Ports & Ships Maritime News

Mar 26, 2008
Author: P&S







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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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  • South African ports top the list of stowaways

  • Richards Bay smelter potlines close

  • Long established logistics provider gains partner

  • Initiative to build electrified Trans-Kalahari railway gains impetus

  • Anjouan falls to African Union government forces

  • Deferred VAT – credit to Customs and Excise

  • Court rules against abalone fishing

  • Pic of the day – BAHIA




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    South African ports top the list of stowaways

    South Africa holds the dubious record of hosting the most stowaways of any maritime country.

    That’s the word from the UK P&I Club which says there has been a 100 percent increase in stowaway incidents over the last 10 years, which is costing the international shipping industry more then USD20 million a year.

    This may not be a negative reflection on SA ports, as many of the stowaways have been discovered on ships arriving in South African ports. Nevertheless there are a fair number of cases where stowaways manage to evade detection on board ship and make their way ashore, only to attempt a ‘ride’ on another ship leaving South Africa.

    During the past 10 years South Africa headed the list of P&I Club’s most numerous cases with 190 handled. Two other African countries followed in the list – Ivory Coast with 169 and Senegal which had 165.

    Fourth highest was Argentina with 106 cases of stowaways followed by the USA with 105. Another 80 cases arose in Italy, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Spain and Gabon.

    The Club’s Peter Lau said that numbers have fallen since 1998-2003 when they were consistently between 350 and 400. Costs hadn’t gone down however, with the average cost having increased from under USD6,000 in 2000 to around USD14,500 in 2007. He warned that the impact on individual ship owners was likely to be greater, given rising deductibles and the non-reporting of small and quickly solved cases.

    The main areas for stowing away were China and West and East Africa, with many stowaways hoping to reach either Europe or North America.

    The Club said Ro-Ro and multi-cargo vessels had proved the most popular ships for stowaways over the ten-year period, accounting for 31 per cent of cases. They were followed by bulk carriers (23 per cent) and containerships and general cargo vessels (both 16 per cent). Container ships had averaged between 40 and 58 stowaways annually between 1998 and 2004 but since then totalled just 61, which the Club said was a possible consequence of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code coming into force.

    “The stowaway problem is never going to go away,” said Lau. “Individuals seeking a better life will always find ways to get aboard ships, and those making money from the trafficking of people will always manage to conceal their cargo and ship it without detection.

    “The container trade offers a tempting pipeline for smugglers which can only be tackled through close cooperation between terminals and ship owners.”

    Note - the report does not distinguish between stowaways apprehended after arriving in a port or caught trying to leave. Either instance could nevertheless imply that controls are higher in the country’s identified – editor.

    Now see the video on Stowaway Detection in SA CLICK HERE




    Richards Bay smelter potlines close

    It’s confirmed! The report which we carried on 14 March indicating that BHP Billiton was preparing to shut two Richards Bay Bayside smelter potlines in order to meet Eskom’s request for a reduction in electricity use, has been confirmed by BHP Billiton.

    In a media statement this week BHP Billiton said there is no feasible alternative to the closure. The company had held consultations with employees and their representatives before the Easter weekend but preparations to shut down Potlines B and C went ahead yesterday (25 March).

    Negotiations are continuing with personnel to minimise the effect the decision will have. It was estimated that at least 400 people stand to lose their jobs.

    BHP Billiton placed the blame for the closure firmly on the shoulders of Eskom, saying that this was the result of the inability of the electricity utility to supply sufficient power to meet demand. Eskom had instructed BHP to reduce power consumption by 10 percent across all three smelters operated by the company in southern Africa (Hillside and Bayside, both at Richards Bay, and Mozal at Maputo, Mozambique).

    According to BHP the cutting of consumption at all three smelters by 10 percent each was unsustainable, therefore the decision to make most of the reduction at the smaller Bayside smelter. However, “in addition to the closure of Bayside B and C potlines, the Hillside and Mozal smelters will continue to operate at reduced operating levels to comply with the 10 percent mandatory overall demand reduction.”

    A spokesman said the annual production loss will be more than 120,000 tonnes across all three smelters, including 92,000 tonnes from the closure of two potlines at Bayside.

    See related story in our News Bulletin for 14 March, 2008 400 job losses ahead as BHP Billiton prepares to close Richards Bay smelter potlines HERE



    Long established logistics provider gains partner


    CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
    From left to right: F. Smith, P. Mkhize, E. Arcache, G. Zondi, C. Coombe, L. Dawson

    The business operations of Durban-based GM Arcache Shipping, one of the country’s leading providers of shipping, freight forwarding, customs clearing, warehousing, transport and distribution services, has been acquired by GMA Logistics, which in turn has entered into partnership with Imbewu Capital Holdings.

    Imbewu is a black-owned private equity and investment holding company with extensive business networks and expertise in private equity and investment banking, business strategy, risk management and corporate governance, transformation strategy. Imbewu acquired 25.1 percent of GMA Logistics with the remaining shareholding owned by GM Arcache Shipping and management.

    “Our directors have more than 100 years of collective shipping and financial experience,” says Eugene Arcache, managing director of GMA Logistics. “The key to our success is management’s ability to provide hands-on solutions with quick responses to facilitate speedy freight movement.

    “At GMA Logistics we’ll tailor-make and integrate global solutions that are powerful and reliable, with leading-edge freight and forwarding expertise across South Africa and around the world. Our aim is to meet global trading demands with customer focus, operational excellence, and product leadership,” he said.

    The company has full services centres in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town and is supported by a global network of agents, partners and associate operators.



    Initiative to build electrified Trans-Kalahari railway gains impetus

    An electrified railway across the width and breadth of Namibia and Botswana is no longer just a dream and is moving ahead, with an operational date of 2009 having been set, reports New Era.

    The multi-billion dollar Trans-Kalahari railway is planned to link Gauteng in South Africa as well as countries to the north of Botswana, with an electrified railway extending to the coast 20km south of Luderitz where a new port at Shearwater Bay is to be built.

    If you think this is more pie in the sky keep in mind the extent of new railways opened in Namibia since that country gained independence in 1990. In fact the progress with rail transport from Namibia far outstrips its larger and more wealthy neighbour South Africa, from whom it inherited a largely run-down and decrepit railway network.

    At that time the railway to Luderitz didn’t even operate – even in the mid 1990s the tracks were still covered by large sand dunes in several places. Since then the line has reopened and new railway lines constructed in the north of the country, including railways intended to link Namibia with southern Angola and with Zambia via the Caprivi.

    According to an interview that Falcon Resources, the holding company driving the project, held with Namibian newspaper New Area, the railway will have its own power station using Namibian coal from a new mine south of Aranos. The 1,600km line is destined to be the longest single electrified stretch in southern Africa.

    There are four principal partners in the consortium - Sekunjalo, Kumba Resources, Siemens Transportation Systems and Energem Resources with another six lined up waiting to join.

    The route of the proposed railway extends to Palapye in Botswana in the east, with its rail links to Bulawayo in Zimbabwe and to Mafikeng and Gauteng in South Africa via Francistown. From Palapye the line will run westwards across Botswana through Morupule and Kang into Namibia via Mariental, Maltahohe and Aus before reaching the planned deep-water port at Shearwater Bay.



    Anjouan falls to African Union government forces

    Port Louis, 25 March 2008 - Comoros took control of its rebel island of Anjouan on Tuesday in a military operation aimed at toppling renegade leader, Mohamed Bacar, a government official said.

    “The operation started in the early morning hours (Tuesday) and it is going smoothly and according to plan,” Abdourahim Said Bakar, a spokesman for the Union government told IRIN. “The military has taken control over most of the island - the airport and Anjouan's capital, Mutsamudu.”

    The Comoros government, supported by a coalition force of troops from Tanzania, Sudan and Senegal, with logistical support from Libya, launched the seaborne assault on 25 March to end the rule of rebel leader Mohamed Bacar, who came to power through a coup in 2001.

    The military was still facing some resistance close to Bacar's home early on Monday, and the whereabouts of the former gendarme colonel was unknown, the spokesman said. “We hope that by the end of the day we will have the problem resolved ... A special group has been selected to capture Bacar, arrest him and bring him to court. He has to pay for his crimes.”

    All phone lines to Anjouan have been cut for several weeks, but international news agencies reported blasts and machine gun fire on the island.

    The political crisis on the Indian Ocean archipelago has been simmering since June 2007, when African Union (AU)-monitored polls were held on all three islands - Anjouan, Grand Comore and Mohéli.

    The Union government backed by the AU postponed the poll on Anjouan, citing irregularities and intimidation in the run-up to voting, but Bacar printed his own ballot papers, held an election and claimed a landslide victory.

    Neither Bacar nor the Comoros Union government, which is demanding a fresh poll, was prepared to compromise. Efforts by the AU to negotiate a deal had failed to break the deadlock, as had sanctions targeting the freedoms and financial assets of Anjouan's leadership.

    In February a frustrated AU Peace and Security Council revised its stance on the political conflict and moved to backing the Union government's position of using military force. Coalition forces then began gathering on Mohéli, the island closest to Anjouan.

    Minimise casualties

    A day before the assault, helicopters dropped leaflets on Anjouan warning that the operation was imminent and urging the population to stay at home. The small island is home to 300,000 people out of the 700,000 that inhabit the archipelago, which lies off the east African coast.

    The spokesman said there were no reports of casualties so far. “Certainly there will be some victims but we think that we can reduce the number to a minimum. Our leaflet warning has worked very well and we believe that civilians will not be hit by our operation,” he said.

    Bacar is thought to lead a well-armed force of about 500 gendarmes and it was widely accepted that any military solution to the stalemate would require outside assistance.

    “The illegal Anjouan authorities are better prepared and equipped militarily. It should be recalled that twice [1997 and 2007] the Union government have been beaten out of Anjouan,” Chrysantus Ayangafac, Senior Researcher at the Institute for Security Studies’ Direct Conflict Prevention Programme, told IRIN. And despite the Union government’s advantage in numbers, “the illegal Anjouan authorities have the military advantage of knowing the terrain,” Ayangafac added.

    Deep-rooted problems

    The political crisis on Anjouan marked a return to the political volatility that has been a hallmark of Comoros since the islands achieved independence from France in 1975. The archipelago has weathered about 20 successful and attempted coups to date.

    The Union's complex electoral system gives the three islands a semi-autonomous government and president and the presidency of the over-arching Union government is rotated between the three islands.

    The power sharing system was brokered in 2001 by the Organisation of African Unity, predecessor of the AU, in the wake of Mohéli and Anjouan seceding from Grand Comore in 1997, when an attempt by the government to re-establish control over the rebellious islands by force failed.

    The fragile system has been criticised for being far too expensive, and the question surrounding the allocation of power and resources between the different island governments has been a particularly contentious issue.

    Given the complexities and history of the islands “any sustainable peace in Anjouan and in Comoros by extension is not a quick fix solution endangered by a military action,” Ayangafac said. “While it is plausible that the AU and Union government might have a quick victory - the consequences of the military intervention might be catastrophic. Military action might further polarise the Anjouan society and make it extremely difficult to reign in.”

    “Anjouan is the epicentre of the Comorian economy. It is the richest of the federated islands and its economy is the most vibrant,” he explained. The island also has the countries only deepwater port, giving it control over Comoros’ international trade and customs revenue.

    The UN Resident Coordinator in the Comoros, Opia Kumah, told IRIN he could not yet evaluate any potential damage caused by the operation, but said he had asked the UN for around USD1 million in emergency aid for Anjouan.

    “We have no access to Anjouan but this is what we think will be needed in such a small country,” he said. As soon as Anjouan's airport was secure, a UN humanitarian team of around five to six people would be sent to the island.


    “We will take care of food, communication, water, sanitation and all problems that may have hit the island,” Kumah told IRIN.

    He said that it was too early to talk about displacement. “As of now, the information we got from Anjouan is that people were staying indoors, as they were advised. I hope that it will stay so. Displacements if it happens might come later.” - IRIN

    (This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations)



    Deferred VAT – credit to Customs and Excise



    Hester Hopkins, Customs @ Wylie

    The Department of Customs and Excise offers a 30-day account facility (deferment scheme) to registered clients, by which the payment of excise duties and VAT may be postponed for 30 days.

    This facility enables clients to postpone the payment of duties and VAT for 30 days from the date of importation.

    The duties and VAT should be paid by the end of the 30-day period, failing which the facility will be suspended and penalties become payable, says Hester Hopkins, National Manager of Customs @ Wylie, an initiative of Shepstone & Wylie’s International Trade Department.

    The Commissioner of Customs and Excise may require importers seeking such deferment to furnish security in the form, nature or amount determined by him to protect the State from any loss that might be incurred.

    The amount that may be deferred is secured by means of a bond / guarantee issued by an approved financial institution. Such bond covers both the customs duties and VAT.
    Compliant and existing clients qualifying for small business status may apply for a 40 percent deduction from the normal amount of security that would have been called for.

    Each time a dutiable clearance is made to Customs, that amount of duty is deducted from the allowed deferment amount. In practice though, Customs are only deducting the duties from the allowed deferred amount, and the VAT is not being deducted, although it is being deferred.

    Hopkins says that in the face of differing views among importers, Customs @ Wylie have confirmed that Customs will be calling for bonds / guarantees for the deferred VAT amounts in due course. Customs have explained that the VAT bond may not be 100 percent of the deferred VAT but rather about 25 – 30 percent of the VAT being deferred. The amount of the bond will be subject to Customs scrutiny of the client’s previous status and his compliance record.

    In effect, this means that Customs will be calling for additional security from importers in the amount of an agreed percentage of the VAT that is being deferred, says Hopkins.



    Court rules against abalone fishing

    Cape Town, 25 March 2008 - The Cape Town High Court has ruled against the South African Abalone Industry Association who had sought to overturn government's decision to suspend fishing in the commercial abalone industry.

    Last year the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism announced its plans to suspend wild abalone (also known as perlemoen) commercial fishing to ensure the survival of the species by allowing stocks to recover.

    While fishing was to be suspended from November, Cabinet supported the recommendation to allow the industry to continue through December and January.

    The ban took effect from 1 February 2008.

    Judge Bozalek in handing down his verdict said that the existence of an emergency had been proven and that he was satisfied that the decision-making process was thorough, sequential and regular.

    The respondents were ordered to pay the minister's legal costs.

    Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk, in welcoming the courts decision, said the closure of the abalone fishery was the right thing to do as the resource was in a crisis.

    “We remain of the view that the abalone resource is in a crisis due to ecological changes and poaching.”

    He reiterated that it had been difficult to decide to suspend fishing in any because it would impact on the livelihoods of many people and families in the industry.

    “We are unfortunately at a point where the commercial harvesting of wild abalone can no longer be justified because the stock has declined to such an extent that the resource is threatened with commercial extinction,” he said.

    The closure of the fishery, he said must be seen against the background of the consideration that future generations will be able to know and enjoy this resource.

    “The closure of the fishery is considered as the only viable option at this stage to provide an opportunity to prevent a total commercial collapse of this highly valued resource,” he said.

    When the department announced its decision to ban abalone fishing the there were 262 individual divers and 40 legal entities in the form of close corporations holding fishing rights. This accounted for 800 jobs.

    Over the past 10 years, the total allowable catch for abalone has been reduced annually from 615 tons in 1995 to a record low of 125 tons for the 2006/2007 season and an all time emergency low of 75 tons for 2007/2008.

    In 2003, a moratorium on the recreational harvesting of abalone was implemented due to the rapid decline of the resource.

    Now persons wishing to undertake activities, apart from abalone diving and fishing, can apply for a permit to engage in diving or be in possession of prohibited gear in the listed areas.

    Such activities include scientific research, white shark-cage diving, commercial kelp harvesting, sea ranching, salvage operations, maintenance of legal underwater infrastructure or any other activity authorised in terms of legislation. - BuaNews



    Pic of the day – BAHIA

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice



    Hamburg Süd’’s container ship BAHIA in Durban harbour at the recent weekend. Picture is by Trevor Jones


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