Thursday/Friday’s African Maritime News

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Smit Amandla. Picture: Glen Kasner

South Africa’s favourite tug, SMIT AMANDLA (2918-gt) has undergone a dry docking in the Cape Town dry dock from where she has emerged in her new AMSOL livery, as shown in this image. Smit Amandla was built in Durban at the Elgin Brown & Hamer Shipyards in 1976 as one of two emergency towing vessels to be placed in service on the long South African coast on a Standby Towing Contract. Together with her Scottish-built sister tug Wolraad Woltemade, they set the standard of large salvage tugs permanently available on a nation’s coast – a practice that was copied and is now widespread. Smit Amandla was originally named JOHN ROSS but acquired her present name when the firm of Smit Amandla Marine was formed, which in turn has now evolved into being a wholly South African company under the name African Marine Solutions (AMSOL). The 181-ton bollard-pull tug is based in Cape Town – long may she continue to grace our shores. This picture by kind courtesy: Glen Kasner

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Port Elizabeth Container Terminal

Port statistics for the month of February 2017, covering the eight commercial ports under the administration of Transnet National Ports Authority, are now available.

Total cargo handled at all eight ports during the past month amounted to 26.265 million tons, compared with the previous month (January 2017) when [restrict] 22.871 million tons of cargo was handled, showing a welcome improvement in cargo volumes month on month. The port of Richards Bay recorded a cargo volume of 8.197 million tons for the month, while Durban handled 7.242 million tons and Saldanha an impressive 7.077mt.

For detailed comparison with the previous February (2016) figures please go HERE; use your BACKSPACE button to return to this page.

These statistical reports on africa PORTS & SHIPS are arrived at using an adjustment on the overall tonnage compared to those kindly provided by Transnet. This is to include containers by weight; an adjustment necessary because Transnet NPA measures containers by the number of TEUs and does not reflect the weight which unfortunately undervalues the ports.

To arrive at such a calculation, PORTS & SHIPS uses an average of 13.5 tonnes per TEU, which probably does involve some under-reporting. PORTS & SHIPS will continue to emphasise this distinction, without which South African ports would be seriously under-reported internationally and locally.

Port Statistics continue below

Figures for the respective ports during February 2017 are:


Cargo handled by tonnes during February 2016, including containers by weight

PORT February 2017 million tonnes
Richards Bay 8.197
Durban 7.242
Saldanha Bay 7.077
Cape Town 1.795
Port Elizabeth 0.850
Ngqura 0.745
Mossel Bay 0.196
East London 0.163
Total all ports 26.265 million tonnes

CONTAINERS (measured by TEUs) during February 2017
(TEUs include Deepsea, Coastal, Transship and empty containers all subject to being invoiced by NPA

PORT February 2017 TEUs
Durban 229,892
Cape Town 84,601
Port Elizabeth 13,876
Ngqura 54,864
East London 3,522
Richards Bay 1,649
Total all ports 388,404 TEU

SHIP CALLS for February 2017

PORT February 2017 vessels gross tons
Durban 310 11,611,943
Cape Town 181 4,687,608
Richards Bay 153 6,191,353
Port Elizabeth 92 2,596,358
Saldanha Bay 53 3,454,818
Ngqura 42 2,990,966
East London 28 746,028
Mossel Bay 36 248,076
Total ship calls 895 32,527,150

— source TNPA, with adjustments made by Ports & Ships to include container tonnages [/restrict]

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Picture courtesy: SAMSA

The cause of the fire on board the container ship APL AUSTRIA (72,800-dwt, built 2007) in mid February is now suspected to have been from a chemical, calcium hypochlorite (as used in chlorine manufacture), according to preliminary investigation findings.

The Liberian-flagged ship was sailing off Jefferies Bay west of Port Elizabeth when the crew became aware of a fire among some containers in number 4 hold. After reporting the fire the ship was instructed to go to the shelter of Algoa Bay where harbour tugs from either Port Elizabeth or Ngqura could assist with trying to extinguish the burning containers. This was on Sunday, 12 February 2017.

After being unable to extinguish the fire the ship was requested to enter the port of Ngqura where fire fighting crews on the ground could assist and where some of the containers could be removed from the ship to allow access to the fire’s source. After removing a number of boxes ashore the fire was eventually brought under control and put out, allowing an investigation to commence by fire department and port officials as well as the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

This investigation has led them to believe that calcium hypochlorite, which is used for the disinfection of water, had been the cause. This chemical was found stowed in containers within the hold. Apparently the ship’s manifest did not reveal the chemical as being on board leaving the crew unaware of its presence on the 280-metre ship.

APL Austria has remained in the port while the investigation has continued and to allow ship repair personnel access to repair the hatch covers damaged by the fire and heat.

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Taiwanese fishing vessels

Mozambique’s Deputy Minister of Sea and Inland Fisheries has identified unreportedand unregulated illegal fishing as a common enemy that needs to be fought by everyone and every country, reports the Mozambique news agency AIM.

Henriques Bongece emphasised the seriousness of the problem at the opening session of a technical meeting being held to formulate national strategies on the matter of illegal fishing, which he said significantly reduces the economic and natural resources of the global economy and the marine environment.

According to Bongece, the effects of illegal fishing can be particularly severe for the coastal States and the developing small island states, with low income and a dependence on fisheries.

He pointed out that a country with vast bodies of water, both marine and inland and a fishing industry ranging from artisanal to industrial, is not naturally immune to the occurrence of illegal fishing, which is carried out by both domestic and foreign operators and leading to losses of millions of dollars for the State.

Statistics from Mozambique’s National Operations Directorate of the Ministry of the Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries indicate that illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, generates annual losses to the Mozambican state valued at US$67 million.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), a partner in the formulation of the Mozambican strategy and action plan for compliance on measures of Port States, points to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing as a threat to the effective conservation and management of worldwide fish stocks. source: macauhub

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Nigerian railway scene

The Nigerian acting president, Yemi Osinbajo says that the Federal Government and the People’s Republic of China are in the process of finalising the Lagos – Calabar railway at an estimated cost of US$11.117 billion.

According to the acting president, the Federal Government has already provided its portion towards the funding. He said that negotiations with the Chinese would be completed within three months.

Acting President Osinbajo was speaking at the unveiling of the Lagos – Ibadan railway at the Nigerian Railway Corporation compound.

The agreement to build the coastal railway was signed in June 2016 by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and the China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC). The project is said to have the potential of creating 500,000 jobs.

The first phase of construction will see the line being built from Calabar to Uyo, then Aba to connect with an existing line to Port Harcourt.

The following phases will see the line extended from Port Harcourt to Otueke, Yenagoa, Ughelli, Warri, Sapele, Benin, Agbor, Asaba, Onitsha, Ijebu Ode, and finally Lagos.

“Our ultimate goal is to restore a railway-using culture for both commercial and personal transportation. We are confident that the national rail project will create up to 500,000 jobs. Aside, it will facilitate the movement of up to 3.2 million tonnes of cargo per annum,” Osinbajo said.

The railway would consist of first grade infrastructure which forms part of the government’s strategy in which railways are an integral part of Nigeria’s economic recovery and its growth plan.

“We made provision for matching funds in the 2016 budget to complement the concession loans obtained from the Peoples Republic of China. The Chinese Government and Chinese Exim Bank have always proved to be reliable partners to the Nigerian Government. We have the entire Lagos Kano rail track as well as the Lagos Calabar railway track in the 2017 budget,” he added.

He said the railways would reduce the burden on the national highways and reduce the deterioration of the road network while increasing the lifespan of Nigeria’s roads.

Osinbajo said the new approach to rail project developments explained why the federal government supports the replacement of the 1964 railway act with a legal frame work that opens railway projects in the country to greater private sector participation.

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Convoys to avoid ambush

The annual report on human rights prepared by the US State Department, released last Friday, uses the term “low-intensity civil war” coined by the Mozambican Human Rights League to describe the situation in Mozambique, reports the Portuguese news agency Lusa.

“Clashes between the government and Renamo, which the Mozambican Human Rights League regards as a ‘low-intensity civil war’, have increased in the rural areas of central and northwestern Mozambique and have contributed to over 10,000 people fleeing to Malawi,” the document says.

The US notes that observers of the 2014 election, which brought Frelimo’s Filipe Nyusi to power, found a “lack of transparency” in the counting of votes and other irregularities.

The report says that “the country has experienced significant upheaval due to the continuing armed conflict between the defense and security forces and the militarised members of the opposition Renamo party”.

The State Department also recalls the discovery of mass graves, reported by Lusa, and says that “although the government blocked access to the site, journalists found about a dozen bodies scattered in the surrounding bush”.

“Although a parliamentary inquiry has not reached any definitive conclusion [on these mass graves], it was the first time such a research commission was formed,” the authors of the report add.

The US understands, therefore, that “the most significant human rights problems [in the country] are internal conflict, the arbitrary and extra-judicial executions, and the lack of respect for civil liberties.”

The document underlines that the government has taken some steps to investigate these violations but that “impunity has continued to be a problem at all levels” and gives the example of alleged government-sponsored “death squads” targeting Renamo members.

“The government has promised to investigate these activities, but so far no charges have been laid,” the report observes. Source: Lusa


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Durban ICC

TOC Events Worldwide will stage its first event in Africa when the TOC conference heads to Durban this December.

KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa’s second most populous province, and national port and rail operator Transnet have invited TOC Events to launch a prestigious pan-African trade, transport and logistics show in Durban, December 2017, the TOC team has announced.

“Taking place from 5-6 December 2017 at the Durban ICC, TOC Africa will feature an exhibition showcasing African ports, terminals, transport and logistics services, along with international equipment and technology for seaports, terminals, logistics centres and multimodal hubs. Visitors will be able to see the latest in automation and digital technologies powering the next generation of port and logistics platforms, including equipment demonstrations, simulators and product launches,” TOC said.

The event will include a multi-track Container Supply Chain conference to that addresses the high level issues facing the industry today, as well as regional issues and infrastructure developments in the African market.

At the same time separate free-to-attend two day seminar programmes will cover bulk technologies and logistics, and container terminal operations, including automation.

“The exhibition, conferences and seminar will be complemented by an extensive networking programme including 5-star lunches and a spectacular gala dinner, as well as smaller more focused VIP events. Special guests will include senior members of the South Africa government, as well as a member of the Zulu Royal Family,” TOC added.

“With the partnership of KZN and Transnet, in addition to the support of many local, regional and international private companies, now is definitely the right time to launch TOC Africa; it’s been 10 years in the making,” said Paul Holloway, Event Director at TOC Events Worldwide.

TOC Africa runs in Durban, 5-6 December 2017. Full details including the conference agenda can be found at our EVENTS DIARY on this website.

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Port Louis – Indian Ocean gateway port

Ports & Ships publishes regularly updated SHIP MOVEMENT reports including ETAs for ports extending from West Africa to South Africa to East Africa and including Port Louis in Mauritius.

In the case of South Africa’s container ports of Durban, Ngqura, Ports Elizabeth and Cape Town links to container Stack Dates are also available.

You can access this information, including the list of ports covered, by going HERE remember to use your BACKSPACE to return to this page.

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QM2 in Cape Town. Picture by Ian Shiffman

We publish news about the cruise industry here in the general news section.

Naval News

Similarly you can read our regular Naval News reports and stories here in the general news section.


Maersk Skarstind. Pictures: Ian Shiffman

Maersk Line’s container ship MAERSK SKARSTIND (111,614-dwt, built 2016) has been a recent visitor at Cape Town and is as far as is known the ship’s maiden call in South Africa. Maersk Skarstind has a length of 300 metres and a width of 48 metres and a maximum container capacity of 9472 TEU. The ship is also calling at Ngqura and at Durban. The Liberian-flagged vessel is owned by Bernard Schulte Singapore Pte Ltd and was built at the Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries Co Ltd shipyards at Samho, South Korea as yard number 784. Maersk Skarstind is named after Norway’s sixth highest mountain peak. These pictures are by Ian Shiffman


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