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Ports & Ships Maritime News

28 August 2012
Author: Terry Hutson

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The South African Navay frigate SAS AMATOLA (F145) sails from Durban as she begins her latest three-month anti piracy deployment in the waters of Tanzania and the Mozambique Channel. The frigate arrived in Durban on Friday and spent the weekend in port before heading north. This is Amatola’s second deployment on anti piracy patrol. Picture by Clinton Wyness


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Port of Dar es Salaam

In a drastic development Tanzania’s Ministry of Transport has suspended the Tanzania Ports Authority Director-General, Ephraim Mgawe, and six other senior managers over allegations of cargo theft and embezzlement of funds.

Among those suspended are Mgawe’s two senior deputies, the manager of the port’s aviation fuel depot, the manager of the port’s oil jetty and the jetty’s engineer.

The matter came to a head last week when Transport Minister Harrison Mwakyembe announced that up to 40 containers of fabric had been reported as stolen from the port. He said that in addition, fuel quantities leaving the port were being under-declared by port officials.

A Dar es Salaam newspaper, the state-owned Daily News reported that recently a container loaded with cargo valued at US$182,000 and owned by a trader in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo had been stolen. “It is alarming that containers are getting lost at the Dar es Salaam port, and as a result traders from neighbouring countries are shunning our port ... we cannot keep quiet,” the minister said.

In addition to Tanzania, the port of Dar es Salaam serves Malawi, Zambia, the DRC, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda but competes with the Kenyan port of Mombasa for much of this regional trade. Dar es Salaam handled 3.275 million tonnes of cargo from neighbouring countries in 2011-12, up 106,000 tonnes from the previous year, according to data published by the transport ministry.

There has been no comment as yet from the suspended officials.


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OACL’s Sezela. Picture by Terry Hutson

Durban-based Grindrod Holdings (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd has acquired Safmarine’s 51 percent share of Ocean Africa Container Lines (OACL) for an undisclosed amount. This gives Grindrod full control of the shipping line.

The transaction, which was announced yesterday (Monday 27 August 2012) has the approval of the Competition Tribunal of South Africa and the South African Reserve Bank. OACL now becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of Grindrod Limited.

OACL is a shipping line that operates in Southern Africa, between Durban and Luanda, and calling at all major ports in South Africa, Namibia and Angola. OACL provides a feeder service to all international mainline carriers, ships domestic and regional cargo, providing customers with a complete freight logistics service including warehousing, distribution and inland transportation. The business currently deploys four container vessels, each with a capacity of between 800 and 1200 TEU.

At its peak OACL operated with a fleet of up to nine ships operating between Durban and Luanda and Durban and Mozambique ports.

Mahmood Simjee, previously the Chief Operating Officer, has been appointed Chief Executive Officer; he has been an integral part of this business and has worked for the Grindrod Group for 32 years. He said that the business had benefited considerably from its close association with Safmarine and its sister company Maersk Line through the partnership and that OACL is committed to serving them going forward. OACL would continue to provide a reliable and efficient service to all its customers and will look to expand its footprint should opportunities arise, he added.

Andrew Thomas, OACL’s former Chief Executive now takes up a position with Grindrod Capital Projects.

Capt. Dave Rennie, Chief Executive Officer of Grindrod Freight Services said that the acquisition is in line with Grindrod’s strategy of providing an integrated service offering for the movement of containerised, dry-bulk, liquid-bulk and wheeled cargoes.

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Capt Dave Rennie


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DAFF vessels at Simonstown Naval Base. Picture SA Navy


The task of ensuring that the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) vessels are safe to proceed to sea has become the first priority since the Joint Commissioning Ceremony took place on 19 June (where the DAFF vessels were brought under the command of Naval Commanding Officers).

The five DAFF research and patrol vessels alongside for the joint commissioning ceremony Several inspections are being conducted in order to ensure that the exacting safety standards of the SA Navy are met. This implies that none of the vessels except SAS AFRICANA have been able to commence with patrols. In order to ensure continuity with the DAFF survey schedule, the SA Navy has deployed some its own vessels to conduct patrols whilst this safety audit process is underway.

Fisheries inspectors from DAFF have been seconded to the SA Navy vessels for these patrols. During May and June 2012, three patrols were conducted totalling approximately 304 hours at sea. One of the patrols resulted in the arrest of a fishing vessel that was not in possession of the required permits and a fine was issued.

Additionally, the SAS AFRICANA deployed with a contingent of fishing crew and scientists from DAFF in order to conduct important fish specie surveys. The first survey resulted in approximately 673 hours at sea with additional specie survey deployments imminent (in accordance with the DAFF schedule).

Currently, three of the patrol vessels are fully manned. SAS VICTORIA MXENGE is presently conducting sea trials in False Bay and the SAS LILLIAN NGOYI is focussing on addressing critical defects on her main engines before deployment. The research vessel SAS ELLEN KHUZWAYO will deploy as soon as a fishing crew has been appointed by DAFF.

Furthermore, bridging training courses are being conducted in order to acquaint our sailors with the vessel specific equipment on board. By the end of August, the required safety audits, surveys as well as repair of the vessels should be completed and patrols can commence early in September.  source SA Navy


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Lake Malawi passenger ship

By Courtney Meyer

Oil exploration in Lake Nyasa has rekindled disputes between Malawi and Tanzania over who owns the lake.

President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania has insisted that war with Malawi is not a feasible outcome of ongoing disputes between the two countries over the ownership of the lake which borders the two countries.

Lake Nyasa, known as Lake Malawi by Malawians, has been the source of disagreements since colonial times, which were rekindled recently when Malawi allowed gas and oil exploration to begin around the lake's border. Rhetoric has escalated over the past few months although it seems both sides are now attempting to calm tensions.

A history of disputes

Located at the junction of Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania, Lake Nyasa - the eighth largest in the world - contains an estimated 168,000 tonnes of fish of nearly 1000 species, and is able to provide sustenance for nearly 600,000 people.

In the early 1960s, Malawi's first president, Hastings Kamuzu Banda, claimed that Lake Nyasa was part of Malawi referring to 1890 Heligoland Agreement between Britain and Germany which stipulated that the border between the countries lay along the Tanzanian side of the lake. This treaty was reaffirmed at the 1963 Organisation of African Unity summit where it was accepted reluctantly by Tanzania although disputes reignited in 1967-8.

Malawi also alleges that the 2002 and 2007 African Union resolutions upheld the colonial agreement because of the emphasis on member states upholding the borders inherited upon independence.

Some, however, argue that it is necessary to correct the errors of the colonial powers, and Tanzania has sought recourse to international law, which indicates that borders are generally in the middle of a body of water, claiming Tanzania should therefore own half the lake.

Oil and the re-emergence of the issue

The resurgence of the dispute began in October when Malawi's former president, Bingu wa Mutharika, awarded a contract to British Surestream Petroleum to start gas and oil exploration on the eastern part of the lake. Since then, a number of disagreements over the use of the lake have arisen.

At the close of July, Tanzania announced plans to purchase a new $9 million ferry to cross Lake Nyasa's waters. Malawi's Ministry of Lands responded by claiming that Tanzania has no legal right to start operating on Lake Malawi since the ownership and border dispute remains unresolved.

For their part, Tanzanian authorities argued that Malawian fishing and tourist boats were encroaching on Tanzania's waters. Hilda Ngoye, MP for the Mbeya region, alleged that Malawi has been conducting tourism activities beyond its territorial waters, escalating tension further.

Earlier this month, a two-day meeting was held with the aim of reviving stalled negotiations on the delineation of the lake's boundaries. Tanzania's Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister, Bernard Membe, requested that the exploration activities be shelved until discussions had been fully resolved, saying “any exploration or research activities for oil and gas prospects must stop forthwith as their presence was likely to jeopardise the ongoing negotiations and pose a security threat.”

Tanzania's Attorney General, Frederick Werema, has added that Tanzania will seek international intervention if diplomatic negotiations do not produce results.

Malawi's Minister of Energy and Mining, Cassim Chilumpha, has, however, countered that Malawi is justified to start exploration since the lake lies within the borders stipulated by the Heligoland treaty.

Overblown fears?

Amidst these legal claims and disagreements, some representatives have also sought recourse to more potentially inflammatory language. Edward Lowassa, Chair of Tanzania's Parliamentary Committee for Defence, Security and Foreign Affairs, for example told reporters that the country is ready to wage war against Malawi if necessary.

“We expect this conflict will be solved diplomatically... Malawi is our neighbour and therefore we would not like to go into war with it,” he said, continuing, “however, if it reaches the war stage then we are ready to sacrifice our people's blood and our military forces are committed in equipment and psychologically.”

Both countries have increasingly backed away from such harsh statements, however, and Malawi's Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security, Uladi Mussa, told a local radio that Malawians have nothing to fear, reassuring listeners that “issues of boundaries between Malawi and Tanzania are amicably being resolved.”

Malawi's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ephraim Mganda Chiume, also played down the conflict, calling it simply a misinterpretation. “As Malawi we are not calling it a conflict or dispute rather a misunderstanding and at this point we are going to sort it out ourselves without the inventions of other bodies.”

Drawing a line under the dispute

According to Simburashe Mungoshi, a historian and political analyst with the University of Malawi, the dispute can be resolved only if the two countries take a leaf from how their colonisers Britain and Germany dealt with the boundary issue.

“When these boundaries were agreed upon by the British and Germans it was a give and take game,” he explained to Think Africa Press. “The British had to give up claims in some territories in the Tanganyika area. Needless to say the Germans also had to give up [some claims]. If Tanzania wants a change in boundaries, it would be a give and take. Malawi is a land-locked country; we need access to the sea. Maybe they could give us an equivalent piece of land to take us to the sea.”

As discussions continue, however, life goes on, and Tanzanians and Malawians continue to cross the border, selling and buying products that will ensure their livelihoods.

Kyela District Commissioner Margaret Ester Malenga has emphasised the atmosphere of mutual dependence between citizens of the two countries, something she believes war would ruin.

Representatives of the two countries are currently engaging in discussions in Mzuzu, Malawi, as part of a five-day summit ending on August 25 to resolve the border issue once and for all.

Courtney Meyer is currently studying for an MSc in Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. Her interests include politics and official development assistance in sub-Saharan Africa.

Source: Think Africa Press

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Jacson 33 accommodation barge – four hostages released last week

The Nigerian Navy has freed 28 oil workers captured earlier by Nigerian militants operating in the Niger Delta region.

The 28 workers were all Nigerian employees of the Chinese company Sinopec, and had been captured by the militants in a raid last week carried out by the Lapto Marine Force gang, which operates around the Bakassi waterways of Cross Rivers State.

The response by Nigerian forces took place on Friday. A government spokesman said the gang had been terrorising people in the Bakassi waterways, including killing, robbing and engaging in piracy and abduction.

Authorities announced that another four hostages, employees of the Dutch company Sea Trucks Group had also been released. The four were captured on the accommodation barge JACSON 33 earlier in the month – see report HERE - use your BACK BUTTON to return to this page.


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Pretoria - South Africa will be sending a delegation to Brussels to discuss the impact on South Africa caused by the European Union-led sanctions on Iran crude oil exports.

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said it was important that South Africa briefs the EU on the effects of such sanctions on the economy, considering that South Africa depended on imports for oil.

“We have agreed to send an inter-ministerial delegation to Brussels to discuss the impacts of the application of EU sanctions on Iran on South Africa and the rest of the Southern African region,” Nkoana-Mashabane said.

She met with EU foreign policy head, Catherine Ashton, in Pretoria on Friday.

Any disruption to crude imports could affect petrol prices in South Africa, which have reached their all-time high in recent months. The restrictive sanctions are targeted at Iran's nuclear programme, the people who run it and the money that funds it. South Africa imports about 20% of its oil from Iran.

The EU sanctions include a ban on the provision of insurance and reinsurance by EU insurers to Iran and Iranian owned companies. The EU also bans new contracts on imports of petroleum and petroleum products from Iran and demands an end to existing contracts by July 1.

Nkoana Mashabane said Pretoria's relationship with the EU has intensified over the years.

“We are strong on issues of mutual interest... We talked about Africa and the Eurozone crisis and agreed on a number of things,” she said.

Over the past year, South Africa and the EU had worked together in dealing with some of Africa's challenges, including crises in Madagascar, Somalia, Mali and progress to bring about constitutional normalcy in Zimbabwe.

Ashton said the EU's partnership with South Africa was crucial economically.

“These are not the easiest times economically for either of us but I believe we should continue to work harder together to ensure that we provide the opportunities to simulate growth to provide jobs for our people,” she said.

It was important for the EU and SA to stand together in the responsibility to show leadership of conflict resolution on the continent. - SAnews.gov.za


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The 6750-TEU container ship MSC LUISA (75,590-gt, built 2002) in Cape Town harbour recently. MSC Luisa is one of six sister ships in the MSC fleet, the others being MSC FLORENTINA, MSC LAURA, MSC LUDOVICA, MSC MAUREEN and MSC VANESSA. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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