Ports & Ships Maritime News

Feb 6, 2006
Author: P&S





TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

  • Unions vow to extend the strike


  • Ferry disaster a series of errors


  • MOL gets in on the Europe act


  • Ghana Railways wins tariff increase for bauxite


  • Now Nigerian ports face strike action


  • Another Richards Bay derailment


  • Clipper Race 6 abandoned







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    Unions vow to extend the strike

    Unions will strike in Gauteng for 3 days

    Talks between Transnet and the three unions remain deadlocked after Thursday’s talks (2 February 2006) failed to yield any significant results. The unions say they felt that in spite of some progress during the talks, they still fell far short of laying a foundation for a resolution to the current impasse.

    In Thursday’s meeting the management of Transnet brought back a comprehensive response to the issues raised in an earlier meeting held between the two parties on Tuesday 30 January.

    “However the underlying arrogance and intransigence by management was still very strong. They were characterized by an attitude of ‘take it or leave it’ as well as that of ‘we decide and let labour know’. We asked Transnet to reconsider this stance and the attitude,” said Satawu’s Ronnie Mamba.

    “We as Satawu and the rest of the unions think this is not the kind of attitude that seeks to find a solution at a time like this and we have unanimously agreed that our programme of action should continue as planned and that as matters stand, there is no reason to believe that the 6 March national action will not continue. Sarhwu has meanwhile pulled out its 4,000 members from the action.”

    Mamba said the strike action planned now stands as follows: Gauteng, Limpopo, North West and Mpumalanga will now strike for three days, from 20 to 22 February,

    “The rest of the regions will be, Eastern Cape for one day on 13 February while Northern and Western Cape will go out on 15 February.


    Ferry disaster a series of errors

    The loss of the Egyptian ferry al Salam 98 on Friday 3 February was a disaster waiting to happen but experts think the degree of the tragedy might have been lessened had the master returned to port as soon as a fire broke out in the ship’s engine room.

    More than 1100 people are missing feared dead in one of the worst ever disasters involving a passenger ferry, which brought back memories of another similar disaster in September 1994 when the ferry Estonia was swamped and sank in the Baltic after waves flooded the vessel through the rear door. After that disaster design flaws and other safety measures were identified and supposedly implemented on other similar ferries, although not, it appears, on the Egyptian vessel.


    the ill-fated Egyptian ferry al Salam 98 – picture courtesy www.shipspotting.com

    The al-Salam 98 was built 35 years ago, which many might think is well past its ‘scrapping date’ for a passenger ferry, especially given their record. Equally there is some doubt about whether improved safety improvements were installed in the vessel – the rear door is said to be of an even earlier design than that on the ill-fated Estonia. While there is no evidence so far that water entered the ship via its rear door or that this was the cause of the ship capsizing, had this been the case the ship’s stability would have been immediately compromised. Something did cause the ship to list and then capsize.

    The main cause of the disaster is said to be a fire in either the engine room or a storeroom which the crew were unable to contain or extinguish. Another survivor claimed the fire started in the motor vehicle bay, which housed 220 motor vehicles although a second report suggests a later explosion in the bay took place as the fire spread. With the master declining to return to port at Dubah on the Arabian coast, the ship’s fate and that of most of its passengers was sealed. Within two hours she was ablaze before rolling over and sinking.

    Survivors – more than 400 had been rescued by Sunday leaving over 1100 unaccounted for - said the ship continued on its course for another 90 minutes after the fire broke out with the crew assuring them everything was under control. When it became obvious this wasn’t the case, survivors claim the crew including the master were the first to abandon ship leaving 1500 passengers to their fate.


    al Salam in her days as Tirrenia’s Boccaccio – picture courtesy www.shipspotting.com

    The ship sank in the early hours of Friday morning, with survivors spending up to 20 hours in the water before being rescued. Even the rescue efforts appear to have been bungled, with reports that US and Royal Navy ships offered to help but were turned away by Egyptian authorities, who later reversed their decision and asked for both countries to send ships.

    The ship was owned by Egypt’s El Salaam Maritime Transport and was classified by RINA, having been acquired from the Italian ferry company Tirrenia seven years ago. Originally named Boccaccio the 130m long x 23m wide vessel was a sister ship to Tirrenia’s other ferries Carducci, Leopardi, Manzoni, Pascoli and Petrarca. Her superstructure was extensively built up as shown in the two accompanying images, both courtesy of www.shipspotting.com.


    MOL gets in on the Europe act

    Mitsui OSK Line (MOL) has now entered the lucrative South Africa – Europe Container Service (SAECS) with three ships – two on the main service and a third on the intermediate service that terminates at East London.

    MOL acquired the SAECS interests of the former P&O Nedlloyd following the takeover of that company by AP Moller-Maersk and the decision by Maersk to relinquish certain services that would otherwise have been regarded as monopolistic.

    MOL’s Europe managing director said MOL was pleased to be involved in this new service which would enhance his company’s competitive position in Africa.

    The three ships acquired by MOL are PONL Heemskerck (now MOL Cullinan), PONL Livingstone (now MOL Cullinan) and PONL Portbury (now MOL Springbok).

    Until now MOL’s service with Southern Africa had been confined to linking Asia and South America via South Africa.


    Ghana Railways wins tariff increase for bauxite deliveries

    An increase of almost 8.3% on the haulage of bauxite has been announced by the Ghana Railways Company (GRC). This marks the first increase in tariffs in nearly ten years and comes after three years of negotiation with the Ghana Bauxite Company, which is controlled (80%) by Canada’s Alcan.

    Negotiations had reached a stalemate until three weeks ago when the GRC stopped hauling bauxite to the port of Takoradi from the quarry mine at Awaso. It is believed the GRC had been asking for a tariff increase of 22.5% but settled on the 8.3% following the intervention of Ghana’s Minister of Railways, Ports & Harbours, who said he anticipated a further tariff increase in 2007.

    GRC expects to resume services by railing an average of 14,000 tonnes of bauxite a week. Meanwhile a forum consisting of various stakeholders has been formed with the intention of improving productivity on GRC.

    Bauxite or aluminium ore is the raw material used in the manufacture of aluminium.


    Now Nigerian ports face strike action

    Nigerian port workers say they will begin industrial action in the country’s ports to demonstrate their rejection of a severance package offered by Nigeria’s Port Authority.

    The worker unions say they will commence with a three-day strike before moving into an indefinite strike to make clear their opposition to government’s proposals for a severance consisting of five years guaranteed pension, a gratuity and three months in lieu of notice following the privatisation of the port terminals.

    Unions say this is not acceptable and any severance package has to be the same as in their conditions of service. Unions accuse the pension fund of being in deficit to the amount of N79 Billion. A Nigerian Ports Authority spokesman disputed this saying the pension scheme was not in any danger.

    According to media reports one of the concessionaires, AP Moller has already agreed to settle the severance bill in so far as it concerns workers at the container terminal taken over by that company.


    Another Richards Bay derailment

    Yet another derailment has occurred on the Richards Bay coal line not far from Richards Bay Coal Terminal. The latest derailment, the third in as many weeks according to the Zululand Observer, happened on Tuesday last week (31 January) and only a matter of days after the previous accident reported in this Bulletin.

    According to the Zululand Observer the train was travelling from Vryheid towards the coal terminal when it side-swiped an empty train returning in the opposite direction. Seventeen loaded wagons and 18 empties were damaged – a picture in the newspaper shows mangled wagons lying on their sides.

    A Spoornet spokesman told the paper that 14 trains had been affected but the line was expected to have been cleared sufficiently to reopen it the following day.

    - source http://www.zululandobserver.co.za/index.html


    Clipper Race 6 abandoned

    Race 6 of the Clipper Round the World yacht race has been abandoned following the discovery that a number of yachts have developed loose keel bolts.

    The problem was discovered shortly after 08.30 GMT on Saturday 3 February when Glasgow reported a loose keel bolt. As a precaution all yachts were asked to carry out checks and immediately both Durban Clipper and Victoria found similar problems. Eventually seven of the yachts reported some movement of the keel bolts and the decision was then taken to abandon the leg with all yachts heading for Subic Bay in the Philippines where inspection and repairs can be carried out.

    The first two yachts arrived on Sunday, Durban Clipper and Victoria and the balance began arriving through Sunday with the last due in this morning. The Race Committee emphasised that there was no risk or danger to the yachts. Meanwhile Craig Millar, skipper of Durban Clipper has undertaken to investigate haul-out facilities at Subic Bay and an assessment of the problem will be made as soon as possible.

    - source http://www.clipper-ventures.co.uk


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