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Ports & Ships Maritime News

17-18 November 2011
Author: Terry Hutson

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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News continues below...

FIRST VIEW – TIGRIS

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The Greek-owned bulker TIGRIS (52,454-dwt, built 2003) which featured in this spot on 15 November, seen in a following sea as the ship was about to enter Cape Town harbour. Picture by Glen Kasner

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TANZANIA PORTS AUTHORITY TO INVEST BIG IN PORT EXPANSION

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Port of Dar es Salaam

The Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) has embarked on an expansion exercise to increase port capacity by dredging and the construction of two new berths, reports the East African.

In an article written by Leonard Magomba and John Mbalamwezi, they report that the TPA intends a massive US$1.4 billion expansion drive which aims at serving new markets in South Sudan and neighboring landlocked countries specifically, Uganda, DR Congo and Zambia.

They quoted TPA Deputy Director General, Julius Mfuko as saying that the authority has set aside $600 million for the construction of Tanga’s new Mwambani port.

He said that an estimated $523 million would be spent on the port at Dar es Salaam. This figure excludes the cost of dredging.

Projects at Dar es Salaam will comprise the building of new berths numbers 13 and 14 adjacent to Kurasini Oil Jetty, and turning the single point mooring into a multipurpose facility. According to Dar es Salaam port manager Cassian Ng’amilo, the construction of berth 13 and 14 would cost $400 million, to be funded by China.

Mr Mfuko said that in two years, the principal ports will have the capacity to cater for 1 million TEUs annually.

The report said that the TPA is also working on creating a dry port at Kisarawe in the Coast Region which would assist with helping decongest the port of Dar es Salaam. The Kisarawe dry port will be developed into a cargo freight station able to handle both containers and vehicles in large numbers. The European Union mission in its recent visit to Tanzania warned the TPA management that it stands to lose business if it does not take urgent measures to fast track cargo clearance at the port.

The Kurasini Oil Jetty and single point mooring projects will cost $60 million; the former will have the ability to carry 45,000 tonnes to 80,000 tonnes; while the latter will be receiving multiple products and will not handle crude oil as before.

“Expansion of these oil delivery points will be completed in 2012, with the single point mooring gearing to handle ships with 120,000 tonnes,” said Mr Ng’amilo.

Tanga port, located on the north-eastern Indian Ocean coast close to the Kenya border is the second biggest in Tanzania after Dar es Salaam. Currently, the port has the capacity to handle 500,000 tonnes of cargo annually, but utilises only three quarters of that capacity.

According to Mr Mfuko, most goods passing through Tanga port are imports which include liquid bulk and break bulk cargo, chemicals, machinery and vehicles.

Early this month the governments of Tanzania and Uganda agreed to fast track the construction of the Tanga-Musoma-Uganda railway line to enable speedy movement of goods between the two countries. According to the agreement, the two countries will expand Tanga and Musoma ports in Tanzania, and build a new port in Uganda (on Lake Victoria) to serve the new railway.

The construction of the railway will help fulfill the wishes of Tanzania’s founder, the late Julius Nyerere, who wished to link Uganda directly to the Indian Ocean.

It will also open up a third gateway for Ugandan goods to the sea. Uganda’s other alternative are the Mombasa-Kampala route (the Northern Corridor) and the Dar es Salaam- Mwanza to Kampala route, also known as the Central Corridor.

Mr Mfuko said that an environment impact assessment has given clearance for the project and the first phase of construction would start later this year. The port depth at Tanga would also be increased to cater for larger ships in an effort to increase efficiency. Source The East African

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TFR GOES BACK TO RUNNING SCHEDULED TRAINS

article by Terry Hutson

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Spoornet (now TFR) shipping out locos to Africa while a shortage existed at home. Picture by Terry Hutson

Slowly the South African railway scene is reverting towards old and tried patterns and methods of operating which had been unceremoniously discarded as outdated and unwanted. The rot of the railways, if it may be called that, set in during the late 1980s and early 1990s, more or less at the time when the road industry began to be deregulated – a move that caused panic in certain quarters of the old railway organisation.

That was a time when so much that had been tried and tested and found to work was discarded in the name of progress and modernisation. Some of what was thrown overboard deserved to go but much of what the former SA Transport Services and then Transnet (Spoornet) set about to do made little sense.

The haste with which branch lines were closed or abandoned, and lonely country railway stations shut down despite them serving the farming community and those who lived in rural areas. As a result of these policies whole towns lost their livelihood overnight, with many of them shrivelling up and all but dying in the process. Tens of thousands of South Africans were put out of work by the austerity measures.

Meanwhile, long lines of railway wagons were left to rust in the veld along disused branch lines, some of them stretching up to 40 and more km in length with the only breaks along an entire branch line being for farm access roads. Elsewhere there was a shortage of the same wagons and business was lost to the railway because it was unable to service the available trade. Passenger coaches were left in sidings to be vandalised, some burned to ashes while elsewhere passenger services ground to a halt for reasons that included not having enough serviceable coaches.

There was a reported shortage of locomotives, but down at the docks former SAR locomotives could be seen being shipped off to the Sudan, Kenya, the DRC, Cameroon and several other African countries. That practice hasn’t ended – this year a number of refurbished passenger coaches, intended for Kei Rail were sold to Angola while elsewhere South African passenger trains couldn’t operate because of a shortage of coaches.

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Former TFR coaches refurbished in Bloemfontein and sold to Angola. Picture by Terry Hutson

Why is this being written now, you may ask? Well this week Transnet Freight Rail (even the name suffered from the forced changes) announced with some fanfare that it was launching a new fixed scheduled railway service aimed at improving efficiency. This, it said, would result in trains running to a set timetable (goodness, we might even see a working timetable book once again) instead of being kept back until they had been fully loaded.

“More tonnes on time will translate into more tonnes,” said TFR chief executive Siyabonga Gama this week. A good schedule for trains was vital in order to prevent the meltdown of the rail network, he said.

That means you will be able to rely on your trainload of goodies, be it containers or be it coal or phosphate rock or magnetite, leaving on time and hopefully arriving on time. According to TFR four of their key general freight lines have already reverted to fixed schedules and the next batch to go this way would include the so-called Natcor – the Natal Corridor between Durban and Johannesburg which is the country’s busiest general freight corridor.

Already on this corridor TFR has enjoyed some measure of success with something like 22 container trains running in each direction daily. The trains, we are told, vary from 40 and 50 wagons to 75 wagons in length, with two 6m containers being able to be loaded pr wagon. That’s a big improvement on the three or four that ran not so very long ago!

That means trains of up to 150 wagons at a time running between the port and Gauteng. Just imagine how many road vehicles that keeps off the road!

With the advent of new locomotives and new wagons being introduced in a steady stream, things are starting to look up for TFR. This new thinking (or is it ‘old’) must be applauded and encouraged, but it will only by building a sense of faith and confidence in the reliability of the railway network will shippers turn away from the road and revert to using rail more exclusively.

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The all new class 43 diesel-electric locomotives now entering service with Transnet Freight Rail. Picture Wikipedia Commons

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PRETORIA CALLS FOR COMMON APPROACH TO INDIAN OCEAN MARITIME SECURITY

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SA deputy minister of International Relations Ebrahim Ebrahim

A common approach is needed among Indian Ocean Rim countries to combat challenges relating to maritime transport safety and security, says South Africa’s Deputy Minister of International Relations, Ebrahim Ebrahim.

Speaking at the 11th Council of Ministers meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Co-operation (IOR-ARC) here Tuesday, he said Indian Ocean Rim countries should continue to provide impetus to develop such exchanges among member states to improve the situation.

Ebrahim said South Africa was keen to work with India and Australia, as well as the other member states of the IOR-ARC, in their quest to take the association forward, with the view to consolidating and deepening exchanges among member states.

“Our government will work to ensure that South Africa continues to relate to the Indian Ocean Rim as well as traditional and new partners in a manner that best supports our future growth trajectory,” he added.

“Our development process requires special policies and measures considering developmental challenges such as unemployment and income disparity both within South Africa and our region.”

Ebrahim mentioned that the South African Development community (SADC) region had already developed a Maritime Anti-Piracy Strategy which was aligned to United Nations (UN) resolutions relating to maritime transport safety and security.

The SADC strategy seeks to promote and support regional and sub-regional co-ordination and monitoring of activities aimed at improving maritime safety and security in Africa.

“We are aware that the various sea routes of the world are the main conduits for our international trade and safety, therefore considerations in this regard are paramount to ensure increased global trade, notably from an African perspective,” said Ebrahim.

He said combating piracy would also mean that countries, especially in Africa, get to grow their market, as most manufacturers no longer use water transport due to high risk.

The Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Co-operation (IOR-ARC), launched in Mauritius in March 1997, is a grouping of Indian Ocean Rim states, whose aims are to facilitate trade and investment in the region.

Member states are Australia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, the Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Source - BERNAMA-NNN-BUANEWS

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HAMBURG SAYS NEIN TO EURO CRISIS AND FORECASTS 14% CONTAINER GROWTH

More food for thought on the contrast between container shipping lines that are hurting through low freight rates while terminal operators proclaim increased profits and volumes.

The latest port to announce its profitability is Germany’s Hamburg. In the first nine months of this year Hamburg experienced throughout growth of 10.6% with cargo volumes rising to 99 million tonnes.

“A slackening of domestic demand in Europe and the problems of the financial sector, while initially of European significance, need not have any direct bearing on forecasts of how foreign trade will develop,” the port marketing agency said this week.

During the first nine months the port handled 6.8 million TEU, an increase of 15.3%. Containerised imports rose by 15.6% to 3.5 million TEU, and exports accounted for 3.3 million TEU, an increase of 14.9%.

No matter where Hamburg traded in containers, volumes were up. That included Africa where volumes increased by 7/5% to 162,000 TEU.

Bulk cargo also increased 1.9% to 30 million tonnes while general cargo went up 14.7% to 69 million tonnes.

Claudia Roller, CEO of Hamburg Marketing said she was confident that the port will achieve 14% container growth for the whole of this year with container volumes ending at around 9 million TEU. “We estimate that total sea borne cargo in Hamburg for 2011 will reach around 133 million tons. That would represent a gain of nearly 10 per cent,” she said.

For 2012 the forecast is more modest but, she says, “China, Asia, America and the Baltic countries, all of them particularly important foreign markets for Hamburg, do not lead us to expect collapses in sea borne foreign trade.”

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SENA RAILWAY NOW DELAYED UNTIL 2013

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Port of Beira

Completion of the Sena Railway between the port of Beira and Moatize in Tete Province in Mozambique has been further delayed and will now only be completely rehabilitated by early 2013.

That’s the word from CFM, the state-owned railway and port company which earlier had cancelled the concession awarding the refurbishment of the railway and its subsequent operation to the Indian company Rites and Ircon.

The line was originally scheduled for completion in September 2009, ahead of the expected first production of export coal from the mines of Vale and Rio Tinto at Moatize and Bena respectively. The line would also be able to carry general freight serving the region.

According to Rosario Mualeia, CFM’s chairman, about 95% of traffic is currently carried by road because of the poor state of the railway, which fell into disuse during the long Mozambican civil war.

“We still need to upgrade the line, the track, the signaling system and also rehabilitate the Machipanda line to Zimbabwe,” he said, adding that the project would cost a further US$ 80 million to complete all the work. The first trains carrying coal have nonetheless begun running on the Sena Railway which has enabled a 40,000-tonne cargo of coal to be loaded onboard a bulk ship in Beira harbour during September this year. Due to the condition of the railway the trains delivering this coal to the port were forced to operate at greatly reduced speeds.

A new coal terminal is currently under construction at the port of Beira to handle exports of the commodity.

NEWS FROM AROUND THE PORTS

DIA site sold to Transnet for dig-out port

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What the new port will look like when completed

Talks over the purchase of the former Durban International Airport site in the south of Durban have been concluded and agreement reached that the land be sold by the airports company ACSA to Transnet National Ports Authority for an as-yet undisclosed figure.

This followed a visit this week by the Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba who met with provincial authorities. He described Transnet’s plans of developing the site into a new deepwater port to cater for containers, motor vehicles and possibly oil and petroleum products (liquid bulk) as of great economic importance for the country.


Bitumen crisis eases as imports arrive

South Africa’s bitumen shortage may start to ease with the arrival in Durban this weekend of imported bitumen, which a spokesman for the industry said was ‘eagerly awaited’.

The shortage is a result of new problems at Durban’s Engen Refinery which was forced to shut down after new problems occurred. Repairs are due to be completed in early December by which time the bitumen contractors are off on their annual holidays, meaning that the benefit of having Engen back in production will only be felt in mid-January 2012.

Durban’s other refinery, the large Sapref plant has been unable to meet the full demand by itself.


Australian Navy ship due in Cape Town on Saturday

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HMAS Choules L100

The Australian Navy’s latest ship, HMAS CHOULES L100 is due to call at Cape Town on Saturday 19 November. HMAS Choules is a landing ship dock (LSD), the former RFA LARGS BAY, which was purchased from the Royal Fleet Auxiliary earlier this year for £65 million.

The ship can carry two large helicopters on her flight deck and has space for up to 150 light vehicles and 350 troops. LSD vessels are particularly well suited to humanitarian relief duties.

Her acquisition has given the Royal Australian Navy an amphibious capability that it has been lacking. The ship will be commissioned into the navy soon after arrival in December.


Cape Town port woes as pilot boats stop working

The Port of Cape Town suffered a few hiccups earlier this week when both pilot boats went out of service at the same time.

One of the boats, the Gannet is currently laid up and undergoing maintenance and the other, the Petrel suffered a breakdown on Monday, leading to a number of delays in the port. Relief was sought in the form of a pilot boat from the neighbouring port of Saldanha.


Lone girl sailor arrives in Durban

The Dutch sailor Laura Dekker, aged 16, has arrived safely in Durban harbour this week after successfully sailing across the Indian Ocean in her quest of becoming the youngest person to sail around the world.

She was the subject of much controversy when, aged 14, and with the blessing of her father, she attempted to set off from the Netherlands in her 38ft sailing yacht named Guppy.

Her agent said she had endured periods of harrowing seas during her crossing from Australia to South Africa, the route of which had been kept secret because of concerns over piracy.

“Every sailor knows the Indian Ocean is a dangerous place, but Laura did it in style and this is a credit to her professionalism and ability,” said her agent.


Cotonou strike over

The dockworkers’ strike that crippled the Benin port of Cotonou this week has been lifted and workers have reported back for duty.

PICS OF THE DAY – ISLAND ESCAPE and THOMSON DESTINY

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The cruise ship ISLAND ESCAPE (40,171-gt, built 1982) in the harbour of Mahon, Menorca. Picture by Andrew Smith, who spent four weeks near the mouth watching a parade of passenger and other ships go by.

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The cruise ship THOMSON DESTINY (37,773-gt, built 1982) sailing from Mahon. Picture by Andrew Smith

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