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Ports & Ships Maritime News

1 July 2014
Author: Terry Hutson

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


Click on headline to go direct to story – use the BACK key to return


News continues below...

E R INDIA rotcro 470

The German-owned container ship ER INDIA (68,025-dwt, built 2002) called at Cape Town from Pointe Noire in West Africa in early June, before sailing for South East Asian and Chinese ports. ER India was returned to her original and preferred name in April this year having operated for the last 12 years under charter as APL India. Picture: Ian Shiffman

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State-owned Transnet presented a buoyant set of results for the financial year that ended on 31 March 2014, when it declared having increased its profit line by 24.9% to R 5.2 billion.

The port, rail and pipeline company said yesterday (Monday) that revenue had increased 12.8% to R 56.6 billion and the company’s EBITDA* was up 12.3% to R23.6 billion (2013 R 21.1 bn) *EBITDA = earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation.

The increase in profit could be accounted by, among other reasons, a 14.2% increase in minerals and chrome volumes and a 25.2% increase in containers and automotive volumes carried by rail. The latter, said Transnet, indicated the strides made by the rail division, Transnet Freight Rail, in gaining market share through its focus on road to rail migration.

Despite this, volumes at Freight Rail’s dedicated heavy haul lines for coal and iron ore declined marginally year-on-year. The export coal line was hampered by a number of factors, chiefly, a 33-day strike by workers belonging to a breakaway union, a municipal power supply disruption at the Richards Bay Coal Terminal that lasted about 10 days, and a longer than anticipated annual maintenance shutdown. As a result, the coal line achieved 83.1 million tonnes in volumes from last year’s 84.3 million tonnes. These challenges were mitigated by the partial introduction of the 200-wagon Shongololo train which, once fully operational, will result in significant productivity gains.

Transnet said that volumes on the iron ore line were affected by a customer’s inability to provide the agreed tonnages in line with contractual commitments.

The company said it was encouraged by Transnet Engineering having increased external revenue by 17.9% despite an almost 24% decline in sales to the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA). The rise in external revenue is in line with Transnet’s plans to diversify sources of revenue, focusing on new markets in Africa.

DBNC003 berth 109 470 Port containers recorded an impressive 6.3% growth, while petroleum volumes were up 4.4%.

Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) saw its income improve by 19.1% to R9.9 billion (2013 R8.3bn). Of this, cargo and marine revenue grew 7.3% to R7.8 billion (2013 R7.3bn) despite a zero tariff increase and a reduction in tariffs for containers and auto exports. This improvement in revenue was possible due to a 5.4% increase in containers, 3.7% increase in automotive volumes and 3.1% increase in dry bulk handled. Revenue from real estate improved by 22% to R2.2 billion (2013 R1.8bn).

TNPA EBITDA increased by 19.6% to R6.7 billion (2013 R5.6bn).

Transnet Port Terminals (TPT)

increased revenue by 15% to R8.5 billion (2013 R7.4bn). Container volumes increased by 6.3% to 4,503,425 TEUs for the financial year (4,236,600 TEUs in 2013) while automotive volumes increased 2% to 687,799 units handled at the ports (674,231 units in 2013) and bulk and breakbulk cargo increased by 3.4% to 88.2 million tons (85.3mt in 2013).

The annual report says that container efficiency as measured at TPT expressed in average container moves per gross crane hour, varied from port to port. Durban Pier 1 improved its moves from 23 to 24 moves per hour, while Pier 2 saw a decrease from 28 moves to 25, mainly due to berth outages for scour protection of the quay wall and repair work to the South Quay. The Port of Cape Town Container Terminal improved its GCH from 31 moves to 34 but at Ngqura GCH decreased from 32 moves to 26 moves due to capacity constraints involving landside equipment.

EBITDA at TPT increased by 23.2% to R2.5 billion (2013 R2bn).

Transnet Pipelines increased its revenue by 10.1% to R3.1 billion (R2.8bn in 2013) following an 8.5% increase in tariff revenue granted by the National Energy Regulator (NERSA). Volumes went up 4.4% to 16.583 billion litres (15.882bn litres in 2013). EBITDA increased by 7.6% to R2.3bn (R2.2bn in 2013).

Cash Flow

Cash generated from Transnet operations after working capital changes rose 11.6% to R25.3 billion, providing Transnet with the ability to generate strong sustainable cash flows. The strong cash flow boosted the company’s cash interest cover ratio to 3.7 times, keeping it significantly above the target of 3 times. This is despite an increase in finance costs from rising borrowings as the capital investment programme accelerates. Cash interest cover is a key consideration for investors as it indicates a company’s ability to service its debt.


During the period, Transnet raised R22.4 billion from the market and repaid R8 billion.

Expenditure and investments

Transnet spent R31.8 billion during the year on revamping and modernising its rail, pipeline and ports network – taking the total since 2010 to a record-breaking R121.5 billion – the majority of which has been on Freight Rail.

Highlights of the programme include the awarding of contracts for the purchase of 1,064 diesel and electric locomotives to four global Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). Infrastructure investment highlights for the year include:

Locomotive fleet renewal programme

  • Awarded contract for the building of 1,064 diesel and electric locomotives to General Electric, China North Rail, China South Rail and Bombardier Transportation;

  • Awarded contract for 60 diesel locomotives for the General Freight Business (GFB) to General Electric;

  • Awarded contract for 100 electric locomotives to China South Rail;

  • 10 of the first 95 locomotives from China South Rail have been delivered and are undergoing operational readiness testing; and

  • Took delivery of 32 new locomotives for the iron ore line and 43 diesels for the GFB. On the GFB, operational targets were reached four months ahead of schedule.
  • All locomotives are to be delivered within the next 36 months.

    Wagons fleet programme

  • 3,281 wagons were built at Transnet facilities across the country. 1,500 wagons are to be built over the next seven years in line with projected volume growth and locomotive renewal programme.

    New Multi-Product Pipeline

  • Coastal and inland terminals to be completed by the end of current financial year;

  • 4,350 people on site; and

  • 24-inch trunk line, 16-inch network, three pump stations and two metering stations operational.
  • Port Infrastructure

  • Awarded contract for nine tug boats and one dredger. (PORTS & SHIPS questions whether the contract for the tugs has been awarded)
  • Port Equipment

  • Handling equipment to increase container-handling capacity at Port of Ngqura from current 750,000 TEUs per annum to 1,5 million TEUs;

  • Took delivery of seven tandem lift STS cranes for Durban Container Terminal; and

  • Bought one ship loader and one ship unloader for handling dry bulk at the Port of Richards Bay.
  • Locomotive Purchases

    Regarding the awarding of contracts for 1,064 new locomotives, all OEMs exceeded the local content requirements of 60% for electric locomotives and 55% for diesel locomotives. With the exception of 70, all locomotives are being built in South Africa in line with government policy.

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    LPLE ICTSI Sign Mo U for 

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    The new port of Lekki, as it will look when viewed from the east

    The new Nigerian port of Lekki Container Terminal will be operational in 2017, a spokesman for ICTSI Africa told a London conference last week.

    ICTSI – International Container Terminals Services, Inc – has a 21-year sub-concession to develop and operate the container terminal which is being built 60km west of Lagos. The terminal will operate within a manufacturing and logistics free zone and on a 1,200m long quay with a draught alongside of -16.5 metres.

    Gagan Seksaria, chief financial officer for ICTSI Africa said that the port was being developed as a hub for the Nigerian and West African region. Nigeria needs to be able to cater for bigger ships, and Lekki will be able to provide the depth, the post-Panamax cranes and other equipment, he said.

    The Lekki port is being developed by the Tolaram Group of Singapore together with China Harbour Engineering Company. Once completed the port, which will consist mainly of the container terminal at first, will be equipped with 14 post-Panamax STS cranes and will be able to handle container ships up to 10,000-TEU capacity.

    The Philippines-based company is currently developing a terminal at Matadi in the democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and operates the 400,000-TEU capacity container terminal at Toamasina in Madagascar.

    News continues below...


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    Astor arriving in Durban on an earlier visit. Picture: Terry Hutson

    It is with further intended anticipation that the local travel trade will look ahead to the return of the cruise ship ASTOR to South African ports in November, when she makes another positioning voyage cruise from Britain to Australia, writes World Ship Society South African secretary David Hughes.

    The recent April positioning voyage from Australia over to Britain was not that well subscribed. A great pity, for she is in a class all of her own. If you need a break from the world's mega-sized cruise ships, then surely Astor is for you.

    DSCF9921 470
    an inside cabin on board Astor. Picture: Terry Hutson

    This scribe and partner reviewer Buddy Ross were guests of Cruise & Maritime Voyages (Australia) recently, and joined the vessel at Durban for a short cruise to Cape Town.

    The trip was most enjoyable, and an insight into a smaller cruise vessel, for a change! We carried only 329 passengers along the coast, so were just half-full. One therefore hopes the booking figures may be improved next time around.

    We called at Mossel Bay when en-route to the Cape - quite nostalgic for this writer, as the last time he had called at the port by ship was with his late parents in Christmas 1964, aboard the Union-Castle Line mail ship, STIRLING CASTLE.

    The last basket that used to transfer passengers from the mail ship into an awaiting tug below can be found in the Diaz Museum complex in Mossel Bay. The last mail ship call at Mossel Bay was in July 1965, when the Stirling & Athlone Castles were both withdrawn from service, and a new accelerated run was introduced.

    But back to Astor. Passengers were mainly from Australia, and it seems not all were pure cruising holiday folk. I spoke to a British gentleman who had been living in Australia for the past four years, and was now relocating (old liner style) with his family to Britain, by ship, and was definitely not on a cruise. Case in point, way to go just like the old days with P&O, Shaw Savill, Lloyd Triestino, Sitmar and many other shipping companies that provided such a service.

    South African cruise passengers are often asking about connections by sea down under, so perhaps the next Astor season may hopefully attract more locals aboard.

    For Stuart Venn of Triton Cape Sea Travel, it must have been a very nostalgic time for him- as ship's passenger agent in South Africa, he was also aboard with us coastwise. I'm sure he was thinking back to his Safmarine days when he was Marketing Manager for the first Astor. I gave a quick thought to the late Capt. Currie, who passed away last year and was the last South African Master of that vessel.

    Aboard, there were many highlights. The cuisine was superb, cocktails in the lovely Captain's Club lounge, the shows were performed by a small team who put much energy and hard work into their productions. We had a lovely outside cabin, where sea vistas were close-by - not from far away balcony-style level. It was all rather heady, a hark-back to the past, and yet an indicator that future smaller ship cruising is alive....and well!

    David Hughes for Ports & Ships

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    Astor’s swimming pool and stern deck area. Picture: Terry Hutson

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    Viking Star 470
    artist’s impression of the new Viking Star

    The name Viking Cruises may not be so well known, especially among the cruising population in southern Africa but that may well change as this specialist in top end river cruising on the rivers of Europe, turns its attention to ocean cruising.

    Last week the line’s first ocean cruise ship, the 930-passenger VIKING STAR was floated out of the hangar at the Fincantieri Marghera shipyard outside Venice, Italy. Viking Star is the first of three similar ships that will debut in 2015 with maiden voyages in Scandinavian waters and the Baltic Sea.

    In the winter months Viking Cruises will also join the cruising fraternity with cruises in the western and eastern Mediterranean.

    “Today (23 June) is a proud day for our entire Viking family, as we are one step closer to launching a new era of ocean cruising,” Viking Cruises chairman Torstein Hagen said at the ceremony.

    Viking Star 430
    “Viking Star’s maiden season was sold out before she even touched water, which just demonstrates how enthusiastic our guests are for destination-focused ocean cruises. It is this enthusiasm that has led us to place orders for two additional sister ships, Viking Sea and Viking Sky.”

    Following the ceremonial floating out, during which a cord was cut as the ship entered the ocean for the first time, the ship has moved to the outfitting dock for final construction and interior completion.

    Viking says that planning its ocean cruising itineraries have benefited from extensive feedback and input from Viking River Cruises® passengers, and with experienced travelers in mind.

    Itineraries are designed for maximum time in port, often with late evenings or overnights, so guests can experience local nightlife or evening performances. Ports include both cosmopolitan cities and ‘collector ports,’ and appeal to those with an interest in history, art and culture. In addition, Viking Inclusive Cruising provides unparalleled value—with every cruise fare including a veranda stateroom, shore excursions in each port of call, all onboard meals, and all port charges and government taxes.

    Guests will also enjoy many complimentary amenities as part of their fare, including beer and wine with lunch and dinner service; Wi-Fi; self-service laundry and 24-hour room service.

    Some features of the new ships include:

    - all cabins have a private balcony
    - a two-deck high observation lounge at the forward end
    - a complete walk-around promenade deck beneath the lifeboats and tenders
    - the main dining room has floor-to-ceiling windows that slide open
    - al-fresco dining is available
    - the first true infinity pool at sea
    - the spa has been dispatched from deck 9 on top to deck 1 below

    News continues below…


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    (L-R) Pierfrancesco Vago (MSC Cruises executive chairman); Elsbeth Müller (UNICEF executive director); Gérard Bocquenet (UNICEF director)

    MSC Cruises has donated €3 million to UNICEF, the United Nations agency that fights for the rights of children around the world, during a handover ceremony at MSC Cruises’ Geneva headquarters.

    MSC Cruises and UNICEF joined forces in 2009 under the Get on Board for Children initiative, which encourages guests on board the 12 MSC Cruises ships to make a contribution to UNICEF.

    The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is active in more than 190 countries and territories. In January of this year, MSC Cruises and UNICEF started a new life-saving partnership to provide assistance to malnourished children by delivering Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) – such as Plumpy’Nut® – to treat severe malnutrition in developing countries and in countries affected by crisis situations.

    “At MSC Cruises we are honoured to be able to assist UNICEF in its endeavour to help starving children around the world. It was our duty to set in place such a concrete partnership that can save the lives of children for whom RUTF is an essential lifeline,” said MSC Cruises executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago.

    “We are proud of the hard work achieved by all our staff, which made it possible to raise such an incredible amount of money. MSC as a group, which means cruises and cargo, is working hard to raise awareness of the project and to provide support to UNICEF through our very extensive network around the world.”

    Guests on board each ship of the MSC fleet have the possibility to donate at least €1, or US$1.5, to the Get on Board for Children initiative. More information is available on the following dedicated website CLICK HERE - use your BACKSPACE key to return to this page.


    Homeless people in Johannesburg, the ‘City of Gold’, with a morning temperature in the open of 3º Celcius when this picture was taken last week. During the night it had dropped to -4ºC

    An appeal for blankets for the homeless is being made to all those who will be attending this year’s Shipwreckers Winter Social party being held on 4 July 2014 (this Friday) at The Sands, 58 Wierda Road East, Sandton, Johannesburg.

    The appeal goes also to the wider maritime industry and anyone else in South Africa to assist with a blanket drive for the homeless this winter.

    Details of the appeal including drop-off points in Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth, and Cape Town can be found on the website BLANKET APPEAL (use your BACKSPACE key to return to this page). CFR Freight, a leading neutral international consolidation company has kindly offered to be a collection point for such donations and will distribute the blankets collected to the shelters.

    “Those of you who will be attending Shipwreckers social, the sea and airfreight industry’s most talked about bi-annual social, please bring your donations to the venue where a collection area will be provided,” says Hariesh Manaardiar, general manager, commercial of Diamond Shipping Services and one of the organisers of the appeal. “You may also donate money (minimum ZAR50) at the gate for this worthy cause,” he adds.

    “On behalf of the Shipping and Freight industry in South Africa, let us rally together to assist those less fortunate.”

    Hariesh can be contacted at +27 11 263 8501


    Brenda Horne Ferreira 200px

    In late news just to hand this morning (Tuesday 1 July), Brenda Horne-Ferreira, who for many years headed the Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative (MCLI), before going into semi-retirement, has returned to the fold of logistics and shipping by accepting the post of CEO of the South African Shippers Council (SASC).

    More details in tomorrow’s News.


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    Gateway port

    Ports & Ships publishes regularly updated SHIP MOVEMENT reports including ETAs for ports extending from West Africa to South Africa to East Africa and including Port Louis in Mauritius.

    In the case of South Africa’s container ports of Durban, Ngqura, Ports Elizabeth and Cape Town links to container Stack Dates are also available.

    You can access this information, including the list of ports covered, by going HERE - remember to use your BACKSPACE to return to this page.


    cosco jeddah 470
    cosco jeddah ===cro 470

    The 4,533-TEU capacity Chinese container ship COSCO JEDDAH (50,488-dwt, built 2012) which called at Cape Town in early June. Pictures: Ian Shiffman

    Don’t forget to send us your news and press releases for inclusion in the News Bulletins. Shipping related pictures submitted by readers are always welcome – please email to info@ports.co.za


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