonnes of cargo and is on target to exceed this volume in 2007.

    source - East African

    Further pressure on Rift Valley Railway

    Rift Valley Railway (RVR), the private consortium led by South Africa’s Sheltam Rail, is coming under additional pressure on account of accumulated cargo at the port of Mombasa.

    According to a report published by Business Daily, the Kenya Ports Authority said recently that cargo had accumulated to ‘a new high’ due to the failure of RVR to make significant operational improvements to the former Kenya Railway network.

    RVR assumed operational and management control of the line in November 2006 but has since come under repeated attack from various quarters in Kenya and Uganda over a perceived failure to improve operational efficiencies. Both the Kenya government and railway circles have pointed out that it would take time to bring about significant changes to the network, particularly as far as re-equipping and refurbishing the railway is concerned.

    KPA’s concerns however centre around a build-up of containers within the port and is allied to growing pressure to have the cargo, mostly containers, released for transport by road. It is claimed that some of the containers have remained in the port for over two months and is resulting in large losses for importers by way of storage costs.

    The port of Mombasa provides seven days of free storage for local bound containers and 14 days for transit boxes (for cross border and inland), after which a surcharge of $ 20 a day becomes applicable per 20ft container and $ 30 per 40ft box.

    Kenya’s Transport Secretary is quoted by the newspaper as acknowledging that there are serious capacity problems within the railway which he blamed on old equipment. RVR claimed several months ago that it was making good progress and had paid concession fees up to the end of March and pointed out that cargo volumes moving by rail had increased to an average of 170,000 tonnes compared with the average of 120,000t in last October, resulting in an increase in earnings. New Locomotives and wagons were due to be delivered from August 2008.

    However the refurbishment of 67 railway passenger coaches had not yet commenced as per the concession contract.

    Nigerian port operators unhappy with concessioning

    Concessioning of former state assets, particularly in the transport field, is not always proving to be a popular achievement in many African countries, judging by the reaction and expectations of many port and rail users. The report immediately above this one comments on criticism faced by the concession holders of the former Kenya and Uganda railway organisations – themselves badly neglected and run down while under state control since independence from colonial rule.

    In Mozambique several port and railway concession holders have come under strong criticism from the government transport body CFM and Mozambique’s ministry of transport. This has included the Nacala railway operation of CDN and the port of Maputo. In the south the concession held by a consortium led by Spoornet, the South African state-owned railway operator was cancelled, with some justification it might be said, after allegations of non-performance.

    Criticism of port concessioning in Nigeria is also being raised, but these are on the grounds of stifling local initiative. A Nigerian newspaper, This Day reported this week that the port terminal concessionaires are operating virtual monopolies in which local content is excluded, which it (the newspaper) claims is contrary to the federal government’s policy of empowering local entrepreneurs.

    The complaints, it seems, are based on the very success of the terminal operators, which have been clearing cargo too efficiently. Previously when containers and other cargo accumulated at the port terminal an overflow was transferred to a number of bonded warehouses created for the purpose of easing the build-up of cargo. Since concessioning however the bonded terminals are being starved of cargo, resulting in a layoff of labour and a setback for local transport companies accustomed to ferrying containers from the ports to the warehouses.

    In addition it is reported that at least one of the concessionaires, AP Moller has placed orders for a number of road trucks to handle the delivery of containers to and from the terminal under its control, which private transporters say is akin to having a monopoly.

    Pic of the day – SAS ISANDLWANA & HMCS TORONTO

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    Before leaving the scene of the recent visit by six NATO ships to southern African waters, one more picture from last week’s joint exercises off Cape Point. The South African frigate SAS ISANDLWANA (F146) and Canadian frigate HMCS TORONTO (F333) manoeuvre off Cape Point. The picture was taken from the deck of US cruiser USS NORMANDY by Durban photographer Clinton Wyness

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