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Ports & Ships Maritime News

8 February 2012
Author: Terry Hutson

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

57,105 readers and over one million hits were recorded on PORTS & SHIPS during January 2012 – thank you readers. Just another good reason to consider advertising your company or services on these pages. info@ports.co.za for details

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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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News continues below...

FIRST VIEW – LUCY OLDENDORFF

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The 2011-built bulk carrier LUCY OLDENDORFF (32,491-dwt) arriving at Lyttelton, New Zealand to discharge palm kernel from Panjang, Malaysia. Palm Kernel is mixed with molasses to make stock feed. Oldendorff purchased the ship direct from the builders where she was building as Maple Harvest. Picture by Alan Calvert

News continues below…

POLITICAL: CHINA’S 4200M DONATION TO AU HQ SYMPTOM OF CONTINENT’S BIGGER PROBLEMS

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The new African Union building in Addis Ababa. Picture courtesy SA Presidency

by Berna Namata, East African

Rwanda president Paul Kagame has said China's donation to Africa - the new headquarters worth US$200 million unveiled last week is a reflection of Africa's bigger problems.

He was speaking at his monthly press conference in Kigali on Thursday.

Kagame said while the Chinese donation is a welcome gift, African countries should focus on working towards economic independency that allows them to be in charge of their own affairs.

“China donated this to the continent for the use of the continent - but it is very pathetic ...the continent of Africa is very rich in terms of all kinds of resources and Africa being where it is today is a problem. Maybe you can see it in terms of this donation but the problem is much bigger than that..,” President Kagame said.

Unveiled in the Ethiopian capital Addis Abba last week, the brown marble and glass monolith building was fully paid for by the Chinese government including office furniture.

Critics argue that the donation reflects not only reflects Africa's inability to handle its development agenda but also say China could use it to gain greater access to Africa's resources.

“That ( the building) is only a symptom of a much bigger problem - the problem being that Africa in my view should not be where it is today.

“We need to find a way out of this – Africa, we need to work hard, be smart in many ways and do things in such a way that will get us out of this situation,” Mr Kagame said.

Mr Kagame further argued that for the continent to be in-charge of its affairs, it must achieve the necessary social and economic transformation from its current state.

He specifically referred to NATO involvement in the Libyan conflict as failure of the country's leadership to address its internal issues and respond to the needs of its people.

“If we do not deal with the other issues of capacity, how we can grow our economies, if we don’t work together how can we strengthen ourselves so that we can be the ones to deal with our problems and speak with one voice in defence of our rights as a nation and as a continent; if not you will continue to have these problems. We should also be able to build our resistance in relation to how well we get things done in our countries - we need to do more of the right thing ... and this gives us the strength to fight any external meddling." – East African

Editor’s Comment:

The above article may be off topic in terms of Ports & Ships’ typical news reports. Nevertheless, it has much wider connotations and strangely appears not to have attracted much attention in the South African media.

As Paul Kagame points out, the acceptance of the generous Chinese donation is symptomatic of what ails most of Africa – the expectation that we deserve a handout.

For something as symbolic and meaningful as the new meeting place of the African Union, many Africans would have looked for and expected indigenous design and indigenous financing and indigenous construction, not yet another ‘bonsella’.

Mr Kagame’s sentiments expressed above ought to be echoed across Africa by every African of whatever background.

Now read two differing views: Africa: Beggar's Banquet - the New AU Headquarters

New AU Headquarters: a Tribute to China-Africa Relations

News continues below…

MOMBASA’S CONGESTION WOES CONTINUE, BLAMED FOR MALABA BORDER DELAYS

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Mombasa port scene. Picture courtesy KPA

Congestion in the port of Mombasa, which heightened during the Christmas and New Year holidays, has spilled over to the Kenya/Uganda border port of Malaba where massive delays have been occurring as cargo is finally moved out of the port.

The Nairobi Star reported this week that a traffic jam of trucks 15km long was forcing drivers and crew to sleep in their vehicles with no personal amenities or food available.

The blame has been laid at the foot of the Uganda Revenue Authority which, according to the Nairobi Star report, took three weeks to clear trucks whose owners had not renewed their licences. “The trucks were then released for Mombasa at the same time and they are now arriving at the Malaba border at the same time, thus the congestion at the border,” it quoted observers.

According to Customs officials 900 vehicles a day were crossing the border through the only two exit points at the joint Uganda/Kenya revenue clearance centre in Malaba.

Shipping lines haven’t escaped the blame game. “Congestion at the port of Mombasa is caused by shipping lines that want to double up as transporters even when they have no means to do so,” sources at the border claimed. This refers to an old dispute in East Africa where shipping lines have been accused of wanting to dominate the logistic chain taking on responsibility for overland transport as well as the shipping.

The port of Mombasa has been reeling from chronic congestion since before Christmas 2011 and many transit containers and other cargo is being held at the port awaiting clearance. In a January initiative orders were given for cargo storage operators to clear the port in 48 hours. Clearly that hasn’t happened and dwell time at the port remains a major problem and challenge.

The report said that three shipping lines have stopped calling at Mombasa, but this has not been confirmed. What is certain though is that the delay in clearing cargo from Mombasa is hurting regional economies and an urgent solution to the problem is needed.

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SHIPWATCH: NEWS OF SHIPS AND SHIPPING LINES

Idle container fleet grows

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Maersk Brownsville in Durban harbour. Picture by Trevor Jones

A measure of the world economy can be made with the number of ships – container ships in particular – that have been made idle because there is no work for them.

When there is either an oversupply or a downturn in the economiy, ship owners and operators are forced to place some of their fleet on layby. According to the French-based analyst Alphaliner, the number and capacity of ships placed in this condition in the eight months since June 2011 has risen 10-fold from a capacity low of 75,000 TEU to 750,900 TEU or 268 ships of all sizes at the end of January this year.

The total active world fleet of container ships by contrast increased 6% in capacity during the same period to 14,8 million TEU so it would appear that an oversupply may be the main problem facing shipping lines.

Alphaliner reported that the Far East – Europe and Far East to North America accounted for 40% of the total world fleet deployment but experienced the smallest capacity growth compared to all other routes during 2011.

Ships in oversupply yet rates are increasing

It usually works that when there is an oversupply or over-tonnage of shipping available for the world markets that rates drop, as lines compete for the available business. The reverse appears to be happening right now as container lines face rising losses in a decreasing market, but have begun hiking their rates in an effort to remain solvent.

Some analysts believe the likelihood of them achieving these hikes remains slim, unless there is a sudden oversupply of cargo, which seems unlikely. But even then, say the analysts, it will take some doing for shippers to agree to paying almost double of what they are paying now.

Most analysts agree it is going to be a difficult year for shipping companies. Already there is some consolidation going on, and increasing numbers of ships are making the long journey back to China around the Cape of Good Hope, utilizing slow steaming in the process in an effort to economise where possible.

Lake Victoria: EAC research ship reported to be rotting away

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RV Jumaiya on Lake Victoria in happier times. Picture LVBC

The research vessel RV JUMUIYA, which is jointly owned by three members of the East African Community, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda is rusting away after being abandoned on her berth for the past five years, reports the Tanzania Daily News.

The research vessel was acquired to carry out scientific studies on Lake Victoria that was meant to benefit the three countries. Instead for the past five years the vessel has remained out of service and according to the East African Legislative Assembly, is a burden to the EAC.

The Assembly issued instructions that the Jumuiya be restored to service and said the vessel could assist with the removal of water hyacinth that is clogging large expanses of one of the world’s largest lakes. Jumuiya was built in the UK in 1990 and was originally employed on Lake Nyassa to study the Usipa, a major species of fish found in the lake. The vessel was dismantled and taken to Lake Victoria where the Jumuiya was reassembled at Mwanza on the southern shores of the lake.

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NIGERIA PORTS AUTHORITY TO REDEVELOP LAGOS BULL NOSE AREA

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Port of Lagos Bull Nose area

Nigeria Ports Authority last week signed off on a US$124.4 million project for the re-development of port facilities at the ‘Bull Nose’ area of Lagos port, reports the Vanguard.

The contract has been awarded to Eko Support Services Limited which will undertake the construction work and will operate the oil and gas facility on a 20-year concession basis.

The project entails the carrying out of an Environmental Impact Assessment, the demolition of four finger jetties, construction of a new 400m x 30m quay wall and deck on piles jetty in front of the existing facility, construction of new finger jetties to support boat operations, dredging and reclamation.

Acting executive director of the NPA, Engr Sunny Nwobi said this represented a new investment for the port of Lagos, which will introduce a new dimension into the Lagos area.

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ANOTHER UNSEAWORTHY WRECK COMING ROUND THE CAPE FROM NIGERIA

Remember the PHOENIX, the unseaworthy tanker that attempted to sail around the Cape of Good Hope from Nigeria, bound for the ship breakers in India, but instead ended up on the rocks off the KwaZulu-Natal coast at Sheffield Beach?

That episode cost South Africa, and the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in particular about R34 million in salvage costs to remove any oils and toxicants from the ship and to pull her clear of the coast and scuttle her south-east of Durban. The cost settled on SAMSA because no responsible owner or agent could be found – the ship had basically been abandoned once she got into difficulties off the South African coast.

Now there’s another one on the way, but fortunately the Namibian authorities have stopped this one from proceeding further, at this stage anyway. Guess what! For the voyage the ship is flying the flag of Equatorial Africa, as did the Phoenix. Until recently she flew the Nigerian flag. Named BEN K, she was nabbed by the Namibian Navy last Thursday (2 February 2012) about 8 n.miles north of Swakopmund.

After receiving word that the tanker was apparently at anchor north of Swakopmund, the navy sent its patrol ship NN BRENDAN SIMBWAYE to investigate. On board the patrol ship was a squad of Namibian marines, who boarded the Nigerian tanker and remained onboard as the ship was directed to Walvis Bay, where she now is under detention pending investigation.

The ship has been described by Namibian authority as unseaworthy and suspicious. Ben K was on her way from the port of Lagos to India! On board is a crew of 13 seafarers – two Pakistanis and 11 Indians with a Captain Ajay in command. Shades again of the Phoenix.

Namibian naval sources said the vessel’s AIS system had either been disabled or was non-functioning. Namibian authorities are considering laying charges against the vessel’s crew.

Research shows an oil products tanker by name of BEN K (15,456-dwt, built 1980) as registered in Nigeria and owned since 2007 by Genesis Worldwide Shipping, PO Box 1148, 41, Itapeju Street, Apapa, Lagos, Nigeria. Class was withdrawn in November 2007.

News continues below…

PICS OF THE DAY – TRINITY GLORY

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The LNG tanker TRINITY GLORY (101,126-gt, built 2009) seen out in Table Bay late last week. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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