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Ports & Ships Maritime News

19 July 2011
Author: Terry Hutson

Bringing you shipping, freight, trade and transport related news of interest for Africa since 2002

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The container ship MACUBA (11,153-gt, built 1998) heads off down Durban’s Maydon Channel towards a berth on Maydon Wharf from where the ship will work cargo. Even here on the ’wharf’ breakbulk and bulk cargo is being squeezed by the ubiquitous container. Picture by Rip Riphagen

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The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) say they have approved a €60-million loan for the construction of a new container terminal at the port of Lomé in Togo, West Africa.

The project involves the construction, development and operation of a new transshipment container handling terminal. It will be executed under a 35-year concession agreement and will have an annual handling capacity of 1.5 million 20-feet container units. A Togolese company, Lomé Container Terminal S.A, will execute the project.

The Lomé port in the Gulf of Guinea is one of the few deep water ports in Western and Central Africa. It serves as a transshipment hub on the West African coast because of its ideal location. It also serves as a gateway to landlocked Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, as well as the northern parts of Nigeria.

The port’s existing capacity is estimated at 221,000 container units. This has to be expanded to meet growing Togolese needs and regional demand from Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali, while Nigeria’s cross-border trade that is also projected to increase would also benefit from the facility.

Mediterranean Shipping Company (“MSC”), the world’s second largest container shipping line with a 12% share of the international container shipping market, will be the Terminal’s anchor customer. MSC will enter into a terminal services agreement committing to channel most of its WCA cargo through the Terminal.

At the regional level, the Lomé Terminal has the potential to drive operational efficiency throughout the WCA shipping market that will provide importers and exporters better access to foreign markets at reduced costs. This will stimulate competition in the regional shipping and logistics market that is expected to catalyze further regional integration. The project will encourage other port facilities in the region to improve their efficiency and infrastructure in order to remain competitive.

The LCT project is expected to spur the expansion of Togo’s maritime sector, generate tax revenues for the government, and increase consumer and shipping lines savings. Moreover, increased container traffic would enhance linkages with local transport businesses, many of which are small and medium-sized enterprises. Togo should also benefit from port operation and management know-how, resulting in skills upgrade for the local workforce.

In 2008 a 35-year concession was awarded to Lomé Container Terminal, a locally incorporated company, to operate the port’s container terminal, with an option for a further 10 years. source AfdB

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Port of Lomé container terminal

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Jubba XX, pirated at the weekend. Picture EU NAVFOR

A second ship to be highjacked by Somali pirates, the Sharjah-owned tanker JUBBA XX (4831-dwt, built 1979) is heading back towards Somalia after pirates successfully boarded the ship on Sunday, subduing the crew.

On Saturday another Emirates-owned vessel carrying a cargo of live goats was also captured off Socotra Island, bringing to an end a weather-enforced lull in ships being highjacked and taken to Somalia. (In light of the latest report of the Jubba XX being captured, it is possible that earlier reports of a ship carrying livestock also being seized off the island of Socotra may be incorrect.)

Despite the strong seas in much of the region, vessel operators are warned to take every precaution as a spate of pirate attacks can still be expected.

On Monday morning a maritime patrol aircraft reported the ship to be 100 n.miles north-west of Socotra and heading towards the Somali coast. It is thought tht up to nine pirates are on board the Jubba XX, which is carrying a crew of 16 consisting of 1 Sri Lankan, 5 Indian, 3 Bangladesh, 1 Sudanese, 1 Myanmar, 1 Kenyan and 4 Somali.

EU NAVFOR reports that the ship was not registered with MSCHOA at the time of the pirating and says that it is continuing to monitor the situation.

COSCO to spend US$12 million on armed guards on board its ships

China Military News reports that COSCO is spending up to $12 million on bullet-proof vests and other on-board equipment including having armed guards on board COSCO vessels sailing in pirate-threatened waters.

A spokesman for the Chinese shipping line said that British security companies that make use of former Special Forces or Royal Marines personnel would be employed to guard the ships in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.

Other Chinese and Hong Kong ship-owners are also reported to be arming their ships with guards when they travel through at risk seas.

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Port of Mombasa scene. Rail is trailing road transport 92 to 8 but a recent loan may help improve rail’s odds

A US$40 million loan to finance the Rift Valley Railways (RVR) has been secured from the African Development Bank, it was announced this week. A five-year $246 million capital investment programme currently underway involves two concessions over a rail network running from Mombasa in Kenya to Kampala in Uganda. It is estimated that on average 8% of goods are transported through this region by rail compared to 92% by road. While the East African Community transport policy calls for a transition from roads to rail in goods transportation, the railways in Kenya and Uganda now operating under a concession as Rift Valley Railway, face multiple constraints, including old equipment and infrastructure – on a railway that is over 100 years old and which has seen very little in the way of maintenance since regaining independence 48 years ago.

Rift Valley Railways has the potential to significantly increase freight transport as a result of expanded capacity, faster trains and improved reliability of rail assets. In a statement this week the AfDB said its loan to RVR supports the region’s plan to shift from road to rail to ease the burden on the roads, as well as enhance the bank’s efforts to contribute to major infrastructure development in the region.

The refurbishment and operation of the RVR is expected to simultaneously improve the quality and lower the cost of rail freight services in East and Central Africa. For example, the volume of goods transported is expected to more than double to 3.3 million tons per annum by 2015, while marginal costs are expected to drop by up to 30%. In the next 15 years, the project is expected to generate significant revenue for the Kenyan and Ugandan governments and have positive environmental effects by reducing the volume of goods transported by more polluting trucking services.

The loan to support the rehabilitation of the Rift Valley Railway is a top development priority for both Uganda and Kenya. AfDB said in a statement that the project aligns explicitly with the bank’s assistance strategies for both countries as well as its regional integration strategy for Eastern Africa. “It is in harmony with the bank’s strategic priority to expand Africa’s economic infrastructure as well as current efforts to increase financing from the Bank’s private sector window in low-income countries.”

AfDB led the environmental and social impacts due diligence on behalf of the lenders group. The bank also provided substantial technical guidance to RVR in developing the Environmental Health Safety Audit Report, the Resettlement Action Plans, and other measures/initiatives for improving RVR’s environmental and social performance and sustainability.

To date, AfDB has approved more than 30 private sector operations amounting to approximately USD 500 million in East Africa. This is the second private sector regional project in the area after the East African Submarine Cable (EASSy) Project.

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Durban Bay mangrove forest, photographed from the top of the building thought to be responsible for Transnet facing environmental disciplinary action. Picture by Terry Hutson

Transnet faces fines totaling several million rand because it went ahead with re-developing a section of the Durban Container Terminal without seeking the necessary environmental permissions from the government.

In a front page article in Monday’s The Mercury newspaper, it is reported that Transnet has begun a process of rectifying its unauthorised conduct and has through the medium of newspaper adverts in the previous week invited members of the public to comment.

The matter concerns a R244.75 million re-development project close to the environmentally sensitive mangrove swamps, undertaken between 2007 and 2008 as Transnet sought to increase stacking space at the terminal, South Africa’s largest. In terms of the legislation Transnet faces the possibility of being forced to demolish any illegal structures while also facing the likelihood of receiving a heavy fine running into millions of rand.

However, in view of the strategic importance of the terminal and its further development it is thought highly unlikely that Transnet will have to demolish and restore the property, which was undeveloped, but will face some form of fine or reprimand.

The construction involved is assumed to be the erection of a multi-storey staff parkade that was relocated from within the perimeter of DCT to a position outside and adjacent to the mangrove swamps, which is a national heritage site. The space thus freed up within DCT has since been given over for a container stacking area.

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Children of Kolda enjoy the books at the Kolda Community Library

Kolda, Senegal, 15 July 2011: Long-term business partners, logistics company DHL and shipping line Safmarine, have joined forces to create the first community library in Kolda, Senegal. The new Kolda Community Library provides free access to global knowledge in the form of 350 French school books in a purpose-built 95 square metre facility that caters to all ages from six to 60 and is open six days a week.

The Kolda Community Library officially opened last week with guests that included the mayor of Kolda, the regional council president and the governor of Kolda.

“Many students in this rural area have gone through the school system without having access to a single book,” said Amadou Diallo, DHL Global Forwarding CEO for Africa and South Asia Pacific.

“To tackle the issues of poverty and social exclusion and give this French-speaking community the opportunity to increase their knowledge, DHL partnered Safmarine to build a community library. GoTeach is one of DHL’s three Corporate Responsibility programmes with which we aim to champion education all over the world. The Kolda Community Library reduces the local cost of education by providing a valuable resource that’s free for the community to access.”

DHL and Safmarine jointly funded the building and the stocking of the library which includes French books covering a range of interests from fiction/non-fiction, biographical novels, rapid reads, school books, reference books, encyclopedias and dictionaries.

“Safmarine is continuously seeking opportunities with our customers and stakeholders to promote sustainable development through education,” said Safmarine CEO Tomas Dyrbye. “This is a great opportunity to extend a helping hand for the first time in Senegal.

“Like DHL, at Safmarine we believe our people should make a positive difference in the community in which we operate. The Kolda Community Library will help to improve the quality of life for young Senegalese through better literacy and education which in turn will lead to more job opportunities for the locals.”

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The German-owned, Antigua & Barbuda-flagged container ship BONNY (30,024-gt. Built 2001) in Cape Town this past week. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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