Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jun 28, 2007
Author: P&S






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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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  • Radebe gives rail a boost

  • Don’t block our view, says port

  • Now Gambia ports face strike action

  • Conference looks at optimising rail transport

  • Pic of the day – USNS CHARLTON




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    Radebe gives rail a boost

    According to South Africa’s Minister of Transport, Jeff Radebe, there are strong economic reasons for optimising Africa’s rail services.

    Radebe was speaking at the Africa Rail Conference which is being held at Sandton this week.

    “It is not my intention to pre-empt any of the conclusions that any of the conference papers will present. My objective is to locate rail within our current transport policy and to identify a number of rail challenges for the Continent and the rail industry as whole. If this leads to debate and discussion later on, my task will have been achieved.”

    Acknowledging that rail transportation is faced with a range of complexities such as costs and aging infrastructure, Radebe said these simply underscored the urgent need for greater investment and increased emphasis on the use of rail transport.

    “South Africa is a classical example of economic development that shows enormous growth in key sectors. Our country continues to be characterised by high growth in high value sectors such as the automotive manufacturing, mining and agricultural sectors. This kind of growth and development depends primarily on the Continent’s ability to move goods and deliver services to their destinations in an efficient, effective and reliable way, without failure of our rail infrastructure and the fear of goods safety.”

    He said rail transport has a significant role to play in improving the freight logistics system, not only in South Africa but on the rest of the continent as well.

    “In South Africa rail has for a long time carried less tonnes of total surface transport volumes, compared to road volumes. As a result, we have begun a process of reversing the shift from road to rail, particularly of cargoes that should ideally be transported by rail. We are currently implementing the National Freight Logistics Strategy that seeks amongst other things to integrate first and second economies, as well as supporting the integration of marginalised local economies with the main logistics corridors.”

    Radebe said the key objective of the strategy is to reduce the costs of doing business and remove inefficiencies and reduce impediments that the logistics system has placed on businesses and their long-term sustainability.

    The minister’s full speech can be read here: http://www.transport.gov.za/frames/pr0062607-f.html



    Don’t block our view, says port

    Port Elizabeth harbour authorities are concerned about a building under construction which it fears may block the visibility of a vital beacon used to guide ships into the harbour, reports the EP Herald in an article yesterday.

    The report said that a four-storey block of flats under construction in Richmond Street, Port Elizabeth had the potential to block the line of sight between ships accessing the port and the leading light beacon.

    Leading lights are used by pilots on ships to indicate the correct passage into harbour and require a clear uninterrupted view. Currently there is nothing impeding visibility of the port’s leading light but with the development of the building the marine department National Port Authority fears that this may be blocked.

    According to NPA spokesman Dineo Manyoni, if the building obstructs the leading light it would interfere with the safe navigation of ships entering the harbour.

    The way round the problem may be to raise the height of the leading light or by placing a sector light on the port’s front leading light. In that case all costs would be for the property developer.

    The architect involved has declined to comment, says the newspaper.

    source – EP Herald



    Now Gambia ports face strike action

    No sooner have dock workers returned to work at Nigerian ports than another strike in West Africa threatens – this time in Gambia.

    According to trade union officials of the Gambia Dock Workers Union, dock workers (stevedores) will embark on a strike if the notice of termination served on them by management of the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) is not lifted.

    According to the union members have received severance packages to take effect on 1 August as a result of new structures being introduced by the GPA for the employment of dock workers.

    Union members claim they are not employed by the GPA which therefore has no authority to dismiss them. Unions called on the government to sort out the problem, saying that management keeps changing while the problem of employing dock workers continued.

    The unions say that they have issued a 28-day notice of intention to strike unless the issues are resolved.



    Conference looks at optimising rail transport

    by David Masango (BuaNEws) Specialists in the rail industry in Africa are meeting in
    Johannesburg this week to share ideas on matters pertaining to the industry and find ways to optimise rail transportation.

    Delegates at the Africa Rail Conference 2007, which is being held from 25 to 29 June, are deliberating on a wide range of topics including:

    * intermodalism: the promises and challenges;
    * implementing transmodal interchange capabilities;
    * regulating safety and security;
    * improving railway operational efficiency; and
    * innovating investment and funding for sustainable development.

    Addressing the gathering on Tuesday, the Director-General in the National Department of Transport Mpumi Mpofu said Africa's rail system needed to be located within a broader context of pressures arising from increased economic activities and development.

    “This context is inevitably driven by a strong economic drive for the optimisation of rail transportation, increased investment and funding for sustainable growth of the rail sector and effective corridor utilisation for profitable inter-modal transportation - but most importantly an effective rail safety regime that cuts to the heart of this strong economic drive,” she explained.

    Ms Mpofu added “a deeper analysis” of the African rail transportation revealed a range of complexities such as costs, aging rail networks infrastructure and a decreased volume of freight it carried.

    She said this highlighted the need for greater investment and optimisation of rail transportation - which investment was the critical component for accelerating growth.

    The director-general said South Africa continued to be characterised by high growth in high value sectors such as automotive manufacturing, mining and agricultural sectors.

    “This kind of growth and development depends primarily on the Continent's ability to move goods and deliver services to their destinations in an efficient, effective and reliable way, without failure of our rail infrastructure and the fear of goods safety,” she emphasised.

    She added that rail transportation had a significant role to play in improving the freight logistics system, ensuring the improvement of the public transport system and the efficient movement of both goods and people.

    “In South Africa rail has for a long time carried less tonnes of total surface transport volumes compared to road volumes. As a result, we have begun a process of reversing the shift from road to rail, particularly of cargoes which should ideally be transported by rail.

    “We are currently implementing the National Freight Logistics Strategy which seeks amongst other things to integrate first and second economies, as well as supporting the integration of marginalised local economies with the main logistics corridors,” said Mpofu.

    The key objectives of the strategy are to reduce the costs of doing business, to remove inefficiencies and reducing the obstacles that the logistics system had placed on businesses and their long-term sustainability.

    “Our view is that the growth of the road freight sector has primarily been for two reasons; namely the current inability of our rail operations to respond to new production methodologies and techniques, the inability to operate predictable and efficient services and that some of the rail customers are prepared to pay for.

    “One of these services is a reliable and fast door-to-door service provided by road freight, which has provided a viable alternative,” explained Ms Mpofu.

    She said the delegates needed to ask themselves how best to improve the efficiency of Africa's corridors and rail capacity for an improved performance of its economies.

    Mpofu said through the Freight Logistics Strategy, South Africa had begun to ensure a significant increase in traffic, volumes and changes in the nature of rail freight cargo, particularly with huge improvements to the rail infrastructure and rolling stock emanating from huge investments by government and state enterprises.
    “Our discussions on development issues must also include not only the economics of the freight logistics sector and its direct and indirect impact on other sectors of the economy.

    “They also must include our perspective for the revitalisation of rail within the public transport and mass transit system,” she said.

    Last year, South Africa began a process of consolidating the various entities currently engaged in the long-distance and local commuter rail services such as Metrorail, Shosholoza Meyl, and the SARCC, as part of the country's Public Transport Strategy and Plan.

    “We have also begun with the implementation of our National Rail Passenger Plan which charts the way for the future of the passenger rail services in South Africa,” said the director general.

    The focus of that strategy is on the:

    * Full recovery - where government would restore the whole rail network;
    * Limited System - where it would close all but efficient lines/routes; and
    * Priority Rail Corridors - where it would balance the socio-economic planning objectives on existing rail strengths.

    Some of the initiatives are associated with preparations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup while others are already part of the local government integrated transport plans.

    Government will also be injecting huge amounts in transport infrastructure projects, including:

    * R8.5bn for Passenger Rail Infrastructure;
    * R8.2bn for Public Transport Infrastructure excluding rail;
    * R5.5bn for National Roads Infrastructure;
    * R 9. 2bn for the 2010 Public Transport Infrastructure Development; and
    * R19.5bn for the airports infrastructure over a period of 5 years.

    She added that South Africa expected to see increased numbers of trains, services and passengers taking advantage of a world-class rail-based public transport system.



    Pic of the day – USNS CHARLTON

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice



    The impressive stern works of pre-positioning ship USNS CHARLTON taking bunkers from two Smit Pentow barges at Durban’s Island View 9 berth in 2004. Picture Terry Hutson



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