Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jul 16, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson













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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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  • First View – GARCIA D’AVILA

  • Transnet responds to media lawsuit claim

  • Kinshasa and Brazzaville to be linked by bridge

  • News from the shipping lines

  • Trade news - Regional trade hubs help foster US-Africa trade

  • Without global support, Somalia will fall to opposition – top UN political official

  • Pic of the day – MSC SPLENDIDA




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    First View – GARCIA D’ AVILA



    Picture by Trevor Jones

    The Brazilian Navy auxiliary vessel GARCIA D’AVILA (G-29) of 8,750-tons has recently been back in Cape Town, after having arrived in Simon’s Town in March this year as a support base for the Brazilian delegation attending the Third Sea Power for Africa Symposium that was being held at the Cape Town ICC between 9 and 14 March.

    The supply support ship is a former Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) of the British Royal Navy, the SIR GALAHAD and was acquired by the Brazilian Navy in 2007 following the ship’s decommissioning from the RFA fleet a year earlier. In RFA service the ship saw service in both Gulf Wars.

    The ship was built by the firm of Swan Hunter with her keel being laid down in July 1985 followed by a launching in December of that year and her commissioning into the RFA fleet in November 1987. She carried the same name and pennant of the earlier Sir Galahad that was sunk during the Falklands War of 1982.

    In Brazilian service the ship has been named in honour of a Brazilian war hero who served in that country’s armed services between 1913 and 1945.

    While in Cape Town on her most recent vsiti the ship was berthed at Cape Town’s waterfront harbour.


    GARCIA D'AVILA in Simon's Town in March this year. Picture by David Erickson



    Transnet responds to media lawsuit claim

    Transnet Limited says it wishes to place on record that it is not aware of any legal claims relating to its multi-billion rand locomotive acquisition programme.

    This is in reaction to a weekend newspaper that ran a report on Sunday, 12 July titled ‘Transnet faces huge claims’, in which it was claimed that Transnet is facing a legal challenge to projects totalling approximately R4 billion which are part of the R80 billion capital investment programme.

    In its response Transnet says that these projects relate to the acquisition of locomotives and are known as the ‘50 like-new’ project and the ‘212’ project. The company says the claims made in the article go to the heart of what it (Transnet) stands for in respect of both good governance and against fraud, corruption and irregularities.

    Transnet’s response continues: “On the ‘50 like new’ project, Transnet has entered into an agreement with a joint venture made up of two parties: namely, Sibanye Trade & Services (Pty) Ltd (STS) and an American wholly owned subsidiary Electro-Motive Diesel and Locomotive Company (EMD). On the ‘212’ locomotive acquisition tender, the above-mentioned joint venture was selected as the preferred bidder, but Transnet later cancelled the tender due to irregularities identified as a result of a detailed investigation conducted by Ernst & Young, our internal auditors. The investigation was initiated as a result of a letter from the then Minister of Public Enterprises, Mr Alec Erwin, responding to an anonymous tip-off.

    “The investigation identified a number of procedural irregularities in the procurement process, not least of which indicated a conflict of interest between a shareholder of STS (Mr Gustav Adams) and the Chairman of the Transnet Freight Rail Adjudicating Committee for locomotives. It was for this reason, and based on advice from independent legal counsel, that Transnet had no option, but to cancel the tender which had not yet been contracted.

    “In upholding the highest standards of governance, on legal and forensic advice, Transnet could not go ahead given the irregularities in the procurement process, and duly informed the tenderers of the cancellation. Further, we took appropriate action against the employee concerned.

    “Once we had cancelled this tender, an interdict action was brought against Transnet to stop us from proceeding with a separate tender for the acquisition, on a fast-tracked basis, of 100 locomotives.

    “In defending this interdict, Transnet was required to state the full details and provide substantial supporting evidence as to why the ‘212’ tender process was cancelled. We have already made our case in the South Gauteng High Court which found in favour of Transnet with costs awarded. No further action has been intimated or taken by any of the parties.

    “Should such action be taken in the future, we will vigorously defend our position and continue to uphold the highest standards of corporate governance in line with best practice and the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic and the PFMA.

    “The article claims that a R112 million demand has been received. This is misleading. Transnet has not received a claim from any party. Transnet is aware of correspondence between STS and EMD, the JV partners, in which Transnet was copied. This is a letter of demand on EMD by STS to provide certain information only. This is a matter between STS and its JV partner, EMD, and it would be inappropriate for Transnet to comment on these matters.

    “Transnet has a zero tolerance policy towards fraud and corruption and has introduced a number of practices to stamp out any such activity including a code of ethics, a whistle blowing policy, an anti-fraud policy and an independently-managed toll free anti-corruption hot-line. All calls that relate to theft, fraud, corruption and bribery are independently investigated. The Company has taken a public stand against fraud and corruption and will not be deterred from this approach irrespective of unfounded and spurious claims made by disgruntled stakeholders.”



    Kinshasa and Brazzaville to be linked by bridge

    Kinshasa and Brazzaville, the capital cities of the DRC and the Republic of Congo respectively, are to be linked by a bridge within 5-years, reports OTAL on its website.

    The decision was made during a recent meeting of ministers of the Economic Community of the Central African States (CEEAC). A MOU for the construction has been signed by the DRC minister of Planning, Olivier Kamitatu and his Congo Brazzaville’s counterpart, Justin Balemego, the minister in charge of Regional Integration and Nepad. A US$7.7 million feasibility study is underway.

    Under the terms of the agreement, the road-and-rail bridge will be 95% financed by the African Development Bank, with the remaining 5% coming from the two countries. The bridge, to include both a road and a railway, will promote traffic of goods between the cities with work is expected to start in Kinsuka suburb in Kinshasa.

    Of importance to shipping interests, the project will not only increase the goods traffic between the port of Pointe Noire in Congo Brazzaville and the city of Kinshasa, but reportedly will also significantly shorten the distance between Kinshasa and the Atlantic ocean by about 200km.

    The same project includes the construction of a railroad between Kinshasa and the DRC city of Ilebo, Western Kasai Province (1,015km). By doing so, the city of Kinshasa will be linked by railway to Lubumbashi (2,300km), the capital city of the mineral-rich province of Katanga, South Eastern DRC. The road/rail bridge will complete a missing road link of the Trans-Africa Highway 3 from Tripoli-Windhoek-Cape Town, and a rail link for the Point Noirs – South-Eastern Africa railway network. source otal.com

    Note: NB: Bolloré Africa Logistics and its local partners Socotrans, Samariti and Translo have recently began construction work on Congo Terminal, the new container terminal being developed at Pointe-Noire. In June it was also announced that APM Terminals would be joining the concession team.



    News from the shipping lines

    OT Africa Line (OTAL) has announced a restructuring of its service between Europe and Lagos (Apapa and Tin Can Island) in Nigeria. With effect 26 July 2009 a dedicated service will call at the ports of Antwerp, Felixstowe and Le Havre offering a direct service to Nigeria. The service commences with the vessel IGUACU calling Antwerp on 26 July, Felixstowe on 28 July and Le Havre on 29 July 2009. The Iguacu arrives in Lagos Apapa on 11 August and Tin Can on 13 August 2009.

    OT Africa Lines (OTAL) has also announced a restructuring of its service to Luanda in Angola. With effect from 8 August 2009 a dedicated shuttle service will call at the ports of Leixoes, Lisbon and Tangiers Med, offering a direct service to Luanda on a ten day frequency. The service is to be launched by the vessel PATRICIA DELMAS which departs Leixoes on 8 August, Lisbon on 10 August and arrives in Luanda on 25 August 2009.


    Mitsui OSK Line (MOL) and mining group Rio Tinto have agreed a number of dedicated long, medium and short-term contracts to transport iron ore using Capesize vessels and a 250,000 iron ore carrier. MOL describes the agreement reached this week as being in line with its strategy of optimising its fleet through long, medium and short-term contracts with value customers.

    “The company has decided to enter into long-terms contracts with Rio Tinto for some of its tonnage. Rio Tinto Marine, the shipping arm of Rio Tinto, one of the world’s largest iron ore producers, plays a significant role in seaborne trade of iron ore and has gained a strong reputation among cargo receivers and ship owners,” said MOL in a statement.



    Trade news - Regional trade hubs help foster US-Africa trade

    by Charles W. Corey

    Washington, 14 July (America.gov) - The United States operates four regional trade and competiveness hubs in sub-Saharan Africa. They aim to assist, enhance and broaden the flow of trade between the United States and the region, both inside and outside the terms of the historic African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

    The four trade hubs - located in Ghana, Senegal, Botswana and Kenya - provide information and technical expertise to enhance and expand bilateral trade between the United States and Africa.

    Nathan Van Dusen, an economist with Carana Corporation, which is working under contract with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to help manage the West and Southern Africa trade hubs, spoke in an interview with America.gov. He described the key role trade hubs play in helping firms and government agencies take advantage of trade opportunities with the United States. He acknowledged that some 80 percent of US-Africa trade under AGOA is in petroleum-based products and said the hubs are not concerned with petroleum trade but rather in expanding the nontraditional export sectors for US-Africa trade.

    The trade hubs, he said, are helping to expand textile and apparel trade - particularly trade in surgical scrub suits for hospitals. Additionally, the US apparel retailer GAP Inc. has been obtaining much of its product line from southern Africa, the CVS drug store chain has been getting work wear for its employees, and Wal-Mart has been purchasing T-shirts and other low-end apparel items from West and Southern Africa.

    “So there are a lot of US companies that are doing business in the region, and we are seeing increasing interest, particularly with political risk in parts of East Africa becoming a problem for some manufacturers and also due to some uncertainty on where the labor market is going to go with China,” with the possibility of rising labor costs in China, Van Dusen said.

    Van Dusen said his trade hubs sent African business representatives to a large specialty food and trade show food show in New York in June. “Specialty foods last year in the United States were an $ 80 billion industry, and prior to the trade hubs working in this sector, there really was no presence of genuine African themes and manufactured products in the US specialty foods market. We are now seeing a growing presence.”

    The hubs are now working with a specialty business operation that places ‘sets’ of theme foods (French, Spanish, German, etc.) in US supermarkets. This business group launched an African ‘set’, which first was picked up by the Food Emporium, a grocery chain in New York City, and now that same set is in more than 7,000 grocery stores nationwide. The set, he said, includes “a variety of products from West Africa, Southern Africa and East Africa. It is a lot of sauces, jams, spice mixes and some milled flours. This importer has really taken a new risk in trying to create a new product area for the US marketplace for specialty foods and it seems to be taking off.”

    Additionally, Van Dusen said the trade hubs have also been active in expanding the handmade gifts and décor trade and product sector, which includes beaded jewelry, Rwandan gift baskets and traditional Malian Bogolan or mud cloth bags, which have been put in Hallmark Gift Stores nationwide in the United States. That came about, he said, after the Hallmark Company came to the trade hubs and asked for products that could be easily stocked.

    While tariff preference programs like AGOA have some impact in getting American companies to invest in Africa, he cautioned that they are not sufficient in themselves to stimulate trade between the United States and Africa.

    “When we talk to aspiring or current exporters in the region, and when we talk to buyers and investors in the US about sourcing from Africa or putting manufacturing operations in Africa, they do ask about tariff preferences, but they also ask about investment incentives, education levels and transportation costs. So the trade hubs, in addition to helping companies take advantage of the tariff preferences, are working in these other areas,” he said.

    Other factors, such as transport costs, time to market, labor productivity and rule of law are also important, he said. “There are a lot of factors that go into making that decision for a company. Tariff preferences [like AGOA] matter, but that may be 10 to 20 percent of what goes into that decision, depending on the company and what their requirements are,” Van Dusen said.

    The trade hubs provide assistance in helping companies manage “onerous paper requirements” that go along with tariff preferences, he explained. “In order to get a product into the United States under AGOA, you have to go through certain steps,” which include the certification of a product's country of origin and the accompaniment of the proper US customs forms filled out with all of the right codes.



    Without global support, Somalia will fall to opposition – top UN political official

    UN Security Council – If the international community allows Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) – forged in a process of consensus – to fail, the poverty-stricken Horn of Africa nation will be taken over by opposition groups employing tactics of coercion and intimidation, the top United Nations political official has cautioned.

    Last year’s UN-facilitated Djibouti Agreement ended the conflict between the TFG and the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia, with President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed taking office in January and a new Government being formed in February.

    “The choice before us is a stark one: either we help the Somali people overcome the current attempt to thwart efforts towards peace or we allow the new unity Government based on consensus and the Djibouti Accords to fall to a radical armed opposition,” B Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, told an open meeting of the Security Council.

    The TFG is being challenged by insurgent forces, backed by foreign fighters, but “strives to maintain cohesion despite the obvious difficulties faced by any government of national unity,” he said.

    It is reaching out, he noted, to opposition forces and working to broaden its support among community, religious and civil society leaders, while trying to project a moderate vision of Islam in line with Somali culture.

    In contrast, the rebel Al Shabaab has been assassinating clan leaders and Government officials, doling out harsh punishments for minor offenses, Mr. Pascoe said.

    He also called for nations to honour the pledges made in April at a donors’ conference in Brussels for both the Government and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), emphasizing that it is in the world’s interest to ensure that the TFG does not collapse.

    “To enable the Government to enhance its legitimacy and broaden its base, we must invest in building the security institutions and improve its capacity to deliver public services and employment, which would have a positive impact on the hearts and minds of ordinary Somalis,” the official said.

    National reconciliation is also a key element in consolidating peace in the country, he stressed, adding that the country’s peace process is open to all groups renouncing violence and willing to cooperate with the Government.

    Also essential is bolstering AMISOM and providing it with the resources necessary to support the TFG and the Somali people, Mr. Pascoe told the Council. – UN News Centre

    LATEST - The UN’s IRIN news agency reported yesterday (Wednesday 15 July) from Mogadishu that Al-Shabab, Somalia's Islamist opposition group, has suffered its first serious military setback in fighting in the capital, Mogadishu, giving the government a much-needed morale boost.

    “Whether the tide has turned against them is too early to tell but they have taken a beating [in fighting on 12 July],” a Somali observer, who requested anonymity, said.

    Clashes between the Islamist insurgents and the forces of President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, backed by African Union (AU) peacekeeping troops, known as AMISOM, reportedly left at least 51 people dead and injured 212, locals said.

    “Most of those who died [on 12 July] were combatants,” Ali Sheikh Yassin, deputy chairman of the Mogadishu-based Elman Human Rights Organization, told IRIN.

    Other sources said the insurgents lost significant territory. “They have been pushed from a number of neighbourhoods in north Mogadishu which they had controlled,” said one.

    The Somali observer said groups such as Al-Shabab were not known to care how many [fighters] they lost in a given battle, but the setback may have “a silver lining to bring to the fore differences of strategy and approach within them and between them and their allies Hisbul-Islami [led by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, a former ally of President Ahmed]”.

    The observer said some parts of the opposition had argued that since they controlled most of the country, the fighting should stop to allow people to return home.

    “This group favours dialogue with the government from a position of strength,” he said, adding that “there are some who even want to talk, not only to the government, but to the international community”.

    The more radical elements insist they could remove the government by force “within days”.

    “Sunday [12 July] reinforces the position of those who favour some sort of dialogue," the observer said. “How the government uses this opportunity is a different matter.”

    He said if the government was to take advantage of the opposition's setback it needed to put its house in order. “The first it [the government] must do is to bring its forces under one command. There are at least three or four militia fighting on the government side with no central command.”

    The government must also restart dialogue with those in the opposition willing to talk, he added.

    Labour Minister Mohamed Abdi Hayir, who is also acting Minister of Information, said the government “never wanted more fighting but was forced into it. While [Sunday's] fighting was regrettable, it was necessary. For over two months, we have been under attack. We must deal with these anti-peace elements.”



    Pic of the day – MSC SPLENDIDA

     

    MSC’s latest addition to their cruise fleet, which has now reached ten ships, is the MSC SPLENDIDA (137,936-gt, built 2009) which was named at a ceremony in Barcelona on Monday (see yesterday’s News Report HERE.



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