Africa PORTS & SHIPS Maritime News

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


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Nagoya Tower arriving at Durban Feb 2018. Picture: Trevor Jones, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Nagoya Tower. Picture: Trevor Jones

The container ship NAGOYA TOWER (IMO 9233844) arrives in Durban harbour in February to work cargo at the container terminal. Built in 2003, the 50,841-dwt ship is owned, managed and operated by the UK’s Zodiac Maritime, London. The ship is 260 metres in length with a width of 32m and was built at the Samsung Shipbuilding & Heavy Industries yard in Geoje, South Korea as hull number 1387. She has carried a number of previous names, they being TMM Monterrey, CP Monterrey and Saxonia Express prior to her current charter. This picture is by Trevor Jones.


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Container trains assembled at King's rest yard outside the Durban Container Terminal. Picture by Steve McCurrach, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Container trains assembled at King’s Rest yard outside the Durban Container Terminal. Picture by Steve McCurrach

Exports on a high

Transnet Freight Rail’s Container and Automotive Business Unit (CAB) and NATCOR Channel (Natal Corridor) achieved a ground breaking performance during February 2018.

The CAB Business Unit railed an impressive 909,295 tons in February 2018 which exceeds the previous best achieved in July 2017 of 878,462 tons.

Year to date, the Natcor Channel has railed 395,129 TEUs surpassing by 5% the 377,593 TEUs railed during the previous financial year (2016/17).

This exceptional performance owes its achievement to increased export containers railed from TFR inland terminals to TPT Durban Container Terminals.

Transnet says this achievement is further evidence of the effects of its success in migrating rail friendly General Freight cargo back to rail.

These noteworthy feats were accomplished through collaborative efforts involving the various Transnet Operating Divisions and customers amongst others.


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MV Victoria, one of the ships operating both cargo and passengers across Lake Victoria, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
MV Victoria, one of the ships operating both cargo and passengers across Lake Victoria

The success of reviving the fortunes of Tanzania’s Central (rail) Corridor, which is being reconstructed as a standard gauge railway, could depend on efficiency and the cost of transporting cargo from the port at Dar es Salaam to Kampala in Uganda in four days.

That’s the view of the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) under which management of the part at Dar es Salaam falls. It all comes down to a question as to whether the cost of goods being sold to the final consumers can be reduced, says the TPA.

Currently, cargo being moved along the northern corridor from Mombasa to Kampala takes an average of…[restrict] between six and nine days.

“The revival of the Central Corridor is purposed to provide the business people in Uganda and within the region with two competitive routes as a way to lower the cost not just for the business people but also for the consumers by improving on efficiency and costs,” said Deusdedit Kakoko, Director General, Tanzania Ports Authority, as quoted in Kampala’s East African Business Week.

Kakoko said that apart from the transportation system, business at the Dar es Salaam port has been evolving with a number of shipping and clearing agents now in place. “We have an overall total competitive route cost and we want to make it more efficient in terms of cost and time,” he said.

According to Kakoko a lot of progress has been made to revive the central corridor both by the Ugandan and the Tanzanian authorities. “We are focusing on developing a multi model approach in which cargo is transported using rail, water and road. Using the multi model approach, cargo destined to Uganda will be transported through rail or road up to Mwanza and from Mwanza, it will be shipped to Kampala via water to Port Bell or by road.”

He said that construction of the standard gauge railway had started from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma but the plan is to extend it to Mwanza in addition to constructing other infrastructure like roads. “We are happy with the progress that Uganda is making on their side and we believe, when they finish, this will address the transportation gap that has been missing.”

In Uganda a contract has been awarded for the rehabilitation of nine kilometres of rail from Port Bell on Lake Victoria to the central business district in Kampala. The rehabilitation should be completed within one month.

Uganda Railways Corporation MD, Charles A Kateeba said: “The line between Port Bell and Kampala had been in disuse, but now, rehabilitation will start soon and this is because we want traders to be able to ship their goods from Mwanza to Port Bell and from Port Bell to Kampala using the railway. We have containers for cargo and we hope to acquire more,” Kateeba said.

Port Bell

There are also plans to deepen the port at Port Bell to allow ships requiring greater draught. Between five and six ships will be able to make use of Port Bell at a time, he said.

“We already have two ships delivering cargo from Mwanza to Port Bell, each with a capacity to carry 200 to 202 containers. The vessels are MV KAWA and MV UMOJA. We plan to build a completely new ship, MV KWAMBA with a capacity to carry more containers and general goods,” Kateeba said.

The port at Jinja will also undergo rehabilitation and will be used for cargo destined for Eastern Uganda, and there are plans to build a completely new port at Bukasa. source: East African Business Week[/restrict]


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Port of Lüderitz, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Port of Lüderitz

Construction of a new deepwater port at Angra Point near Lüderitz should not go ahead, according to the report of the environmental consultancy firm Geo Pollution Technologies.

The port has been proposed by the Namibian Ports Authority (Namport) and government because Lüderitz is operating at capacity. Apart from handling the overflow of traffic from Lüderitz, it could also be used for the export of phosphate which would be extracted from the ocean near the town.

This has however, attracted some criticism from…[restrict] the public and certain political figures.

In terms of updating its long-term port development plan, Namport requested environmental consultancy firm Geo Pollution Technologies to carry out an environmental assessment for the proposed port.

The assessment, which is aimed at determining the impact of the project on the environment, is designed to enable decision-makers and interested and affected parties to make informed decisions regarding the project.

The report which was released a week ago describes the proposed port as a risk.

“Based on the scoping assessment, it is the opinion of Geo Pollution Technologies that (the) port development at Angra Point, and any other future sacrificial developments that may be considered for this area, should not be allowed,” the report said.

Namport wants the new port to be constructed in the Tsau //Khaeb National Park (previously Sperrgebiet), inside the Namibian Marine Islands Protected Area.

Port of Lüderitz, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Another view of the port of Lüderitz

The protected area covers one million hectares of marine and sea area, with 10 small islands and eight islets or rock outcroppings providing sanctuary to a variety of marine and bird life.

The environmental firm said the Angra Point peninsula is an ecologically sensitive area as it falls within the area known as the Succulent Karoo biome, which is recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) as a biodiversity hotspot, and is the world’s only arid hot spot.

Unesco says the area is home to over 6,350 plant species, 121 reptile species, 68 mammal species and 431 bird species. Excluding new roads and railway lines as well as the effects of a decrease in natural habitats and deterioration, an additional 9,6% of this habitat will be destroyed by the port development, Geo Pollution Technologies warned.

“It supports some mammals, among them the brown hyena, a near-threatened species,” the environmental report stated.

Additionally, the avifaunal (birds of a particular region, habitat, or geological period) diversity is high, and that the marine environment supports some marine mammals of importance. The report said that archaeologically, the project location is of interest due to, amongst others, the presence of World War I trenches, an old whaling station, and the possibility of the presence of shell middens and other signs of early human inhabitancy.

“Presently, Angra Point hosts a significant number of the few bays and sandy beaches available for locals and visitors for recreational purposes such as bathing, diving, fishing and rock lobster harvesting, Geo Pollution Technologies said.

The report added that detailed information regarding the archaeology of the area is insufficient, and an archaeological assessment of the project area and immediate surroundings is recommended.

Lüderitz town, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Lüderitz town

While admitting that the proposed harbour provides some benefits such as job creation, skills development and education, the report stated that while the proposed Angra Point Deepwater Port will present definite benefits and opportunities for the local community, the environmental impacts are of significant concern.

Based on current policies and the project location, additional specialist studies also need to be done to gain in-depth knowledge about the environment.

The Namibian government is known to be looking at other sites to build a third port for Namibia. One of these could be along Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, at either Cape Fria or Angra Fria. This would facilitate coal exports from Botswana. source: The Namibian[/restrict]


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armed guards on merchant ship, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS Maritime News

Dutch shipowners and operators may in future employ armed security personnel on board their ships when sailing in areas frequented by pirates.

This follows a bill passed by Dutch MPs, including the coalition Christian party ChristenUnie which gave the nod in favour of the maritime sector.

Until now Dutch merchant ships when sailing through high-risk areas were able to obtain protection from a military team through vessel protection detachments (VPD), which had to be…[restrict] commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Defence.

VPD however suffered from a lack of flexibility and speed and became a costly option for ship owners. This was detrimental for small ships in particular.

Pirates have remained active in the Gulf of Aden/Somalia region and in the Gulf of Guinea, although in the latter zone there are local laws relating to the use of armed security personnel that count against general use of armed guards as is the case off the north-east African coast.

armed guarding on ships, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

One of the conditions applying to Dutch shipowners is that armed security personnel on board Dutch-registered or owned ships must be equipped with bodycams and a 360-degree sound camera mus be mounted on the ship.

This will enable officials to determine whether force was necessary when it has been applied. Security firms used by the Dutch vessels will have to be accredited in terms of the EU rules.

The Dutch are now joining other nations including the UK, Denmark, Spain, and Norway who permit shipping companies under their flags or ownership to utilise armed security when sailing near the Somali coast.

During 2017 no less than 136 ships were boarded by pirates in various parts of the world. According to the ICC IMB reporting centre, in 15 separate incidents 91 crew members were taken hostage and another 75 were kidnapped from their ships in 13 incidents. Three crew members were killed during armed attacks on their ships and six injured.[/restrict]


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Tazara fuekl train, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Tazara fuel train

In a development that will bring operating opportunities to the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA), and Open Access Agreement (OAA) has been signed between Tazara and Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL) permitting Tazara to extend its operations beyond Kapiri-Mposhi in Zambia.

In future, according to the OAA agreement, Tazara and ZRL may now run their locomotives and wagons across each other’s lines between Dar es Salaam and Lusaka.

This will bring greater efficiencies to the operation of trains and improvements in the…[restrict] time taken to move cargo or passengers from one point to another. It will bring benefits to using the port at Dar es Salaam for the export or import of cargo for Zambia or several other central African countries.

The Open Access Agreement was signed in October last year but trials were set to run subsequent to this. These were concluded in October, during which a Zambia Railways train carrying maize from Lusaka to Chozi in Tanzania ‘exchanged’ the maize consignment with a consignment of steel coils that was conveyed from Dar es Salaam to Chozi by a Tazara train.

The Zambia Railways train then transported the steel coils from Chozi to Lusaka, while the Tazara train returned to Dar es Salaam with the maize consignment from Lusaka.

Following the trial both organisations were able to study what challenges had been identified before putting the service into general use.

Tazara railway map, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIP maritime news
Tazara railway map

Tazara is reported to have a modest target of 350,000 tonnes of cargo to be moved during 2017/18. This will however be a considerable improvement on recent years.

A spokesman for Tazara said the railway organisation was determined to bring the railway organisation back to profit-making without depending on government subsidies.

In addition, according to Tazara’s public relations manager, Conrad Simuchile, Tazara has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Calabash Freight Limited that has registered for operations in both Tanzania and Zambia. In this Calabash would be able to run their own trains across Tazara tracks while paying fees to do so.

A single trial run involving a Calabash train has so far been conducted. “Full Calabash Freight access operations may follow once we get approval of the Tazara board,” Mr Simuchile said.

Tazara is reported also to be in the process of leasing another five locomotives which will be ‘injected’ into the direct Dare es Salaam-Lusaka operations during March. source: The Citizen (Tanzania)[/restrict]


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Close quarters with a Chinese squid jigger. Picture PNA, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS Maritime News
Close quarters with a Chinese squid jigger. Picture PNA

The Argentine Coast Guard reports that its fired warning shots in the direction of a Chinese fishing vessel that was fishing illegally in Argentine’s exclusive economic zone waters.

After the Chinese vessel, named as JING YUAN 626, ignored the warning an eight-hour chase ensued before resulting in the Chinese vessel making its escape.

The Argentine Naval Prefecture (PNA) says in a statement that its officers on board the PNA MANTILLA fired shots at the squid jigger Jing Yuan 626 after the vessel was caught illegally fishing in the country’s exclusive economic zone.

The incident occurred last Thursday (22 February) when Jing Yuan 626 and four other Chinese fishing vessels attempted to ram the Argentine coast guard vessel.

The squid jigger Jing Yuan 626. Picture: PNA, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
The squid jigger Jing Yuan 626. Picture: PNA

The four other vessels also tried to encircle the Jing Yuan 626 to prevent her capture by the Argentine vessel. Mantilla reported that they were manoeuvring in a manner that endangered safe navigation and risked collision.

That was when a decision was taken to “carry out machine-gun and cannon fire” and impede the vessel’s ability to navigate, the coast guard said.

“You’re responsible for the safety of your crew and your ship. You are about to receive direct fire on the bow part of your ship,” the Argentine officer said via radio.

Warning fire across bows of fishing vessel, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Warning fire across bows of fishing vessel

He then says: “Bow, Command Bridge. Are we ready? Okay, free fire one shot to the boat’s bow over waterline.”

The firing of single shots across the fishing vessel’s bows had no effect and an eight hour chase followed before the Jing Yuan 626 was able to escape after the foreign ministry called off the operation.

In 2016 a Chinese fishing vessel, Lu Yan Yuan Yu 010, with 32 crew members on board was sunk by Argentine authorities after it too refused to comply with a call to stop and then attempted to ram the Argentine ship. Instead the Argentine vessel opened fire on the fishing vessel, sinking her.

Earlier in February this year a Spanish fishing vessel was apprehended and was found to be carrying more than 320,000 kilograms of fish caught illegally in Argentine waters.


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According to estimates Russia is set to become the world’s biggest exporter of grains, if SovEcon and the Institute for Agricultural Market Studies are correct.

Russia should export 36.6 million tonnes of grains, it is forecast. In doing this Russia will have taken market share away…[restrict] from the US and Canada but is contributing to a global market glut that has reduced benchmark futures in Chicago by 50 percent since mid-2012, says a Bloomberg report.

Wheat fields, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Wheat fields

The last time any country was able to export more grain was the US more than 25 years ago.

The Russian Ministry of Agriculture reported that wheat exports were up 40.6 percent to 26.254 million tons for the period 1 July to 21 February, as compared against the equivalent period for last year.

Russian exporters have also shipped 3.075 million mt of corn in the current marketing year, down 2 percent on the year because of delayed loadings and forecasts of a smaller crop, although a percentage point higher on the week as buyers seek alternatives to expensive barley imports. Barley exports totaled 3.983 million mt, up 100% on the year but only a touch higher on the week as barley imports remain expensive on tightening supply.

The reports say that Russian farming has been aided by greater farm investment and improved fertile soil. source: Platts and Bloomberg[/restrict]


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QM2 in Cape Town. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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Naval News

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President Cleveland in Cape Town.  Pictures by Ian Shiffman, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
President Cleveland in Cape Town. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

The container ship PRESIDENT CLEVELAND (IMO 9526502) which called at Cape Town yesterday conjures up memories of ships of some note that have previously carried this name. Alas this is not one of those, but a much more modern build (2012) and operated by French carrier CMA CGM’s APL division. The 84,155-dwt ship is one of the former Neptune Orient Line vessels now in the service of the French company that absorbed NOL recently. The 300-metre long by 40m wide ship’s original name was HS Paris. She is flying the Portuguese flag. President Cleveland is capable of carrying up to 6550 TEUs. She was built at the Jiangsu Yangzijiang Shipbuilding yard in China and is operated by APL on the FAL Asia-Europe service. These pictures are by Ian Shiffman



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