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 Ports & Ships Maritime News

9 October 2012
Author: Terry Hutson


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The Indian Navy replenishment tanker INS DEEPAK arrived in the Port of Durban last week while en route to Simon’s Town where she and her accompanying destroyer INS DELHI will take part in a naval exercise with ships of the South African and Brazilian Navies. The two Indian ships attracted a lot of attention from the public who were allowed to go on board at the weekend, as can be seen from this picture by Trevor Jones


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South Africa faces prolonged and widespread strike action as labour unions marshal support across a wider range of the transport industry in an effort to force the road freight industry to accede to their wage and salary demands.

This follows last week’s impasse when unions and employers failed to reach agreement on wage demands. Employers have refused to go beyond an increased offer of an 8.5% increase for 2013 and a further 0.5% increase later in the year. Labour on the other hand wants 12% but has said it is prepared to drop the increase to 10%.

Following the breakdown in talks late last week SATAWU - South African Transport and Allied Workers Union – said it would call on union members within the port and rail sector to go on strike in sympathy with their fellow members in the road freight sector. SATAWU said it is prepared to close down all the ports if necessary and will also canvass members in the rail sector to bring the railways into the mix as part of a secondary strike. This could be of a one-day duration.

In advance of this SATAWU has given notice to Transnet of a one day secondary strike action to take place in a week's time. “We are considering the notice and will activate contingency measures to ensure minimal disruption should the action materialise,” said Transnet National Ports Authority in a statement yesterday.

Meanwhile several instances of unrest have been reported as strikers continue to enforce the blockade of road deliveries. A number of petrol stations across the country have begun running out of fuel and fresh produce markets and supermarket groups have reported running out of vegetables and fruit. Deliveries of other commodities are also affected. In Gauteng the oil company Shell declared force majeure on deliveries in Johannesburg and Pretoria and surrounding districts, as deliveries of fuel became impossible.

A spokesman for Shell said there was no shortage of fuel in South Africa – it was simply a case of being unable to make deliveries to the retailers.

The South African Government, perhaps with an eye of forthcoming ANC elections including the choice of the countries next president, has remained very quiet on the matter, apart from some general condemnation of the accompanying violence. This is despite the warnings given by leading economists on the affect that the ongoing strike is having on the South African economy.


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Port statistics for month of September 2012, covering the eight commercial ports under the administration of Transnet National Ports Authority, are now available. They reveal that during the month the combined ports achieved a total cargo throughput of 23.248 million tonnes, marginally up on the month of September in 2011 when 23.028 million tonnes of cargo was handled. Strong volumes were experienced from most of the country’s ports. For the first time the Port of Ngqura exceeded that of Cape Town in container volumes, although that was due to a not very strong month for Cape Town. The traditional container ports of Durban and Cape Town are both well down on last month’s container volumes.

To compare the 2012 September figures year on year with those of 2011, please go to the following link HERE. Use your BACKSPACE button to return to this page.

As is always the case with figures reported in PORTS & SHIPS, these reflect an adjustment on the overall tonnage to those provided by Transnet. This is to include containers by weight – an adjustment necessary because Transnet NPA measures containers by number of TEUs and does not show the weight.

To arrive at such a calculation, PORTS & SHIPS uses an average of 13,5 tonnes per TEU, which may involve some under-reporting but until such time as the IMO enforces the weighing of containers at all ports we will have to live with these estimates. Nevertheless, we continue to make this distinction, without which South African ports continue to be under-reported internationally.

Port Statistics continue below…
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Richards Bay, looking across the port from the wood chip piles towards the entrance. Picture TNPA


Figures for the respective ports during September 2012 are:


Cargo handled by tonnes during September 2012

PORT September 2012 million tonnes
Richards Bay 7.600
Durban 7.072
Saldanha Bay 5.034
Cape Town 1.254
Port Elizabeth 1.037
Ngqura 0.908
Mossel Bay 0.152
East London 0.191
Total all ports 23.248 million tonnes

CONTAINERS (measured by TEUs) during September 2012
(TEUs include Deepsea, Coastal, Transship and empty containers all subject to being invoiced by NPA

PORT September 2012 TEUs
Durban 200,258
Cape Town 63,000
Port Elizabeth 27,247
Ngqura 63,261
East London 4,784
Richards Bay 1,857
Total all ports 364,407 TEUs

SHIP CALLS for September 2012

PORT September 2012 vessels gross tons
Durban 330 9,874,273
Cape Town 197 4,187,454
Richards Bay 131 5,409,721
Port Elizabeth 92 2,164,904
Saldanha Bay 49 3,064,100
Ngqura 38 1,962,201
East London 20 512,152
Mossel Bay 50 288,955
Total ship calls 907 27,463,760

- source TNPA, but with adjustments made by Ports & Ships to include container tonnages



  Month's exports YTD exports Annualised estimate Ships Trains
January 2012 4,463,987 4,463,987 52,56mt 44 813
February 2012 6,087,111 10,551,098 64.19mt 63 678
March 2012 6,239,646 16,790,744 67.35 58 810
April 2012 5,174,739 21,965,483 66,26 48 778
May 2012 4,627,648 26,593,131 63,86 46 509
June 2012 5,454,166 32,047,297 64.27 47 725
July 2012 6,279,244 38,326,541 65,68 54 777
August 2012 5,883,215 44,209,756 66,13 51 791
September 2012 5,239,216 49,448,972 65,87 52 765

source: RBCT


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Beira receives nearly 100 coal trains in September

Mining group Vale sent a record 95 trains loaded with coal from the Mozambican mining town of Moatize to the port of Beira during September, says Vanderlei Marques, Vale’s director of Logistics Operations.

Quoted in the Maputo daily newspaper Notícias, Marques said that the 95 trains had carried 257,000 tons of coal that was then loaded onto four ships, three of which were Panamax vessels with individual capacities of 80,000 tons each. This was the first time that this has been achieved in a single month.

Marques said that it was possible to achieve the target of 1,000 trains by the end of the year, as compared to just 120 in 2011. So far this year over 600 trains each of 42-wagons have travelled along the Sena line to the port of Beira. Each wagon carries 63 tons of coal.

Ships exceeding 35,000 ton capacity are loaded some 42 kilometres from the Beira port, with coal transferred from the port using two smaller transhipment vessels, the BULK ZAMBEZI and the BULK LIMPOPO. This is on account of draught limitations in the Beira port.

Coal produced at the Moatize opencast mine is railed to the Port of Beira some 575 kilometres away but will in future also be sent to the northern Mozambique Port of Nacala, over a distance of 912 kilometres. Sections of the railway along this route have still to be built. source Macauhub


New airport on site of Durban dig-out port unlikely

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The Durban dig out port in its proposed completed state – no space for an airport. Image TNPA

Reports that Transnet’s plans of building a new port on the site of the old Durban International Airport site are in jeopardy because the eThekwini (Durban) Municipality wishes to transfer its city airport to the site, have been dismissed as fanciful and unrealistic.

This is the consensus of opinion after reports appeared in the media saying that the city intended having talks with Transnet Soc concerning a proposed relocation of the Virginia Airport from its present site north of the city, to a section of the old airport site which was recently acquired by Transnet from the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA).

The reports suggested that the existing runway would be retained for use by the municipal airport and the continued use by the South African Air Force. Air Force Base Durban is situated here and is home to 15 Squadron which flies A109 LUH, BK 117, and Oryx helicopters. A planned move to King Shaka International Airport to the north of Durban will cost the Air Force about a billion rand, according to one report.

The general view among shipping people is that Transnet is highly unlikely to even consider the matter, given that plans for the construction of a new port of 16 container berths as well as three or four berths for ro-ro traffic and a similar number for oil tankers, are already in the pipeline.


Bollore to invest US$79 million in upgrading Abidjan infrastructure

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Abidjan Container Terminal. Picture OTAL/Bollore

The French shipping group Bollore says it has plans to invest up to US$79 million on infrastructure for the Port of Abidjan.

According to Dominique Lafont, head of Bollore’s Africa division, the investment will have doubled the capacity of the Abidjan container terminal by 2015. Lafont said Bollore had already made significant investments in the port’s container terminal since assuming management of the terminal in 2004.

Reports say the terminal capacity will be increased from the current 800,000 TEUs to 1.5 million TEUs with four new Ship-to-Shore cranes enabling three container ships to be worked at the same time.


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Transport Minister Ben Martins

By Nthambeleni Gabara

Johannesburg - Transport Minister Ben Martins says the African continent needs an efficient transport system to help it achieve its growth and development objectives.

“There is no doubt that an effective transport system is the pillar of growth and development in Africa. Other sectors of the economy such as agriculture, mining and tourism also depend on transport,” said Martins at the official opening of the 2nd Congress of the African Association of Public Transport (UATP) in Johannesburg on Monday.

Martins said safe and reliable public transport infrastructure was needed to promote the productivity and competitiveness of countries, as the high costs and tariffs associated with poor transport infrastructure were partly to blame for developing countries continually lagging behind the developed world.

“The revitalisation of the rail infrastructure across Africa will address the colonial spatial development, while at the same time, establish new networks between countries. Regional integration will depend, to a degree, on the harmonised transport infrastructure networks between and within countries,” he said.

The minister singled out the lack of adequate public transport infrastructure in both metropolitan and rural areas as one of the challenges facing the transport system. This, he said, was further exacerbated by the absence of an integrated public transport system to create synergy between various modes of public transport.

“Efforts to improve public transport should also include the safety and security of passengers and freight,” he said.

Sharing the vision for South Africa’s transport system with the delegates, Martins said the introduction of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in Johannesburg and Cape Town has proven to be a significant intervention to reduce travelling time, especially for the country’s workforce.

“This has benefited many workers who reside a distance away from their places of work. The South African model has been made possible by the involvement of taxi operators as shareholders in the BRT system.

“More work is still needed to fully integrate bus and taxi operators, and this will include further capacity building in the taxi industry. Informed by the lessons learnt from the initial BRT implementation in the two cities, we are extending the roll-out of the BRT system to other cities and towns across the country,” he said.

The existence of organisations such as UATP, which brings together governmental and non-governmental participants, is important as it creates a platform for sharing lessons and experience, and for peer review, the minister noted.

UATP also provides a platform for African countries to speak and act in unity, as they engage with their counterparts across the globe.

South Africa is fully committed to strengthen partnerships with other African countries through organisations like UATP, and as part of the initiatives of the African Union and Nepad.

The gathering also enables the entire world of public transport to gather in Johannesburg to discuss a sustainable solution for mobility in Africa and the developing world. The conference takes place under the theme ‘BRT, a sustainable solution for mobility in Africa and the developing world.’

The choice of the theme confirms that Africa is beginning to look for solutions that are suitable to address the practical challenges of providing a safe and reliable public transport.

The conference will also demonstrate the effectiveness of BRT as an adapted and sustainable solution for mobility in African cities. - SAnews.gov.za


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Jean-Guy Carrier, secretary general of the International Chamber of Commerce

Midrand – Although South Africa faces a number of challenges, it is still seen by the world as the gateway to the African continent and is looked upon for the direction in which emerging economies are moving, says secretary general of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Jean-Guy Carrier.

“South Africa is still the gateway to Africa; it is seen; as it can speak for the continent,” said Carrier.

Speaking on international perspectives on employment and the economy at the annual convention of the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) on Friday, Carrier said SA was the economy to watch when projecting the growth prospects of rising economies.

“South Africa is a country… that the world looks to for leadership in terms of the direction in which emerging economies are going to go, and how will they work with all of us in the world to make it a better place,” said Carrier at the convention organised under the theme ‘Mobilising business to create jobs’.

Carrier used the platform to raise concern over the financial strain in Europe. Rising unemployment levels in countries such as Spain and Greece were much talked about, while countries like China had growth rates as high as 7.5% when growth in most of the developed world was declining.

The ICC secretary general said business had a role to play in difficult financial situations as governments on their own could not solve the problems.

“Governments are not going to get us out of the situation alone. They may be simply too indebted,” he said.

The ICC provides a forum for businesses and other organisations to examine and better comprehend the nature and significance of the major shifts taking place in the world economy. It also offers an influential and respected channel for supplying business leadership to help governments manage those shifts in a collaborative manner for the benefit of the world economy as a whole.

South Africa, as it stands, is dealing with its own battle in addressing unemployment, poverty and inequity.

Although it had the biggest GDP on the continent (which was at 3.2% in the second quarter of 2012, up from 2.7% in the first quarter), South Africa still faced challenges in areas such as the education system.

“On the issue of competitiveness, taxes are high compared to the rest of the continent and education is needing and productivity is low,” noted Carrier.

He called on business not to wait for government to come up with solutions to job creation.

Sacci’s newly appointed president, Clive Manci, said partnerships with government were crucial.

“The private sector is keen to invest in infrastructure,” said Manci of government’s major infrastructure plan. - SAnews.gov.za



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The Greek products tanker ORFEAS (73,400-dwt, built 2008) is reported missing after having sailed from the Ivory Coast Port of Abidjan early on Saturday.

The Bahamas-flagged, Greek owned and managed tanker sailed unexpectedly from the Ivory Coast port loaded with over 32,000 tons of petrol that it was expected to have discharged in Abidjan. Grace Management, the ship’s manager said the vessel had “sailed south without orders or explanation.”

They said they had been trying without success to contact the ship. “Her last known position indicates she may be going towards Lagos, Nigeria.”

The crew on board the ship consists of two Greeks and 22 Filipinos.

It is feared that the ship has been highjacked by pirates who boarded the vessel in Abidjan harbour and forced the crew to sail. In similar cases the ship has been robbed of its cargo and the vessel and crew later released. The vessel’s management company has requested assistance from all relevant authorities and neighbouring countries.


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The Royal Mail Ship St HELENA seen arriving back in Cape Town after calling at the South Atlantic islands. The ship faces an uncertain future with the development of St Helena Island’s first airport, now under construction by a South African firm, which will affect the way people travel to and from the island. These pictures by Ian Shiffman

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