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Ports & Ships Maritime News

October 4, 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 – SAFMARINE MULANJE

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The container ship SAFMARINE MULANJE (50,686-gt, built 2007) seen in Fremantle harbour, Western Australia on 18 September 2010. Picture by Peter Blackett

 

News continues below...

Maputo focus on speeding up border crossing

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Maputo port and transport stakeholders are of the opinion that overcoming delays at Mozambique’s border crossing with South Africa is the key to attaining success with winning import and export trade to the Mozambique port.

As a result, increased focus will be placed on bringing about a smoothed border crossing protocol between South Africa and Mozambique at the Komatipoort/Ressano Garcia crossing, so delegates to the Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative AGM were told last week.

According to Dr Domingos Tivane of the Mozambique Customs Authority, an electronic ‘single window’ project for transit goods can be expected during 2011.

This was one of the many assurances given to several hundred delegates who met on the concourse of the old historic Maputo Station to attend the AGM of the Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative (MCLI). They were told of a recent round trip (by road) from the border at Komatipoort to the port to collect cargo and back to Komatipoort that took 5 hours 15 minutes, as an example of what is already being achieved as attention is given to speeding through bureaucracy and red tape. Mathews Phosa, joint chairman of the MCLI gave a stirring call for the border to be opened 24 hours a day and said the aim was to market the Maputo Corridor as a bilateral transit corridor. A commitment had been given by motor manufacturers BMW and Ford, he said, to use the port of Maputo in the future.

In his address, Transnet Freight Rail’s acting CEO Tau Morwe, who was recently elected to the board of the MCLI, said the number of trains operating between South Africa and Maputo would be increased over the next six months. This was one of the things that TFR had identified as being necessary within the corridor, he said.

TFR would increase the number of coal trains form the present seven a week to 35, and trains carrying magnetite (an iron ore) would be doubled to 14. He noted however that despite spending more than R100 billion on its ports, rail and pipeline services over the next five years, very little if anything would be spent on the Maputo Corridor. He invited MCLI members to lobby for this to change.

Interestingly, Morwe said that Transnet would need to consider investing in the port of Maputo by way of buying a share of the port company. This suggestion had been around for some time and discussions held with interested parties. “If we (Transnet) owned [part of] the port then decisions would have to be made on the best route to take,” he said. “That way if we had a stake it would be a win-win situation for everyone.”

A brief tour of the port, which was meant to impress delegates may have had a negative effect, with no-one available to provide commentary. It would have been apparent to everyone on the bus however that the container and car terminals appeared busy, although housekeeping at the car terminal must prove something of a nightmare considering the amount of dust that is generated by passing lorries and other heavy vehicles. The rows of second-hand imports parked next to brand new Nissans and other models, all staged close to the perimeter fence and a dusty road appeared surprising for someone more used to the immaculate Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth terminals. Perhaps it was just a bad day.

Mention of the proposed new deep water port of Techonanine south of Maputo appeared to catch MCLI officials by surprise – see PORTS & SHIPS report on this HERE - with requests by MCLI members to Mozambique Ministry of Transport officials to be kept in the loop.

 

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Zuma encourages more trade between India and SA

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has invited India to build further its business relations with South Africa.

The World Bank Group's 2010 'Doing Business' report ranked South Africa 34th - out of 183 countries - for the ease of doing business. The country was placed at number 45 - ahead of countries like Poland and Mexico - in terms of overall competitiveness.

South Africa was also ranked the 18th most attractive foreign direct investment destination globally. This was according to the 2007 Foreign Direct Investment Confidence Index produced by management consulting firm, AT Kearney.

It was on this premise that Zuma invited delegates at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) Africa India Diaspora Conference, held in Durban on Saturday, to do more business with South Africa.

“South Africa is the gateway to the one billion-strong African market... Our trade and investment opportunities for the Indian business sector lie in environmental technologies, ICT, transport equipment, capital equipments, creative industries and financial services,” said Zuma.

Investment from India into South Africa is roughly R45 billion, while trade from South Africa to India is an estimated R21 billion. Bilateral trade is said to have surpassed R53.9 billion. Trade between the two countries is estimated to reach R70 billion by 2012.

Zuma noted the robustness with which both India and South Africa's economies weathered the recent financial crisis.

He urged both countries to invest in youth development, as it was key to continued economic growth.

“India and South Africa have large youthful populations... [We have] endorsed a wide range of social measures to improve the lives of our youth.

“Education lies at the centre of our efforts. Earlier this week, we welcomed a 123 million Euro pledge from the European Union to improve primary education in South Africa,” said Zuma.

The President praised the political, social and economic ties between India and South Africa, saying that they have grown from strength to strength. He said much bonded the two countries, including the shared vision of peace, impartiality and prosperity.

“We also share a common approach on a number of global issues, including reform of the United Nations, the future of multilateralism, climate change, South-South Cooperation and multilateral trade negotiations,” said Zuma.

He highlighted the likes of Mahatma Gandhi, prominent politician and medical doctor Monty Naicker, and political activist Dr Yusuf Dadoo for their role in constructing a free South Africa.

The PBD conference was held to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Indians in South Africa. It was also to acknowledge the contributions made by the Indian community in the fight against apartheid and the building of democracy. – BuaNews

 

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Piracy: Seafarers taken hostage off West Africa released

Dredging company Jan de Nul has announced that six crewmen taken hostage from two ships outside the Cameroon port of Douala on 12 September have been released and have returned home.

Two of the crew came from the trailing suction dredger AMERIGO VESPUCCI and the other four were from the general cargo ship SALMA. A spokesman for Dan de Nul declined to say whether a ransom had been paid although this is assumed.

Meanwhile, the European Union naval force EU NAVFOR operating in Somali waters says it welcomes the third judgment by a Kenyan court, delivered on 29 September in connection with the interdiction of a pirate group by an EU NAVFOR warship.

The conviction involved eleven Somali men accused of acts of piracy and the court handed down sentences of five years in prison for the 11 Somalis accused. The conviction relates to the attack on the merchant vessel SAFMARINE ASIA on 15 April 2009, when the ship came under sustained small arms and Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) attack from two skiffs that were operating in close company with a mother ship.

Following a distress call from the stricken container ship, the helicopter from the French frigate FS NIVOSE quickly arrived on the scene to deter the hijacking and shadow the mother vessel until the warship arrived and intercepted the pirates.

To date, EU NAVFOR has transferred 92 individuals to the Kenya authorities for prosecution in the Kenyan national courts and earlier in September the Kenya authorities sentenced 14 other men to 5 years imprisonment each.

But in a surprising move last week, the Kenyan newspaper The Daily Nation says in a report that the Kenyan government has terminated agreements to try captured Somali pirates in its courts, despite strong diplomatic pressure from Western powers. The newspaper quotes the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement dated 30 September that it wishes to “acknowledge that the MoUs will effectively terminate on 30 September 2010.”

The paper says the move has been welcomed by Kenya’s political ‘elite’ on the grounds that Western countries have reneged on promises to assist Kenya in dealing with pirates on the high seas.

Kenya claims that having to try Somali pirates in its courts opens the country to security risks from its northern neighbour and also results in backlogging of cases at Mombasa’s courts. Keeping the pirates in a Kenya jail has also exposed other inmates to indoctrination, it has been claimed.

 

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The former South African Kuswag IV (Coastwatch IV) vessel which is now named LADY ESTHER and in service as a fishing vessel in Nigerian waters. Here the little vessel, which was built in Durban is seen at anchor off Lagos, Nigeria. Picture by Rogan Troon

 

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Another big ship for CMA CGM

French container line’s latest new ship, the 11,400-TEU CMA CGM PEGASUS has been named at a ceremony held in Malta Freeport, in the presence of the Hon Lawrence Gonzi, Prime Minister of Malta, and Mrs Catherine Gonzi, his wife, godmother of the vessel.

The new ship is registered in Valetta and becomes the largest container ship ever to sail under the Maltese flag.

CMA CGM Pegasus is the seventh vessel of the Group to be registered under the Maltese flag, confirming the strong ties existing between Malta and the French shipping line, which has had a presence on the island for more than ten years.

Malta enjoys a strategic location on the shortest possible route between the Suez Canal and the Gibraltar Straits, at the crossroads of some of the world’s greatest shipping routes serving Asia, the Middle East, the Aegean, Adriatic and Black Seas along with the European Continent, making Malta Freeport Terminals Ltd (MFTL) a major container transhipment centre in the West Mediterranean.

With ten ocean and fifteen feeder services, up to 35 CMA CGM vessels call at Malta every week. MFTL is the main hub for the CMA CGM Group in the region.

CMA CGM Group has been operating MFTL – a 100% subsidiary - since October 2004 and has been granted an extension of its concession by the Maltese Authorities to 65 years in 2008. This historic agreement opened up new prospects for development of the CMA CGM Group in the Mediterranean. It marked the beginning of an ambitious programme of expansion and modernisation of the port’s infrastructure aiming at improving the competitiveness of MFTL even further and answering the growing demand of its customers.

MFTL currently employs 743 people (up from 200 in 2004) and will be able to handle up to 3.4 million TEU (compared to 1.44 million TEU in 2004) by 2017. It can now accommodate the largest containerships in the world, such as the 13,800-TEU CMA CGM CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS class of ship.

 

News continues below…

South African R4.7 billion trade deficit for August

Pretoria- South Africa recorded a trade deficit of R4.7 billion in August, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) said on Thursday.

According to SARS, the deficit was due to a decrease in exports of 13.4 percent and a decrease in imports of 1.5 percent.

"Exports for August 2010 of R48.5 billion and imports of R53.2 billion resulted in a deficit of R4.7 billion. Exports decreased by R7.5 billion (13.4%) and imports decreased by R0.8 billion (1.5%)," said SARS.

“The weakness in exports suggests that the faltering global recovery is having an impact on the domestic economy while on the import side, volumes of consumer goods seem to be gaining momentum on the back of the strong rand and improving household income,” said Nedbank economist Isaac Matshego.

He added that the figures had little or no implications for monetary policy. “We still expect the Reserve Bank to keep interest rates unchanged for the remainder of this year,” he said. – BuaNews

 

News continues below…
 

Pics of the Day – BELGIAN EXPRESS

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The Dutch-owned newbuild BELGIAN EXPRESS (21,018-gt, built 2010) made her maiden call at Durban recently, when these pictures were taken of the ship outside the port. The ship was four months old at this time. Pictures by Clinton Wyness

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