Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jul 6, 2008
Author: P&S







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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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  • Transnet completes turnaround and looks for growth

  • Safmarine enters Asia – West Africa breakbulk trades

  • SAILS loses R96 million for half year

  • Skippers – indemnify yourselves or pay up

  • Grindrod increases its estimates – issues Trading Update

  • Double hulled Smit bunker barge launched early

  • Pier 1 strike resolved

  • IMO makes carrying of ECDIS mandatory – timeline set

  • US now requires automatic electronic filing of export information

  • Skysails secures three orders

  • Access Freight gains accreditation with SA Institute of Chartered Accountants

  • Transnet Port Terminals gives its support to MSC Regatta

  • Maersk grows its East Coast South America trades with 16 new ships

  • Mozambique port cargo up by 3 percent this year

  • Gama says the railway must expand, not shrink

  • Robben Island ferry out of water for maintenance

  • Rwanda plans to bypass Mombasa and Dar es Salaam ports

  • SA Economy can weather global slowdown

  • Energy crisis hurts Mozal aluminium exports

  • Mozambique negotiates 1.2m tonnes of rice from Vietnam

  • Pic of the week – MSC MESSINA





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    Transnet completes turnaround and looks for growth

    Welcome news from Transnet boss Maria Ramos is that Transnet’s emphasis will be on growth, in particular from Transnet Freight Rail, the current name for the country’s state-owned railway network.

    Presenting the Transnet annual results on 1 July, Ramos said the group was moving ahead with raising R80 billion for its capital expansion programme, of which R37bn will be raised in the markets.

    The really good news came from the rail sector. For the first time in more than a decade, volumes railed with Freight Rail’s general freight business (GFB) grew. “This shows that we’ve succeeded in arresting the decline of the GFB volumes and we’ve now positioned it for growth. We’re excited at the prospect of the turnaround in the GFB as it offers significant growth opportunities. This in part explains why we’re investing so heavily in the GFB,” said Ms Ramos.

    The iron-ore export line (Sishen – Saldanha) reflected a volume increase of 6,3 percent to 31.9 million tons. Volumes railed on Freight Rail’s coal line however decreased 5.2 percent to 63.5 million tons which Transnet says is due to short supply of product from the coal mines and disrupted service levels at Freight Rail as a result mainly of operational issues such as derailments and cable theft.

    Freight Rail’s continued focus on maintenance has resulted in capitalised major maintenance and maintenance expenses in aggregate increasing by 20.1 percent to R6.6 billion which has improved service levels by increasing rolling stock reliability and availability.

    A summary of the results reflects the following:

  • Revenue up 11.9 percent to R30.1 billion

  • EBITDA up 18.3 percent to R13.2 billion

  • Gearing improves to 29 percent

  • Capital expenditure up 35.2 percent to R15.8 billion

  • Cash generated from operating activities increases by 22 percent to R10.9 billion

  • Three-year turnaround largely complete

  • Strong foundation for growth created


  • For the first time in recent years all five operating divisions contributed to the profitability of Transnet and generated cash flows. Perhaps more importantly, all the divisions are now handling more volumes than a year before.

    The National Ports Authority reflected container volume growth with full container export and imports increasing by 12.7 percent and 16.6 percent respectively.

    Port Terminals reflected a 9 percent increase in container volumes to 3.7 million TEUs compared to the previous year and an increase of 47 percent compared to 2004. In addition, an additional capacity of 700,000 TEUs has been created with the new Pier 1 Container Terminal in Durban.

    According to Ramos operational efficiency at both the Durban and Cape Town Container Terminals continue to show improvement with gross crane moves per hour currently at 25 and 22.6, respectively, an improvement of 38 percent from 2004.

    Pipelines’ moderate revenue growth is the result of the decision by NERSA, the energy regulator, not to grant a tariff increase during the year.

    Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased by 18.3 percent to R13.2 billion, contributing to an improvement in the EBITDA margin to 43.8 percent (2007: 41.5 percent). This improvement was driven in part by productivity improvements and cost-saving initiatives. Operating expenses grew by 7.3 percent to R16.9 billion despite increased spending on maintenance to improve service levels and higher energy costs.

    This increase, among others, includes payments by Transnet to fund a once-off bonus payment to the pensioners of the Transnet Second Defined Benefit Fund. This payment goes mainly to those pensioners with long service, those who were previously disadvantaged by the Fund’s rules and those who receive relatively low pensions despite long service. Discounting these once-off payments, operating expenses would have increased by only 5.5 percent, lower than both the average inflation rate and the 11.9 percent increase in revenue.

    “It is pleasing to see the benefits of the turnaround – especially as reflected in better asset utilisation which is behind the productivity improvements – in action. We have ticked off all the boxes in the turnaround strategy. These results are evidence of the success of the turnaround in the face of many challenges that the business has had to face during the financial year,” said Ramos.

    Gearing during the period improved to 29 percent, which she said reflects significant capacity available on the company balance sheet to fund the capital expenditure programme.

    Mr Fred Phaswana, Transnet’s chairman, commended the executive team for successfully completing the turnaround. “Considering the many challenges faced by the business, we are satisfied that we have the right team. More importantly, the success we’re witnessing reflects the continued relevance of the strategic choices we’ve made. This is the basis of our confidence for the future,” he said.

    Highlights of Transnet’s capital expenditure programme this year include the following:

    * The widening and deepening of the Durban harbour entrance channel to accommodate larger vessels calling in the port.
    * The completion of the Durban Pier 1 container terminal a month ahead of schedule and within budget.
    * The construction of the four-berth Ngqura container terminal including ordering of the necessary port equipment to make the greenfields port, which seeks to target transshipment trade, operational in 2009.
    * The expansion of the Cape Town Container Terminal including ordering of port equipment.
    * Iron ore and coal line expansion.
    * Acquisition of new locomotives, rolling stock and infrastructure upgrades.


    Summary of results

  • Freight Rail increased revenue by 13.9 percent to R16.6 billion

  • Rail Engineering improved by 5.7 percent to R7.1 billion

  • National Ports Authority increased revenue by 12.1 percent to R6.9 billion
  • .
  • Port Terminals’ revenue rose 18.2 percent to R4.8 billion

  • Pipelines increased revenue 6 percent to R1.3 billion




  • Safmarine enters Asia – West Africa breakbulk trades


    CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
    Safmarine Andisa on the occasion of her naming ceremony. Picture Safmarine


    By utilising the positioning voyages of three newbuilds, SAFMARINE ANGELA, SAFMARINE ANDISA and SAFMARINE AKWABA into Europe, Safmarine has been able to determine a demand from its customers for a regular multipurpose vessel (MPV) service between Asia and West Africa.

    “Based on our success we have decided to open up a monthly service and we will flexibly deploy our assets in order to serve our customer’s needs on this trade,” says Greg Ulicki, Safmarine’s MPV executive.

    The new service has commenced with the return of the Safmarine Akwaba from Africa to Asia full of eastbound cargo which is scheduled to arrive in Singapore on 9 July and thereafter at Zhangjiagang on 16 July.

    From there the ship will head for Xingang (Tianjin) and as of 22 July will commence the monthly service which will offer fast transits directly into West Africa. As an example, the transit time from this Chinese port to Matadi will be approximately 27 days. Major West Africa ports that will be served include Namibe, Lobito, Luanda, Pointe Noire, Libreville, Douala, Malabo, Sao Tome, Durban, Lome, Tema, Takoradi, Abidjan and San Pedro.

    Inducement calls at East African ports and additional Asian load ports call will also be scheduled to meet customer needs.

    “The key to high customer demand for this service has been the ability for us to provide our customers the flexibility of loading with us cargo of any shape, size and weight,” said Verner Hammeken, Safmarine’s MPV manager in China.

    “Our multi-purpose ships are equipped with cranes capable of loading, carrying and offloading commodities in bulk, out-of gauge project cargo, heavy lift and also containers with special cargo (such as reefers) into the most challenging African destinations. With so many infrastructure projects underway in West Africa this multi-purpose offering gives us a real edge.”

    To date a variety of cargoes have been transported from Asia to West Africa, including four locomotives of 100 tonnes each for Angola Railways.

    A fourth vessel to be delivered on long term charter to the shipping company, SAFMARINE ANDISA, was named last week (1 July 2008) in the presence of dignitaries and guests at the Tianjin Xingang Yard, China.

    Safmarine Andisa is a sister vessel to Safmarine Angela, introduced in service in March this year.

    Ship details

    Owners: Enzian Shipping, Switzerland
    Shipyard: Tianjin Xingang Yard, China
    Length: 139,99 m
    Breadth: 21,50 m
    Deadweight: 12 070 tdw
    Service Speed: 16,00 kn
    Complement: 16 crew
    Container Capacity: 470 TEU
    Cranes: 3



    SAILS loses R96 million for half year

    Lonhro revealed last week that despite having increased its profits for the half year period to March 2008, its subsidiary company SAILS (South African Independent Liner Services) operating between South Africa, West Africa and Europe, had taken a substantial loss of ₤6.1 million (R96 million).

    In March Lonhro increased its shareholding in Sails from 45 percent to 66.7 percent but in the past few weeks suspended managing director Ian Wicks for reasons as yet undisclosed. Wicks is appealing his suspension.

    Sails operates a fleet of six small container ships (average 1,000-TEU); vessels that are of necessity small enough for the West African ports but have to compete with the 5,000-TEU boxships in operation with its competitors between Europe and South Africa.

    According to Sails however it has increased the number of refrigerated containers by 1,000 new boxes and is now one of the major carriers of refrigerated goods on the northbound service.



    Skippers – indemnify yourselves or pay up


    CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
    Fishing and pleasure boat owners are advised to make sure that an indemnity form is signed before taking friends and relatives for a cruise, even on the calm waters of Durban Bay. Picture Terry Hutson


    It may sound ludicrous to ask your friends and family to sign a properly worded, legally binding indemnity form before they board your boat for a day of fishing fun. Not so says Allan Heydorn of Shepstone & Wylie’s Litigation Department, who provides a scenario of just how wrong things can go.

    Piet and Joe have been fishing together for many years off Piet's weathered ski-boat. Neither of them are men of means but both are passionate about their fishing.

    On a fateful day, whilst negotiating the surf, one of the motors fails, the boat capsizes and Joe is seriously injured.

    Joe earns a livelihood as an artisan and will as a result of his injuries henceforth not be able to practice his trade. Fortunately Joe enjoys disability cover and his assurers honour the claim which he submits.

    Even without cover, Joe would obviously never have instituted legal action against his friend Piet, notwithstanding the fact that the accident might have been caused through Piet’s negligence.

    However, Joe’s assurers see things differently. They investigate the cause of the engine failure and find that Piet was negligent in that he had not had the motors serviced by a qualified outboard technician for many years.

    Through the doctrine of subrogation, the assurers step into Joe’s shoes and institute action against Piet for the recovery of the amount they have paid to Joe in terms of the policy. Joe cannot prevent his assurers from pursuing the matter as contractually the policy allows them to do so.

    The question that arises is what steps a skipper should take to safeguard himself against a claim of this sort which could of course be instituted directly against the skipper by a crew member. The answer seems to be to require each crew member to sign an indemnity before boarding the vessel.

    A properly worded indemnity would preclude an assurer from taking any action against the skipper in cases where an accident is caused by negligence.

    Fishing is a very popular sport with as many as 500,000 recreational marine anglers alone in South Africa. As hundreds of deep-sea fishermen flock to the KwaZulu-Natal north and south coasts during the June/July and December holidays Heydorn warns that skippers who fail to take proper steps to indemnify themselves do so at their own peril.



    Grindrod increases its estimates – issues Trading Update

    In terms of the Listings Requirements of JSE Limited, companies are required to publish a Trading Update as soon as they become reasonably certain that the financial results for the period to be reported on next will differ by more than 20 percent from the financial results for the previous corresponding period.

    Shareholders were advised on 21 April 2008 that Grindrod expected its earnings per share and headline earnings per share for the six month period to 30 June 2008 to increase by between 55 percent and 75 percent, compared to the corresponding period of 2007 (see our News Bulletin for 22 April).

    Shareholders are advised that an 85 – 95 percent increase in earnings and headline earnings per share is now anticipated for the half year to 30 June 2008 compared to the corresponding period of the previous year.

    The growth since the previous trading statement has primarily been driven by stronger than anticipated operational performance of the shipping division and a ship sale originally contracted for the second half of the year has been concluded in the first half.

    The forecast contained in this Trading Update has not been reviewed or reported on by the company’s external auditors. Grindrod will release its interim results for the six months ended 30 June 2008 on or about 21 August 2008.



    Double hulled Smit bunker barge launched early


    CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
    SOUTHERN VALOUR, one of two new bunker barges owned by Unicorn Bunkers and intended for service in the port of Cape Town, on arrival in the Mother City in the past week. Picture Aad Noorland

    SMIT ENERGY, the newly double-hulled bunker barge was launched into the water at Dormac Marine a couple of weeks ago, two months ahead of schedule.

    The barge, the first to be double-hulled locally is currently undergoing finishing touches and completion of the mechanical and electrical scope of work. Once complete she will leave for Richards Bay to relieve another barge, Smit Bongani which will head for Durban and the same treatment – a new double-hull.

    Later Smit Bongani will return to the Zululand port with Smit Energy coming returning to Durban to take up service in the port.

    Dormac has also had alongside its repair quay the two Chinese built Unicorn bunker barges which arrived in Richards Bay recently. Both motored to Durban under their own power and later one, temporarily named Southern Valour, subsequently sailed also under its own power for Cape Town, arriving safely there last week.

    Both barges are to be renamed shortly.

    Meanwhile construction of the third bunker barge for Unicorn Bunkers, Hull number 109 is well under way in the Dormac Marine fabrication and assembly grillage and slipway.

    Other repair work underway at Dormac Marine includes the diminutive coaster CLIPPER, which recently collided with the Durban entrance breakwater, incurring hull damage that will require repairs in the dry dock.

    In Cape Town the company has undertaken an interesting cofferdam repair to the motor vessel THOR IRENE on which damage to the engine room plating was necessary.

    Due to the Cape Town dry docks being fully occupied at present, the option of a cofferdam was forwarded to the ship’s owners, who approved the method after receiving numerous referrals from previous successful repairs.

    The repair required a 14-ton cofferdam measuring 7 metres x 7 metres x 5 metres which was manufactured in the cargo hold of the vessel. In the early hours of 20 June the cofferdam was fitted and by lunch time that day Dormac crew were marking out the area of steel which required replacing. On 26 June the cofferdam was removed with the Thor Irene sailing from Cape Town the following day.



    Pier 1 strike resolved


    CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
    Pier 1 Container Terminal looking west. DCT is in the background and Maydon Wharf beyond in the far distance (right) and Bayhead at distance centre. The berths closest to the camera are laybye berths 101, 102, 103 with 104a at right angle to the others. Picture Transnet Port Terminals


    A potentially damaging strike by employees at the Transnet operated Pier 1 Container Terminal in Durban was been resolved after just over a day with workers returning to duty.

    The strike was the result of a dispute involving the Time & Attendance clock-in system which was recently introduced at most Transnet terminals. According to a Transnet Port Terminals spokesperson the system was introduced because it would help improve productivity levels; however personnel at Pier 1 felt it was too stringent and asked for a revision.

    As the other terminals had accepted the system Transnet was not ready to comply with Pier 1 employees demands, leading to the closure of the gates as workers downed tools.

    One ship, the Chinese vessel JING PO HE was stranded on berth 105 unable to work cargo until the dispute was resolved.

    A spokesman for one of the Durban road transport companies told PORTS & SHIPS that the strike had severely inconvenienced road hauliers and cargo owners. He criticised the fact that Transnet had been unable to resolve the matter at one terminal before workers took industrial action. According to Transnet container ships booked for Pier 1 had been transferred to other terminals. Jing Po He however could not be moved as cargo working was already underway when the strike began.



    IMO makes carrying of ECDIS mandatory – timeline set

    Agreements have been reached with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Nav 54 meeting held in London on 2 July by which the carrying of an Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) is to become mandatory. The decision of the meeting was reported to be unanimous.

    The maritime industry will however be granted a long lead time in which to integrate the new system, with the first effective date having been set for 1 July 2012.

    Thereafter all new passenger ships of 500-gt and above and tankers of 3,000-gt and above will have to carry ECDIS. Other categories and dates will be announced. The long lead-in time will provide the opportunity for more ECDIS chart data to be provided.

    ECDIS is intended to provide the mariner with electronic navigational charts (ENCs) supplying ships with real-time navigation data and information derived from a variety of sensors and is an automated system capable of determining a ship’s exact position relative to land, charted objects, unseen hazards and aids-to-navigation.



    US now requires automatic electronic filing of export information

    As from 1 July 2008 new US Census Bureau regulations concerning electronic filing of export information has come into force.

    The stipulation concerns all shipments where a Shippers export Declaration (SED) is required. 24 hours before cargo is loaded on board a ship the US principal party must file the SED information electronically. Paper export declarations are no longer valid or accepted.

    “Effective 2 July 2008, the Census Bureau is requiring mandatory filing of export information through the Automated Export System (AES) or through the AESDirect for all shipments where a Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED) is required. We are also providing the trade an additional 90 days to implement these new requirements. After the 90-day implementation period, which ends 30 September 2008, you must file your export information electronically through the AES or AESDirect,” says the Bureau.

    Further details of the regulation are available HERE



    Skysails secures three orders


    CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
    Skysails and the vessel Michael A

    German towing kite manufacturer Skysails says that its propulsion system – a giant kite-like sail that tows the ship, reducing dependency on oil-powered engines, is five times as efficient per square metre of sail than any other traditional wind propulsion system.

    The company claims that from latest measurements taken on board the vessel MICHAEL A and depending on wind conditions, ships in the future would be able to make savings of between 10 and 35 percent using the Skysail auxiliary method.

    “Our own measurements show that we were able to temporarily save far more than half the fuel by deploying SkySails in favourable wind conditions. Alternatively we were able to increase the ship’s cruising speed from 10 to 11.6 knots with the help of this towing kite propulsion,” says Gerd Wessels, MD of Wessels, the owner of the Michael A.

    Testing has been taking place in European waters since the end of 2007 and in addition a test voyage across the Atlantic was successfully completed. Recent tests involved the use of a sea-state compensator, which enables the kite to be launched in difficult weather conditions.

    “After installing the sea-state compensator we can now deploy the SkySails system more regularly than was the case at the start of the pilot testing phase and thus also extend the flight times,” says Stephan Wrage, SkySails founder.

    Wessels has meanwhile ordered three additional Skysails systems for three 37,000-DWT handysize vessels that are currently building. Financing of the ships has been facilitated through the Oltmann Group which provided a sizeable chunk of seed money for Skysails.



    Access Freight gains accreditation with SA Institute of Chartered Accountants

    News from Access Freight, one of South Africa’s leading freight management and logistics companies, is that it has been accredited with SAICA (SA Institute of Chartered Accountants) as an Accredited Training Organisation (ATO).

    What this means is that Access is now able to train potential CA (SA)’s. Instead of trainee accountants doing their articles at an auditing firm through the TIPP program (Training in Public Practice), they can gain their practical experience at Access through the TOPP program (Training outside Public Practice). SAICA’s regulations with regard to their trainees are extremely stringent so this development becomes a notable achievement for the company.

    “Over the last 18 months I have been working hard on Access’s application to be accredited with SAICA as an Accredited Training Organisation,” says Philippa du Plessis, Access’ Financial Manager and TOPP Training Officer.

    “This culminated on 13 March 2008 when we did a presentation to the Training Requirements Committee of SAICA in Johannesburg. On 4 April 2008 we were notified by the committee that our application had been successful!”

    Two Access staff members, Sadie Campbell and Pearl Mgobhozi have subsequently become its first trainees – Campbell is currently the company’s management accountant and is in her final year of her required studies, while Mgobhozi is an assistant accountant in the second to last year of her required studies. Both are now well on the way to becoming Access’ first Chartered Accountants.

    Access Freight is situated in the Durban Bayhead area off Edwin Swales Drive, where it is strategically positioned for the harbour and for inland transport routes.



    Transnet Port Terminals gives its support to MSC Regatta


    CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
    Ready for action – some of the 60 youngsters who received their sailing kits for this year’s MSC Regatta from Transnet Port Terminals


    Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) has for the sixth year running helped to ensure that 60 children were in ship-shape condition for the annual MSC Regatta which took place in Durban between Monday 30 June and Friday 4 July.

    TPT has been actively involved by sponsoring the youth teams with kits and waiving the terminal handling costs for teams bringing in their yachts from outside KZN.

    “Our participation in the regatta is about creating awareness about the maritime industry nationally. We are committed to ensuring that youth develop an understanding and passion for maritime matters socially and professionally,” said Tau Morwe, TPT Chief Executive.

    Ron Pet, skipper of the Container World Challenge, said he was particularly pleased at the growing interest in sailing amongst youth that the regatta is creating every year.

    “Whilst there is competition, the race is ultimately about having fun and enjoying the experience of sailing. TPT’s sponsorship and involvement over the years has been vital in creating interest in sailing amongst the youth,” said the Glenwood High School teacher.



    Maersk grows its East Coast South America trades with 16 new ships

    AP Moller-Maersk last week signed an agreement with Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering for 16 new container ships, to be delivered during 2010 – 2012.

    The 7,450-TEU capacity ships will be equipped with reefer plugs enabling each vessel to carry 1,700 refrigerated containers – the highest number ever carried on a container ship.

    Designed with safe and economic transportation of goods in the trade to and from East Coast South America, each ship will also be equipped with a waste heat recovery system, reusing excess heat from the exhaust and generating energy for propulsion or on-board electricity consumption. The reduction on fuel consumption results in a corresponding reduction of emissions.

    “We are very excited with this order and the opportunities these vessels will provide our customers in South America. We are confident that the vessels will enable us to continue to offer competitive container shipping based on a modern, economical, and environmentally friendly fleet,” says Senior Vice President Michel Deleuran, Head of Network & Product in Maersk Line.

    Maersk Line expects to deploy the 16 vessels in the trades between the East Coast of South America and Asia and Europe.

    “We expect a continued strong growth in these markets’” says Deleuran. “We believe that this order shows our long-term commitment to providing service and support to our customers’ increasing business in the aforementioned trades.”

    Brazil and Argentina, especially, have fast growing consumer markets. In the last five years, the trade between Asia and the East Coast of South America has grown more than 20 percent per year on average. In the next five years, growth is expected to remain in the double digits.

    The trade between the East Coast of South America and Europe is primarily driven by the export of food products such as poultry, meat, and fruit transported in refrigerated containers. Since 2002, the trade has grown 15 percent on a yearly average. This growth is expected to remain strong with increased containerisation opportunities in the coming years.

    It’s not clear whether any of these ships will also call at South African ports en route between Asia and South America.



    Mozambique port cargo up by 3 percent this year

    Cargo handled at Mozambique ports in the first five months of 2008 has increased by 3.12 percent, according to the state-owned port and rail company CFM (Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique) and quoted in the Maputo newspaper Noticias.

    The report said total cargo handled in the ports for the period rose to 4.517 million tonnes, whereas the country’s railways handled an increase of 9.2 percent in rail traffic.

    The ports showing increases in cargo throughput were Maputo, Nacala, Pemba and Mocímboa da Praia. However the ports of Beira and Quelimane experienced a drop in turnover measured in tonnes.

    In a related report Mozambique’s Trade and Industry ministry told the news agency Macauhub that the central province of Sofala had exported goods worth USD 107 million for the year 2007, which represented an increase of USD 26 million, which was approximately 32 percent up on the year.



    Gama says the railway must expand, not shrink


    CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
    Transnet Freight Rail’s CE says Transnet has to grow its rail network

    Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) chief executive Siyabonga Gama says his vision is to grow the railway, not shrink it. Engineering News quoted Gama as saying there are many examples of other railways such as in India and China that have succeeded only by growing their railway network – “Successful railways have high volumes,” he said.

    He described the decision taken in the past to shrink the railway network as “quite perplexing”.

    He pointed out that the market has grown, with road transport being the main beneficiary by increasing its share by 50 percent during the period 1991 to 2003. In the same period rail’s share decreased by 20 percent.

    Reasons for the latter were numerous, including an under-investment in rail infrastructure and inadequate maintenance of infrastructure and rolling stock. Other factors were having insufficient skills development and retention and an unwillingness of rail to adapt to customer requirements.

    At the same time state funding for roads increased in line with the deregulation of road transport.

    He said there had been a lack of hunger and innovation to grow rail’s share of the market.

    Nevertheless there were opportunities for rail to grow its share of the business, said Gama. Spiralling diesel costs could act as a catalyst, he said.



    Robben Island ferry out of water for maintenance


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    Robben Island ferry Sikhululekile on the synchrolift at Simon’s Town Naval Dockyard this week. Picture David Erickson

    An unusual craft currently visiting Simon’s Town is the troubled multimillion rand Robben Island Museum ferry SIKHULULEKILE.

    The catamaran arrived at the Naval Harbour in the middle of last week and was taken out of the water by the Synchrolift for inspection and/or repair.

    It is not clear whether the earlier problems that dogged her entry into service have been fully cured.

    During pre-launch inspections the R26 million vessel was found to have leaks in her hull which the Cape Town builders passed off as normal for a pre-launch vessel. A Robben Island Museum spokesperson later told a Cape Town newspaper that the inspection had gone off without a hitch but declined to answer further questions.

    Normal or not the launch of the ferry into service was delayed but has since remained in operation. The current lifting at the Simon’s Town dockyard may however simply be a routine inspection.



    Rwanda plans to bypass Mombasa and Dar es Salaam ports

    Rwanda News Agency/Agence Rwandaise d’Information

    Kigali, 4 July 2008 - Rwanda intends to reduce dependence on Kenya and Tanzania for business routes by building a rail line through DR Congo and Zambia to make the landlocked country economically independent, President Paul Kagame has said.

    Rwanda has to use the Kenyan port of Mombasa for its imports and exports, a risk that was highlighted during the political violence in Kenya in January and February.

    “We were thinking about this many years before these problems in Kenya,” Mr Kagame told Bloomberg Television in an interview on Tuesday in Egypt where he was taking in the African Union summit. “It’s always logical not to depend on one option. The more options you have to do anything the better.”

    In addition to the rail link to the Tanzanian port city of Dar es Salaam, the government is considering a southern railroad through Tanzania to Zambia. Should the political situation in the DR Congo stabilise, Rwanda may also help build a railroad west through Congo's vast jungles to the Atlantic, Mr Kagame revealed.

    Following the post election violence in Kenya, Rwanda immediately signed agreements with Tanzania as the route for its fuel products.

    Mr Kagame told the American business channel that the economy can maintain 7 percent growth for the next two to three years, even with higher food and fuel prices.

    “I think we can continue with large growth, or even higher growth, especially if we can solve the problem of energy, which we are also doing,” he said. Efforts to extract methane gas from beneath Lake Kivu could help the country reduce its dependence on imported oil, he said.



    SA Economy can weather global slowdown

    by Michael Appel (BuaNews)

    Johannesburg - Despite a global economic slowdown, resulting largely from rising food and fuel prices, South Africa's economy is resilient enough to deal with the unfolding current economic climate.

    “We have a much stronger economy today then we did 10 years ago and increasingly we are showing resilience to global economic dips.

    “We do not believe our economy has reached a cul-de-sac,” says Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa.

    He said investment was playing a greater role in the economic growth of South Africa.

    Speaking from the headquarters of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) on Wednesday, Mr Mpahlwa said South Africa was recently identified by a professor at the London School of Economics as one of four emerging economies in the world.

    This placed South Africa's economy among China’s, India’s and Brazil’s.

    Since the 1990’s, South Africa has emerged as one of the most important developing economies within the global economy.

    “We might not have the size of China, India and Brazil, but we are regionally significant with a diverse and growing economy.

    “We need to make sure that we remain in the stream of fast growing economies despite the challenging global economic environment,” the minister said.

    To ensure the diversification of exports, South Africa is currently in discussions with China to find ways in which to increase the market penetration of value added goods in to the Chinese economy.

    The minister said South Africa was in the process of trying to reverse the scenario of only exporting raw materials to instead supplying value added goods on a greater scale.

    Trade patterns are shifting at the moment, Mr Mpahlwa said, highlighting that the Africa-Asia trade was starting to surpass Africa-European Union (EU) trade.

    “The trade balance is shifting more toward Asia with an increase in trade between developing countries,” he said.

    One of the greatest challenges facing the South African economy, however, is insufficient energy to meet rising economic demands, a shortage of skills, the need to increase productivity, and boost infrastructure development.

    “We are not going to meet the skills challenge by importing skills as this is not sustainable. We need to look at doing things ourselves.

    “The issue of insufficient energy, skills shortages, and infrastructure challenges is not unique to South Africa but is a global problem,” Mr Mpahlwa said.

    South Africa's widening account deficit comes as a result of South African manufacturers already running at capacity and therefore not being able to deal with increased demand ahead of the massive infrastructure drive for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

    South Africa was therefore forced to import goods to cover the local output shortage.

    The account deficit is also being greatly affected by the global rising price of fuel, Mr Mpahlwa said.

    South African manufacturers, he said, needed to reinvest in capacity in order to meet the growing demand in the country.

    In the prevailing economic slowdown, South Africa must not lose focus of what it has set out to achieve.

    “Now is the time to commit ourselves to more vigorously pursue these objectives.”

    Government highlighted four important factors to help in this regard, including the enhancement of economic efficiency; the speeding-up of industrial development; the continued support and promotion of Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) and the strengthening of government capacity and capability to unlock economic potential within the economy.

    The facilitation of greater regional integration within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is also an objective that must receive greater impetus.

    All SADC countries must take advantage of the almost free trade barriers that exist in order to maximise regional trade.

    The department will be attending the Inter-Ministerial Meeting at the Doha World Trade Organisation talks on 21 July 2008.

    Mr Mpahlwa said the talks would centre around discussions on agricultural tariffs and subsidies.



    Energy crisis hurts Mozal aluminium exports


    CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
    Port facility at Matola, upriver from Maputo which handles Mozal’s aluminium imports and exports


    Aluminium exports from the Mozal plant outside Maputo are expected to decrease as a result of the energy crisis in South Africa, following instructions to reduce consumption at the plant by 10 percent.

    It had been announced that production at Mozal and at the Hillside smelter at Richards Bay would remain normal as a result of the decision by main shareholder BHP Billiton to cut back production at its third smelter at Bayside in Richards Bay.

    However according to Raitt Marshall, managing director of the Mozal smelter, the power cuts were having an effect on the Mozambique plant and he confirmed that there would be a reduction in exports as a result. According to Marshall all three smelters have taken pots (furnaces) out of commission and are therefore all affected.

    He said South Africa’s Eskom, from whom all electricity is drawn, has advised it will be five years before power supplies are normalised.



    Mozambique negotiates 1.2m tonnes of rice from Vietnam

    Mozambique has concluded a deal with Vietnam to purchase 400,000 tonnes of rice a year for the next three years, at a price still to be negotiated by the traders.

    The imports will cover Mozambique’s expected rice deficit of 316,000 tonnes a year – the country’s estimated annual consumption is 539,000t and local production is around 223,000t.

    According to Industry and Trade Minister Antonio Fernando, Mozambique has received a pledge from the South East Asian country to continue supplying rice. A number of major rice producers have cut back or stopped outright the export of rice and other grains because of shortages in their own countries, leading to a scramble for available imports by those in need. Vietnam has previously lowered its export quotas from between 4.5 and 5 million tonnes a year to between 3.5 and four million tonnes for this reason and to guarantee supplies for its domestic market.

    “As a government, we have done our part, and now the Mozambican companies should sit down with the Vietnamese and negotiate the prices,” said Fernando. - (AIM NEWS)



    Pic of the week – MSC MESSINA

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice



    The container ship MSC MESSINA in Cape Town harbour on 23 June 2008. Picture by Ian Shiffman



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