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Ports & Ships Maritime News

15 February 2012
Author: Terry Hutson


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Norwegian shipping company Gearbulk’s dry general cargo ship GREBE ARROW (36,008-gt, built 1997), which is no stranger to South African ports, sailing from Santos, Brazil. Picture by SMERA


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In a statement yesterday (Tuesday) the Ports Regulator of South Africa mde known its response to the application made last year by Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) for a port tariff increase averaging 18.06 percent.

The Regulator’s response is as follows:

The National Ports Authority has applied to the Ports Regulator of South Africa for approval of their proposed 18.06% increase in tariffs for services and facilities offered by the Authority for the 2012/2013 tariff year, commencing on 1 April 2012 and ending on 31 March 2013.

In considering the NPA’s tariff application and various submissions, comments of stakeholders and the regulatory framework, the Ports Regulator concluded that a 2.76% tariff increase was a reasonable increase and [is] therefore appropriate for the 2012/2013 tariff year.

The Regulator has therefore rejected the proposed 18.06% tariff increase sought by the NPA for the tariff year 2012/2013.

The Record of Decision shall be published in due course.

Transnet responds

In response Transnet issued a statement shortly afterwards, reading:

Transnet has noted the Ports Regulator’s decision to award the National Ports Authority a tariff adjustment of 2.76% for the 2012/13 period. The decision is a result of a comprehensive consultation process driven by the Regulator.

The decision translates into a real increase in cash flows after taking into account anticipated volume growth.

We recognise the Regulator’s role in determining port tariffs and we believe this must be balanced by the need to invest in critical port infrastructure to boost South Africa’s competitiveness. As such, Transnet recently increased its capital investment programme to R300 billion over the next seven years.

Transnet remains committed to rolling out its capital investment programme. Consequently, Transnet will be engaging the Ports Regulator, as part of the Regulator’s consultation process with port stakeholders, on the development of a tariff methodology that supports our ability to invest in South Africa’s logistics infrastructure.

We remain firmly committed to regular engagement with the Regulator and await the Regulator’s record of decision.


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Durban’s RoRo terminal at the Point. Picture by Steve McCurrach www.airserv.co.za

Durban, 14 February 2012 - Transnet Port Terminals and the Harbour Carriers Association have reached a mutual agreement which will see the piloting of a hybrid booking procedure for transporters using the Durban RoRo Terminal located in Mahatma Ghandi Road. The new arrangement promises greater flexibility for transporters and may ease road traffic congestion in the Point area especially around breakbulk commodities.

“Based on our engagement with industry via the new transporters’ forum meetings, TPT and the management of the Durban RoRo Terminal have recognised the need for a more innovative approach to managing the fluidity of the terminal,” says Zeph Ndlovu, Terminal Executive, Durban RoRo and Maydon Wharf Terminal.

“The long dwell times and slow evacuation of cargo led to the need to revise the previous system. With joint collaboration between the terminal and HCA the new hybrid booking system is believed to overcome some of the challenges associated with the previous system.”

Currently truckers are expected to comply with pre-booked arrival timeslots stipulated by TPT based on physical capacity and equipment availability.

This was becoming problematic for a host of reasons – transporters were allocated widely varying time slots or spent hours queuing while they awaited their slot; the system was badly affected by late arrivals, no-shows or equipment downtime; and administration delays or the long dwell time of bulky project cargo often slowed down the whole process.

Under the new system, to be piloted over a trial period from 20 February 2012 until the end of March 2012, transporters arriving at the terminal during the daytime period between 06h00 and 22h00 will be served on a more flexible ‘first come first served’ basis.

However during the under-utilised night shift (22h00 to 06h00), weekends and public holidays, the pre-booked timeslot system will still apply.

The decision is the result of a new transporters’ forum started in January between TPT and the Harbour Carriers Association and SAAFF. The forum aims to find a common solution to benefit the port and the road freight association. TPT presented its new proposal at a follow up meeting on 9 February. This was accepted by all present.

Process and details of open booking:


  • An open booking “first come first served” system will be applied from 06h00 to 22h00, excluding weekends and public holidays.
  • On arrival trucks will be allocated a position number, via an entry register. The number will be sequentially prefixed with a date stamp.
  • The trucks will then be staged at the designated area and called out sequentially by D-local via the security guard on duty, and then directed to areas where they are loading out.
  • Continuous communication between the truck staging area and operations team will minimise equipment idle time.
  • The terminal reserves the right to call in trucks from the queue based on equipment availability.
  • The staging area can accommodate a maximum of 20 trucks at a time and the average turnaround time is 45 minutes.

    Process and details of night shift, weekends and public holidays:


  • The current pre-booking system will be used for the 22h00 to 06h00 shift, weekends and public holidays.
  • Timeslots will be allocated to transporters and equipment will be allocated accordingly.


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    SA Agulhas nearing completion at STX in Finland

    The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and Stellenbosch University have embarked on a research programme using the S.A. AGULHAS II to further the understanding of the hull design of icebreaking ships and the reaction in ice conditions.

    The vessel is the latest icebreaking ship being built by STX Finland and will be used in a full-scale trial at STX Finland in March 2012.

    The S.A. Agulhas II, South Africa’s new state-of-the-art Polar Research Vessel is well on its way to completion. The modified vessel has been built to replace the aging S.A. Agulhas at a cost of R1.3 billion and will allow for key scientific and climate change research to take place.

    The new ship will transport scientist and maintenance crews to the SANAE base in the Antarctic as well as Marion and Gough Islands. Besides being a key research vessel, the S.A. Agulhas II is also an icebreaking ship. This is due to the special hull design of the vessel which allows for cutting through one metre of level ice at a steady five knots.

    The Department of Environmental Affairs and Stellenbosch University have joined partners with STX Finland, Aker Arctic Technology and the Universities of Oulu and Aalto Finland to take part in the study. According to Dr. Annie Bekker, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, Stellenbosch University, “The research aim is to create a scientific basis for the design of ice-going ships, in particular the relationship between operational conditions and ice load on the hull and human comfort in terms of vibration and sound.”

    The entire research programme is to cost an approximate €2.5 million and the overall aim is to create and improve a scientific basis for design of ice-going ships including factors such as the ship hull, propulsion, power requirement, comfort for passengers and crew onboard and safe navigation in ice. It is also to reinforce previous studies and create new information by establishing solid connections between ice properties and ice conditions and measured ice load from hull and propulsion shafting.

    “The full scale ice trials are the first to be done on a multipurpose, icebreaking vessel. We will be measuring, recording and processing a unique data set that will make significant contributions in the development of vessels required to navigate in a range of ice conditions. While this is a great benefit to the designers and the Classification Societies, the DEA will learn a great deal about the performance capabilities of the S.A. Agulhas II, this significantly improving the levels of safety and the protection of the hull in heavy ice conditions,” says Alan Robertson, S.A. Agulhas II Project Manager.

    According to Professor Pentti Kujala, Marine and Traffic Safety Professor, Aalto University Finland, research in this extent has not been done before as they have not had a ship like the S.A. Agulhas II in Finland for a long time. The ship is powerful enough to navigate in the Baltic Sea ice and the Antarctic sea ice which gives them a new opportunity to make full-scale measurements and improvements for future ships on a number of levels. “This is a great opportunity for South Africa and Finland to network and exchange information. We are getting older and need to start the education of the next generation of Polar ship expertise,” said Professor Kujala.

    STX Finland is one of the more experienced shipbuilding companies in the world, which specialises in building the world’s largest cruise vessels, ferries, offshore service vessels, navy craft, arctic ships and other specialist research vessels. STX has built 60 percent of the world’s icebreaking fleet with the most powerful being the Russian icebreakers TAYMYR and VAYGACH built in 1985. They also built the Finnish Fennica and Nordica multifunctional icebreakers in 1993.

    The DEA awarded the contract of building the S.A. Agulhas II to STX Finland with the specifications calling for the ship to be a tanker, a cargo carrier, a passenger ship, a research vessel, a helicopter carrier and an icebreaker.

    STX Finland is continually developing new designs, introducing features and technologies which provide even higher performance and thus generate more value for there clients – hence the S.A. Agulhas II research programme initiative. STX Finland has three shipyards in Finland, Turku shipyard, Rauma shipyard and Arctech Helsinki Shipyard of which STX Finland owns 50 percent.

    S.A. Agulhas is in her final stages of testing and is expected to embark on her maiden voyage to Cape Town in April 2012.

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    The storm’s expected position later on today (Wednesday). Imagery by Passageweather.com

    Cyclone Giovanna made landfall on Madagascar yesterday (Tuesday) not far from the port city of Toamasina, Madagascar’s main seaport, and about 200km from the island’s capital Antananarivo.

    Early reports from meteorologists have warned that the storm could prove to be as bad as cyclone Geralda which struck Madagascar in 1994, leaving 200 people dead and 40,000 homeless. However, initial reports suggest the island is better prepared this time. At least two people were reported to have been killed yesterday but few reports have come in from outlying districts. The BBC quoted the charity Care International as saying that 60% of homes in the eastern town of Vatomandry had either been damaged or destroyed.

    Schools and businesses were shut yesterday and electricity cut in a number of places. According to the Care International report the port of Toamasina, also known as Tamatave, was not damaged as badly as was feared, despite the cyclone making landfall close by.

    During the day the cyclone began losing its strength as it moved overland in a westerly direction although a lot of rain still fell, much of it onto land that had not yet fully recovered from the previous cyclone of a few weeks ago.

    As cyclone Giovanna crosses Madagascar and reaches the Mozambique Channel it is likely to regain its strength. Experts say the storm will have reached close to cyclone strength again by the time it reaches the coast of Mozambique probably in the area between Quelimane and Angoche, just south of Nacala. Residents of Mozambique have been warned to monitor the storm’s progress, while shipping in the Mozambique Channel will also have been warned.

    Once the storm goes ashore over Mozambique it will bring more heavy rains to areas that have already suffered flooding twice this year already.

    US space agency Nasa meanwhile reports that the storm spans hundreds of kilometres in width.

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    Cyclone Giovanna is still expected to gain in strength and go ashore on the Mozambique coast by Friday, 17 February. Imagery by Passageweather.com


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    Repair work hasn’t stopped on Great Tang. Picture by Neville West

    Repairs to the Chinese bulker GREAT TANG (180,247-dwt, built 2011) which arrived in Durban harbour in November with serious problems to the ship’s tail shaft, are underway and on schedule, said a spokesman for the ship repair company Dormac Marine.

    He said there was no dispute involving payments for the ship repair. All guarantees had been made and workmen were busy undertaking the repair. A team of observers from the shipyard had flown to Durban to be on site while the repair was done. News continues below…


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    Mitsui OSK Line’s container ship MOL GLOBE (59,307-gt, built 2011) in Cape Town harbour during January this year. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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