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Ports & Ships Maritime News

6 July, 2012
Author: Terry Hutson

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

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The 11,660-TEU container ship MSC SOLA which became the largest box ship to berth at a South African port yesterday (5 July) when she entered the Port of Durban to work cargo at New Pier, berth 105.

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Cape Town - South Africa can create at least 5,000 jobs by providing ship and oil rig repair and maintenance, the Minister of Transport Ben Martins said on Wednesday.

Addressing the 2012 South African Maritime Industry Conference at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), Martins said a reinvigorated maritime industry in South Africa could become a key driver of economic growth and job creation.

He said one of the biggest opportunities that had been identified in the maritime sector was that of positioning South Africa as a centre for ship and oil rig repair and maintenance.

Cape Town's harbour is already involved in the repair of a number of rigs each year, but this could escalate with 250 oil and gas explorations set to take place off the coast of West Africa in the next five years.

Repair work driven by the expected explorations could create about 4,000 to 5,000 direct jobs and a further 1000 indirect jobs, said Martins.

He said the government had developed a Draft Green Paper on maritime shipping which would be tabled before the Cabinet shortly.

Research had been done on, among other things, SA as a hub for the oil industry, marketing of cargo, logistics and passenger shipping.

A draft policy on making ports more competitive was also being compiled, Martins said.

He said one consideration was to set up a transhipment hub in a special economic zone (SEZ) to, among other things, carry out re- labelling and container repairs.

Over the three days, delegates at the conference, which is hosted by the SA Maritime Safety Authority, were expected to debate how to make the maritime industry more competitive, including lessons from the Philippines and Nigeria.

Addressing the conference earlier, the chairperson of Parliament's portfolio committee on transport, Ruth Bhengu, said the country was robbed of creating jobs and building the maritime industry when the decision to sell 57 ships in its maritime fleet was taken in 1993.

She believed the time was right for the country to review the industry, particularly as it had the longest coastline of any African country, with an area of sea under its sovereignty of three times its land size.

Martins said that at present, the government had no plans to purchase a new merchant-shipping fleet.

He said any further decisions around the direction the government intended to take in the maritime industry, would be made following the release of Green Paper on maritime shipping.

He said over the next two weeks, his department would be talking to the chief executives and boards of the 12 public entities that report to the department to discover what improvements were needed.

“We don't want a nation that is dependent on charity. We want a nation that works, that has dignity,” he said.

The Minister of Labour Mildred Oliphant said a reinvigorated maritime industry had provided a huge opportunity to create jobs.

Oliphant said her department was still considering whether to craft a sectoral wage determination for seafarers. – source: SAnews.gov.za

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Touch and go as buster rips through Durban

Cape Town may have its famous southeaster, the Cape Doctor, and Port Elizabeth may be called the windy city for good reason, but when the south-westerly ‘buster’ strikes Durban, those on the water on Durban Bay certainly know they’re in for a blow, albeit a short one.

Wednesday was a warm, even hot winter’s day in Durban, with temperatures reaching above the 30 degrees from the effects of a hot ‘berg’ wind inland, although there was no wind at the coast. But all that was to change with a suddenness that could be quite scary when experienced for the first time.

For those sitting over a coffee or beer at Wilson’s Waterfront that afternoon, the change in the weather was quickly discernible as the horizon over the Bayhead area disappeared within the approaching front and within minutes the ‘buster’ struck, whipping up waves on what had been a tranquil bay only moments before. Tables and chairs flew along the deck, cups and drinking glasses hastily forgotten as the wind announced its arrival and patrons scurried for shelter. Out on the water, though, the men and women of the harbour marine service were ahead of things and tugs were already on standby in the harbour, waiting for the inevitable call for assistance from ships suddenly at risk of breaking their moorings.

For two Japanese box ships on Pier 2 container terminal’s north quay their help was almost immediately required as the ship at berth 205, K Line’s Ambassador Bridge which was in the more exposed position and was forced to take the brunt of the wind, began dragging along the quayside in the direction of NYK Line’s NYK Sylvia on berth 204. Although the tugs, two on the K Line ship and one on the NYK were already alongside, straining to hold the ships in position, it seemed to the observer to be touch and go for a moment before the tugs holding the Ambassador Bridge were able to fully take up the strain and prevent what might have been an embarrassing and costly collision. At her closest the K Line ship looked to be no more than a couple of metres from colliding with NYK Sylvia’s bows. One can only imagine the exchange of Japanese that took place!

As quickly as it came, the buster died down and the waters returned to more or less their placid self, not quite as tranquil as before but hardly worth commenting on. Meanwhile the temperature had dropped a good ten or 15 degrees in just those few minutes, but order was again being restored to shipping on Durban Bay. It was just another day in South Africa’s busiest harbour.

By the way, can any reader tell us the origin of the term ‘Buster’ as used in Durban. Locally it appears to be unique to the KZN port – is it ever used elsewhere?

Port Elizabeth windbound

For the second day in a row Port Elizabeth has been windbound as strong winds and a cold front lashed the Eastern Cape coast, heralding winter with something of a vengeance.

Rotterdam goes over to shore-based power – sign of things to come

Stena Line ferries in the Port of Rotterdam now obtain their electricity from the mainland and no longer have to run their own generators while in port.

This changeover took place recently when Dutch Minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen activated the first shore-based power connection for sea-going vessels in the harbour. The move is aimed making Rotterdam the most sustainable port in the world, Rotterdam already having about 300 shore-based power connections for inland shipping which helps reduce the carbon footprint across the city.

Because of the high cost of investing in shore-based connections it is not expected that many others will be provided in the short term, however new quays and renovated older berths are being prepared to accept shore-based power in the future.

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Two Cape-based fishing vessels found themselves in a spot of trouble a few days ago. Glen Kasner reports that one of the vessels was being towed by the other when the towing vessel broke down and both began drifting towards the coast.

With visions of the Eihatsu Maru drama fresh in everyone’s minds a third trawler was hastily dispatched from Cape Town, and the salvage tug SMIT AMANDLA steamed at full speed from her salvage station in False Bay to go to the assistance of the casualties. Meanwhile a team from the NSRI went on board the two trawlers to help prepare the vessels to be towed to safety. All ended well with both fishing vessels safely back in harbour but not before a few anxious moments. Pictures and news by Glen Kasner

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Maputo — Overloaded trucks are damaging the roads along the Beira and Nacala corridors, reports Allafrica.com

The report said that a study carried out by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) found that between 25 and 35 percent of trucks using the corridors were overweight.

The report, which focused on issues of efficiency and logistical costs, stated that despite both routes having weigh stations the problem persisted because they are often not operational. It pointed out that the weigh station at the beginning of the Beira Corridor at Dondo was not in operation, although there are plans to fix it. Meanwhile, there are only two weigh stations in operation along the whole of the Nacala corridor, at Nacala and Nampula.

As a result of misuse and poor maintenance, several sections of road are now in an unacceptable condition. The report highlights the 135 kilometre section between Beria and Inchope, the 192 kilometres between Milange and Mocuba, and the 748 kilometres from Nampula to Mandimba.

According to the document, the poor state of the roads contribute significantly to the high transport costs for goods to and from for the ports of Nacala and Beira. For example, the cost of transport from Beira to Machipanda is US$5.96 per container per kilometre.

The purpose of the report is to identify the causes of poor performance in the ports and their corridors in order to share best practices from elsewhere to reduce delays.

The report considers the two corridors to have a huge potential for rapid economic growth. But they require investment in new infrastructure and the maintenance of existing facilities. - source: Allafrica.com

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The Mozambican government on Tuesday (3 July) approved the lease to the newly formed company CLIN (Northern Integrated Logistical Corridor) of a new railway which is to be built between the Moatize coal basin and the northern Mozambican coast, reports the Mozabique news agency AIM.

The Brazilian mining giant Vale owns 80 percent of CLIN, while the remaining 20 percent is in the hands of Mozambique’s publicly owned ports and rail company, CFM.

The lease covers everything new that is to be built to ensure the export of coal form Vale’s open cast mine in Moatize. There are two entirely new stretches of line within Mozambique – from Moatize to Malawi, and from Mossuril to Ponta Mamuaxi. Mossuril is on the existing northern line from Malawi to the port of Nacala, while Ponta Mamuaxi is on the western side of Nacala bay, opposite the existing port of Nacala.

The government also approved a lease to CLIN of the projected coal terminal at Nacala-a-Velha. This is not part of the existing port and in effect it means that Nacala Bay will have two deep water ports, one of which will be dedicated exclusively to coal exports.

Announcing the decision, after a meeting of the Council of Ministers (Cabinet), the official government spokesperson, Deputy Justice Minister Alberto Nkutumula, said that the total cost of the new terminal and the two new stretches of railway will be about US$1.5 billion. Construction will take three years and will start before the end of 2012.

After the work is complete, “opportunities will be opened for Mozambican companies and citizens to acquire five per cent of the CLIN capital”, said Nkutumula. CFM will gradually increase its holding in CLIN up to a maximum of 50 per cent.

Nkutumula said the new railways will be able to move 40 million tonnes a year – about 30 million tonnes of coal from the Vale mine, while the rest “could be coal mined by other companies, or simply the transport of people and goods”.

Asked whether Malawi would join the CLIN shareholding structure, Nkutumula ruled this out. The Moatize-Nacala railway will run through Malawian territory, “but the part of the line that runs through Malawi is negotiated directly between the investor, Vale, and the Malawian government. The Mozambican government only authorises the part built inside Mozambique”.

Given the scale of the investment, Nkutumula was sure that Vale had already negotiated with Malawi. “This is an investment of $1.5 billion,” he stressed. “So I don’t think Vale could advance without the certainty that it will be possible to build the railway in Malawi.”

In fact, Vale signed a rail concession contract with the Malawian government in December 2011. The new line will run from Chikwawa in the far south of Malawi for 137 kilometres to Nkaya Junction, where it will meet the Malawi-Nacala line.

To complete the railway will require rehabilitating the existing line from Nkaya to Nayuci on the border with the Mozambican province of Niassa. This line is currently operated by Central East African Railways (CEAR). Vale owns 51 per cent of the shares of Mozambique's Northern Corridor Development Company (SDCN), which in turn owns 51 percent of CEAR.

The railway to Nacala-a-Velha will also require upgrading of the line from the Malawian border to Mossuril, which is operated by SDCN.

The new railway is seen as crucial to Mozambican coal exports, since the only railway that is currently carrying coal, the Sena line from Moatize to Beira, has a maximum capacity of six million tonnes a year. Even the projected improvements to the Sena line will only bring its capacity up to 12 million tonnes a year. - source: AIM

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On Tuesday this week, 3 July, P&O Cruises celebrated ‘Tracing our roots back 175 years’ and to mark the day all seven cruise ships in the fleet assembled together in Southampton, England.

Few shipping companies anywhere can boast such a long lineage. Here are a couple of pictures taken from the P&O website showing the ships in their homeport that day.

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For the record, the seven ships were:

ADONIA (30,200-gt)
ARCADIA (83,700-gt)
AURORA (76,000-gt)
AZURA (115,000-gt)
OCEANA (77,000-gt)
ORIANA (69,000-gt)
VENTURA (115,000-gt)

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The grand lineup of the fleet. Pictures courtesy P&O Cruises

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