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Ports & Ships Maritime News

8 February 2013
Author: Terry Hutson

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The heavylift semi-submersible PACIFIC OSPREY makes a fine sight as she heads out into Table Bay, after having called at Cape Town earlier this week. Built by Samsung Heavy Industries in South Korea for owners Swire Blue Ocean and intended for the carriage of windfarm installation equipment in the North Sea, the newly built ship is seen here with a jack-up oil rig as her cargo – most likely a convenient delivery voyage cargo. Pacific Osprey is a sister vessel to an earlier build, PACFIC ORCA. Picture by The Aerial Perspective aerialphoto.co.za


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New Suez rate hikes boosts Cape of Good Hope route

Peter Hinchliffe, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), says that new Suez Canal rate hikes will make more shipowners look at the Cape route as a serious alternative.

The ICS, which is the principal international trade association for shipowners and which represents over 80% of the world merchant fleet, has serious concerns about the toll increases just announced by the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) and due to be implemented on 1 May 2013.

For all but the smallest ships, the increases range from about 3% to 5% according to tonnage and ship type. They follow across the board increases of 3% which were implemented in March last year despite industry protests.

“Most international ship operators are trading in the worst shipping markets in living memory due to there being too many ships chasing too few cargoes,” says Mr. Hinchliffe. “This is not the time for the SCA to be announcing increases, which for some trades seem very dramatic indeed, and which many shipowners will find impossible to pass on to their customers.”

Hinchliffe said that the ICS recognised that due to Egypt’s economic problems, which are being made worse due to pressure on Egypt's tourism, there is increased pressure on the SCA to maintain what is now the country's biggest source of foreign revenue. “But the effect of these increases will be to give a spur to those owners who may already be considering the Cape route as a serious alternative.”

The ICS says the route via the Cape of Good Hope is already becoming relatively less expensive as many ships resort to slow steaming in an effort to reduce costs and to deliver the reductions in CO2 emissions which are now demanded by their customers.

On top of that, Somali piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the entrance to the Red Sea is unattractive to many shipowners who have either chosen the longer route around the Cape, or are having to employ expensive security to safeguard their vessels.

“We are also disappointed by the lack of consultation that preceded these increases,” says Mr Hinchliffe. “To the SCA's credit, the Canal has so far continued to function smoothly. But ICS will be repeating its request for full and proper consultation between the industry and the SCA, particularly whenever toll adjustments are being contemplated.”


Maersk Line orders its big ships to stop using stern thrusters

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Emma Maersk

Maersk Line has given instructions that its fleet of supertankers stop using their stern thrusters until further notice. This is in the aftermath of the flooding of the giant 15,500-TEU EMMA MAERSK’s engine room, just as the ship was approaching the northern entrance to the Suez Canal.

It follows evidence that water ingressed the ship’s engine room via the stern thrusters. At one stage the engine room was flooded to a depth of 18 metres.

Divers have identified the place where water gushed into the ship and have sealed off the area around one of the stern thrusters. There is evidence of severe damage to the thruster mounting, resulting in a crack in the forward stern thruster tunnel which caused the ingress of water. Several thruster propeller blades have broken off.

The ship was on her way to the Far East with a cargo of over 13,000 TEUs on board, of which about half were empties. Following the incident all cargo has been discharged at the Suez Container Terminal for carriage forward on another company ship, with priority given to reefer containers.

“The E-class has been sailing well since 2006, and the thrusters are used at every port call. Until we know the exact reason, however, we have as a precautionary measure instructed the other vessels in the E-class fleet not to use their stern thrusters,” said Palle Laursen, Head of Ship Management for Maersk Line.


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Pyxis Delta attacked – one seaman dead

In the latest in a series of attacks on shipping off the West African coast, a Filipino seaman has been shot dead by pirates who attacked the Marshall Islands-flagged chemical tanker PYXIS DELTA (46,616-dwt, built 2006).

The attack took place on Monday, 4 February, a Philippine foreign affairs spokesman confirmed yesterday.

There were nine seafarers in all on the tanker. The other eight were unharmed. Further details are sketchy but it appears that a hostage taking was attempted but was resolved immediately. The ship was off the coast of Nigeria at the time of the attack.

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Gascogne released

In another incident, a French-owned, Luxembourg-flagged products tanker, GASCOGNE (7,150-dwt) was highjacked along with the 17 crew members on Sunday, 3 February, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB). The owner said he lost contact with the vessel which was off the Cote d’Ivoire at the time.

The Gascogne has since been released with all 17 crew still on board. Two of the crew received injuries. Some of the cargo had been removed from the ship, which is presumed to be the reason for the highjacking. The ship was handed back to the control of its master and crew off the Nigerian coast later this week.

The IMB has described the situation in the Gulf of Guinea as ‘quite bad right now’.

Warning about the use of armed guards off West Africa

P&I Provider North of England says shipowners ought to be ‘extremely careful’ about having armed guards on board ships operating off West Africa.

The P&I says in a document offering guidance on employing armed guards in West Africa, that standard solutions and contracts for hiring armed guards drafted for use in the Indian Ocean, such as BIMCO's Guardcon form, may be inappropriate for the very different situation in the Gulf of Guinea, Bight of Benin and Bight of Bonny.

“BIMCO Guardcon has been drafted specifically in response to the piracy situation in the Indian Ocean and the circumstances found in West Africa are quite different,” says the Club's Risk Management Executive Colin Gillespie. A major difference is that private armed guards are prevented by law from operating inside territorial waters of coastal states in the region, and authorities are known to enforce these regulations vigorously.

“Local laws require that armed guards should be from the local security forces,” says Gillespie. “This introduces potential safety, security and political issues with the use of such guards, particularly if a vessel needs to operate in the territorial waters of more than one coastal state in the region.”

According to North, employment of local security force armed guards customarily takes place via a local agency, but the Club is aware that some agencies have been employing off-duty armed guards at less cost. This has lead to further problems, such as suspension of legitimate armed guard services by a coast state in the region.

“Operators should therefore seek to ensure that the agency they use is employing local security forces that are on duty, and as such are an informed and legitimate part of local intelligence and military networks,” says Gillespie. “All shipowners should seek expert legal and technical advice before entering into a contract to engage armed guards to protect their vessels in West Africa.”

Recent figures released by the International Maritime Bureau indicate there were 58 incidents in the Gulf of Guinea last year, including 10 hijackings and 207 crew members taken hostage. Unlike Somali pirate attacks, many of the attacks are against stationary ships and involve politically motivated militias as well as sophisticated criminal gangs operating across national boundaries.


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The Editor

The article 'The Debate over Cabotage' is extremely worrying. I am aware that a number of organisations are pushing for cabotage laws around Africa, some commentators stating that they should try and introduce Jones Act like laws.

History has proven that restrictive laws work completely counter to the ideas that such laws will provide and protect jobs, assist in new companies and perhaps build up know-how. The American Jones Act in fact has made many American companies work much too expensively, keep old fashioned ships in commission, did not allow American companies to survive and worse has allowed the infrastructure of American ports to be well behind the times.

If such laws would be introduced in Africa, Africa would be a big looser. It would be a very wrong decision and doing no good at all for African infrastructure and efficiency.

Worse would be going back to the disastrous Unctad code 40/40/20. It brought complete misery to shipping companies, exporters and importers, increased paperwork and bureaucracy and slowed down trade.

How any well thinking shipping and logistics person can suggest to re-introduce such cargo sharing rules again is beyond belief.

Ask any shipping person who was involved in shipping in Africa in the 1970s and 1980s and they will also admit that the Unctad code was a great mistake.

What is important and highly urgent is the infrastructure of African ports, railways and roads to be ungraded or newly built. That will bring millions and more importantly, jobs.

I sincerely hope Charles Dey will talk to a few veteran shipping persons.

Theodor A.R. Strauss
Lecturer, Netherlands Maritime University
(ex RIL/HWAL/Nedlloyd/'K' Line)


See other reports on this topic:
Ports & Ships online 1 February 2013 CLICK HERE
Ports & Ships 5 February 2013 CLICK HERE


Do other readers have views one way or the other on this important and topical subject? If so then write to info@ports.co.za


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Angola to buy locomotives from US group General Electric

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Angola plans to buy an undecided number of locomotives from US group General Electric (GE), the director of the Angolan National Railways Institute (INCFA), Júlio Bango Joaquim said Friday in Luanda. This comes as a bit of a surprise, with China having been thought of as the place Angola would go.

At the end of an audience that Transport Minister, Augusto da Silva Tomás, granted to GE president, Jeff Immelt, Bango Joaquim said that Angola needed a large number of locomotives, particularly to carry mining products.

“To get an idea of numbers, in 1976 the Moçâmedes Railroad had at least 72 locomotives to carry minerals from Jamba and Chamutete to the port of Namibe”, he said, adding that “that number will likely need to be doubled.”

According to Angolan news agency Angop, the INCFA director noted that the country’s railways were practically rebuilt and added that pressure from the market, particularly for transporting minerals, demanded a significant increase in traction capacity.

As a locomotive costs around 200 million kwanzas (US$2 million), Tomás noted that orders would be phased, and General Electric is due to start delivering the first locomotives at the end of the year. (source - macauhub)


TFR impresses with 14 magnetite trains a week to Richards Bay

Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) is running an impressive 14 magnetite trains a week to Richards Bay, amounting to 66,150 tons a week, reports Railways Africa.

The magnetite, a variety of iron ore, is loaded at Mica station near Phalaborwa.

Railways Africa reports that for the financial year 2012/13, TFR initially budgeted to rail 3.2 million tons of the commodity. Current planning envisages increasing this to 3.8mta at first, and then 4.8mta later. Eventually effort is to focus on attaining volumes of 6 million tons per annum, with the final target being 10mta.


What’s in a name – Transnet Rail Engineering undergoes more change

One of Transnet’s many faults (it has many good points too) is that it keeps changing its branding.

For about 60 years just about everyone was familiar with the South African Railways & Harbours or SAR&H or its Afrikaans equivalent – well, okay, maybe not so happy with the absolute monopoly but we all knew the name and what it represented. Then for some reason the SAR&H was evolved into SATS – South African Transport Services but soon that wasn’t good enough and the group became Transnet, with its various offshoots and divisions.

One of these that we all remember was Portnet – which actually wasn’t a bad choice for the old Harbours Service. But still not satisfied with things, someone decided that Portnet must be absorbed back into Transnet with the divisions taking on separate identities - Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and Transnet Ports Terminals (TPT). Lest we forget however, in between we had South African Ports Operators (SAPO) whose acronym clashed with that of the South African Post Office.

Nor was the railways spared this confusion in the haste to rebrand. It became Spoornet, a name which surprisingly stuck in the early days of post-1994. But eventually that had to change, becoming Transnet Freight Rail as the division went about attempting to convince itself that it could survive as a main line carrier of freight only – no more parcel trains and definitely no more branch lines.

Another of the older divisions to suffer this loss of identity was the old workshop division, well established at places like Germiston, Salt River, Durban, Pretoria, Bloemfontein, Uitenhage and so on. Those that weren’t shut down or emasculated became Transwerk –again a name that surprisingly hung around for longer than expected. But change comes to all and Transwerk evolved into Transnet Rail Engineering, or TRE by its acronym – another of those habits we seem fascinated with.

And now, once more the passion for name-changing has taken hold. The engineering business is now called Transnet Engineering (TE), which we are forced to admit is actually quite a good choice for a change. In fact, we wonder, why on earth wasn’t it called that in the first place?


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By Adam Robert Green

The 'Africa rising' narrative may be questionable and misguided, but so too is the suggestion Africa should blindly follow the authoritarian developmental states of East Asia.

In his recent Foreign Policy article, Rick Rowden makes the case that Africa's low levels of manufacturing and industrialisation suggest the continent is not the 'growth miracle' that some commentators believe.

His piece, a response to bullish outlooks from McKinsey, The Economist and Time magazine among others, dismisses talk of Africa's rise as a "myth". Since African economies make up a very small share of global manufacturing, he argues, they cannot be spoken of in the same breath as the Asian economies.

Leading by example?

But while Rowden rightly draws attention to the irrational exuberance common in the 'Africa rising' narrative, his argument is deeply flawed in both its analysis and prescriptions.

Firstly, Rowden gives a glossy, airbrushed description of the East Asian 'growth miracle'. Rowden says this group - often referred to as the 'East Asian tigers' of South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore, followed by China - managed to rapidly build manufacturing capacity, creating jobs very quickly. Since East Asia's industrial policies "worked so well", Rowden argues, African economies should, by implication, follow suit.

While East Asia's industrial policies certainly delivered rapid growth, however, they have been largely deployed via authoritarian, repressive frameworks that entailed frequent and sustained infringement of people's rights.

We hear plenty about benevolent technocrats, generous subsidised credit, carefully designed export strategies, and industrial protection for domestic companies from advocates. But we hear much less about military rule, labour repression, opaque lending to industrial bigwigs, or mass protests against undemocratic constitutional changes, all of which were also integral features of this 'developmental state'.

Imagine if an African government today imposed martial law and held down wages in the name of export-competitiveness, to crush labour rights and arrest union leaders, give an amnesty to corrupt industrialists as long as their companies met export targets, and to allow large-scale US food aid to sweep farmers off their land and out of their livelihoods.

Sound appealing? This is South Korea during its 'miracle' growth phase. And while South Korea's land reform programme (initiated, it should be said, by the US military) led to greater equity in land distribution, some argue it did not improve the situation for farmers, whose debts had to be repaid in five years and who faced usurious interest rates to pay the government which was also keeping producer prices artificially low.

But even with repression and authoritarianism, the likes of South Korea and Singapore did not achieve transformation in a single decade, the period which 'Afro-optimists' are referring to in their analysis, and which Rowden dismisses on account that it has not delivered a structural revolution yet.

And this is a caution not just borne out by East Asia's experience. Consider England - mentioned (normatively) in Rowden's article as another (in fact, the original) example of the 'development as industrialisation' mantra.

Let us refresh our memory about what England's 'industrialisation' involved: enslavement and colonisation of half the world to deliver raw materials, exploitation of the domestic working class to deliver cheap labour, and the enclosure movement to privatise land for the purposes of lifting agricultural output, pushing all but the landed gentry out of their livelihoods and into the factories and mines where many perished.

Dodgy data

Even if we focus purely on economic data, Rowden's analysis is weak. His view of the continent's manufacturing sector seems to be based on just two reports, one from the UN, the other from the African Development Bank (AfDB). Any AfDB analysis should be taken with a pinch of salt. This, after all, is an institution which recently claimed there were 300 million middle class people in Africa, classifying 'middle class' as those earning between $2 and $20 per day. 60% of this group earned between $2 and $4; barely out of poverty.

Based on such limited data, the critique misses on-the-ground advances in manufacturing. Industrial processing zones are emerging across many African markets, from Ghana to Ethiopia, providing assembled goods to a range of Western and Eastern firms including textiles, footwear, wood and furniture, leather, auto and consumer products. The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, an item of US legislation, has resulted in the three-fold increase in US non-oil imports from Africa across a range of sectors, including textiles and apparel, processed agricultural products and footwear.

Rowden's analysis is also limited because it seems to take manufactured exports as a simple proxy for manufacturing. This misses value- added in manufacturing to meet domestic needs.

A recent study from Johns Hopkins University shows the rise in Chinese private, as opposed to state-backed, investment in Africa, with a focus on meeting domestic needs in larger markets like Nigeria and on labour-intensive manufacturing activities, followed by service industries. By primarily focusing on manufactured exports, Rowden misses this completely.

The export focus is further problematic because it propagates a simplistic view of manufactured items as 'good' and primary commodities and natural resources as 'bad' types of exports, stating that a heavy dependence on natural resource-based manufactures is an indication of a "low level of economic diversification and low level of technological sophistication in production".

This is a long-standing view, famously articulated by economists Raul Prebisch and Hans Singer. But is it that simple? Some have already pointed out that on this narrow view, a country full of industrial sweatshops would be called 'developed' regardless of the quality of life for citizens.

More fundamentally, the idea that countries move from natural resource-based exports to manufactured ones is too simplistic when we look at how economies actually function. The trade profile of many of the now rich and industrialised economies of the world - including Canada, the US, Norway, Australia, and New Zealand - still includes major export shares of natural resources and commodities.

Emerging market powerhouses are often dominated by natural resource-based exports too, yet few people talk them down. Agricultural, fuel and mining products account for 63% of Brazil's exports, compared to 32.8% manufactured exports - and it imports 72% of its manufactured goods.

While significantly reliant on natural resources, this is a country that - through its policy initiatives, especially in the areas of social protection - has reduced inequality at a steeper rate than almost anyone historically, and has achieved the highest improvement in wellbeing of any country over the last five years, according to the Boston Consulting Group.

Chile, now an OECD member, has an economy dominated by natural resources, notably copper. Manufactured items account for a mere 13% of its exports. And one of Africa's most successful 'developmental' states - and one of the few globally that has a representative democratic model of governance - is diamond-rich Botswana.

Rowden seems to take natural resource-based exports as a proxy for development by noting that they dropped "as low as 13 percent in 2008' in East Asia and the Pacific, seemingly signifying success. That is simply an error.

These economies have low shares of natural resource exports because they do not have many natural resources beyond what they consume, thus they are not major exporters. One only needs to look at the feverish efforts of even lower tier Asian national oil companies in Africa to know that these economies would be very pleased to have more of such assets under their feet at home if geological fate had so ordained it.

The point to make here is that countries do not necessarily 'do away' with natural resource-based exports once they become industrialised or head in that direction, like children discarding stabilisers on their bicycle. What matters for developmental success is not simply whether a country sells natural resources of manufactures. Success hinges on much more complex issues, surrounding institutions and the incentives they generate.

Measured optimism

Bullish accounts of Africa may have fallen victim to irrational exuberance, with talk of soaring incomes, flat-screen televisions and a 300 million-strong middle class.

But glibly dismissing Africa's rise as mythical will not do, especially on the grounds Rowden gives. If economists are to prescribe the East Asian model and advocate rapid industrialisation, they should not airbrush its social and political realities - the authoritarian power structures integral to rapid capitalist transformation - out of the picture. Moreover, much more fieldwork is needed to establish exactly how much value addition is occurring in Africa. Citing two reports will not do.

African economies will, of course, need to develop labour-intensive sectors, spanning assembly-based production, services and a range of manufactured goods. Indeed, this is already happening. But it may occur in a distinctive manner. 'Rapid' change is not a value-neutral term and if you advocate it, be prepared to accept the policy frameworks that have enabled it.

'Developmental state' advocates may argue that pain is the price of success, and that future generations will benefit. But we ought to keep in mind both the process and the goals, and not ignore the realities of the former. At the least, before pushing such models, we should accept Confucius' charge: "Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself."


Adam Robert Green is senior reporter forThis is Africa , a bimonthly publication from the Financial Times Ltd., and a contributor to beyondbrics, the emerging markets news and blog website from FT.com. He has a masters in development studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies. His writing has also been published in China Post, the Middle East Institute, and Daily News Egypt.

Source of this article: ThinkAfricaPress


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Mombasa confirms position as biggest east coast port

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Mombasa Container Terminal

The Kenyan port of Mombasa has reaffirmed its ranking as the second largest multi purpose port along the whole east coast of Africa behind Durban, and the largest port in East Africa.

In 2012 the port handled a total of 21.92 million tonnes of cargo, mostly imports, an increase of 2.32mt or 11.84% on the 19.6mt achieved in 2011.

Containers handled at the port also rose 17.33% year on year to finish at 903,443 TEU, making this the second largest container port along Africa’s east and south coasts – bigger than Cape Town, Ngqura or Maputo. In 2011 Mombasa handled 770,000 TEU

The majority of cargo handled at Mombasa remains one-way, tilted in favour of imports, with 85.5% of all cargo being imports. Exports handled by Mombasa totalled 3.04 million tonnes in 2012, consisting largely of tea and coffee.

Imports are heavily slanted towards petroleum products (35%), consumer goods and machinery.

The port continues to serve as the main entrepôt for Kenya’s landlocked neighbours, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Eastern Congo and South Sudan.


APM Terminals opens new dry port at Mombasa

The new dry port and freight station opened by APM Terminals in Mombasa will provide customers with direct rail links to the port and inland.

The 7.7 hectare inland freight station is one of East Africa’s largest and most technologically advanced, with offices on site of the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and Kenya Bureau of Standards in addition to banking facilities for clearing terminal and custom’s charges.

“This new, modern dry port facility will substantially reduce turnaround time for imported and transit cargoes and reduce demurrage costs for importers in Kenya and Uganda,” said APM Terminals Inland Services Regional Manager, Jesper Boll.

The terminal has two 600 metre long rail lines which can accommodate four trains simultaneously.

“This project illustrates APM Terminal’s successful African strategy to collaborate with governments and local partners, to continuously invest in upgrading port and transport infrastructure in Eastern Africa, and increase the competitiveness of local transportation services” said APM Terminals Regional Head of Investment, Thomas Hougaard.

The new facility is a joint venture with a local Kenyan company, Great Lakes Ports Ltd. Source – Port Technology



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The French dock landing ship, also referred to more accurately as an amphibious assault ship, FNS MISTRAL which arrived in Cape Town this week on what appears to be another ‘show and tell’ mission aimed at selling a vessel of this class to the South African Navy. In 2010 a sister ship of this class, FNS TONNERRE also paid South Africa a visit. These pictures by Ian Shiffman

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