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Ports & Ships Maritime News

September 22, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

Shipping, freight, trade and transport related news of interest for Africa

 

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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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First View – BLUE JAY

The Port of Cape Town’s workboat/tug BLUE JAY makes her way across harbour and her next job. Picture by Aad Noorland

 

News continues below...

Transnet concessioning process moves ahead

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picture courtesy Transnet

Transnet’s recent call for ‘expressions of interest’ concerning the concessioning of over 7,000km of branch line railways has received considerable interest from potential private operators – 115 applications having been received by the end of phase 1, according to Transnet acting CEO Chris Wells.

Ordinarily this would be regarded as positive news and an indication that the state-owned transport parastatal had successfully loosened the shackles of labour and was moving towards a meaningful private enterprise venture involving the private sector which could only be of benefit for the economy and the country generally.

However, as more than a few sceptics have suggested, a closer look at some of the ‘rules and conditions’ attached to the process might not be a bad thing.

In a statement issued last week Transnet says it reserves the right to either not concession at all or even remove some branch lines from the process should it deem it necessary, while adding that all assets will remain in the ownership of Transnet. Concessionaires will be obliged to take on long term concessions. Nor will any of the branch line staff be transferred to the concessionaires – they will remain in the employ of Transnet in what is clearly a move to placate labour concerns.

Nor should concessionaires look to Transnet for any help with capital investments once a concession has been granted – that is for the new operator’s own account, and they will have to maintain the assets to an agreed operating standard throughout the concession period. The concessionaire will have meanwhile taken over the line in a voetstoets (as is) condition and may first have to restore it to operating standard.

Incidentally, this is a similar clause to what is included in the proposed concessioning of the dry docks and other ship repair facilities in the ports, where considerable upgrading will be necessary before any of the facilities will become competitive.

Returning to the branch lines, it is in this area that where the water becomes murky, as many of the branch lines have been all but abandoned by Transnet and some can hardly be regarded as having any operating capability at present, let alone to possess any standards worth retaining.

Transnet also expects each concessionaire to provide rail services to a range of customers on a common user basis and says they may not convert the concession to an exclusive use arrangement. This is another clause that applies to ship repair and dry docks.

This latter clause could rule out someone like a timber company or mining group from seeking to operate a line suitable for their purposes of say moving timber or ore from their plantations or mine to the nearest mainline railhead. They would have little incentive to consider operating the branch line on behalf of other users.

The agreement says that Transnet will make available specified branch line locomotives and wagons on a lease basis and is prepared to consider selling some of this rolling stock to concessionaires.

The problem, say the sceptics, is that while a timber or coal company may see some merit in operating a branch line to take timber or coal to the nearest mainline connection, the challenge comes with them then having to wait on Transnet’s unreliable service to move the traffic on to its final destination. While the branch line might operate efficiently it remains but one link in a logistic chain and will remain dependent on the service provided by the next link in the chain.

In the agreement documents Transnet says it will make locomotives and rolling stock available to concessionaires. The question here is that Transnet currently doesn’t have enough of either – which has been one of the excuses used as to why its service has been so poor in recent years. And should a concessionaire wins the right to introduce their own rolling stock and locomotives, what guarantee will be provided that the rolling stock will be approved to run on Transnet track to its final destination? Current rules rightly decree that such rolling stock has to be inspected each time it runs on Transnet track – will an inspector be available for every trainload and at what expense and how long a wait for these services?

The latter requirement would also apply to leased rolling stock, assuming such items to be available, and if so will they remain on Transnet’s books as current rolling stock or will they too require testing before being allowed entry onto the mainline?

The few operators that do have privately owned rolling stock or locomotives and who do occasionally venture out on Transnet tracks face these challenges each time they operate.

Transnet says that the main aim of the Expressions of Interest process is for Transnet to provide interested parties with specific information about each branch line opportunity. It is also for Transnet to receive feedback from interested parties on proposed terms and conditions under which branch lines may be offered in the subsequent competitive Request for Proposals.

“Transnet understands that the private sector may have different approaches to branch line operations. Through this process, we aim to share ideas on what it might take to make these lines viable for private operators. We are committed to thoroughly explore opportunities to revitalise these lines and engaging further with all relevant stakeholders, including government, to find optimal solutions,” says Wells.

The deadline for the Expressions of Interest is 25 October 2010.

 

News continues below…

Logistics: DAMCO takes over Maersk Distribution Services in the US

Maersk Distribution Services, the warehouse and inland distribution arm of Maersk Line in North America, will in future operate under the banner of Damco, the combined logistics division of parent company AP Moller-Maersk.

This is a trend which is likely to spread to other regions and areas, and is part of a continuing consolidation of all AP Moller-Maersk logistics activities under the Damco umbrella.

A company announcement said that the move enables customers from overseas to benefit from the systematic integration between their international supply chains and domestic (N America) distribution.

“It enables postponed decision-making for final allocation of cargo to each store. Damco now provides customers with integrated logistics solutions from sourcing through their supply chain, all the way to the store,” said the statement.

 

News continues below...

Hub strategy is working for Ngqura, says TPT

 
Port of Ngqura Container Terminal

Transnet’s hub strategy of positioning the new port of Ngqura in the Eastern Cape as a major transshipment hub for South Africa is working well, says Transnet Port Terminals (TPT).

In a statement issued last night TPT said that the Ngqura container terminal, which is one year old in October, handled a record 46,836-TEUs during August, of which 72% was transshipment cargo intended for the regional ports.

Since October 2009 the cargo mix at Ngqura has been 58% transshipment, 22% imports and 20% exports.

This hasn’t been at the total expense of nearby Port Elizabeth either, as figures show. During August the port’s container terminal handled 36,626-TEU, on a par with the 36,674-TEU the month before but considerably up from the 25,981-TEU for August 2009.

Also of interest, the August container cargo at Port Elizabeth’s container facility comprised 13,102 TEUs (or 36%) imports, 10,396 TEUs (or 28%) exports and 13,128 (or 36%) transhipments.

According to Siya Mhlaluka, TPT’s Terminal Executive Manager for the Eastern Cape, the high volumes at Port Elizabeth is attributed to an increase in market demand for automotive components forming part of the manufacturing contracts won by local motor manufacturers. The peak season for refrigerated cargo was also driving volumes, he said.

News continues below…

Cape Town Container Terminal being transformed by R5.4 billion expansion programme

 

Cape Town’s Container Terminal is continuing to be transformed by the R5.4 billion expansion programme currently underway that will result in the cargo capacity being almost doubled by 2012.

Major dredging, deepening and refurbishment work on the second of four berths is well underway and will be completed by May 2011. The first 100m of Berth 602 was recently handed over to terminal operations and coupled with the already refurbished Berth 601, this affords the terminal 420m of berth space to accommodate one large 305m vessel along its long quay.

“There have been some challenges. Most significant of these is the complexity of maintaining uninterrupted operations at the container terminal while it is effectively a construction site,” says Velile DubeTransnet Port Terminal’s (TPT) Western Province Terminal Executive.

“However we are well on our way towards transforming the container terminal into a modern four berth facility that will assist in meeting the demands of the rapid growth in the container sector.”

The upgrades to all four berths and the Ben Schoeman Basin will enable larger new generation vessels to enter and ‘park’ safely at the container facility.

Inside the terminal, the fleet of harbour cranes has been beefed up to improve the efficiency of container handling. On Friday, 27 August, the fifth and sixth Liebherr ship- to-shore cranes were commissioned and worked on their first vessel on Monday, 30 August. These cranes were slipped into position on Berth 601 by specialised trailers on 13 and 14 August. With a total of six new Liebherr cranes in place, Berth 601 offers high productivity container handling that is faster and more efficient.

The fleet of straddle carriers in Cape Town is also being phased out in favour of rubber-tyred gantry (RTG) cranes, which make better use of limited space by stacking six rows wide, five containers high and 30 deep. To date 20 RTG cranes have been commissioned and handed over to the terminal, with the remaining eight scheduled for handover between the end of September and the end of October.

Four more RTGs and some of the straddle carriers are being transferred to Durban’s container terminals.

Refrigerated containers, or reefers, will benefit from the handing over on 26 August of 864 reefer plug points in reefer block 1. The overall expansion programme will result in three reefer stacks with a total of 2,712 reefer points served by gantry cranes.

Human capital development has also been a major aspect of the expansion programme. The terminal’s new cranes necessitated an aggressive training programme for operators of lifting equipment, with 33 operators joining operations in August and bringing the total number of newly trained personnel to 120. Additional training in operation of ship- to-shore cranes will take place from January 2011.

Dube said the five year expansion project is one of several Transnet projects taking place within South Africa’s container sector, with the aim of creating additional capacity ahead of demand. By 2012, the capacity of the Cape Town terminal will be 1.4 million TEUs, nearly double its existing 740,000 TEU capability.

 

News continues below…

Piracy: The three big container lines square off against pirates


picture by Ian Shiffman

The world’s three largest container lines, Maersk Line, MSC and CMA CGM are squaring off in a combined effort to fight piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.

In a joint statement the three companies said they will freely exchange information of safety measures, piracy policies and procedures as well as coordination to ensure that the issue is addressed with all relevant stakeholders.

All three shipping lines have experienced pirate attacks on their ships at one time or another and the group agree on the importance of the Best Management Practices for safe sailing in the area where the Somali pirates continue to attack and highjack vessels.

They said they welcome and support the international community’s efforts to fight the problem of piracy in terms of the naval presence in the Gulf of Aden and the pursuit of appropriate legal frameworks to ensure pirates are prosecuted and held responsible for their crimes. Their joint statement read:

“The root causes of this problem cannot be addressed overnight. Therefore, it is imperative that the naval forces have a strong and dynamic mandate to match the constantly changing situation in the area. It is also vital that the acts of piracy do not go unpunished, which is why appropriate legal frameworks for prosecuting pirates are needed.

“Following the Anti-Piracy Best Management Practice is an important step in preventing hijackings and we fully support the use and further development of the BMP.”

They said they also support proposals for regional capacity building to address the issue such as a regional coast guard and possible transit corridors to East Africa.

 

News continues below…
 

Pics of the Day – MSC LUDOVICA

 

The container ship MSC LUDOVICA (75,590-gt, built 2003) seen departing from Cape Town on 14 September 2010. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

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