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Ports & Ships Maritime News

1 September 2015
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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The South African Navy's offshore patrol ship SAS ISAAC DYOBHA (P1565) prepares to enter Durban harbour after a patrol along the South African east coast. P1565 is again based at Durban, her former home during the time when this and seven other identical ships formed the strike force of the SA Navy. Although diminutive in size the strike craft packed a mighty punch. Apart from their armament of two 76mm guns, the ships carried an array of surface to surface and surface to air missiles. This latter capability now rests with the navy's four frigates. Three of the former strike craft survive and continue in service as patrol ships, at least until Project Biro sees the building of a new fleet of patrol vessels. This picture is by Keith Betts

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Port of Richards Bay with Naval Island and the Tuzi Waterfront area

Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), intends reviving its once popular port festivals with the first to be introduced at the Port of Richards Bay when the port will play host to a two-day celebration on the weekend of 26 to 27 September 2015.

The function will be undertaken in partnership with the Uthungulu District Municipality (Empangeni and Richards Bay).

The last time that TNPA hosted a port festival was pre 2004 when the ISPS security blanket fell across the ports.

According to TNPA the Richards Bay port festival promises family fun, live entertainment, leisure activities, an arts and crafts market, children's entertainment and numerous waterside events.

A special and potentially exciting feature will be appearances and displays by some of the South African Navy's warships, with the ships being open to the public over the port festival weekend. There will also be various water sports guaranteed to thrill adrenaline junkies. The navy will be present in Richards Bay for Exercise Oxide, a joint exercise with the French Navy.

"Port festivals were once regular events attracting thousands of visitors until the advent of the ISPS code of safety for ports, which placed limitations on public interaction with our ports. However, we as TNPA have a responsibility to re-integrate our ports with their cities and communities," said TNPA Chief Executive Richard Vallihu.

Transnet says that it is developing its concept of 'people centric ports' and plans are afoot to open the ports up to promote tourism, leisure, recreation, sport, career and business opportunities and community engagement.

The Richards Bay Port Festival will include a careers exhibition for learners to interact with some of the area's leading businesses, including TNPA, Foskor, Uthungulu District Municipality, Richards Bay IDZ, Richards Bay Minerals and the South African Maritime Safety Association (SAMSA).

The bumper week kicks off with World Maritime Day on 23 September, followed by the biannual Exercise Oxide military collaboration between the French and South African military and navies, and culminating in the two-day Port Festival.

"The regional importance of a festival such as this has been given renewed impetus with the launch of the South African government's Operation Phakisa initiative, in which TNPA is a key role player," explained Port Manager, Preston Khomo.

When government launched Operation Phakisa last year, it set out its first project focusing on unlocking the immense economic potential of the Oceans Economy. This it hopes will boost GDP growth, job creation and employment within the marine transport sector, aligned with the priorities of the National Development Plan. Transnet says the festival therefore intends to expose the youth and learners to the marine sector, oil and gas industry and the mission-critical skills required by the maritime industry.

The Richards Bay Port Festival will take place in and around Naval Island, Tuzi Gazi Waterfront and the indoor cricket facility at the Port of Richards Bay. It will be open from 10h00 to 20h00 on Saturday, 26 September and from 10h00 to 17h00 on Sunday, 27 September 2015. Entry for adults and children over 10 is a low R20 per day or R30 for a weekend package, while children under 10 enter free. Tickets will be available at the gate.

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The frigate SAS Spioenkop which was one of the navy ships taking part in the recent Exercise Red Lion in False Bay. Picture Ian Shiffman

The South African Navy went to sea for Exercise Red Lion 2015 from Monday, 10 August 2015 to Friday, 21 August 2015, with the exercise taking place in the False Bay area.

Exercise Red Lion is a bi annual exercise and aims at preparing the South African Navy to undertake missions as and when tasked by Joint Operations Headquarters. Units taking part in Exercise Red Lion are made up from the South African Navy's own forces in order to test the maritime skills and tactics between naval ships and shore units.

During the first sea phase, the task group conducted various evolutions ranging from Air Defense Exercises, Helicopter Operations and Officer of the Watch manoeuvres. Two ships of the Royal Navy, HMS LANCASTER and RFA GOLD ROVER briefly joined the task group at sea for the Passing Exercise before proceeding alongside Simon's Town harbour. HMS LANCASTER and RFA GOLD ROVER were arriving for an informal visit and maintenance period and will be alongside in Simon's Town until 14 September 2015 and in Cape Town from 23 to 28 September 2015.

The last five days of the exercise were more intense as the task group conducted Sea Patrol exercises, Replenishment At Sea approaches, vertical hoisting of personnel with a helicopter, Personnel Transfer Exercises and boarding exercises by the Maritime Reaction Squadron.

The next naval exercise involving ships of the South African Navy is Exercise Oxide which will take place in and around Richards Bay later in September and will also involve at least one ship from the French Navy, FNS FLOREAL. The sea stage of the exercise will be between 21 September and 2 October. Land forces will also be involved in the Zululand district. source: SA Navy

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Dumisani Khuzwayo, TPT Human Resources GM

As women were celebrated during the month of August it remains vital that the emphasis placed on empowering women does not end there, but that South African companies keep doing their part to enable the growth of women in business, thereby working towards equality in the workplace, says Transnet Port Terminals (TPT).

TPT believes it is 'walking the talk' and leading by example in this area. TPT is South Africa's state owned port terminal operator and one of Transnet SOC's operating divisions who attained a Level three B-BBEE status in 2014. After receiving the PMR Africa Award in 2014 as one of the companies/institutions doing most for the empowerment of women in the workplace TPT has remained committed to emancipating women in the workplace, not just in terms of the emancipation of its female employees but also when it comes to South African businesses owned by women.

In fact, TPT boasts some impressive numbers on employment equity in the 16 terminals it operates across seven ports within three regions. Since 2012, the number of women in skilled technical positions at TPT has more than doubled from 462 to 982. In addition the number of women in senior management positions has more than tripled from 8 to 30 over the same period.

How are these goals being achieved? When it comes to training and development TPT has spent over R42 million on women while more than 1,200 females received opportunities through apprenticeships, learnerships, bursaries and short courses.

In addition to that the company also supports various programmes that focus on upskilling and empowering girls at school level including the annual 'Take a Girl Child to Work' initiative as well as the Techno Girls programme which hosts young girls for a week of job-shadowing at its terminals.

Dumisani Khuzwayo, TPT's General Manager for Human Resources, believes that the company appreciates the important role that women play in their communities as well as their potential to help grow the South African economy.

"At TPT we truly believe that excluding women from the business world is detrimental to individual companies and to the mainstream economy of our country as a whole. It is our responsibility as a proudly local company to ensure that past inequalities are eradicated, in particular when it comes to our operations. It is our firm belief that emancipating women to play more meaningful roles in organised professional settings will take both TPT and the country forward," said Khuzwayo.

In that respect TPT has put their money where their mouth is especially when it comes to female empowerment outside the company. Through the Singakwenza Kwenzeke programme that is spearheaded by TPT and seeks to empower women-owned businesses in engineering, the company has helped increase the annual turnover of these businesses by more than 40 percent from R53.4 million to over R75.5 million whilst creating more than 110 jobs in the sector from 431 to 544 positions.

According to Ntombeziningi Shezi, General Manager for Procurement, TPT saw the opportunity to assist these women-owned businesses as one that will bring about meaningful change.

"With Singakwenza Kwenzeke we aim to provide support to women in what is a predominantly male sector. This initiative goes to the heart of the transformation agenda of the engineering sector and we pride ourselves in helping women make serious inroads while contributing to the Gross Domestic Product of this country," said Shezi.

"South Africa in general, and TPT in particular, have done well in putting women and their interests high on the agenda, but it is important that we do not take the foot off the accelerator if we want to help women attain their dreams," she added.

This is also reflected in TPT's budgeting decisions as per annum a target of 15 percent of their total procurement budget of almost a billion rand has been earmarked to go to 100 percent female-owned businesses. However currently approximately 25 percent of the procurement budget goes to this select group. This effectively means that a whopping quarter of a billion rand, which is 10 percent more than the set target, is invested in female-owned businesses per year.

Launched in 2014, the programme has assisted in upskilling the businesses which are part of the programme in various areas including project management, financial management, ISO training, basic contract law and tender and proposal writing, amongst others. The programme also helped these businesses to acquire much-needed equipment like office printers, trailers and power generators.

TPT maintains that not only is it walking the talk when it comes to empowering women in the workplace, it is doing so not just in August but all year round.

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From mud pits to cemented roads: how infrastructure upgrades boost safer operational activities and staff morale.

Mud; floods; waterlogged containers; mini-craters in the container yard traffic lanes; toppling containers; reduced equipment availability: such were the conditions faced by employees and customers during the yearly rainy season in Onne, Nigeria, at the West Africa Container Terminal (WACT) when APM Terminals became a minority stake holder in 2010.

The facility is now 100 percent owned by APM Terminals since 2012.

The rainy season in Onne is synonymous with torrential rain falls reaching up to 280mm per month between July and September. With 55 percent of WACT's container yard unpaved, container stacking surfaces would transform into islands of uneven muddy slops. Phase 2 of WACT staking capacity was 6,200 TEUs but dropped to 3,729 during the rainy season as a result of flooding and erosions. And with this deterioration in working conditions came a slump in workers' morale.

"This came hand-in-hand with increased turnaround times, equipment breakdowns, transportation safety-related incidents as well as poor customer service due to damaged or inaccessible containers. Failing to pave the yard would see WACT's annual yard throughput negatively impact by 41,000 TEUs," explains Craig Pedler, General Manager Operations at WACT.

In 2013, an investment decision was made to pave the stacking surface. The project, which began in October 2013 and was completed in December 2014, was not just limited to paving but also included land reclamation, new drainage, office buildings and additional lighting.

This resulted in immediate benefits in safety with phase 2 transportation related safety incidents decreasing by 17 percent in 2014, and a downward trend still being observed in 2015. Truck turn-around time pre-paving was 90 minutes on average in 2012 with YTD 2015 reflecting 49 minutes to provide an improved service to trucking customers. Thanks to better Wi-Fi network coverage, container locations in the yard improved which supported service delivery efforts overall.

"Paving phase 2 also did wonders for staff morale, as they could see the positive benefits the paving had on operations and maintenance and repairs. Dust, pollution and unsafe working conditions due to container handling equipment having to manoeuvre through pools of water were eliminated. With phase 2 now paved, WACT staff was more emboldened to come forward with safety initiatives," explains Arun Kalam, General Manager HSE at WACT.

These included proper road markings to now have a more comprehensive Traffic Management Plan, external truck driver inductions, increased enforcement of external truck conditions having working lights and horns as well as suggesting yard locations for convex mirrors to eliminate blind spots in the yard.

"Even with a limited investment of US$30 million, we were able to add significant value to the WACT terminal in many aspects. From designing a proper yard, to smaller things such as equipping the toilets with water taps, it is all of this that make the overall experience of project implementation much more inspiring," says Graziela Luchtenberg, Principal Civil Engineering Business Implementation, APM Terminals, who worked with local teams on these projects. source: APM Terminals Internal Communication

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Located in the Port of Onne Oil & Gas Free Zone, APM Terminal's WACT container terminal caters for the greater Port Harcourt area

More about WACT

The port of Onne is the closest gateway to the fast-growing Eastern Nigerian markets. The port is within the Onne Oil & Gas Free Zone which was established in 1996 to serve the Nigerian oil and gas industry as well as other commercial enterprises. APM Terminals holds a 100 percent stake in WACT which serves a local market estimated to be 150,000 TEUs. Container throughput at WACT was 267,000 TEUs in 2014. Total greenfield development investment at the terminal exceeded $125 million between 2005 and 2014.

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A meeting on the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) was held last week in Libreville, Gabon, a port city near the Gulf of Guinea and one of the most oil rich areas on the continent, wrote Kevin Mwanza in AFKInsider.

The AGOA meeting came at a time when many African countries that rely heavily on commodity exports are facing economic challenges as prices fall on the international market and their main export market in China faces a slowdown, Mwanza wrote.

AGOA was enacted in May 2000 to give African countries duty free access to the US market. The act was renewed by the US Congress for another 10 years in June after the initial 15-year deal expired.

Analysts however say the act alone may not be enough to jump-start exports from Africa, especially manufactured ones, to the US.

According to US government data, nearly 80 percent of the $27 billion worth goods exported from Africa in 2013 under the deal was oil.

Michael Froman, a US trade representative attending the AGOA meeting in Libreville, told Reuters that allowing African exports to access American markets duty free was "still not enough" as long as a majority of goods from the 39 nations under the pact come in unprocessed.

Froman said that the cost of producing and exporting products from Africa was too high to make them compete on a level field with products from other regions such as Latin America.

This high cost of goods is mainly due to poor transport linkages, costly electricity, corruption and red tape in licensing processes.

"When you look at a container of coffee or textiles coming out of Africa, it is substantially more expensive and less competitive than the same container coming out of parts of Latin America," Froman said.

Only a few African countries such as South Africa, which exports over $4 billion worth of goods each year to the US, have taken advantage of the treaty to export manufactured goods.

"South Africa has been able to grow the export of besides the citrus which are agricultural goods, besides those we have been able to export an enormous amount of vehicle parts into the USA market," Dumile Cele, the Durban chamber of commerce chief executive, was quoted by Voice of America as saying at the meeting.

According to Reuters, manufacturing accounted for only 12.7 percent, or $58 billion, of the $457-billion worth of exports from the continent in the decade to 2011, meaning that the sector remains weak even with rapid growth in African economies.

Many African leaders have lamented that their countries lack the necessary skilled labour and infrastructure to take advantage of AGOA.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, however said that the tax-free arrangement between Africa and the US was a long-term process and change won't happen overnight."

"We are working with those countries through our trade hubs and through consultations with American companies and trade ministers to try to increase the productivity of companies that are exporting to the US to increase the quality of the products that they are increasing," Thomas-Greenfield said.

See more at: http://afkinsider.com

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The 6,200 ton Indian Navy guided missile destroyer INS DELHI, when she visited South Africa in 2012. Picture is by Trevor Jones

India and Australia will be holding joint naval exercises in the Bay of Bengal this month as Chinese naval presence expands into the Indian Ocean.

This increasing presence of Chinese naval ships including submarines clearly has India concerned. Chinese submarines have been spotted near Sri Lanka and in Pakistan waters, where the Chinese military have been made welcome. Chinese Navy surface ships have also been present, notably on counter piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden in the north western Indian Ocean.

At the same time the Chinese Navy is conducting joint exercises with Russian naval forces in the Sea of Japan and off the coast of Vladivostok. More than 20 ships from both countries are taking part in that exercise.

This appears to have been interpreted as the Chinese making it clear to the rest of the world that it is now a global power and is capable of having naval forces operating far from China.

In 2014 China sent a nuclear submarine on patrol in the Indian Ocean although China maintained that its ships were i the Indian Ocean to protect Chinese merchant shipping from the threat of piracy.

India has long been mistrustful of Chinese intentions, including disputes over the northern border which the two countries share in the Himalayas and where there have been clashes in the past. This is notwithstanding both countries now being members of BRICS, the economic joint operation involving Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

There have been rumours of Chinese interest in developing a naval base on the African continent but this has never been substantiated. Last year there were reports that China would be exercising rights to having a naval base in Namibia, whichb is on the Atlantic coast but there is no evidence of this happening.

Meanwhile India, which has been growing its naval strength with the introduction of new ships including aircraft carriers, will take part in a week-long war game exercise in the Pacific Ocean together with the United States and Japan.

Clearly, both Asian countries are intent on flexing their muscles and for India to be involved in naval war games so far away from the Indian Ocean can be regarded as highly unusual. Watch this space!

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Elsewhere in today's news we report about the return of Transnet's Port Festivals, in which parts of the ports are opened to the public to take part in and enjoy events. Some of our eight ports lend themselves ideally for this exercise; others perhaps not quite so much but each port has its own points of interest and, dare we say it, areas of beauty. Durban for one has a rail route that extends right around the harbour, a run of some 20 or so kilometres on which for a number of years Durban's famous Umgeni Steam Railway operated at Easter time with a weekend steam train service that combined with launch cruises on the bay. These were always highly successful and with the added attraction of being steam-hauled they helped promote the city and the port.

The Harbour Wanderer as the service was named was brought to a halt in 2004 when ISPS was applied.

With this in mind, watch the YouTube video clip above for a glimpse at how the German port of Hamburg is doing things.

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The 8,800 TEU capacity container ship MSC ATHOS (110,772 dwt, built 2013) makes her entry into Durban harbour earlier this month. The 300 metre long ship was built by Sungdong Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering in South Korea and is owned by Costamare Shipping and operated by Mediterranean Shipping Company. MSC Athos flies the Greek flag. Picture is by Trevor Jones.


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