Ports & Ships Maritime News

Sep 21, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Transnet poised for growth - Ramos

  • Durban harbour fire is a wake up call

  • Seychelles aims at expanding port operations

  • EU trade commissioner tells Africa to get a move on

  • Hazard warning for semi-submerged vessel off Mossel Bay coast

  • Pic of the day – USS FORREST SHERMAN

    Transnet poised for growth - Ramos

    Transnet is about to go on a spending spree the like of which hasn’t been seen before. Those weren’t her words but is the gist of what Maria Ramos, head of Transnet had to say at a Cape Town media briefing this week.

    Ramos was in the Mother City to present Transnet’s annual report to parliament. She said the intention was to create capacity ahead of demand and to this end spending on infrastructure had been ramped up, with rail, harbours and pipelines to be the main beneficiaries.

    A capital expenditure programme of R78 Billion has been previously announced which will roll out over the next five years. The money will be spent as follows:

    * R38.1Bn with Transnet Freight Rail (former Spoornet) – this includes the purchase of 404 locomotives
    * R28Bn with the ports (Transnet National Ports Authority and Transnet Port Terminals (TPT)
    * R10Bn with Transnet Pipelines

    The port expenditure includes R8.5Bn for the port of Durban, R6.1Bn at the new port of Ngqura, R4.2Bn in Cape Town, R2.9Bn in Saldanha Bay and R1.5Bn at Richards Bay.

    An amount of R11.7Bn will be spent during the current financial year ending March 2008.

    According to Ramos the only non-core asset that generated cash for Transnet from its sale was the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, of which Transnet’s share was 26 percent with the balance going to the Transnet pension fund. She said that the annual report would show that Transnet’s turnaround programme was on track and the company was now poised for growth, and the arrival of new equipment would increase efficiency levels to ensure this is possible.

    Durban harbour fire is a wake up call

    As mopping up and damping operations at Durban Harbour’s Island View petrochemical complex continued yesterday, a forensic investigation is underway to determine the cause of Tuesday night’s devastating fire.

    A total of eight tanks caught alight in the section operated by Island View Storage. Yesterday Bidvest, of which Island View Storage is a subsidiary, took the unusual step of placing a full page advert in the Mercury newspaper in Durban, apologising to all residents of the nearby Bluff who were affected by the fire, expressing a concern for the missing person and thanking the emergency services for controlling the fire and limiting potential losses.

    In Cape Town Maria Ramos, chief executive officer of Transnet said at a breakfast briefing that special safety checks would be carried out at all ports following the Durban fire.

    She said that port and city emergency fire services, disaster management teams and port authorities should meet regularly to ensure that contingency plans were up to date and in place.

    In Durban it was revealed that the fire had been confined to a single area of the large sprawling complex, encompassing a total of more than 1,000 storage tanks containing a wide variety of chemicals, oils, diesel, paraffin and edible products. Tests were being carried out to measure the toxicity level in the air surrounding the complex and in particular over the Bluff although preliminary results showed the levels had not reached high enough concentrations to be regarded as harmful.

    Water pollution within the harbour was reported as being minimal.

    There is as yet no indication as to whether exports from Island View will be affected in either the short or medium term. By 9am yesterday morning berths 7, 8 and 9 became operational and by 3.15pm the remaining berths 1 – 5 were also operational. This was after ships at Island View were hurriedly moved to the outer anchorage on Tuesday night as a precaution.

    Seychelles aims at expanding port operations

    Port Victoria, Seychelles

    The Seychelles Port Authority together with the Commonwealth Secretariat is looking at expanding port operations at Port Victoria in the Seychelles as part of a strategy of turning the port into a regional transshipment port.

    According to the Commonwealth Secretariat, work will commence next month on improving Port Victoria’s competitiveness.

    ‘The project, led by the Trade Section of the Secretariat’s Special Advisory Services Division (SASD), will utilise experts through the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation (CFTC). These experts will examine how Seychelles can build on its existing competencies in the port services sector to attract a larger share of business from the maritime transport market. Their findings will lead to an action plan offering guidance on how to improve the competitiveness of current port services as well as how to promote the port as a viable docking point in the Indian Ocean,’ says the Commonwealth Secretariat.

    Seychelles hopes to double the country’s gross domestic product by 2017 and plans to do this through the development of the financial services industry, expansion programmes in tourism, fisheries, and the growth of other economic sectors which includes a renewed focus on port development.

    Port Victoria has a deep water harbour and is strategically located on major shipping routes between Asia and Europe and Europe and Africa.

    Angela Strachan, Trade Adviser in SASD, believes that this is “a viable opportunity for the country’’.

    “In the long term, we hope that the CFTC’s support will help Seychelles to see an increase in the frequency of port calls at Port Victoria,” she said.

    source - http://www.thecommonwealth.org

    EU trade commissioner tells Africa to get a move on

    Europe’s trade commissioner Peter Mandleson last week criticised African countries for delaying their decision-making over economic partnership agreements (EPA) with the European Union and warned that if negotiations were not completed by the end of 2007, African countries stood to lose favourable preferences enjoyed under the Cotonou agreement. If the agreements were not signed, he said, the EU would revert to the General System of Preferences (GSP), which was a much more onerous trading regime.

    The EU is in the process of negotiating with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries to replace the Cotonou Agreement because the latter is not compatible with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

    "The deadline is not a bluff or some negotiating tactic invented in Brussels. It is an external reality created in the WTO in Geneva. We are committed to replace Cotonou trade preferences with a new trade regime that does not discriminate against non-ACP developing countries. We have to do this by 1 January 2008,"

    He said the picture in Africa was mixed.

    “I held a Ministerial meeting in Central Africa in July. This region has understood what is at stake and has defined its interests. It is negotiating hard, but negotiating positively. We await the Region's response to what the EU has put on the table.

    “In Southern Africa, our ability to deliver an EPA will depend in large measure on the attitude of South Africa. It appeared to me before the [European] summer break that the role of South Africa in the EPA - and indeed in the DDA - was, I am afraid to say, deeply negative. They were preventing others - much less well off than them in the region from moving forward. Bear in mind that in the absence of an EPA, South Africa's market access is protected by our existing bilateral trade and co-operation agreement. This is not the same for other countries in this region. In some areas of the negotiation, South Africa is now engaging more positively. If that is confirmed, we must ensure that the EU responds positively, both to South Africa's legitimate expectations but especially to those of the other countries of the region.”

    Mandleson said he was, however, even more seriously concerned about progress in West and in East Africa.

    “There are long-standing issues of region grouping and configuration in East Africa. It is disappointing that a few weeks from the effective deadline for concluding an EPA those difficulties continue to hinder progress. I have spoken recently to those most concerned by these issues in Kenya and Tanzania. All I can do today is to reiterate my plea that these issues be resolved now. It will not serve the interests of any country in the region to be seen to be holding up the region as a whole.

    “West Africa has the capacity to conclude an agreement rapidly. So it is all the more disappointing that recent indications suggest it may be moving backwards, not forwards in preparing its own market access proposals for the agreement. Some in the region believe they have little to lose if an EPA is not concluded and for the more resource-rich countries this may be the case; or that the EU will pull a rabbit out of the hat at the last minute to guarantee continuing existing trade preferences in the absence of an EPA.”

    source – European Commission

    Hazard warning for semi-submerged vessel off Mossel Bay coast

    The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) has issued a general warning to all vessels at sea to look out for a semi-submerged vessel between Mossel Bay and The Wilderness off the Southern Cape.

    This followed an alert issued earlier by Transnet National Ports Authority about the semi-submerged vessel, the Mossel Bay-registered 12m fishing boat SEA BREEZE, which began sinking when it was about four miles offshore between Mossel Bay and the Wilderness.

    It was not immediately clear why the boat had sunk but an investigation would get underway under the jurisdiction of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

    Pic of the day – USS FORRESY SHERMAN

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The American destroyer, USS FORREST SHERMAN (DDG98) which is due in Durban and Cape Town harbours from next week. Picture courtesy US Navy

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