Ports & Ships Maritime News

Dec 12, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Congo river barge capsizes – 40 die

  • News from the shipping lines

  • Ivory Coast, EU sign interim trade deal

  • New Officer Commanding for strike craft SAS ISAAC DYOBHA

  • Mozambique: What price the benefits of foreign investment

  • Pic of the day – DURBAN HARBOUR

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    Congo river barge capsizes – 40 die

    At least 40 people have died and an unknown number remain missing after a river barge capsized on the Congo River.

    The accident occurred at the weekend when the barge MB LIPAMBOLI, carrying passengers as well as a cargo of palm oil and wood began to sink near Lisala, a riverside town more than 500km northeast of Mbandaka, the principal town of Equateur Province.

    River police recovered the bodies of 40 people from the river but said they thought there may have been others that went down with the barge. Altogether some 220 people were rescued from the river, according to the DRC interior ministry.

    Police said it was not known how many people were on board the motor barge when it capsized and sank.

    Nor was it immediately known what caused the sinking, except that such accidents are fairly common on the DRC’s river systems and lakes. One of the problems is that scant attention is given to recording the number of passengers that each boat carries or whether they are being overloaded.

    The DRC has thousands of kilometres of navigable river including the Congo River, which at 2718 miles (4350km) is the world’s fifth longest and is navigable for most of its length. Ironically, ocean-going ships can progress no further than the port of Matadi, the DRC’s principal port, because of extensive rapids between the port and the capital of Kinshasa. Matadi is 150km from the mouth of the Congo River.

    News from the shipping lines

    SAILS acquires another CV100 class

    The CV 1100 class container ship VAAL RIVER (1118-TEU) has become the latest ship to go on charter with South African shipping line SAILS (SA Independent Liner Services), operating between South Africa, West Africa and Europe.

    The mining house of Lonhro holds a 45 percent stake in SAILS.

    Vaal River is owned by Universal Marine BV, and is the sixth of her class to be ordered by the Dutch company.

    MSC sells some oldies

    Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), the world’s second largest container carrier has disposed of a number of its more elderly container ships. Among those sold for scrap are four 14,500-dwt 550-TEU vessels – MSC FRANCESCA, MSC ARIANE, MSC VALERIA and MSC EMILIA S, each of which traded for long periods on the African coast.

    The four ships were built by Lûbecker Flenderwerke as tweendeckers equipped with Stülcken heavy lift derricks and went into operation between 1970 and 1971 for Hansa Linie , but were later converted for container only trade by MSC and placed in service on that company’s Indian Ocean feeder trades.

    Another once ‘familiar face’ in southern African waters that has been sold for scrap is MSC CAMILLE, one of five fully cellular sister ships built between 1969 – 1971 for Sweden’s Johnson Line and deployed on the Europe – West Coast North America trades via the Panama Canal.

    MOL launches world’s largest iron ore carrier

    Mitsui OSK Line (MOL) last week launched and named the world’s largest iron ore carrier, the 327,180-dwt BRASIL MARU, which was built at the Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co Chiba works. The new vessel is to be deployed between Brazil and Japan under a long-term contract with Nippon Steel Corporation.

    She is the third MOL ship to carry the name Brasil Maru and the ceremony included as guests a ships master and some passengers from the second Brazil Maru, a cargo/passenger ship launched in 1954.

    The latest third generation Brasil Maru will enter service in 2008 and will be followed by an additional four similar VLOCs (very large ore carriers).

    Brasil Maru is 340m in length and has a breadth of 60m and a draught of 21.13m. The ship will operate from the ore loading ports of Tubarao and Bonta de Madila in Brasil to discharge at Oita and Kimitsu in Japan.

    source – AXS-Alphaliner and MOL

    Ivory Coast, EU sign interim trade deal

    Abidjan 11 December 2007 (BuaNews) - The Ivory Coast has clinched an interim trade agreement with the European Union (EU) before preferential trade terms expire at the end of this year, the west African nation's government said.

    The accord includes terms on market access and promoting cooperation, reports Xinhua News.

    The two sides will also continue negotiating on a broader Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), which is expected to be signed in 2008, the government said in a statement.

    The Ivory Coast is a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), whose 15 members together with Mauritania are negotiating with the EU on the EPA.

    The Ivory Coast calls on the member states of ECOWAS and the West African Economic and Monetary Union and Mauritania to set a timetable for talks to enable west African countries to strike a deal as a whole with the EU soon, the statement said.

    Talks between nearly African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and the EU on new EPA deals that will replace preferential trade terms have been dragging on for five years (and was a subject at this weekend’s Lisbon summit).

    Some of the countries fear their domestic industries may not be able to withstand competition from imports from the EU as, under the new deals, they will have to open their markets to the EU while exporting goods to the bloc on preferential terms.

    New Officer Commanding for strike craft SAS ISAAC DYOBHA

    Last week saw yet a another change of command for a South African Navy ship – the strike craft SAS ISAAC DYOBHA (see related article in Monday’s News Bulletin

    SAS Isaac Dyobha is one of two strike craft remaining in the navy from an original flotilla of eight. The ship’s latest officer commanding is Lt-Cdr Jabulani Mbotho, who took command of the ship from Cdr Geraard Wessels at a change of command ceremony held in Simon’s Town last Thursday.

    Lt-Cdr Mbotho comes from a rural area in southern KZN and completed maritime studies at the Natal Technikon before joining the navy in 1997. Since then he has completed all necessary courses for his most recent promotion.

    Mozambique: What price the benefits of foreign investment

    Maputo, 10 December 2007 (IRIN) - The Mozal aluminium plant is a symbol of Mozambique's red-hot economy, touted as a symbol of the investor-friendly environment that led the Wall Street Journal to declare the country "an African success story".

    Mozal's exports have increased Mozambique's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by between 3.2 and 5 percent. Its output represents almost half the country's growth in manufacturing.

    In spite of these apparent benefits, Mozal has contributed little to the country's development. Initial investment in the project amounted to approximately 40 percent of GDP, but only created around 1,500 jobs, of which nearly a third are held by foreigners.

    The smelters use more electricity than the rest of Mozambique combined. The company imports most of its raw material and equipment duty-free, and enjoys an extensive list of incentives ranging from discounted electricity to a prolonged tax holiday. It also has the right to repatriate profits. The result is an isolated economic enclave that uses large quantities of scarce resources without returning revenue or jobs to the economy.

    A new report by the UN Development Programme's (UNDP) International Poverty Centre, based in Brazil, is highly critical of encouraging mega-projects like Mozal as a development strategy. The September 2007 study examined poverty, inequality and growth since Mozambique instituted economic reforms in 1992, at the end of the civil war. It found that Mozambique's indices of rapid economic growth were illusory at best.

    Although the economy grew by 7.9 percent last year, most of the growth in income and consumption occurred among the population's richest quintile, with less than 10 percent of growth affecting the country's poorest. In the United Nations 2007/2008 Human Development Index, the country ranked 172 out of 177 countries listed.

    The sleight of hand

    The UNDP study interpreted this inequality as a failure in development strategy, which has focused on industry over agriculture. "Growth in industrial production has been the main driving force behind Mozambique's rapidly growing exports," the study's authors observed. "Based on a few mega-projects, this growth has, however, created few jobs, while its contribution to public revenue has been marginal when compared to its value of production."

    The report pointed out that the southern provinces receiving the greatest percentages of foreign direct investment also saw the largest increases in poverty rates in recent years. Development strategies implemented since the end of the civil war neglected agriculture and fishing, the primary source of livelihood of more than 80 percent of Mozambicans.

    "Growth [in agriculture] represents only a 'bounce-back' to pre-war levels of agricultural production without any substantial improvement in productivity, which remains low even when compared regionally," said the UNDP.

    The study suggests that dependence on large projects, coupled with Mozambique's already heavy dependence on foreign aid, means top officials are more concerned with accountability to donors and financial institutions than the people they were elected to serve. The authors concluded that the result was not "pro poor".

    "Following in the footsteps of the centralised colonial administration and the subsequent Marxist-Leninist party/state apparatus, the government continues to operate, through mega-projects put together by the top political leadership and respective donors and/or private investors, with very little public consultation or transparency," the study noted.

    Rethink needed

    For some analysts the problem is not that mega-projects are not pro-poor, but rather that they are poorly managed. Carlos Castel-Branco, an economist at Mozambique's Institute of Social Studies and Economics, said the problem was the extensive tax breaks that mega-projects received.

    "In 2006 the International Monetary Fund declared that mega-projects are irrelevant to poverty reduction. I don't agree: under the current circumstances that is true, but through the creation of tax linkages they can make a big impact," he said.

    Most mega-projects in Mozambique were not "footloose". Investors chose to locate in the country for strategic reasons and did not need tax incentives to attract them. Nonetheless, they enjoy a wide range of tax breaks and benefits that limit their impact on Mozambique's economy. According to Castel-Branco, the project is not the culprit, the development strategy is.

    "Imports from mega-projects represent 50 percent of all imports, but they have no impact on fiscal revenue - Mozal pays a one percent tax on sales," he pointed out. "If Mozal paid one-third of the normal tax rate for firms, our state budget could increase by 50 percent. If all mega-projects paid that rate the state budget would double."

    If Mozambique were to tax mega-projects at discounted rates instead of offering tax holidays, the government could reduce budget dependency on foreign aid to almost zero. Alternatively, it could continue the flow of aid but expand expenditure on social or industrial development.

    Castel-Branco claims the government has seen its mistake but has diminished its power to negotiate by granting tax incentives in the first place.

    "The UNDP should work a little bit on issues like this," he said. "It's difficult for Mozambique to do it on its own; the World Bank, the IMF, need to say, 'look, we need to change this situation'. The United Nations has the moral authority. It's possible to renegotiate."

    Pic of the day – DURBAN HARBOUR

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    Durban Harbour as seen from the Millenium Tower (Port Control). Picture Terry Hutson

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