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Ports & Ships Maritime News

23 July 2013
Author: Terry Hutson

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

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Yesterday, the training vessel SA AGULHAS arrived at the naval base of Simon’s Town. The photo above was taken as the former Antarctic supply ship, now operated as a training ship on behalf of the South African Maritime Safety Authority, approached Simon’s Town Naval Harbour in the early morning, having been met outside and accompanied into the harbour by the tug DE MIST. It was a colourful arrival as the vessel was dressed overall with flags, with her crew lined up at the stern. In the foreground is the frigate SAS SPIOENKOP (F147). Picture by David Erickson

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On Friday, 19 July the Kenya Ports Authority established new offices in Kigali, capital of Rwanda, aimed at further cementing Rwandan business to the Kenya port of Mombasa.

Although it had still to undergo certain formalities such as obtaining bank clearance procedures, the office places the port of Mombasa firmly in the face of local importers and exporters. It is understood the that KPA intends opening a similar office in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

According to KPA managing director Gichiri Ndua, the liaison office in Kigali is a way of bringing the port of Mombasa closer to its users, where it can clarify issues and sort out problems as they arise among the business community of Rwanda.

“We decided to open this office because we recognised that Rwanda is our important trading partner. It is therefore incumbent upon us to ensure that this market is served well and to the satisfaction of the business community. We believe the liaison office will not only enhance awareness of the port performance among Rwandese public, but it will also respond to queries by port users,” Ndua said.

Roadblocks removed

Rwandan trucking companies have meanwhile welcomed the news that the Kenya government has ordered the removal of police roadblocks between the port of Mombasa and the border at Malaba near the Uganda border.

The move came after pressure from Kenya’s new president who has ordered the port and other logistics chain stakeholders to remove all barriers to trade moving to and from the port.

Kenya’s cabinet secretary for transport, Michael Kamau said in Kigali on Friday that his country had removed the roadblocks to reduce non-tariff barriers along the Northern Corridor.

Rwanda Truck Drivers Association spokesman Theodore Murenzi welcomed the move which he said would reduce the time that truck crews have to spend on the road. It would also reduce the levels of corruption, he said.

On an average there are 25 police check points, 15 roadblocks and 13 weighbridges along the Northern Corridor, with seven weighbridges between Mombasa and Malaba alone. Each compulsory stop is a place where police and others are able to extort bribes before the trucks can proceed.

In 2007 a study estimated that the average bribe paid per transaction to a policeman or a customs official in Kenya and Tanzania was $30. In Uganda, it was between $100-150 per consignment of goods. The cumulative cost of bribes and delays to businesses in the region becomes staggering and this doesn’t take into account the cost of delays, said to be about $800 per day per truck.

“As I speak now, there is not a single police roadblock between Mombasa and Malaba (Kenya’s border with Uganda). That is now history,” secretary Kamau told journalists during the official launch of Kenya Port's Authority liaison office in Kigali.

He said that only two modernized weighbridges along the Northern Corridor will remain, at Mariakani and at Athi River. Trucks weighed at Mariakani with seals intact will be allowed to proceed to Malaba without further inspection at police roadblocks or another weighbridge.

He said it was now up to Uganda and Rwanda to do the same to allow free movement of cargo along the corridor.

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German group Siemens has signed a contract with the Nacala Integrated Logistics Corridor (CLIN) worth €115 million to supply and install a power grid at the new deep water port in Nacala-a-Velha, in northern Mozambique, which is under construction.

According to Portuguese newspaper Oje, in order to supply power to the entire port facility, Siemens will provide medium and low voltage transformers and centres to control the adjustable motors that drive conveyor belts.

The turn-key project along with construction of the main high voltage (110/22kV) sub-station includes supplying an installing two Siemens 40MVA transformers and one 10MVA transformer.

CLIN was set up by Vale, Brazil’s largest mining company and by Mozambican state port and rail management company Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique (CFM).

The partnership signed a contract with the Mozambican government to build a railway and a deep water port, projects that are part of the Nacala corridor which will run from the Mozambican coast to Moatize, after passing through Malawi.

The Nacala railroad will be 912 kilometres long and will, in the future, carry coal from mines in Tete province to the terminal at the port of Nacala-a-Velha. Source – macauhub

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The products tanker Cotton. Picture by Allan Flood/vesseltracker

West African pirates, thought to be from Nigeria, have released the chemical products tanker COTTON (37,879-dwt, built 2007), which was highjacked on 15 July while off the coast of Gabon.

A report from Geden, the Turkish ship manager said earlier that the ship had been sighted and is now free from pirates who have left the ship. It is assumed that the pirates will have stolen part of or all the cargo.

Cotton has an all-Indian crew of 24.

The ship was attacked by armed pirates near Port Gentil in Gabon on Monday last week. Cotton is managed by Turkish shipmanager Geden Lines and is flagged in Malta. Turkish diplomatic sources said that on 18 July the ship was spotted near Togo, some 600 n.miles from where the ship was seized. It was speculated that the Turkish Navy had called on the US Navy to help in tracking the ship using satellite imagery.

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A salvage team from Five Oceans Salvage and Smit Salvage has boarded the fire ravaged container ship HANSA BRANDENBURG at the weekend and a tow has since been secured. The vessel is now on its way to Mauritius behind the tug CORAL SEA FOS.

The ship will be taken initially to Port Louis where an evaluation of the ship’s damage can be done, where a decision will be made as to where the ship is to be repaired.

It can be assumed that the containers on board will be unloaded at Port Louis, with undamaged or unaffected boxes being shipped on another vessel to their intended destinations. From reports it seems the fire was restricted to one of the cargo holds, nearest the bridge and accommodation block.

The accommodation block also received fire damage along the forepart. It is not known if the fire penetrated this area. Nor has the cause of the fire been disclosed at this stage.


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Denel’s Rooivalk attack helicopter and the Rooikat armoured car. Picture by Clinton Wyness

Pretoria – The South African government wants Denel to grow into a preferred global supplier in the defence industry, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba told reporters at the Denel post-Annual General Meeting on Monday, 22 July.

“Our objective, as government, is for Denel to grow into a global player in the defence industry and to become a preferred supplier and prime contractor for the Department of Defence’s large programmes as well as for the African continent,” he said.

To achieve this, Gigaba said the state-owned company (SOC) would have to aggressively invest in research and development, which will help to secure long-term sustainability.

Gigaba said he was currently engaging with the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans to strengthen their collaboration, so that the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) becomes the platform to showcase Denel’s capabilities.

In support of the collaborative initiatives between the Public Enterprises and Defence Departments, the minister said his department was preparing to undertake a study into the economic benefits derived from the Rooivalk Attack Helicopter manufacture programme, in which Denel Aviation was the prime contractor and the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM).

He said the study would assist government in developing the business case for further investment in design and manufacturing.

With regard to pursuing business in Africa, Gigaba said he has directed the Board of Denel to develop a comprehensive African strategy and align it with the department’s own strategy so that the company can leverage off government’s diplomatic programme on the continent.

Improvement in performance

The minister said he had noted improvements in the performance of the business, which include:

  • The 10% revenue growth, driven by a 34% increase in exports;

  • 73% improvement in net profit of R71 million during the year under review, marking a third consecutive year of positive financial performance;

  • 35% reduction losses in Denel Aerostructures (DAe); and

  • 54% improvement in debt-to-equity ratio.
  • Gigaba said he also noted the following positive developments:

  • Improvements in the terms of the Denel Aerostructures’ Airbus A400M contract;

  • The introduction of new capabilities into the SOC through the Tawazun Dynamics joint venture between Denel Dynamics and Tawazun Holdings of the UAE;

  • Denel Land Systems acquisition of a majority stake in Light Mobility Technologies (LMT) to the introduction of armoured vehicles; and

  • The accreditation of Denel Aviation as a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) Centre for Russian Helicopters.
  • “The expansion of Denel’s technological and defence capabilities will be its strong value proposition as it positions itself as global player in the export market. I am encouraged by the company’s financial performance, business developments and new initiatives for the year under review,” Gigaba said.

    However, the minister conceded that the company was not yet out of the financial woods.

    “I have asked both the Board and management to develop a long-term growth strategy, which will place the company in a sustainable growth trajectory, with Africa firmly in its focus.

    “The long-term strategy will take into account Denel’s’ advanced manufacturing capabilities and leveraging with other aviation asserts in the department’s portfolio to unlock opportunities through collaboration between SAA Technical, SA Express Technical and Denel Aviation,” he said.

    Gigaba said the other opportunity was in Supplier Development obligations associated with the SAA fleet renewal, contributing to the expansion of Denel’s aerostructures, engineering and maintenance capabilities.

    “I have also directed the Board of Denel to pursue collaboration with SAA to leverage on this procurement to help deepen industrial capabilities, skills development and job creation,” he said. Source – Sanews


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    Durban-based Grindrod is back on the acquisition trail with an offer to acquire the entire issued ordinary share capital of the RACEC engineering group, except for the 25.1% of RACEC shares held by Solethu Civils.

    The joint statement issued yesterday by Grindrod and RACEC said that Grindrod Freight Services (GFS) has since 2005 been engaged in the rail sector in Africa and has “significantly expanded its rail service offerings in the last four years, in particular through an extension of the breadth of the rail service offerings it provides and through a significant increase in scale of existing operations.”

    GFS said that it believes that the acquisition of RACEC, through Grindrod Holdings, would complement its current service offering and present synergies in respect of track maintenance and signalling contracts resulting in an opportunity for GFS to capture more of the rail value chain and to grow its offering to customers.

    RACEC provides electrical and rail construction services in South Africa and across Africa but is currently engaged in an arbitration contractual dispute in Sierra Leone that has resulted in the company facing severe cash flow pressure. In addition, the awarding of further key contracts anticipated in both South Africa and Africa remain outstanding. RACEC has been formally notified of a breach of its debt service cover ratio covenant by ABSA Bank Limited and Grindrod Bank Limited.

    The statement concludes, “RACEC is in need of further funding and GFS is of the view that RACEC should be delisted from the JSE Limited in order for RACEC to be appropriately capitalised and restructured in an unlisted environment, where the RACEC management can focus on delivering quality service to clients whilst being supported by GFS’s strategic input and fund raising abilities.

    The finalisation of the acquisition is subject to certain regulatory conditions.


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    The Japanese-owned, Panama-flagged bulk carrier FURNESS LONDON (53,472-dwt, built 2006) makes a fine picture as she enters Cape Town harbour at the weekend. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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