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Ports & Ships Maritime News

23-24 February, 2012
Author: Terry Hutson

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

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The Greek-owned bulk carrier JOHN M CARRAS (82,057-dwt, built 2012) which arrived off Cape Town yesterday on her maiden visit, having just been delivered from the shipyard. The ship is flying the flag of Greece. Pictures by Glen Kasner

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Durban Container Terminal where new infrastructure is to be provided. Picture by Clinton Wyness

Cape Town, 22 February - The state would have about R4.5 trillion in resources to draw on, using a range of financing methods over the next three years, to fund key infrastructure projects, the Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan said in Cape Town on Wednesday.

Gordhan revealed the figure in a media briefing shortly before delivering his Budget Speech in Parliament.

The Budget Review lists 43 major infrastructure projects - each of which will take between seven and eight and half years to complete and require R3.2 trillion in spending over the next few years.

In his Budget Speech, Gordhan said over the next three years, government had approved and budgeted infrastructure plans to the value of R845 billion - R300 billion of which is in the energy sector and R262 billion in the transport and logistics sector.

He said the country's infrastructure mega-projects announced by President Jacob Zuma in his State of the Nation Address earlier this month would be financed using the fiscus, public entities' balance sheets, taxes, private-sector investors and by raising funding from multilateral finance institutions and foreign investors.

The government would also improve the delivery of infrastructure through a range of measures.

He revealed measures to improve the implementation of infrastructure projects and cracked the whip on government departments and municipalities' poor record of being able to spend funds made available to them to improve infrastructure.

The fiscus would meet the cost of public-service facilities such as schools, courtrooms, hospitals and rural roads, he said.

Public entities such as Eskom and Transnet would finance their respective investments from their own surpluses and by borrowing from the capital market - by issuing low-term bonds.

“This means they have to generate sufficient revenue from tariffs and charges to repay debt over time, and cover operating and maintenance costs,” Gordhan said.

He said in some cases a mix of tax finance and cost recovery would be appropriate, but he added that the government contributed to the costs of commuter transport and electricity and water services to poor communities through allocations in the budget.

Local and foreign investors would also be key and Gordhan said private-sector investment already plays a substantial role in several sectors, such as the airline industry and telecommunications sector.

The first round of over 1,200MW of renewable energy projects was also recently tendered to independent power producers.

Gordhan pointed out that the use of construction and operating concessions - for example the management of industrial development zones, freight logistics and port operations - was another way to rope in private investors.

The Development Bank of SA (DBSA) would play a key role in raising finance in partnership with multilateral finance institutions, foreign investors and other investment funds, he said.

Added to this, he said South Africa had deep and liquid capital markets through which long-term capital can be raised at competitive rate by the government, state enterprises and the private sector.

He said the country's development finance institutions are capable of raising capital and co-financing investments of the private sector, state entities and municipalities.

“These are considerable strengths - they mean that we do not have to rely on expensive external finance or complex structured arrangements,” he said.

The bulk of the R3.2 trillion in mega-projects would be spent on electricity (R1.945 trillion), while R583 billion would be spent on transport, R213 billion on liquid fuels, R185 billion on new schools and R110 billion on new clinics and hospitals.

The remainder - R169 billion would be spent on housing, telecommunications and water.

Of the total amount, R1.082 trillion would be spent on the concept stage, R921 billion on pre-feasability and feasibility studies, R378 billion on construction and R328 billion to fund on-going programmes.

The remainder - R499 billion - would be spent on tendering, financing and detailed design.

The mega-projects include a Durban-Free State-Gauteng logistics corridor, a southeastern development node and projects in the North West, Limpopo and on the West Coast. – BuaNews

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Pretoria – Good and bad news for the transport industry came with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s proposal that will bring about relief for Gauteng motorists with regard to e-tolling fees.

Delivering his Budget Speech, Gordhan said a special approbation of R5.8 billion was being proposed to reduce the toll burden on motorists as a result of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Programme (GFIP).

The R5.8 billion is to be included in the 2011/12 expenditure.

“This will reduce the debt to be repaid through the toll system, and will make a steeper discount possible for regular road users,” he added.

The contribution by government will ensure that tariffs are reduced by up to half the price for e-tag holders. The total debt associated with Gauteng freeway programme is R20 billion.

That was the good news. The bad is of course that the tolling is back on the agenda. In reality of course it was never off it, simply postponed.

The new fees will see drivers of e-tag vehicles pay 30 cents a kilometre, instead of 66 cents as originally planned. There will also be a monthly cap of R550 for frequent users, the minister said. In addition, there will be a 15% discount in the rates after their toll fees reach R400.

Drivers of motorcycles will pay 20c per kilometre and non-articulated and articulated trucks would pay 75c and R1.51 per kilometre respectively.

To help ease congestion, heavy vehicles will qualify for a 20 percent discount if they use the roads during off-peak times in the day.

Taxis and other public transport operators will be exempt from toll fees.

The e-tolling system in Gauteng was due to commence in February but it was placed on hold amid a public outcry.

Many Gauteng motorists had threatened to boycott the entire tolling system by refusing to pay the fees or register for their e-toll accounts to get their e-tags. Numerous petitions against the system were circulated to have it halted.

Motorists complained about the unaffordability of toll tariffs, despite government reassessing them and making them cheaper.

SANRAL halted the e-tolling so that could address the concerns and issues raised by the public in petitions submitted against the system. – BuaNews

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Port Said from the air

Egypt has announced the go-ahead to dig a side canal to the east of Port Said harbour. The waterway will have a 9km length and a depth of 18.5m and will facilitate the handling of ultra large container ships (ULCS) in the port.

The port’s container terminal has expanded greatly in recent years leaving Port Said as the busiest container port on the African continent. It lies on the northern or Mediterranean side of the Suez Canal and operates as a duty free port. During the northern summer Port Said is also a successful tourist resort.

Damen to supply modular floating-dock to Djibouti

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Damen modular floating dock

The busy port of Djibouti in the southern end of the Red Sea is to acquire a modular floating dock from Damen Services. According to a Damen report the dock will be utilised by the port authority for the maintenance of its harbour fleet but can also be used for the repair and maintenance of smaller visiting vessels.

Construction of the dock is relatively simple, being two wing walls that are coupled to a number of individual pontoons, each measuring 10 metres. This means that the dock can be extended at a later stage to 100 metres while various modules can be dismantled and repaired or maintained in the dock itself, as each unit including the wing walls can be uncoupled afloat.

Tanzania could become a leading iron ore producer

Tanzania is set to become one of Africa’s leading iron ore producers, says the country’s minister for Industry and Trade, Dr Cyril Chami.

According to reports the Maganga Matitu project in Ludewa District in the Iringa Region contains large deposits of iron ore, which will be exploited by a joint venture between MMI Steel Mills Limited and the National Development Corporation beginning in 2014.

Durban Container Terminal delays continue

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The bitumen carrier Durban Queen, which used to carry bitumen to the Indian Ocean islands from Durban. The situation in South Africa has become so bad that construction and road repair companies are considering importing bitumen because of a shortage from the local refineries. Picture by Terry Hutson

Delays involving various types of shipping are now regular occurrences at the port of Durban, according to reports reaching PORTS & SHIPS. We’ve received reports of delays involving container ships, with a number of ships having to abandon their wait for a berth and instead cut and run from the port.

One leading manufacturer in KZN told us of an urgently required shipment that was being delayed outside port. Eventually the vessel was ordered to take up her anchor and sail, taking the cargo to Singapore from where it has to be transshipped onto another vessel and returned to Durban.

“If we’re lucky we’ll get the cargo this time,” the cargo owner reported. Meanwhile production at his factory is threatened because of the delay.

Other complaints have involved the tanker industry, and a look at the abnormal number of tankers at anchor outside Durban tells its own story. One of the affected shipping line representatives said the problem was being caused by the unusual importation of refined fuels as a result of shutdowns at the respective refineries.

As a result regular callers are being delayed outside port waiting for a berth at Island View where preference is being given to vessels carrying petrol and other refined products. “Because of the products we carry we’re already restricted to using two or sometimes three of the available berths, but then we face a delay of up to five days and more before a berth comes available,” he told PORTS & SHIPS.

A count taken last night (Wednesday) revealed no less than 19 tankers at anchor outside at anchor or on berth in the port – an abnormal number of tankers at Durban at any time.

Do you have a story to tell us about delays to shipping at the port of Durban – with or without your identity being made public?

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CSAV more than a billion in the red

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CSAV Rungue. Picture by SMERA

Troubled Chilean shipping company Compañía Sudamericana de Vapores (CSAV) says that its losses for the last quarter of 2011 amounted to US$145 million, which is an improvement on the losses reported in the second and third quarters of the year.

In total for the year CSAV has reported a loss of $1.25 billion, caused it says by increased fuel prices, and strong competition that forced down rates to reach their lowest level ever.

However, there’s a silver lining, according to CSAV, in the form of a restructuring plan that is already showing results as evidenced by the line making less of a loss in the fourth quarter. CSAV is currently undergoing a recapitalisation which will result in its tug and terminal division being sold off.

Losses for Neptune Orient Line

Another shipping company to post losses for 2011 is Singapore’s Neptune Orient Line (NOL) which recorded a loss of US$478 million for the 2011 year.

Chairman Cheng Wai Keung described 2011 as one of the worst years for container shipping.

Another four Costa Concordia bodies recovered

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Italian divers have recovered another four bodies from the capsized cruise ship Costa Concordia, nearly six weeks after the ship struck rocks near the island of Giglio and was run aground to prevent the ship from completely sinking.

Among the bodies recovered was that of a five year old girl. A total of 21 bodies have now been recovered from the wreck, leaving 11 persons unaccounted for.

Costa Concordia sank on the night of 13 January and remains partly submerged. A salvage team is still working at removing the 2300 tonnes of oil on board the ship but wind and heavy seas have hindered the operation.

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Durban Container Terminal, Pier 2

Port operator Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) says it is continuing with a recovery plan aimed at reducing port bottlenecks and boosting productivity at the underperforming Durban Container Terminal (DCT), Pier 2. The facility is crucial to the regional shipping industry.

DCT’s recovery plan has involved management changes, employee training and development programmes, recruitment, equipment and infrastructure investments, as well as improved planning and operational processes. Last year the terminal experienced severe downtime and dips in productivity after the introduction of a new terminal operating system, with which the company was the first worldwide to operate multiple marine and rail terminals from a central server.

In a statement issued on Thursday (23 February), TPT announced the following:

South African state-owned port operator, Transnet Port Terminals, is continuing with an aggressive and focused recovery plan aimed at reducing port bottlenecks and boosting the operational performance of Pier 2 at the Durban Container Terminal (DCT).

Said Hector Danisa, the Terminal Executive Manager for Durban Container Terminals: “Most of the productivity issues and downtime in 2011 related to technical issues following the national rollout of the new NAVIS Sparcs N4 terminal operating system, with which Transnet was the first worldwide to operate multiple marine and rail terminals from a central server.

“TPT initially worked closely with the NAVIS software manufacturers to iron out the issues, and then set out to introduce a recovery plan to industry and other stakeholders last year. This plan was aimed at stabilising the terminal from August 2011 and growing the business thereafter by encouraging improvement in key areas such human capital, equipment and planning,” he added.


To date the Ship Working Hour (SWH) performance at the terminal had reached a high of 53 at DCT’s two prime berths. This was an improvement on the low of 44 moves experienced shortly after the introduction of NAVIS in April 2011, but still not at the aspirational level of 75 at which the terminal is committed to operating. SWH is the performance measure used by customers which relates to the number of containers moved by the number of cranes working the vessel in one hour.

Gross crane moves per crane per hour (GCH) had improved from an aggregate of 18 GCH following the NAVIS launch to around 22 GCH presently. This is still short of the internal target of 28 GCH. Hence operator training and equipment upgrades are being targeted through an accelerated capital expenditure and investment programme spearheaded by Transnet Group.

Truck turnaround time, for trucks to enter the terminal’s gate, collect or drop off cargo and exit the terminal, had averaged at 32 minutes in January 2012 against a target of 35 minutes.

Stack occupancy, which measures the degree of congestion in the container stacking yard, had improved from 74% post NAVIS launch to 61% presently against the norm of about 65%.


Danisa said TPT had also overhauled its management team at DCT to tackle challenges. Staff initiatives that include training programmes, mentorship and performance initiatives were underway, as were efforts to reduce absenteeism.

DCT achieved its target of having 15 gangs (operational teams) in place by the end of 2011 to improve productivity. A total of one hundred and forty (140) new Operators of Lifting Equipment (OLEs) were recruited from July to December 2011. These OLEs man the fleet of straddle carriers used to move containers between terminal vehicles and the stacking yard. Twenty more OLEs will be recruited during the first quarter of the 2012 financial year, effective April 2012, to replace retiring operators. In the meantime other initiatives, including cross functional training initiatives and mentorship of OLEs, are taking place to ensure sustainability in the long term.


Transnet’s accelerated capital expenditure plan aims to reduce the impact of breakdowns due to ageing equipment at DCT. The terminal has taken delivery of 28 new diesel-electric straddle carriers, 14 of which have twin-lift capability. These were commissioned in December 2011.

DCT is ahead of schedule in its programme of refurbishing 30 other second generation straddle carriers by May 2012, with 17 completed and the balance on schedule for completion as per project commitment. The next refurbishment of straddles is currently being finalised for implementation from Quarter 3 of 2012.

Currently two ship-to-shore cranes are being refurbished and another two will also be undergoing refurbishment from May 2012. This initiative is in addition to the seven new tandem lift ship-to-shore cranes that have been procured, delivery of which will begin in Quarter 4 of 2012. Various initiatives have also begun around training, procurement and engineering in preparation for the arrival of the cranes.


Major initiatives taking place on the landside part of operations include the launch of a pre-advice system for both Pier 1 and Pier 2 aimed at improving planning of work and enhancing security in managing containers in the Port. A full rollout will take place on 1 March 2012. The next project will be the implementation of a truck booking system scheduled for later in 2012. The truck booking system should improve the scheduling of road cargo and lead to improved productivity in the logistics chain. Again projects leading up to this have already started in the port resulting in improved truck turn-around time.

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China Shipping’s container vessel XIN TIAN JIN (66,433-gt, built 2003) arriving in Santos, Brazil. Picture by SMERA

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Close pass. The container ship HAMMONIA ROMA (26,435-gt, built 2009) passes the bulker SEA FORTUNE (74,012-dwt, built 1996) which is heading in the opposite direction. The location is near Santos. Picture by SMERA

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