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Bringing you shipping, freight, trade and transport related news of interest for Africa since 2002

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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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First View – PRIDE SOUTH SEAS

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The oil rig PRIDE SOUTH SEAS, now seemingly a permanent resident of Cape Town harbour, was subjected to a movement involving four harbour tugs to turn the rig 180 degrees and moor her once again alongside A-berth. Aad Noorland who was on hand to watch the manoeuvre said it was a pleasure to watch the good co-ordination between the tugs involved and a very professional smooth operation. Picture by Aad Noorland

News continues below...

COSATU hits out at Gama reappointment, says it is ‘concerned’

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Siyabonga Gama. Picture by Terry Hutson

COSATU – the Congress of South African Trade Unions – says it views with serious concern the reappointment of Siyabonga Gama to the executive committee of Transnet.

Gama had been dismissed by the previous Transnet Board on charges of negligence over the awarding of two lucrative contracts, including a R18.9-million security contract given to GNS, a security company partly owned by the former communications minister, Siphiwe Nyanda. The other contract involved the allocation of a contract to refurbish 50 locomotives to Sibanye Trade Services, which it is alleged lacks experience in the renovation of locomotives.

Gama’s case was the subject of an appeal in the Transnet bargaining council at the time the new board, under its new chairman Mafika Mkwanazi, came into office earlier this year. The process was then suspended to allow the parties to talk and a settlement was reached.

According to the new Transnet Board, “The sanction of a dismissal was too harsh and therefore the Board considered a final written warning to be more appropriate.” This was done on the basis that Gama had not been found guilty of corruption and/or dishonesty. The Board then reinstated him, subject only to a final written warning.

COSATU says it is angered at the growing trend of lack of consultation by the ministers not only with COSATU but even the directly affected unions, and quotes the unilateral appointments of the SAA Board and its CEO, the chairman of Telkom, and the imminent appointment of a CEO of Telkom.

The Congress says it remains concerned that the report and findings of the disciplinary committee into his conduct “did find him to have been negligent in his oversight of the contracts the charges referred to.

“Transnet’s internal audit found that before the open, competitive tender could be awarded, GNS submitted a proposal to the two members of Gama’s staff, saying it could provide this service. Within days of receiving the GNS documentation, the open tender process was suspended and finally cancelled. Transnet then initiated a closed or ‘confined’ tender process, which allows for just one company to submit a tender on the basis of urgency or if that company has a unique offering.

“The problems with this, uncovered by the internal audit, and submitted as evidence to Gama’s disciplinary inquiry, included that:
1] No urgency for the confined contract could be established and that the security service in question was being carried out by the existing service provider and cable theft was declining, in contradiction of an internal motivation that claimed it was increasing.
2] The investigation found GNS was ‘a shell company’. It had no employees and its only assets were a few vehicles. Furthermore, no due diligence was carried out to establish whether it could provide the service.
3] While the existing service provider had policed cable theft for a contract amount of R500,000 a month, the GNS contract was for R1, 5m.”

COSATU says that Gama was the senior manager with the responsibility to sign the contract. “However, in the case of a confined contract, he had the authority to sign for a maximum of R10m, while the GNS contract totalled R18m.

“So, whether or not he was party to the manipulations of his staff, Gama exceeded his authority in signing the contract. He argues that he had ‘absent-mindedly’ signed it without reading it, misunderstanding its nature (as a confined contract) and the sum of money involved, and that his signature was an oversight.”

The Congress points out that the disciplinary committee found Gama to be guilty of negligence for this oversight as well as a second contract involving the procurement of locomotives, in which he signed a contract which included a clause that was against the express interests of the board.

COSATU says that the new Transnet Board’s claims that Gama’s dismissal on charges of negligence was too harsh, ignores the committee’s evidence of “the highly suspicious circumstances” around the GNS contract and that Gama’s cursory attention to important documents was not appropriate for a person of his seniority.

As a result, says COSATU, it believes that Gama’s reinstatement, despite this evidence of negligence and mismanagement, is in conflict with the government’s commitment to root out incompetence in the public service and state-owned enterprises, and calls on the Transnet Board to reverse their decision.

“This decision will feed into the perception among many workers that there are people in South Africa who are untouchable because of their political connections. In contrast to workers who appeal to Board Chairmen against unfair treatment and are routinely ignored, certain well connected individuals seem to be able to escape justice and move into well-paid senior positions.”

Gama returned to Transnet on 23 February 2011 and is currently based in the chairman’s office until the new Transnet executive team is finalised.

News continues below…

Another Iranian arms shipment seized – this one bound for Egypt

Another illegal shipment of arms, said to be destined for either Egypt or Gaza, has been intercepted at sea and seized by Israeli commandos.

The shipment was on board the German-owned container ship VICTORIA (22,506-dwt, built 2004), which is currently on charter to French line CMA CGM. Victoria was en route from the Turkish port of Mersin with a call at the Syrian port of Latakia and was bound for Alexandria when the Israelis swooped on her some 200 n.miles off the Israeli coast.

An initial search of the vessel’s containers uncovered three that were loaded with arms. The ship has been taken to an Israeli port where more of the 1,678 containers on board will be examined. In a statement CMA CGM said: “The ship's manifests do not show any cargo in contravention [of] international regulations, and we do not have any more information at this stage. We are currently in contact with the vessel's owner [Dohle Shiffahrt, Germany] in order to ascertain further information.”

The Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused Iran of being behind the arms smuggling. In November 2010 Nigerian authorities intercepted a shipment of 13 containers of illegal arms being smuggled through Nigeria to another West African country. They were shipped from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas and after several denials the Iranian authorities later admitted their involvement with the shipment.

In an un-related matter, a Maersk ship MAERSK CONSTELLATION remains detained in an Angolan port after four containers of American arms, said to be destined for Kenya, were discovered.

News continues below...

West African news: Togo installs Vessel Tracking Management System

Transas Marine Installs VTS in Togo

Transas Mediterranean in cooperation with its local partner SERAMAR has delivered a Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS) to Port Autonome de Lomé in Togo. The System is installed in Lomé Port - the main point of exchange for the country.

The System, which was provided on a turnkey basis, is intended to monitor and regulate the maritime traffic flow in order to improve safety conditions in the area. High traffic density justifies the choice of sophisticated software able to improve port's efficiency.

Complementary to the Transas monitoring solution Navi-Monitor, the Lomé Port VTMS is equipped with a set of hardware components – a radar, an operator workstation, AIS and VHF equipment. In addition, Transas Marine specialists carried out a comprehensive operational and maintenance training for operators and technicians.

This project continues the range of successful VTMS installations conducted by Transas on the African continent. “Rising safety and security concerns have made a significant shift in minds over the last few years. Ports are becoming even more conscious and take deliberate decisions in choosing suppliers of critically important safety systems,” said Christopher Loizou, Transas Marine’s Shore-Based Systems Business Unit Director.

Transas has supplied VTMS to Libya, Morocco and Ivory Coast.

Nigeria announces plans for deepwater port in Akwa Ibom

Nigeria’s Federal Government has revealed plans to build a new deepwater port in the Ibaka area of Akwa Ibom State.

Visiting the site Federal Minister of Transport Alhaji Yusuf Suleiman said the site chosen would enable the building of a deepwater port suitable for modern large capacity shipping. With its deep shoreline the adjacent Ibom Industrial City will have the best deep sea port in Nigeria, he said, which was what had attracted the federal government’s support for the project.

The minister gave no indication when the building of a the new port would begin.


Nigeria to get tough on non CTN compliance

The Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) has told shipping lines that they face stiff penalties for non-compliance with the NPA’s Cargo Tracking Note (CTN).

NPA managing director Omar Suleiman said there had been a general lack of compliance since CTN’s were introduced last October, in spite of a lengthy period of grace to enable operational adjustments to be made.

“Notice is hereby given that all shipments not covered by CTN will attract a 100% penalty payable by the carrier. Please note and ensure strict compliance,” he said in a letter to clients.

CTN’s provide information on imports but also levy charges which range from US$ 200 to $ 450 per container, depending on the country of origin. When introduced last year it attracted a storm of criticism from importers and freight forwarders.

News continues below…

Port exposure for ‘Men in the Making’

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A section of Durban’s Agribulk Terminal is the 80,000 ton capacity bulk warehouse for imported soya meal. Picture TPT

Durban, 15 March – Durban’s Transnet Port Terminals’ (TPT) RoRo, Maydon Wharf & Agribulk Terminal will participate in the nationwide ‘Men in the Making’ day on Thursday 24 March, giving more young men the opportunity to witness first-hand the inner workings of the terminal’s Maydon Wharf operation.

The Men in the Making project is spearheaded by vehicle tracking company Tracker. Its primary objective is to help raise responsible young men by introducing them to role models, career guidance, mentoring, life skills development and moral regeneration.

Ten boys from George Campbell Technical High School in Durban’s CBD will spend the day in the port. They will shadow managers from Transnet Port Terminals as they go about their work to learn more about the maritime industry.

“Human capital development is high on Transnet’s agenda due to the serious shortage of mission critical skills and expertise in the transport and logistics sector, which is a vital cog in the wheels of our economy,” said TPT Acting Chief Executive Karl Socikwa.

“It is important that this kind of exposure begins at an early age, firstly so that learners making career choices are aware of the possibilities available to them, and secondly so that those who acquire relevant tertiary qualifications have had some degree of practical exposure to this business environment,” he said.

Johann Botha, Maydon Wharf business unit executive, said the terminal’s participation in the Men in the Making initiative since 2009 had dovetailed with the popular Take a Girl Child to Work Day.

“Men in the Making specifically focuses on the needs of male learners as they endeavour to make important choices about their lives.

“We have an obligation to educate and positively impact on the lives of boy-children, too, so that they grow to be responsible citizens and future leaders of our country,” he said.

The ten boys from George Campbell Technical High School will see how cargo such as grains, woodchips, animal feed, containers, fertiliser, timber and steel, is handled and shipped at the terminal.

They will also gain insight into the diversity of careers available within the ports of South Africa.

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Durban’s Agribulk Terminal from the air, showing a NYK wood chip carrier loading wood chips via the elevator conveyors. The long steel warehouse and the small white buildings to the left of the warehouse form the NCS-operated wood chip facility, while the concrete silo type buildings on the right house the grain terminal section of TPT’s agriport. Picture TPT

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Triton Shield anti piracy system is introduced

The Triton Shield Anti Piracy System which aims at making it more difficult for pirates to gain access to ships, has been introduced by International Maritime Security Network (IMSN).

The multi-layered defense package is designed to detect, deter and defend against piracy on the high seas by incorporating training, education, technological deterrents and security.

After five years of research and testing, the final phase of testing for the Triton Shield APS will be completed by the end of March on a voyage from Jacksonville, Fla., to San Juan, Puerto Rico, aboard a Horizon Lines vessel.

A representative from the International Merchant Marine Registry of Belize (IMMARBE) will observe and evaluate the Triton Shield APS and Anti-Piracy course aboard the Horizon Lines vessel. The voyage will test IMSN's early-detection cameras, ballistic armor for safe rooms, and upgrades to the Triton Shield wall-of-water device. In addition, IMMARBE will observe crew training and a security team's role aboard the vessel.

“While there is little credible threat of pirates in the Caribbean waters, the Horizon Lines vessel will allow testing of all processes and training of crew members at sea,” said Captain Timothy D Nease (ret.), co-founder and CEO of IMSN. He added that this initial testing is imperative in preparation for another voyage on a different carrier scheduled through the high-risk waters off Africa in April.

The world's largest ship registry, PMA, has certified the Triton Shield APS based on a demonstration conducted in Panama last September. IMSN also presented its Anti-Piracy course, which PMA is currently evaluating for certification. “The Panama Maritime Authority's support for an anti-piracy system is very significant for the maritime industry,” said Captain Nease.

IMSN's Triton Shield APS provides layered security beginning with an innovative camera system to detect any watercraft that enters a one-mile radius of the IMSN-equipped vessel. Additionally, the Triton Shield water system discharges a powerful wall of water alongside of the ship, which can run continuously on vessels transiting through high-risk waters. The wall of water makes it extremely difficult for pirates to scale the hull of the ship, and can flood small boats within minutes. The wall of water can further be enhanced with environmentally safe irritants making it even more challenging for pirates to ever board a commercial vessel.

“Our team at IMSN has been researching ways to make the system more affordable and transferable between ships,” said Captain Nease. “This is a very practical solution for ship owners with multiple vessels. We're also seeking designs applicable to yachts and expect to introduce customizable solutions this summer,” he continued.

According to IMSN, early detection of maritime piracy allows for proper use of force continuum with various methods of deterrence to harden the target and warn pirates off before the need for direct engagement and defense.

The Triton Shield APS was designed using anti-piracy intelligence and real world experience combined with the concept of force continuum. IMSN says it believes that piracy is a criminal action, and therefore a law enforcement issue that should be met with appropriate counter-measures.

The IMSN Anti-Piracy Defense Course, designed for officers and crews, provides concepts related to anti-piracy laws and the needed practical training for activities such as watch-keeping, lockdown procedures, anti-piracy drills, hand-to-hand defensive tactics, as well as contingency plans for issues such as surviving a hostage attack or movement of prisoners. IMSN has the only certified Anti-Piracy course available online or on DVD.

“We have offered IMSN's training both on-site and online because it is absolutely vital that we ensure that as many seafarers as possible are trained and safe,” noted Captain Nease.

Details of IMSN are available by contacting info@imsn.us

News continues below…

Pics of the Day – TOISA SERENADE, TEKNIK PERDANA, & ZALIV AMERIKA

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Pictures from Singapore! Sealion Shipping (UK)’s offshore supply vessel TOISA SERENADE (3,665-gt, built 2008) at anchor in the Singapore Eastern Anchorage. Picture by Piet Sinke

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The Singapore-based research vessel TEKNIK PERDANA (2274-gt, built 1974) lying at anchor in Singapore’s Eastern Anchorage. Picture by Piet Sinke

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Another Singapore-listed but Cyprus-flagged vessel, the crude oil tanker ZALIV AMERIKA (104,535-dwt, built 2008) also at anchor in the port’s Eastern Anchorage. Picture by Piet Sinke

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