Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 10 August 2020

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The Monday masthead is of the Port of Richards Bay 




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Jolly Quarzo  in Durban   Picture: Trevor Jones, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Jolly Quarzo      Picture: Trevor Jones

We keep enjoying the sight of Ignazio Messina line’s fleet of RoRo ships which operate a regular service between the Mediterranean and Durban via the East Coast of Africa. Here we see JOLLY QUARZO (IMO 9578983) as the 46,704-dwt ship enters the port of Durban at the completion of her voyage south. Jolly Quarzo was built in 2013 and is 239 metres in length with a beam of 37.5 metres. This picture by Trevor Jones



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What is ammonium nitrate, the chemical that exploded in Beirut?

Gabriel da Silva, University of Melbourne

The Lebanese capital Beirut was rocked on Tuesday evening local time by an explosion that has killed at least 78 people and injured thousands more.

The country’s prime minister Hassan Diab said the blast was caused by around 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored near the city’s cargo port. Video footage appears to show a fire burning nearby before the blast.

Ammonium nitrate has the chemical formula NH₄NO₃. Produced as small porous pellets, or “prills”, it’s one of the world’s most widely used fertilisers.

It is also the main component in many types of mining explosives, where it’s mixed with fuel oil and detonated by an explosive charge.

For an industrial ammonium nitrate disaster to occur, a lot needs to go wrong. Tragically, this seems to have been the case in Beirut.

What could have caused the explosion?

Ammonium nitrate does not burn on its own.

Instead, it acts as a source of oxygen that can accelerate the combustion (burning) of other materials.

For combustion to occur, oxygen must be present. Ammonium nitrate prills provide a much more concentrated supply of oxygen than the air around us. This is why it is effective in mining explosives, where it’s mixed with oil and other fuels.

At high enough temperatures, however, ammonium nitrate can violently decompose on its own. This process creates gases including nitrogen oxides and water vapour. It is this rapid release of gases that causes an explosion.

Ammonium nitrate decomposition can be set off if an explosion occurs where it’s stored, if there is an intense fire nearby. The latter is what happened in the 2015 Tianjin explosion, which killed 173 people after flammable chemicals and ammonium nitrate were stored together at a chemicals factory in eastern China.

Read more:
Explainer: how dangerous is the sodium cyanide found at Tianjin explosion site?

While we don’t know for sure what caused the explosion in Beirut, footage of the incident indicates it may have been set off by a fire – visible in a section of the city’s port area before the explosion happened.

It’s relatively difficult for a fire to trigger an ammonium nitrate explosion. The fire would need to be sustained and confined within the same area as the ammonium nitrate prills.

Also, the prills themselves are not fuel for the fire, so they would need to be contaminated with, or packaged in, some other combustible material.

Residents’ health at risk

In Beirut, it has been reported 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate were stored in a warehouse for six years without proper safety controls.

This will almost certainly have contributed to the tragic circumstances that resulted in a commonplace industrial fire causing such a devastating explosion.

An ammonium nitrate explosion produces massive amounts of nitrogen oxides. Nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) is a red, bad-smelling gas. Images from Beirut reveal a distinct reddish colour to the plume of gases from the blast.

Nitrogen oxides are commonly present in urban air pollution, and can irritate the respiratory system. Elevated levels of these pollutants are particularly concerning for people with respiratory conditions.

The fumes in Beirut will present a health risk to residents until they naturally dissipate, which could take several days depending on the local weather.

An important reminder

Here in Australia, we produce and import large amounts of ammonium nitrate, mostly for use in mining. It is made by combining ammonia gas with liquid nitric acid, which itself is made from ammonia.

Ammonium nitrate is classified as dangerous goods and all aspects of its use are tightly regulated. For decades, Australia has produced, stored and used ammonium nitrate without a major incident.

The explosion in Beirut shows us just how important these regulations are.

Read more:
75 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Vatican is providing moral guidance on nuclear weapons

The Conversation

Gabriel da Silva, Senior Lecturer in Chemical Engineering, University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


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fUGRO REMOTE PLATFORM INSTALLATION, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Fugro has delivered the first fully remote inspection of an oil and gas platform in UK waters, 250 km east of Scotland, using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and Fugro’s state-of-the art remote operations centre (ROC) in Aberdeen.

In a first for the UK sector, the platform’s entire jacket structure was inspected remotely, demonstrating Fugro’s proficiency in remote operations capabilities.

Read the rest of this report in the TRADE NEWS section available by CLICKING HERE


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Oh, Beira, Beira…Wherefore Art Thou, Beira?

If you were in Rhodesia during the 1950s and 60s you would almost certainly have holidayed at Beira? Otherwise, which rock were you hiding under? The sea was just six hours by road from Salisbury and fun-seekers flocked there for the beaches, sun, Pungwe River prawns and hangover-inducing Casal Garcia. And padkos en route up on Umtali’s sublime Christmas Pass…yes?

Beira, oh Beira, Featured in AfricaPORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Not the safest beach, with its frequent rip-tides and open exposure to the tempestuous Mozambique Channel, but there was nothing about Macuti Beach to deter Rhodesian visitors during those golden years.

The port of Beira on the tropical Mozambique coast was oily-humid virtually year-round, the hotels were cheap and the Portuguese-owned restaurants and bars were…even cheaper. There was this sort of ‘flaky’ ambiance, where nothing was really smart or luxurious, yet the port had heart and soul in abundance, along with some lovely 19th-century ‘colonial’ structures, a number featuring gorgeous azulejo, a kind of glazed coloured tile traditionally used in Spanish and Portuguese buildings.

Beira, oh Beira, Featured in AfricaPORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Beira was Rhodesia’s closest coastal resort – a factor that more than contributed to this port city’s irresistible allure. Lourenco Marques (now Maputo) was just a bridge too far.

Beira, oh Beira, Featured in AfricaPORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Halfway between Salisbury and Beira was magnificent Christmas Pass, with its sweeping views of a glorious little town called Umtali. It was a traditional stop on the way to the coast and – while comfortably perched near Kingsley Fairbridge’s statue – out would come padkos in a pretty, cloth-wrapped wicker basket containing hardboiled eggs, home-made boerewors and farm-baked bread, served with piping hot coffee or tea from two flasks my mother had prepared. (My tummy has just wrenched…and not only from hunger!)

004 005 statues b&w

004 005 statues b&w








Kingsley Fairbridge was an Umtali boy who had pioneered child migration to Australia by means of his farm schools. A memorial was first mooted around 1947 and the statue of the 12-year-old Kingsley, his African companion, Jack, and his dog, Vic, was unveiled by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother during her 1953 state visit to Rhodesia. The widowed Mrs Fairbridge was there and presented the Queen Mother with a copy of his autobiography. It was from a similar viewpoint on a spur of the Inyamatshura range of hills that Kingsley Fairbridge had the vision which led to the Fairbridge Farm School for British child immigrants in Australia and Canada and the Kingsley Fairbridge Memorial College in Rhodesia. The statue was removed from the pass in the 1970s and is now at Utopia House, a museum in Mutare. Yes…I know!

004 005 statues b&w

004 005 statues b&w

This is where it mainly happened…at the Estoril Holiday Camp at Macuti Beach. At the time there was this enormous, circular thatched restaurant serving Portuguese specialties all day and well into the night. The place was invariably packed to the scuppers, with hundreds of Rhodesians making merry – and merry they did indeed make. Occasionally they did not behave themselves impeccably and the Portuguese restaurateurs would look on with ill-disguised disdain. What the hell, you know, they were making good money out of these drunken fools – who tipped well too, didn’t we? On some nights there was Fado, perfect music to commit suicide by. (Don’t get me wrong, I adore Fado!)

What was not to like?…other than the sea water which, in rainy summer season, was an awful brown from waters flowing in from the Pungwe and Buzi rivers into Beira harbour. Maybe I was the only one who noticed?

Beira, og Beira. Featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Amid casuarina trees bending to often-stiff tropical breezes, the red-and-white-striped Macuti Lighthouse has stood here since 1904, but has been derelict for more than 20 years. But in the earlier years the beautiful lighthouse stood as a comforting sentinel over the seekers of fun in the sun. In 1985, a seagoing tug (yes, that one you can see) was intentionally run aground directly in front of the old lighthouse to serve as a breakwater. There is obviously not much left of the original wreck, now almost submerged to the left, which was still a fairly recent misfortune when we all visited in the 50s.

Beira, og Beira. Featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

During the 1950s our family stayed in these cheap aluminium huts right on the beach at Macuti. The alluring tariffs meant one could stay for two or three weeks without cost being a consideration. While my brother Wellesley and I were imprisoned at boarding school, our parents would escape to Beira what seemed to be ‘every 10 minutes’. Every time there was a bit of pressure out on our farm near Bindura there’d be a letter: “Bye, bye, darlings, we’re going to Beira.”…and they’d announce their return three weeks later. Well, Beira was ultimate value-for-money, as tacky as so much of the place could be.

Beira, og Beira. Featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

We later opted for stays at the Hotel Mira Mar, with its decidedly unprepossessing accommodations, but absolutely exemplary catering. The place won no prizes for architecture, but the essential air-conditioning compensated for any loss of aesthetics.

Beira, og Beira. Featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Beira, og Beira. Featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news






Eating options came from one of the world’s more inspiring cuisines and was entirely affordable. Mozambican ‘Chicken peri-peri’ was a hot (pardon the pun) favourite, as was grilled rump steak with an egg on top, all dripping in dark, rich Portuguese olive oil…yum! The peri-peri seafood and chicken were pretty-well endemic to Mozambique and were so darn finger-lickin’ good…you remember?…you bet you do!

Beira, og Beira. Featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Seafood and line fish were simply the best of Beira’s unpretentious culinary offerings…and you’d wet your whistle with an ice-cold cerveja called 2M. Indeed, you’d order a beer and a small plate of shrimps (from the Pungwe estuary) was included in the price, which was very nice, wasn’t it?

Beira, og Beira. Featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Beira, og Beira. Featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news








Lagosta and Casal Garcia were two of Beira’s ‘younger’ (read: ‘rough’) wines (imported, of course) that were a popular local choice, available in standard bottles or the large demijohns that guaranteed hangovers from hell well into the next day. Snootier visitors called those wines ‘gut-rot’ which, frankly, wasn’t all that unkind. Mateus Rose, on the other hand, was way kinder to the palate and your head and it was sold in unimaginable volumes, Rhodesians being exceptionally thirsty people (read: piss-cats of note!)

Beira, og Beira. Featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Who remembers Beira’s luxurious Grande Hotel? It was an enormous complex, boasting gambling and dancing halls, fine dining rooms, cinemas, boutiques, swimming pool and a central ornamented and photogenic winding staircase. Alas, the hotel never made money and seven years after opening in 1955 the art deco-influenced Grande was closed down.

Beira, og Beira. Featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

The Marxist Frelimo took over the hotel at Independence and used it for party functions until the destabilising insurgency resulted in the civil war of the 1980s – and the region around Beira became the base for the opposition to the government. (Compare the swimming pool here and above.)

Beira, og Beira. Featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Beira was one of the worst-hit cities during the Mozambican civil war of 1977–1992 and at a point the ill-fated Grande Hotel housed an estimated 1,000 locals. By now Beira’s robust tourist economy was totally trashed!

Beira, og Beira. Featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

After the war, the Grande became a refugee camp-turned-informal settlement, a home for up to 4,000 people, which remained thus until the early 1990s and, indeed, to some extent retains the status quo until today. According to some it may be the largest squatted building in the world, which is hardly anything to be proud of. What a crying shame was this entirely sad and sordid saga. It serves as a living memory of better times and the horrors of war.

Beira, og Beira. Featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Mozambique’s lamentable modern history (if truth be told, a waste of history) is further reflected in this image of a once very grand and coveted private villa. Observe those delightfully ornate trimmings and the oh-so revered azulejo, the famous Portuguese blue tiles. Most regrettably, this is what a 15-year-long civil war can do to a country. Don’t your fingers also just itch to restore this truly splendid home to its former glory.

Beira, og Beira. Featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Turning the clock back, who remembers ‘the ships that called’ at Beira? The 23,306gt INFANTA DOM HENRIQUE was one of the regulars transporting the Portuguese to and from Lisbon. Turnaround times of about three days found the passenger line inviting anyone in Beira to dine aboard, for a small fee. Being an unexpected recipient of Portuguese fine dining made this a fantastic option and Rhodesians grabbed it without restraint. Try that today…!

Beira, og Beira. Featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Another regular Beira caller was the 19,393gt PRINCIPE PERFEITO, which operated on services to Beira until 1975, by which time the Portuguese colonies had gained independence and liner services were no longer relevant. Around 1966 I did a coastal run on this ship (with my Durban friend, David Vincent) and we found her to be a veritable old crate (the vibration in the lounge was all but unbearable, probably a bent crankshaft?) But the Christmas Eve dinner aboard in Lourenco Marques harbour was one of the grandest culinary offerings we had ever encountered. Asparagus spears were served on ice castles, the roasted turkeys were pre-carved and then reconstructed – and a (real) trumpet fanfare accompanied stewards bearing aloft the traditional Portuguese pudding. We were gobsmacked, given that this passenger line was no Cunard! It’s as though there was this innate realisation that an era was ending, ‘but let’s not drop any standards along the way’. They don’t make them like that anymore.

Beira, og Beira. Featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Other popular callers at Beira were Lloyd Triestino’s AFRICA and EUROPA. The authentic Italian ambiance was a winner among all passengers and kids loved having ‘gelati’ to hand all day. Cape Town-to-Beira coastal cruises were extremely popular, as they were on the three Union-Castle vessels that called at Beira…BRAEMAR CASTLE, KENYA CASTLE and RHODESIA CASTLE – also heavily booked on coastal cruises.

Beira, og Beira. Featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

These were the most coveted Beira callers of the 1950s and 60s, the Ellerman Lines vessels CITY OF DURBAN, CITY OF PORT ELIZABETH, CITY OF EXETER and CITY OF YORK. Such classic beauties, they were able to make passage from London to Cape Town in 15 days. These all-First Class liners, accommodating just 107 passengers, were considered some of the most luxurious round-Africa ships in their day – and were a considerable competition for the Union-Castle Line. This quartet was renowned for its comfortable accommodations, having only single and twin-bedded cabins. As cargo liners there were five holds, three for’ard and two aft. We dined aboard these vessels in Beira harbour. I recall wood panelling everywhere and white-gloved table d’hote service. It truly was an incomparable option.

Rhodesians booked on an Ellerman voyage would sometimes opt to take the two-night steam train from Salisbury to Beira and then sail in grand style all the way to London, via Lourenco Marques, Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Las Palmas. Tell me you wouldn’t already be booked were such a service in play today! All four ships were laid up in 1971. I had ‘comfortably-off’ friends who took an Ellerman voyage from Beira to England three times a year – and it wasn’t because they adored their only son that much. This world has no idea what it lost.

Beira, og Beira. Featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Henry Aitken in England sent me this postcard picture of the Portuguese liner ANGOLA, (what a beauty she was) the sister ship to the MOCAMBIQUE that he sailed in along the South African coast in 1966.

A much-welcomed response to the recent Union-Castle piece came out of the blue from Henry Aitken, who hails from a town called Hethersett, near Norwich, in England. Henry (clearly a fellow ship enthusiast) wrote that my story had “evoked very happy memories” of his own unforgettable encounters with Union-Castle and Safmarine vessels. His family had initially sailed for South Africa on the STIRLING CASTLE in 1948.

I’d forgotten about these two Portuguese vessels until Henry mentioned them, because I now clearly remember them as Durban callers. The MOCAMBIQUE and ANGOLA were built in 1948. Henry says they did not call at Durban until the early 1960s; prior to that they turned around in Cape Town.

Henry shared how in 1966 he had travelled on the MOCAMBIQUE (with a ‘C’, not a ‘Z’, Henry insisted) from Durban up the east coast. “When we called at Beira, I went on a day trip to the Gorongoza Game Reserve. We saw all the big 5 during the day there, which was quite an experience.

“On the road to the reserve we travelled over a number of bridges which were being guarded by Portuguese troops. This was six months after Rhodesia had declared Independence and we were told that the authorities were afraid that Britain was going to invade Mozambique to attack Rhodesia.

“There was a line of Portuguese warships anchored off the port to stop any invasion. Quite exciting times. When the ship was returning back down to Beira, after visiting Mozambique Island, Nacala and Port Amelia, we were buzzed by a jet from one of the aircraft carriers that was on the Beira patrol,” wrote Henry, adding: “Believe it or not, but the cost of the 17-day trip was R126!” (Jirra, Henry, how could I have been so stupid to miss an opportunity like that?)

Beira, og Beira. Featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

In recent times Mother Nature has been particularly unkind to Mozambique. In March 2019, ‘Cyclone Idai’, one of the worst tropical storms on record, affected a huge swathe of the Southern Hemisphere. The long-lived tempest caused catastrophic damage, along with a humanitarian crisis in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. It is said that a good 90 percent of Beira was destroyed.

Beira, og Beira. Featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Today Beira is a relatively busy harbour handling mainly exports from landlocked Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi. The place has completely lost its once-irresistible ‘Portuguese ambiance’ and nowadays only the remnants of its former glory remain. The city is situated near the confluence of the Pungwe and Buzi rivers.

Beira, og Beira. Featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

The potential for the restoration of still-splendid colonial structures in central Beira is huge. It’s a matter of acknowledging that there are existing architectural strengths to be played to. The name ‘Beira’ was after the Portuguese Crown Prince, Dom Luis Filipe, who carried the title Prince of Beira. The renaming happened after the prince became the first royal to visit Mozambique in 1907.

Let’s spare a thought for the many thousands of Portuguese who were forced to flee Mozambique virtually overnight soon after the country gained Independence in 1975. Most of those hard-working folk lost a lot and many of them lost everything. Which is not fair, but then life is not fair, is it? Were the Portuguese still in residence it could only still be a very lekker place to visit.

That’s history for you…some people learn very little from it.

Vernon Buxton


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Image in the aftermath of the Beirut explosion, showing the warehouse used to store the nitrates (12) and on the opposite quay the Orient Queen cruise ship (ex Vistamar) capsized, before she sank., featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Image in the aftermath of the Beirut explosion, showing the warehouse used to store the nitrates (12) and on the opposite quay the Orient Queen cruise ship (ex Vistamar) capsized, before she sank.

The ammonium nitrate that caused Tuesday’s devastating explosion in the Port of Lebanon was removed from a ship transporting the 2,750 tons of the chemical to the Port of Beira in Mozambique.

That was in 2013 when the general cargo ship RHOSUS arrived in Beirut seeking…[restrict] repairs to a mechanical problem.

The ship was owned by a Russian named Igor Grechushkin and crewed with Ukrainians. The cargo of ammonium nitrate was said to be destined for Beira in Mozambique but because of the vessel’s condition Port of Lebanon officials detained the ship, preventing her from leaving port. The Russian owner subsequently abandoned the ship and crew with the latter having to be repatriated home.

In 2014, acting on a court order, the ammonium nitrate was removed from the holds of the Rhosus and stored in warehouse number 12 within the port complex. This week a fire which is thought to have been started by a welding incident, spread to warehouse 11 and led to the disastrous explosion.

Following news of the disaster and amidst a number of wild and probably unfounded statements as to the importers of the cargo and possible intentions, it has been learned that the ammonium nitrate was supposed to have been shipped to the port of Beira.

Rhosus, the ship that carried the ammonium nitrates to Beirut in mysterious circumstances, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news, picture Fleetmon
Rhosus, the ship that carried the ammonium nitrate to Beirut under mysterious circumstances. Picture: Fleetmon

However, a spokesman for Cornelder, the Dutch company holding the concession for the Mozambique port and terminals told Portuguese language newspaper Lusa that they were unaware of the intention to ship 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate to the Mozambique port on board the Rhosus.

António Libombo, deputy executive director of Cornelder, was quoted saying “…we never received any notification from a ship coming to the port of Beira with these characteristics and cargo.”

Nor did the Mozambican Ministry of Transport and Communication have any prior knowledge of the ship’s intended call at Beira.

There is a reference to the ship’s stated Mozambique destination in an October 2015 article in the publication, which reported the ship as being moored under arrest in Beirut, with its cargo for Beira confiscated and stored ashore.

The destination and purpose of the ammonium nitrate therefore remains a mystery at this stage and speculation will no doubt continue to flourish. Even the president of the United States, Donald Trump has weighed in with a claim that the explosion was “an attack”.[/restrict]


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Wakashio aground on the reef and visibly leaking oil, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Wakashio aground on the reef and visibly leaking oil

News concerning the grounded bulker WAKASHIO, which went onto a reef opposite Pointe d’Esny in Mauritius on 26 July, is not good. Although the appointed salvage team, Smit Salvage, is on site with the tug STANFORD HAWK in attendance, the vessel has begun leaking quantities of heavy bunker fuel into the sea.

Wakashio is carrying 3,800 tons of heavy fuel oil and…[restrict] a quantity of diesel ad lubricating oil.

Wakashio leaking fuel, with booms in place,featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Not much information is being given out concerning the status of the salvage but as is the case everywhere, social media has its own way of revealing events usually with photographic evidence. Images now appearing show the bulker as having been turned 90 degrees so that her bows now face the open water, although it would seem that she has remains aground except that it is now her stern that is on the rocks.

The ship also looks as though her engine room may be fully flooded with her stern sitting much lower in the water than the rest of the ship. Earlier reports indicated the engine room was taking water from a ruptured hose.

However, the Japanese company said on Thursday that “Due to the bad weather and constant pounding over the past few days, the starboard side bunker tanker has been breached and an amount of fuel oil has escaped into the sea. Oil prevention measures are in place and an oil boom has been deployed around the vessel.”

Meanwhile, local authorities issued orders that the public, boat operators and fishermen should not go on the beaches or in the lagoons of Blue Bay, Pointe d’Esny and Mahebourg.

The authority said that all highly sensitive areas including the Ramsar site of Pointe d’Esny and the Blue Bay Marine Park were protected with booms.

The ship, owned by Japan’s Nagashiki Shipping, was en route from China to Brazil when it ran aground, after ignoring warnings issued by Mauritian authorities that the ship was on a course for danger. Efforts lasting up to an hour to contact the ship’s captain were in vain, the reports said, and when finally the coast guard got through to the master, the captain insisted his ship was in no danger.

A few minutes later the ship was on the air to say they had gone aground.[/restrict]


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Drug trafficking and illegal extraction of resources

The Afungi coastline of northern Cabo Delgado, close to emerging oil & LNG production facilities and a target for terrorist activity, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
The Afungi coastline of northern Cabo Delgado, close to emerging oil & LNG production facilities and a target for terrorist activity


THE establishment of the terrorist groups al-Shabab and the Islamic State with claims to establish the Islamic Law, the corporate interests of the oil industry and the lobby of Erik Prince, a former operative of the American military elite, now at the head of a private business proposal to pacify Cabo Delgado, are considered so far by academics, press and the civil society as the motivations explaining the armed insurgency in the potentially richest province of Mozambique.

By far, heavy drug trafficking and the illegal extraction of resources are framed in the equation. However, as documented by international reports and frequent police seizures, the coast of Cabo Delgado has been an important drug corridor in East Africa since the 1990s, a position recently expanded after Tanzania and Kenya repressed the trafficking networks, pushing them into Mozambican waters.

One of the largest drug seizures in the country’s history occurred in that province in 1997, when 12 tons of hashish were seized, part of it on the beach and another container on the way to Nacala. In December last year, in the middle of the insurgent war, two ships carrying two tons of heroin were intercepted by the Navy and the Defense and Security Forces after being stranded at sea, resulting in the detention of 25 foreigners.

Cabo Delgado, on its more than thirty islands, is a transit point, but also uses cabotage and land transport system to drain drugs to Nampula, the distribution hub for strategic destinations.

The Mozambique Financial Information Office (GIFIM) uses independent research calculations estimating that the drug that passes through Mozambique is worth US$600 million per year, an economy higher than the amount disbursed by the cooperation partners, as well as the revenues from some of the main export commodities. Of this amount, $100 million is left on the web of corruption in Mozambique, composed of influential politicians linked to Frelimo, local drug lords and state officials assigned to the Police, Migration and Customs.

More than religious fundamentalism and the dispute of oil multinationals, it is quite obvious that today drug cartels are the ones who profit most from the war in Cabo Delgado, as the already weak sea surveillance has become practically non–existent, with all the forces focused on halting the increasingly concerted and regular advance of the Islamic state and al-Shabab terrorists.

For several years now, the Navy, for lack of means, has been the branch of the armed forces with more men on land than at sea. That is why, for three years, armed gangs have been entering the sea, destroying and plundering the districts along the coast of the province, with the state unable to stop them.

While trying to resolve the war on the battlefield, the area of the Indian Ocean along Cabo Delgado has strengthened its role as a viaduct for the smuggling of narcotics and the consequent illicit enrichment of mafia elites and networks of traffickers. In addition to drugs, the war has diverted attention from the illegal extraction of natural resources, a criminal practice associated with illegal immigration in the north of the country.

Smuggling paradise

Cabo Delgado province is located in the northern region of Mozambique and corresponds to 10.34% of the national surface with about 4,760 km² of inland waters. Its limits are, to the north, the Rovuma River which serves as the natural border with the United Republic of Tanzania, with a territorial extension of about 250 Km; to the south the Lúrio River; to the west the Lugenda, Luambeze, Ruaca and Mewo Rivers separate it from Niassa Province and to the east it has the Indian Ocean, which bathes its entire eastern coast with a length of 430 Km.

The-hidden-face-of-the-war-in-Cabo-Delgado-, geatured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

The border with Tanzania is the gateway for illegal immigrants from Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria, who are attracted by the illegal extraction of timber and precious stones, especially gold and ruby. The illegal mining network enters Cabo Delgado from the Inamoto area, in the administrative post of Quionga, in Palma district, a depopulated piece of land, with several entry and exit
areas that are uncontrolled by Migration and Customs authorities.

Illegal immigrants cross the Rovuma River by small boats. On land, they take public transport or rent cars, predominantly Toyota Land Cruiser, and go to Palma-sede, a distance of about 45 kilometers. From here the groups split according to interests, going mainly to Montepuez and Nampula, areas with valuable gemstones and informal commerce respectively.

Another window of entry into Mozambique from Tanzania is the historic district of Mueda, but poor access roads, the long distance from the mining areas, and the tight control at the border discourage illegal immigration, placing Inamoto as the favourite route for foreigners seeking easy wealth.

Used by networks that facilitate the transport of foreigners fleeing war and famine on their land in search of security and work, Cabo Delgado province is also a gateway to South Africa. Migration authorities often neutralize groups of illegal immigrants, and it is estimated that more than six thousand were expelled last year in Cabo Delgado alone.

Military instability in the province has made the entry of illegal immigrants and the illegal extraction of natural resources easier, as the attention of the authorities, press and society in general is focused on armed conflict. The United Nations estimates that the war has displaced 211.000 persons and there are reports of insurgents and illegal immigrants camouflaged as victims of the war.

The Indian Ocean: The drug viaduct

If in the fresh waters of the Rovuma River the entrances to Mozambique are marked, even if the infiltration of immigrants is not controlled, the same cannot be said of the dozens of access points that the Indian Ocean gives to the province of Cabo Delgado. These access points have been transformed by drug cartels into warehouses that link the producer to the consumer.

The province is divided into seventeen districts – Ancuabe, Balama, Chiúre, Ibo, Macomia, Mecúfi, Meluco, Metuge, Mocímboa da Praia, Montepuez, Mueda, Muidumbe, Namuno, Nangade, Palma, Pemba and Quissanga. Part of these districts is crossed by the sea, making up the Quirimbas archipelago with more than thirty islands, which serve as areas of call and ports of cabotage taking the drug to land.

The coastal area of Cabo Delgado is long and has no state control. The beaches are calm and are crossed by dunes, which allows drugs to be hidden and drained by small boats. The biggest seizures occur on the island of Ibo, at the beaches of Quissanga and in Pemba, but the inability to monitor does not allow to measure whether seized drug is more than that which passes in disguise.

The port of Nacala is pointed out as one of the outflow centres, with heroin being the main drug in Mozambique, coming from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Typically, the drug travels in containers mixed with other goods.

The-hidden-face-of-the-war-in-Cabo-Delgado-, geatured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

The southern route of the drug produced in Afghanistan and Pakistan seems a very long and expensive diversion, but 10 kilos of heroin can cost five dollars at production sites and yield up to 20 000 dollars when sold in a modern world capital.

The drug is also taken to South Africa, from where it leaves to the destinations of consumption, namely Europe and the United States of America. Over and over again, South African authorities make seizures at their border after the drug passes through the Ressano Garcia border post in Maputo.

One of the major seizures was in May 2019, when three Mozambicans were arrested on the N4 road in Kaapmuiden, near Nelspruit, the capital of Mpumalanga. They possessed heroin valued at R60 million, about four million US dollars.

In June this year, two Mozambican truck drivers who had passed the Ressano Garcia border were intercepted soon afterwards on the South African side with more than 200 kilograms of heroin.

The regularity with which the seizures occur is indicative that drug trafficking is a routine business in Mozambique, but often finds no protection in the neighboring country.

Nampula: The habitat of drug lords

Various publications on drug trafficking note that from Cabo Delgado the goods follow, by small boats or vehicles, to the province of Nampula, the real centre of the heavy drug business in Mozambique and home to drug lords and drug traffickers.

The United States of America and England, according to GIFIM, have drawn the attention of the Mozambican authorities to the distortions of the economy in the north of the country, mainly in Pemba and Nampula, mentioning that organized crime introduces “dirty money” into the national financial system.

The hustle and bustle at Pemba Airport, the connections to rich districts such as Montepuez and Palma and the dynamics in Nacala and Nampula City seem to find no justification in their basic economic structures, namely agriculture, fishing and trade.

Mozambique is not a market for heavy drug consumption, as it is a low-income country. The Annual Drug Report, published last week by the United Nations, highlights that heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine are consumed in developed, high-income countries with purchasing capacity.

Drug and the insurgency

Mozambique’s influence on organized crime and drug trafficking led the United Nations to open its office dealing with the problem in Maputo in 2019 at the request of the Mozambican government.

César Guedes, a Peruvian-Canadian with 20 years of work experience at the United Nations, was made head of the office in Maputo. He had headed the office in Pakistan and Bolivia, two major unions for the industrial production of heroin and hashish.

The opening of the United Nations Office on Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking in Mozambique is a sign that the dynamics of drug trafficking, institutional promiscuity and money laundering are significant and lack a more structural and international approach.

This office confirms the view that heroin trafficking from Afghanistan to Europe is one of the main reasons for the conflict in Cabo Delgado. Information obtained by the organization indicates that drug production has practically tripled in the last ten years, and Mozambique fits into one of the trafficking corridors that passes through the east coast of Africa.

Let’s look at recent statements to the Lusa Agency from the UN Office on Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking in Mozambique:

“Here, they apparently find a country that has a unique strategic location to facilitate drug trafficking. What these countries offer is ease of passage. It’s not a sophisticated thing, but they have huge borders and the authorities are not at every point. And the traffickers know this… It’s an outside situation with undercover groups that want to do harm to countries that have always lived together peacefully. They have a dangerous agenda, not in line with the reality of the countries; it is a criminal and illegal agenda to do their own business in a difficult situation. It is in times of crisis that traffickers and those who are connected to the illegal economy are best prepared to develop their illegal businesses. Ships large and small, outside the cyclone season, arrive little by little. It is a long but safe journey where a lot of money is made.”

Uncontrolled borders

The-hidden-face-of-the-war-in-Cabo-Delgado-, geatured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

The statements of the representative of the UN Office on Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking show weaknesses in controlling Mozambique sea space, a situation that makes it (sea space) permeable not only to drug trafficking, but also to the development of piracy actions and plunder of its sea resources.

There are many situations that show the vacuum that the coast of Cabo Delgado is in. In 2010, a national flagship vessel called “Vega 5” was hijacked at the bank of Sofala, six hundred miles off the coast of Inhassouro in Inhambane province, and for days it sailed the Mozambican waters undisturbed towards Somalia with no State means to stop it. The vessel was refitted but recovered by the Indian military authorities a year after it was taken over by the pirates.

Domestic and international illegal fishing is another factor revealing lack of surveillance capacity. The Ministry of Fisheries estimates that illegal fishing on the Mozambican coast causes an annual loss of US$ 60 million to the public purse.

There are often reports of international vessels invading Mozambican waters for fishing and waste disposal.  Major sea surveillance has been carried out irregularly through joint military missions with several partner countries, but the flimsiness of the action does not allow an intervention capable of containing the disorder in Mozambican waters.

The seizures that have occurred are fortuitous, resulting from inadvertent traces along the drug value chain in Mozambique. For example, the two boats seized in December last year ran aground at sea in Pemba – a situation that awakened the authorities. In Nampula, there are cases of drugs found in homes and with local fishermen.

This points to lack of responses capable of identifying traffic routes at their origin, which would allow more effective combat and dismantling of groups that facilitate the movement of drugs.

Covid-19 transfers drugs to Cabo Delgado

The Annual Drug Report warns that Covid-19 has increased the use of sea transport for heroin trafficking as the countries’ restriction measures to prevent the disease have included the suspension of flights and closure of land borders, as well as tightening up on migration control.

These factors have shifted drugs from air and land to sea, with the sea taking on the role of a bridge between areas of production, passage and consumption. As a result of the pandemic, more farmers in Pakistan and Afghanistan have adopted illicit cultivation, either because state authorities may be less able to exercise control or because more people may have to resort to illegal activities due to the economic crisis.

The UN document points out the southern route and the Indian Ocean that passes through Mozambique, as areas to which drug cartels have turned. The trafficking route is defined according to the porousness of the borders and the inability of the country’s authorities to monitor them.

This change may mean that drug trafficking flows along the coast of Cabo Delgado may have increased, which is evidenced in part by the two seizures in a span of one week in December last year of two vessels containing two tonnes of hashish.



The-hidden-face-of-the-war-in-Cabo-Delgado-, geatured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Lack of means for sea surveillance, as described above, leaves an important part of the Mozambican coast bare, which is used as a highway by drug trafficking networks. Coming from Afghanistan and Pakistan, drug bypasses the countries with the tightest control and searches for empty routes even if the distances are  long.

This is an established pattern in the Mozambican coastal area, which has made it a drug corridor since the 1990s. It is a public concern that there is not a strategic intervention to prevent and fight sea and land border fragilities.

With the intensification of the war in Cabo Delgado, which took on the appearance of guerrilla warfare and became more difficult to contain, migration and border control and surveillance became more fragile. This opened space for traffickers to bolster their action, all the more so because Covid-19 led to the disruption of air transport and restricted the movement of people, pushing drug onto sea routes.

Just like drugs, illegal extraction of natural resources, i.e. precious stones and wood, is now carried out unhampered, encouraging illegal immigration and the deterioration of State power in the country.

Drug business in Mozambique only works because there is a State sheltering power, which orders free passage and has no interest in consolidating the institutions of defense and security.

Reference list

UNODC. World Drug Report 2020.
Moçambique/Ataques: Tráfico de droga motiva conflito em Cabo Delgado – ONU. Lusa, Maputo, ano 2020
Gabinete de Informação Financeira de Moçambique. Prevenção e combate ao branqueamento de capitais. Maputo, 02 de Outubro de 2019
Joseph Hanlon. O tráfico de drogas é o maior negócio em Moçambique, Maputo, 2000.
DW. Moçambique: Polícia detém mais suspeitos de tráfico de drogas em Cabo Delgado. Cabo Delgado, 2019.

This report is republished with permission from the Centro Para Democracia e Desenvolvimento (CDD). The original article is to be found by CLICKING HERE

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The explosion that happened at 18h00 loal time in the port area of Beirut, Lebanon, yesterday, has left more than a hundred and thirty people killed and an estimated 4,000 or more wounded. The blast, which involved a warehouse that was storing ammonium nitrate, also damaged buildings and motor vehicles aross a wide expanse of the port and city. The effect of the blast could be felt 10 kilometres from the centre.

Also damaged in the explosion were several ships, one of which being the former Bremen-based VISTAMAR cruise ship, now named ORIENT QUEEN (IMO 8701193) and owned by the Abou Merhi Cruises, based in Beirut. The blast destroyed the cruise company’s offices ashore.

The ship was reported as having suffered severe damage and was left listing to one side across the quayside. During the night the Orient Queen capsized and has sunk in the harbour.  Two people were reported dead in this incident.

TV station Al Jazeera reported a crewmember from the cruise ship, Vincenco Orlandini, with his white unifrom covered in blood, as saying, “The ship is totally destroyed – the cabins, the lounge, everything. I heard the blast and I flew to the opposite of the lobby, then I landed on the carpet and I’m lucky, I think that saved me.”

The Lebanese President Michel Aoun called an emergency cabinnet meeting following the blast and said a two-week state of emergency should be declared.

Large buildings some distance from the warehouse were left shattered – among them a group of silos with their concrete sides blown open. Windows in buildings for miles about were blown out, injuring large numbers of people who have overwhelmed hospital and emergency services. Among the buildings damaged were the windows at the city’s airport which is nine kiliometres from the blast centre.

The city governor Marwan Abboud said up to 300,000 people have been left homeless. Authorities went to work to provide them with food, water and shelter.

Cause of the explosion

It appears that a large fire in or near the harbour warehouse got out of hand and ignited 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that has been stored in the warehouse, by court order, since 2014.

The resultant explosion was measured by seismologists as the equivalent of a magnitude 3.3 earthquake.

There have been numerous large-scale explosions involving ammonium nitrate and several that includes ships or harbours. One of the more noteworthy was in April 1947 in Texas City USA where a cargo ship had been loaded with 2,300 tons of ammonium nitrate in individual sacks when a fire broke out. Although the crew reacted by closing the hatches and pumping in pressurised steam, it was to no avail and an hour later the nitrate exploded. Several hundred people were killed, a second ship more than a ship’s length away was set on fire and the shock of the blast broke windows up to 40 miles away. Two small aircraft were blown from the sky and crashed. Almost an entire fire department was killed in the explosion and fires.

Please see our following report quoting the IMO on this disaster.

YouTube Videos

Below are several YouTube collections of videos captured immediately after the explosion.

Multiple scenes [2:42]

and [2:28]

and finally, the immediate aftermath [1:57]


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The Port of Lebanon, where the explosion occurred in the area marked Silos & Bulk area. Picture courtesy Port of Lebanon Logistics Cluster, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
The Port of Lebanon, where the explosion occurred in the area marked Silos & Bulk area. Picture courtesy Port of Lebanon Logistics Cluster

On 5 August IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said:
“I express my deepest condolences and sincerest sympathies to the families of the victims and to the Government and people of Lebanon following the catastrophic explosions in the port of Beirut yesterday.

“The port provides a vital artery bringing food, medicines and supplies to the country and its destruction will have devastating consequences.

“The United Nations is assisting the immediate response to the incident. The International Maritime Organization stands ready to assist in any way we can.”

We at Africa PORTS & SHIPS join IMO in sending our deepest condolences to the people of Lebanon at this difficult time.

Port of Beirut is among the top ten seaports in the Mediterranean Sea and is considered the gateway to the Middle East. The port was transformed through self-financing from a local port to a regional and a transshipment hub for the region.

The Port of Beirut lies within a longitude of 35 57ʹ E and a latitude of 35 15ʹ N, forming the midpoint of three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa that makes the port a passage for traffic between East and West.

During the mid-1970s, the Port of Beirut was an important international trading station with the surrounding Arab countries and up until today it has preserved its commercial nature.

Earlier this year under a Gestion et Exploitation du Port de Beyrouth authorities called for an international bid to Manage, Operate and Maintain the Container Terminal at the Port of Beirut.

Paul Ridgway, London correspondent for Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news


Collated by Paul Ridgway


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VW banner logo on display in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Ghana, which recently saw the first locally assembled Volkswagen motor vehicle roll off the production floor, has announced a total ban on salvaged motor vehicles comprising wrecked, destroyed, or physically damaged by collision, fire, water or other occurrences. The ban includes specified motor vehicles over 10 years of age from being allowed into the country.

This follows parliament having approved and adopted, earlier this year, the…[restrict] Joint Committees on Finance, Trade, Industry and Tourism report for amendments to be made in the Customs Act, 2015.

The new Customs (Amendment) Bill, 2020 amends the Customs Act, 2015 (Act 891) to provide incentives for automotive manufacturers and assemblers registered under the Ghana Automotive Manufacturing Development Programme (GAMDP). It also provides for an increase in the import duty on specific motor vehicles.

The Bill was signed into law on 30 April this year but cannot be enacted for six months, meaning it takes effect as from has to wait six months before being enacted on 30 October this year

In a related issue the country’s president has directed all Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) as well as Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) and all state owned agencies to prioritise as their first option, the purchase of locally assembled vehicles they intend to procure.

According to Nana Marfo Amaniampong, Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism, Ghana has gotten to the point where it needs to create permanent jobs by implementing what he termed as ‘efficient policies’.

“The President by this document is giving a lot of support to this initiative, which by the way is his own baby. My outfit which is parliament for example is a bad example. When we want chairs, we go to China to import. The government wants to curtail all these bad practices.”

He said the next batch of cars and buses given to the secondary schools or the tertiary institutions will be vehicles that have been assembled in Ghana.

On Monday this week President Danka Akufo-Addo unveiled the first VW car to be assembled in the West African country, saying that this emphasised the resolve of government to stimulate the local automotive industry and to boost the country’s economy.

Ghana’s vehicle imports are listed at being valued at US$1.5 billion annually. Ghana’s VW partner, Universal Motors is targeting a fully installed capacity of 5,000 cars a year.[/restrict]


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MSC Beryl entering the Tema MPS Terminal 3, and below a bird's eye view as she goes alongside, assisted by three harbour tugs. Pictures courtesy: MPS, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS MARITIME NEWS
MSC Beryl entering the Tema MPS Terminal 3, and below a bird’s eye view as she goes alongside, assisted by three harbour tugs. Pictures courtesy: MPS

The recently opened MPS Terminal 3 at the port of Tema has already set a few records – now the terminal has handled the deepest draught vessel so far to arrive at the container terminal.

MPS Terminal 3’s new harbour basin is accessible through a 3,500 metre long by 225 m wide entrance channel that opens into a turning basin/circle of 500m diameter. The…[restrict] Access Channel has been dredged to -18.7 metres, the turning basin to -17.4m and -16.9m alongside the quay wall to accommodate vessels with draughts of up to 16m to dock alongside all berths.

The latest ship to set the current record is MSC BERYL (IMO 9467392,) which arrived with a draught of 15.95 metres and departed later with her draught showing 16.2 m.

MSC BERYL at Tema Terminal 3, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

MSC Beryl’s length overall is 366m and her width of 48m gives her a container capacity of 12,967 TEU and a gross tonnage of 140,096t. The operation involving 3,520 TEUs that were discharged and loaded was completed in 13 hours 55 minutes, despite the seasonal tropical weather being experienced.[/restrict]


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As is being reported on national television and radio stations around the world, a large explosion took place on Tuesday afternoon in a port warehouse in Beirut, with the blast being heard as far away as the island of Cyprus.

Several ships were close to the site of the blast and may have suffered damage. Early reports suggest as many as 50 people have been killed and hundreds injured but these numbers may increase. The blast blew out windows up to 10 km from the site and flattened buildings including residential property five kilometres from the explosion.

From video evidences it appeared as though there was a large fire that was burning for some little while before the explosion occurred, which suggests this was possibly an accident and not an act of sabotage or terrorism. First the fire, then the blast, not the other way round.

One curiousity is the colour of the smoke from the initial fire, a pinkish colour.

According to reports the explosion was at a storage warehouse that contained ammonium nitrates and fireworks with the ammonium nitrate having been stored there since 2014.

Another report quoted Lebanon’s Head of General Security as saying the warehouse was used to store sodium nitrate which he said had been confiscated from a ship some time earlier.

These reports have not been confirmed at this stage.

The ships closest to the blast were the general cargo vessel RAOUF H (IMO: 8325535), and the Sierra Leone flagged general cargo vessel MERO STAR (IMO: 8321682) next along the wharf. Three harbour tugs were thought to have been close by.


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Special Mission vessel DB ABUJA, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Special Mission vessel DB ABUJA

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is ramping up its commitment to its Deep Blue maritime security project as it takes delivery of an array of equipment aimed at combatting piracy and crime in Nigeria’s economic waters.

The latest acceptance of equipment comes in the form of patrol boats and rig-hull inflatable boats (Rhib). In the pipeline or…[restrict] already delivered are helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), maritime surveillance aircraft and sundry other items aimed at ensuring the authorities have the capability of intercepting and apprehending criminals and pirates inshore and deepsea.

The 10.5-metre long Rhibs have been identified as Dutch-built De Haas Maasluis DHM1050 boats, fitted with triple 300hp Yamaha outboards and having a top speed said to be 60 knots. Each Rhib is fitted with 10 seats and has a payload of 2000kg.

Earlier this year it was announced that NIMASA would be receiving 18 fast interceptor boats, two special mission Cessna Citation CJ3 reconnaissance aircraft, two helicopters, four UAVs and a number of armoured road vehicles, thought to number 16. The 18 interceptor boats being built by De Haas would be delivered within this year.

Earlier this year NIMASA took delivery of two Special Mission Vessels, built by De Hoop of The Netherlands and named DB ABUJA (457) and DB LAGOS (459), which are designed specifically to combat piracy and other criminal activities at sea. Each vessel is 55 metres in length and powered by fuel-efficient hybrid diesel-electric plants, producing a cruising speed of 21 knots. Capable of remaining at sea for up to 30 days, they can land a helicopter on the aft deck and have A-frame davits to launch and recover interceptor boats. They have accommodation for 36 people.
Among the criminal activities that Nigeria and its security agencies are responding to include piracy, oil theft and smuggling, illegal fishing, terrorism, human trafficking and illegal immigration.

In August 2019 a command centre for project Deep Blue went into operation, based at the NIMASA headquarters in Kirikiri, Lagos.[/restrict]


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Namport Acting CEO Mr Kavin Harry hands offer a cheque for $1 million to Neville Andre, Governor of the Erongo region, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Namport Acting CEO Mr Kavin Harry hands over a cheque for $1 million to Neville Andre, Governor of the Erongo region.  See story below

The new container terminal at the Port of Walvis Bay is fast approaching one year old, and will achieve that distinction later this month on 24 August.

This was the date in 2019 when the new terminal at the Namibian port was commissioned into service, providing for not only Namibia but for the benefit of several neighbouring SADC countries a modern state-of-the-art container terminal, capable of handling…[restrict] large 9,000-TEU ships previously unthought of for Walvis Bay, and discharging and loading cargo using modern ship-to-shore (STS) cranes and other ancillary equipment.

Namport says its mission remains to provide world-class port services to all seaborne trade by offering excellent customer service, creating sustainable growth, and promoting social responsibility, dedicated to the transformation of Namibia into a global logistics hub.

To help achieve this, Namport has continued to invest in expanding and upgrading container handling capacity and capabilities to meet the operational needs and demands of its industry partners.

During these 12 months a total of 281 staff members have been deployed to the new Container Terminal with more personnel still to be assigned to this facility within the immediate future. Thirty-three STS crane operators have undergone intense training on how to effectively and efficiently operate the cranes, with an achievement of 46 container moves per hour recorded in March this year with the vessel Maersk Lunz.

Namport makes big donation towards the fight against COVID-19

Acting through its Social Investment Fund, the Namibian Ports Authority (Namport) has made a donation of N$1million (R1 million) towards the supply and fitment of oxygen and other urgent medical requirements to the Covid-19 facilities in Walvis Bay and to the greater Erongo region.

The Erongo region, of which Walvis Bay and Swakopmund form a part, has become the epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak in Namibia with most positive cases being recorded in Walvis Bay. This has placed pressure on the health fraternity and it is only with the cooperation of key role players such as Namport that the local authority can address the need that it is facing, said the Governor of the Erongo region, Neville Andre at the handover of the cheque.

Namport acting through its SIF also donated a 20-foot container which had been converted into ablution facilities to the Twaloloka settlement in Kuisebmond, Walvis Bay. The donation is a replacement of mobile toilets which the entity had donated at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak earlier this year in March.

Namport SIF gives back to education in Lüderitz

Namibia’s other port town of Lüderitz has not been neglected either and the SIF recently donated safety items to more than 1300 Grade, 0-3 pupils, from the Helene Van Rhijn, Diaz Primary School and Nautilus Primary School in the town of Lüderitz.

Valued at N$54,000, the items consisted of face shields, sanitisers and trigger gun bottles which are a requirement for schools to have in place before learners can resume classes. The new requirements are in direct response to ensuring that schools comply with the COVID-19 safety measures.[/restrict]


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Cruise ship Paul Gauguin on which a passenger has tested positive. Picture: Paul Gauguin Cruises, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Cruise ship Paul Gauguin on which a passenger has tested positive. Picture: Paul Gauguin Cruises

A second ship has reported a positive case of the coronavirus on board during a cruise in the South Seas. The ship, PAUL GAUGUIN, has been forced to turn about and return to Papeete in Tahiti after a passenger tested positive with the virus.

According to the High Commission for the Republic of French Polynesia, the passenger has been removed from the ship in Papeete harbour and placed in isolation ashore. The remaining passengers and crew and others who are known to have had contact with the patient were tested but the results have not yet been made known.

While waiting for the results, all 340 passengers and crew were remaining under quarantine on board ship which is moored in the harbour.

This was the Paul Gauguin’s first voyage with international passengers after having been in lockdown along with almost all of the world’s other cruise ships. During her cruise the ship called at Bora Bora where passengers and some crew went ashore and interacted with local people.

Roald Amundsen

A cut-away depiction of the expedition cruise ship Roald Amundsen on which the coronavirus has struck, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
A cut-away depiction of the expedition cruise ship Roald Amundsen on which the coronavirus has also struck

In Norway 36 crew and five passengers on board the Hurtigruten cruise ship ROALD AMUNDSEN have tested positive while on a cruise in northern waters, bringing to a sudden halt not only the ship’s cruise but any further thought by Hurtigruten of immediate cruises.

Elsewhere across the world governments have banned cruise ships from operating in their ports until further notices and cruise lines, many of which operate under flags of convenience, have taken upon themselves to interrupt their cruising plans and schedules, some for dates that keep being extended, others until later in the year.

After initially permitting a resumption of cruises, the Norwegian government has, since the Roald Amundsen affair, rescinded this and says cruise ships with more than 100 people on board will no longer be permitted to disembark at its ports.

It’s a bit like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted and just why the Norwegian government might think a passenger ship with up to 100 people on board is safe seems a mystery.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) points out that the Roald Amundsen called at dozens of small ports along the Norwegian coastline during the past few weeks on several different cruises and is saying that the total number of COVID-19 cases related to the ship’s voyage will grow along the Norwegian coast.

Passengers from two earlier cruises were able to leave the ship without undergoing testing for the virus and are considered potential carriers, with an operation now underway to trace them. According to the Norwegian FHI five of a total of 387 passengers on the two earlier cruises have been traced and were found to be carrying the virus.

Earlier this week Norway had recorded 9,268 cases of COVID-19 with 256 deaths.

Passengers and crew on board the vessel are from Germany, France, Denmark, Austria, Philippines and Latvia.

Hurtigruten has meanwhile suspended its operations, pending an enquiry. After being the first cruise company to re-enter cruising, CEO Daniel Skjeldamn told a news conference that Hurtigruten had failed. “I apologise strongly on behalf of the company,” he said.

Prior to re-entry the company said it was adopting full safety measures, with reduced passenger capacity, social distancing on board, and strict rules regarding hygiene.

Costa Crociere

Costa Deliziosa, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Costa Deliziosa

The news doesn’t get any better! In Italy three crew members on board two Costa Cruises’ ships in Civitavecchia, the port for Rome, have tested positive for the coronavirus. Two crew from COSTA DELIZIOSA were hospitalised and a third on board the COSTA FAVOLOSA has been placed in isolation on board ship.

The crew were being screened in advance of a planned return to service by the Carnival-owned cruise company. It appears that some if not all the crew recently returned from their homes to join the two ships ahead of an anticipated return to cruising. All had been tested before leaving their countries and underwent a second testing on arrival in Italy, before being placed on a two-week monitoring period.

TUI’s Mein Schiff 2

Mein Schiff 2, which features in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Mein Schiff 2, sailing into a new dawn?

A week ago a German cruise ship, TUI’s MEIN SCHIFF 2 successfully performed a three-night cruise ‘to nowhere’ with no other port calls involved, before returning to Hamburg as scheduled. The ship sailed with 1,200 people on board, said to be less than 50% passenger capacity, as TUI ‘tested’ the waters for a resumption of cruising.

MSC to return to cruising

MSC Grandiosa, being prepared for a return to cruising, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
MSC Grandiosa, being prepared for a return to cruising

MSC Cruises says it will return to cruising with seven-day cruises involving two of its biggest ships, MSC GRANDIOSA and MSC MAGNIFICA.

In a press conference this week MSC says Grandiosa will operate seven-night cruises in the Western Mediterranean and Magnifica will serve the Eastern Mediterranean.

The departure dates are still to be determined in accordance with the guidelines received by the relevant authorities, but the itineraries include Greece and Malta where the authorities have not only re-opened their ports to cruising but also have approved the health and safety protocol to support MSC Cruises’ restart of operations, according to a statement.

For its relaunch the two ships will only welcome passengers who are residents in Schengen countries. The itineraries have been designed according to the accessibility of the ports, reducing — where possible — the need for passengers to make use of public transport or flights, MSC said.


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A ready-to-fit Vesconite marine bearing, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
A ready-to-fit marine bearing

While many have historically praised rubber and nitrile rubber marine bearings, Vesconite Bearings, the maker of the no-swell Vesconite Hilube polymer, has seen ship repairers increasingly turn to its product.

Such was the case in June, when one New Zealand repairer, who has traditionally only used rubber bearings, requested Vesconite Hilube for two sailing yachts.

The client requested two propeller shaft bearings for the first, and a single bearing for the second, informs Vesconite Bearings’ Eddie Swanepoel.

Read the rest of this report in the TRADE NEWS section available by CLICKING HERE



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Wakashio grounded off the coast of Mauritius, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Wakashio grounded off the coast of Mauritius

The salvage team and the first salvage tug to arrive, PSV STANFORD HAWK, arrived in Mauritius on 30 July to engage with the salvaging of the grounded bulk ore carrier, WAKASHIO, off Pointe d’Esny on the Mauritian east coast.

Wakashio, owned by the Okiyo Maritime Corporation / Nagashiki Shipping Co Ltd, went aground on the evening of 25 July. The ship is in ballast and was sailing from China via Singapore bound for Brazil.

A statement issued by the Mauritian authorities said that…[restrict]the salvage team had undergone COVID-19 testing and following clearance from the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the salvage team has been allowed to leave Port-Louis for Pointe d’Esny.

The statement added that all crew members of the Wakashio has also been tested and cleared.

The Minister of Environment, Solid Waste Management & Climate Change, Mr Kavydass Ramano said that following these clearances, the tug Standford Hawk and salvage team, led by Captain Lars Tesmar, were free to proceed to Pointe d’Esny to commence an assessment of the work necessary to undertake the salvage operation.

Standford Hawk, first tug on the scene for the salvage of the bulker Wakashio. Picture: Standford Marine, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Standford Hawk, first tug on the scene for the salvage of the bulker Wakashio. Picture: Standford Marine

Standford Hawk, which has arrived in Mauritius for the salvage of the grounded bulker Wakashio
Ramano said that following the grounding of the Wakashio, the National Environmental Laboratory (NEL) effected a first sampling exercise of coastal water quality on Sunday 26 July 2020, from Pointe d’Esny to Blue Bay to assess the presence of oil and so far no oil spill has been observed.

He said the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan had been activated on 26 July 2020 under the chairmanship of the Director of Environment and since then four meetings have been conducted to analyse and assess the situation.

A regular monitoring programme has been established and includes sites from Mahebourg to Blue Bay whereby indicative parameters such as acidity, temperature, dissolved oxygen, oil and grease and total hydrocarbons are being analysed.

In all, 332 metres of booms have been deployed by the National Coast Guard at the entrance of the Blue Bay Marine Park and the Polyeco Society is arranging for another 500m of fence booms alongside the front of the vessel as a precautionary measure.

Ramano said testing of sea water quality is being maintained on a daily basis by the NEL and that so far no presence of oil and grease has been detected. NEL is collecting seawater samples at five locations namely NCG post, Blue Bay public beach, Pointe d’Esny beach, Pte Jerome and Mahebourg waterfront.

According to Sudheer Maudhoo, Minister of Blue Economy, Rogers Shipping Ltd has been appointed to represent the owners of Wakashio and the designated salvage company, Smit Salvage Pty Ltd.

A second tug is on its way from Fujairah (not Cape Town as initially reported) and should have arrived yesterday. Another tug will also be arriving on 10 August – this was described by the ministry as the fourth tug (not the third) just to confuse the issue.

Maudhoo confirmed that an enquiry has been set up into the cause of the grounding and the first preliminary report can be expected in two months time, following which the ministry will proceed with the insurance claim.[/restrict]


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CREW CHANGE: Drastic measures needed


About 300,000 seafarers remained trapped on board their ships as at 27 July
a similar number awaiting re-employment

According to a report from INTERCARGO of 27 July the organisation cannot begin to contemplate the impacts if terminal and cargo operations were halted and cargo vessels stopped operations and trading, as a result of crew remaining on board for 12 to 17 months. This compromises the safety of crew, ships, and cargoes, if worldwide progress is not made on crew change. About 300,000 seafarers remained trapped on board their ships and a similar number were awaiting re-employment with financial hardship.

Despite a universal campaign from all sectors of the shipping industry, INTERCARGO says that hundreds of thousands of seafarers still continue serving after completing their Seafarer Employment Agreement (SEA), and that many of them have now spent well over 12 months on board. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that bulk carriers on tramp trading call at many more ports than other shipping sectors do, piling added strain on an already fatigued workforce with no hope of crew change.

Dimitris Fafalios, Chairman of INTERCARGO, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Dimitris Fafalios, Chairman of INTERCARGO

Said Dimitris Fafalios, Chairman of INTERCARGO: “Very soon the industry is going to have to say enough is enough.

“The situation is reaching farcical proportions. We have seen crew changes refused because a COVID test could not be carried out within the prescribed 48-hour window before the crew’s arrival, despite the journey to the port taking three days. In some other countries which claim to allow crew change, in fact this happens only if crew can be replaced with the country’s nationals. These are just some examples.”

It is understood from INTERCARGO that the two key bottlenecks are the airlines’ unwillingness to make flights available between shipping destinations and crew source countries; and the lack of commitment from Health and Immigration Authorities to facilitate seafarers’ travel and the issue of visas.


In the words of Jay K Pillai, Vice-Chairman of INTERCARGO: “The situation is escalating from bad to worse as the United Nations IMO protocols for Key Workers are not being honoured by all Port States. About 35% to 40% of all seafarers on board cargo ships are serving well over their SEA and about 10% of all seafarers on board are serving between 12 to 17 months.

“This is inhumane and countries should bear full responsibility for it. Some Governments are not facilitating the crew change even for their own citizens. This includes imposing all possible restrictions on crew change in their home country, restricting flights and applying policies which do not allow seafarers to fly to foreign countries to join ships.

“It is a sad story and it can’t continue like this unless Port States who export/import cargoes ensure that ships will not depart with seafarers serving over the MLC* limit. More and more countries are prohibiting crew change, though they welcome the cargoes the ships bring to support the welfare of their society.”

Focus of attention on measures

INTERCARGO believes that the focus of attention should be on following measures:

INTERCARGO supports the cross-industry recommended framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and places great emphasis on accurate testing procedures, especially for on-signing crew. Recent occurrences of Covid-19 positive crew being allowed to travel from their home countries cannot be condoned by INTERCARGO as it puts seafarers on board and civilians at risk. INTERCARGO calls for increased diligence by crewing agents arranging on-signing crew so that this does not happen again.

Seafarers shall be tested prior to departure from their home country and tested again at arrival to port prior to going on board ship. Similarly, seafarers disembarking from ships shall be tested prior to coming ashore or flying out. If tests are negative, they shall be exonerated from quarantine.

All seafarers shall be allowed to travel with visa exemptions for joining ships.

Port States must allow seafarers to sign off without confirmed flight tickets and wait in isolation hotels while awaiting flights, which could be long, subject to availability of flights.

International Maritime Summit, July 2020

INTERCARGO fully supports the outcome of the International Maritime Summit on Crew Change in July, where thirteen countries signed agreements to facilitate crew changes. INTERCARGO encourages all governments that are signatories to the IMO SOLAS convention to join and implement the above agreement and especially countries which benefit most from the import and export of dry bulk cargoes.

INTERCARGO has reminded the airline industry of the great economic support provided through seafarer and shore staff travelling to and from ships before the Covid-19 crisis. Hundreds of thousands, possibly more than a million tickets annually provided a significant economic boost to airlines globally. Furthermore, INTERCARGO has asked the airlines not to forget seafarers during these difficult times.

Spyros Tarasis, Vice-Chairman of INTERCARGO concluded by saying: “This has become a talking shop. Everybody knows where the problems lie – with the airlines, with visas and with health authorities not recognising seafarers as key workers. But nothing is being done, and very soon the shipping industry itself may well be obliged/forced to stop the trading of cargoes essential for welfare and sustaining the smooth running of societies worldwide.”


Dry bulk carriers account for 43% of the world fleet (in tonnage).

The International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (INTERCARGO) represents the interests of quality dry bulk ship owners, with close to 2,400 registered ships out of more than 11,000 ships in the global dry bulk fleet, corresponding to over 25% of the global dry bulk fleet basis deadweight. INTERCARGO convened for the first time in 1980 in London and has been participating with consultative status at the IMO since 1993.

INTERCARGO provides the forum where dry bulk ship owners, managers and operators are informed about, discuss and share concerns on key topics and regulatory challenges, especially in relation to safety, the environment and operational excellence. The Association takes forward its Members’ positions to the IMO, as well as to other shipping and international industry fora, having free and fair competition as a principle.

* ILO Maritime Labour Convention 2006

Paul Ridgway, London Correspondent for Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news


Edited by Paul Ridgway


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The new port of Tadjoura in Djibouti, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
The new port of Tadjoura in Djibouti, which has handled its first cargo

The Port of Tadjoura in Djibouti has returned to service with a shipment of 50,000-tonnes of South African coal intended for Ethiopia. This took place earlier in July (17 July 2020) when the ship, the Norwegian-flagged 58,000-dwt SPAR CAPELLA (IMO 9490844) arrived from Richards Bay and docked at the reopened port to begin discharging her cargo.

The announcement of this came from the…[restrict] Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Services Enterprise (ESLSE) who said the coal was being imported for use in Ethiopian cement factories.

The use of the port is of additional interest as it has not seen much use until now. Initially developed to handle potash from Ethiopia’s Afar region, where mining has been delayed, the port is seen as being suitable to handle cargo for northern Ethiopia.

Tadjoura, which lies on the north bank of the Bay pf Tadjoura and across from Djibouti city and port on the southern side, is linked by a modern 120-km road with the Ethiopian border at Balho and is said to be preferred by truck drivers for being shorter than the road from Galaffi to the Djibouti port, as well as for its quality. Costing US$156 million, the road was officially opened late in 2019.

The CEO of Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Services Enterprise, Roba Megersa, described the new road as shortening the journey to the Ethiopian border considerably.

“The major share of the 120-km road from Djibouti to Galaffi is damaged, which forced drivers to drive up to 8 hours to cross the border, while this side may take only two hours,” he said.

Megersa thought other vessels will begin using the newly reopened port as an alternative to those at Djibouti, where the town is crowded and the congestion leads to delays.

The port at Tadjoura lacks infrastructural equipment such as quayside cranes and vessels calling there must be self-geared. Megersa said that up to 4,000 tonnes of bulk cargo can be discharged in a day, which he said compares more than favourably with the other Djibouti ports.

Showing the location of the Port of Tadjoura, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Aerial view of the Port of Tadjoura

The Tadjoura port was built at a cost of $90 million to focus on general cargo (potash initially). The port has a depth alongside of 12 metres and consists of two berths totalling 435 metres. The port can accommodate vessels of up to 80,000-dwt.

The road between Tadjoura and the border town of Balho was financed by the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development and is now the third road corridor connecting Djibouti’s ports with Ethiopia.

The two other road corridors are Djibouti-Galafi-Dicheto and Djibouti-Dewalle-Dire Dawa. sources: Capital Ethiopia, Ethiopian Herald.[/restrict]


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WCO & Expertise France in technical workshop

Image: Copyright World Customs Organization 2020 ©, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Image: Copyright World Customs Organization 2020 ©

From 22 to 23 July 2020, experts from the World Customs Organisation* (WCO) Secretariat and the WCO Regional Office for Capacity Building for West and Central Africa (ROCB-WCA) ran a major virtual workshop on Customs challenges in Guinea and Sub-Saharan Africa. This was reported by WCO Media staff on 30 July.

This workshop followed up on a request to bring Expertise France in to assist the technical team of the Mission to…[restrict] Support the Mobilization of Internal Resources (MAMRI) in Guinea.

MAMRI is a body that effectively reports to the Guinean Prime Minister’s Office with the task of supporting and speeding up the modernization of the fiscal authorities and other state financial authorities, the aim being to bring about a fast, strong boost to the mobilization of internal resources. It involves the main ministries dealing with the challenge of mobilizing and securing internal revenue (including the Minister for the Budget, the Minister for the Economy and Finance and the Minister for Mines and Geology).

Various sessions of the workshop, conducted remotely from WCO Headquarters in Brussels and the ROCB-WCA in Abidjan, focused on:

 Simplifying and going paperless in Customs clearance procedures.

 Implementing new control methods.

 Cooperating with national authorities in related areas.

 Cooperating and sharing information with Customs of trading partner countries.

 Rationalising transit operations.

 Integrity in Customs administrations, e-commerce and disaster procedures management.

During the opening session, there were presentations on capacity building principles and programmes in the WCO and the activities of the ROCB-WCA.

By way of clarification, Expertise France is the French public agency responsible for the development and implementation of international technical cooperation projects, and it is supporting the Republic of Guinea in this capacity.

At the end of this workshop, the WCO expressed its satisfaction with its working relationship with Expertise France and strongly urged MAMRI and the Guinean Customs Administration to draw useful conclusions and launch relevant initiatives in favour of reforms on every front: (a) facilitation; (b) security, and (c) protection of society and so forth with a view to improving the mobilization of Customs revenue.

To ensure that greater account is taken of the strategic plan/action plan for Customs, developed with the support of the WCO, this work needs to be carried out in synergy with the unit responsible for Customs reform and also with the National Committee on Trade Facilitation.

In conclusion this exercise provided the opportunity to explore avenues for cooperation between the WCO and Expertise France in connection with the two organisations respective activities in support of Customs administrations.[/restrict]

la Mission d’Appui à la Mobilisation des Ressources intérieures.

Paul Ridgway, London Correspondent for Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news


Edited by Paul Ridgway


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Africa Sun sailing here under her previous name of Asian Sun. Picture by Graham Curran / MarineTraffic, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Africa Sun sailing here under her previous name of Asian Sun. Picture by Graham Curran / MarineTraffic

The Djibouti Shipping Company, formed under the auspices of the Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority (DPFZA), has commenced operations with a regular service across the Gulf of Aden and coast of Somalia.

The first vessel, AFRICA SUN (IMO 9359105), arrived at the port of Djibouti on 19 July to commence operations with calls between…[restrict] Djibouti, Berbera, Bossaso and Mogadishu. The vessel is owned and managed by Djibouti Shipping Co FZE and if flagged in Djibouti.

Targeting regional and transit trade, the new service will provide a faster transit journey than is possible currently.

The 13,719-dwt Africa Sun, built in 2006, has a capacity of 1,108 TEU and according to a statement issued by DPFZA, in addition to import-export traffic, Djibouti Shipping Company will also offer redistribution services for transshipment containers in Djibouti, by major shipping lines and intended for ports in the region.

“Africa Sun is the first step in a major national project to become a key player in the shipping industry,” the DPFZA statement said.[/restrict]


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Why the African free trade area could be the game-changer for the continent’s economies

African leaders have their work cut out to make the continental free trade area a success.  Wikimedia Commons

Muazu Ibrahim, University for Development Studies

Most economists see structural transformation as one of the main routes to Africa’s sustainable development. What it means is changing the share of agriculture, manufacturing and services in an economy. It is a central aim of the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

With this aim in mind, economists and policymakers need to know what determines structural transformation. They have flagged factors like demand for goods and services, trade policies, financial development, institutional quality and economic integration.

But researchers haven’t closely examined the way economic integration through trade and finance influences structural transformation.

I therefore set out to study African countries’ integration with the rest of the world and the effect of that integration on their structural transformation. This study provides fresh evidence about whether integration is good for Africa. It also unearths the right levels of integration necessary to increase structural transformation.

Trade and financial integration are both about countries exporting to and importing from each other. The two are often referred to as economic integration. Opening national borders to trade has a number of potential benefits which can promote development. For example it creates comparative advantage, access to external finance and opportunities for risk sharing. It also enables technology transfer. Local firms serving larger foreign and domestic corporations can acquire knowledge and skills and transfer them to the rest of the economy.

All these benefits are essential for structural transformation. But excessive openness and integration may also come at a cost, largely from distortions around trade policy. For instance, if certain local industries have been protected, local firms may not be fit enough to compete with foreign counterparts. Opening these industries to competition may harm them.

Balancing the potential benefits and dangers of integration is a pressing policy issue now that African countries have signed the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement, which aims to foster integration.

Policy makers need to know whether there is an ideal level of trade and financial integration that will change economies in the desired ways.

The study: findings and implications

With this background, I examined the effects of economic integration on structural transformation in 32 African countries from 1985 to 2015. The time period and choice of countries were based on data availability.

I created an index of structural transformation that incorporates changes in sectoral value addition and demographic characteristics. The index ranges between 0 (low transformation) and 1 (high transformation). I found that structural transformation on the continent was low, with an average value of 0.419, but varied across countries.

The majority of the countries’ indices were lower, suggesting that structural transformation is only just beginning.

I also found that African countries were less integrated in terms of trade and finance than other developing economies.

I measured trade integration as the ratio of countries’ imports and exports to GDP. This shows the degree of openness. I found that the optimal level for trade integration was 73.29% of GDP. By this I mean the level of trade integration that produces an improved effect on structural transformation.

The data suggested that trade integration encourages the reallocation of resources to more productive sectors.

To measure financial integration, I used the ratio of countries’ total foreign liabilities and assets to GDP. This shows the degree of restriction of capital flows. The optimal level for financial integration was 137.5% of GDP. Ten African countries were above these levels and 22 were below.

The 10 countries that are above this financial integration threshold are Botswana, Congo Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Mauritius, Seychelles, Sudan and Togo. Similarly, the 10 countries above the trade integration threshold are Botswana, Congo Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Mauritania, Mauritius, Seychelles, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Togo and Tunisia.

I observed that structural transformation increases more in countries that are below these levels of integration compared to countries that are above the thresholds. Integration increases structural transformation, but too much integration slows that process, producing undesired effects.

The positive effect of integration on transformation occurs through enhanced efficiency, comparative advantage, external finance and risk diversification. Countries can have these features despite being less integrated and operating below the thresholds. The benefits of integration come from efficiency of integration rather than unbridled integration.

A key implication is that efficiency in both trade and financial integration is critical to driving structural transformation in Africa. This explains the urgent need for African countries to simultaneously deepen trade and financial integration. Economies that embark on economic integration along both lines can expect to have improved transformation for sustainable development.

The role of the free trade area

The study shows that Africa has opportunities to integrate further. The African free trade area has the potential to defragment the continent and bring its economies into the global economy.

The free trade area aims to progressively eliminate tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade in goods and to liberalise trade in services. It will establish a single continental market for goods and services: a bigger and more competitive market.

A bigger free trade area will not only boost intra-regional trade, it will also hasten the development of regional supply chains. These have driven structural transformation in other regions, for example Asia. It is also necessary for policy to address the non-tariff barriers to trade. Among these are poor logistics and infrastructure (such as roads, rail, ports, power and digital connectivity).

Countries should be focusing on removing such bottlenecks. The African Union, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the African Development Bank should get the free trade area working as soon as possible.

It has the potential to make a big difference to structural transformation and could be the game-changer for Africa.The Conversation

Muazu Ibrahim, Lecturer, Department of Banking and Finance, University for Development Studies

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.





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WHARF TALK: COVD-19 impacts two South Africa-bound ships

ITAL LIRICA (IMO 9322487), detained outside Hong Kong after a crewmember tested positive for the coronavirus. Picture courtesy: Netty / Shipspotting, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
ITAL LIRICA (IMO 9322487), detained outside Hong Kong after a crewmember tested positive for the coronavirus. Picture courtesy: Netty / Shipspotting

As we enter the fifth month since the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic by the World Health Organization, it is easy to understand how a sense of acceptance to new ways of life is able to creep in, leaving us in the process of generally relaxing our guard against this silent killer going about among us.

Just how potent the virus remains is made clear not only with the numbers of infections and deaths announced daily across the world, but with news of ship’s crews around the world going down with the disease and forcing their vessels into periods of quarantine and cleansing. This applies across the board and includes several cruise ships as parts of that industry venture out, tentatively, only to hurriedly stop operations again. The Norwegian cruise company Hurtigruten being the latest with their expedition ship ROALD AMUNDSEN which set off on a cruise with almost 200 passengers on board.

Shortly after disembarking the passengers at the end of the cruise, four of the crew were diagnosed with coronavirus and were hospitalised, where one has since died. Then a further 32 of the 158 crew also tested positive, demonstrating that it is far too early to restart cruising and that while passengers may – just – be able to socially distance themselves while on board, the crew in cramped quarters usually cannot.

Passengers who left the ship before the crew were diagnosed have been advised to self-quarantine (and if wise, to get tested).

The above highlights the background of reports received of crew on ships becoming infected. Among these are two container ships deployed on the South Africa service, which are now going to be late arriving on their scheduled calls in this country after crew on board tested positive to the virus. Remember the Montpellier (which is coincidentally in our waters once again), that had to quarantine twice outside Durban for a total of 28 days as first one, then another crew member tested positive for the virus.

Now we receive news that the container ship BANGKOK BRIDGE, which is deployed on the South Africa Asia Express 2 (SA2) Service has been affected following the discovery of a crew member testing positive for COVID-19. This was when the ship arrived at the port of Shekou.

The vessel is currently at anchorage outside the Chinese port.

Hapag-Lloyd, one of the member lines of the SA2 service, advises that “together with our partners, we are currently evaluating the potential impact on vessel and cargo operations. Berthing dates for the subsequent ports of the rotation will be adjusted accordingly.” In other words, delayed.

There is similar news concerning the vessel ITAL LIRICA which is deployed on the South Africa Asia Express 1 (SA1) Service, on which a crew member tested positive for Covid-19 while the vessel was on the way from Ningbo to Singapore and from there to South Africa. This ship is being held under quarantine outside the port of Hong Kong.

So if anyone has cargo (containers) on either of those ships, their arrival in Durban or other ports in South Africa will obviously be delayed by up to two weeks and you should contact your agent or shipping line for details.

These infections are happening while in most cases ships are unable to exchange crew due to travel limitations, but crew do come into contact with others while in port, sometimes with port workers who come on board their vessels. The point is they do get infected like anyone else and when that happens the whole ship is affected.

In addition to these reports, Japanese shipping group ONE (Ocean Network Express), which comprises MOL, NYK and K Line, has published a list of void sailings due to the effects of the COVID-19 infections. While none of these affect South Africa directly,the group says there are disruptions to port operations at Durban due to the increase in COVID-19 infections across South Africa, and these are causing vessel delays to ships operating on its South Africa Central service, which is operated jointly with Zim Integrated Shipping Services and other lines.

The vessels impacted includes the 4,250-TEU COSCO SURABAYA and the 4,800-TEU ZIM SHANGHAI, which were being delayed by up to a week before being able to berth in Durban.

The effects of COVID-19 is, unfortunately, going to continue impacting our port and shipping operations for some tine to come – probably into 2021.


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Durban's Maydon Wharf, looking from berths 6 to 11. Picture by Chris Hoare, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Durban’s Maydon Wharf, looking from berths 6 to 11.     Picture by Chris Hoare

Further impacts on port operations resulting largely from the COVID-19 crisis becomes clear clear when container performance at the Port of Durban is revealed as being well below budget and previous year performances.

In its latest report on the port status by Transnet National Ports Authority’s general manager, Moshe Motlohi, both container imports and exports were down, by 33% and 22% respectively. This has to be of serious concern, not only as far as the port is concerned, but by the country as a whole as it reflects the economic depression that South Africa is sliding into.

Some adverse weather did play a part, but not on too great a scale with about nine hours affected during the week.

Bulk commodity volumes at the port were however bucking the trend, with the primary driver being maize exports of 144,955 tons for the week. You’ll remember that South Africa has just experienced a near record maize crop and these export figures may be expected to impress even further as excess maize is exported, much of into Africa.

Chrome and manganese ore exports also performed well for the week.

Break bulk commodity volumes were unfortunately also under the planned budget. The majority of volume was made up of steel exports amounting to 31,566 tons. Citrus and steel imports resided in marginal territory.

The Single Buoy Mooring (SBM) situated outside the port opposite Isipingo, was marginally (-1%) below budget. This was due to stockpiling as a result of previous weeks low volumes handled. Four tankers with large parcel sizes were handled. Only one refined petroleum vessel was handled during this period as four other petroleum vessels were on berth working cargo, which resulted in a changed ETA. Liquid-bulk volumes were below budget.

The SBM handles about 80% of South Africa’s oil product imports.

At the time of counting (Sunday 16h00) there were 34 ships inside the port on their berths, not counting tugs and other harbour craft or vessels such as dredgers or those at ship repair. There were another 34 ships outside the port of Durban, awaiting entry or for other reasons. One of these was the cruise ship MSC Orchestra, on layby, and another the tanker Advantage Sky awaiting an auction on Thursday this week.

Among other ships expected at Durban in the coming weeks and of special interest is another of the returning cruise ships, VOLENDAM of Holland America Line which is due in port for bunkers and supplies on Friday week, 15 August 2020.

The number of ships at the port of Richards Bay on Sunday at 16h00 was 14 vessels in port, all for working cargo, and five waiting outside.


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BBC Orion arrives in DBN from Poland carrying 13 new generation straddle carriers, all fully assembled. Picture: TPT, featured in Africa PORTS 7 SHIPS maritime news
BBC Orion arrives in DBN from Poland carrying 13 new generation straddle carriers, all fully assembled. Picture: TPT

The Durban Container Terminal (DCT) Pier 2 has taken delivery of another 13 of 23 electric straddle carriers which arrived yesterday (Sunday 2 August). According to Transnet Port Terminals (TPT), this introduces a major impact in the availability and reliability of equipment across waterside, landside and rail operations.

In total, DCT Pier 2 is now in possession of 15 new electric straddle carriers that are planned for commissioning and handing over to Operations during the month of August. The remaining balance of eight will also be arriving later in the month to complete the full order for the current calendar year.

The investment is a direct response to industry calls and TPT’s commitment of an improved service at the country’s largest and busiest container operation. The eighth-generation equipment arrived fully assembled with improved drive technology, starting reliability, maintainability, safety, usability, ergonomics as well as an ability for a computer application to read data from the control system via Ethernet – providing comprehensive detail on statistics, real time performance data and operational reports.

“Observing the necessary governance processes in acquiring these assets to the tune of R236,884,000 was necessary although it may have seemed like a long wait,” said Pier 2 Terminal Manager Zamo Ngcobo. “Even while we waited, our employees were giving us hundred percent effort despite ageing equipment and challenges posed by COVID-19.”

He said TPT was confident of new performance records at DCT with the boost in operational equipment. Customers will be happy of this claim is achieved.

Other terminals to have benefited

Port of East London's small but nevertheless important container terminal, which handles a significant amount of containers for the big Mercedes Benz factory overlooking the port's West Bank, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Port of East London’s small but nevertheless important multipurpose terminal, which handles a significant amount of containers for the big Mercedes Benz factory overlooking the port’s West Bank

DCT Pier 2 is one of 16 sea-cargo and three inland terminals operated by Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) to have benefited from the R2 billion set aside to invest in replacement equipment this current calendar year.

The Port Elizabeth and Cape Town container terminals have taken delivery of two mobile harbour cranes and four straddle carriers respectively. The Durban Point Multipurpose Terminal has also taken receipt of four new reach stackers at a cost of R47 million to boost its container handling service that serves as a diversion contingency for the Durban Container Terminals Pier 1 and 2.

The East London Multipurpose Terminal will soon receive four straddle carriers to better service the automotive sector while a new tippler for the Saldanha Bulk Terminal will support growing bulk volumes attributed to the mining activities in the country.

The Richards Bay Bulk Terminal will also take delivery of five excavators, a ship loader and a new conveyor belt that will unlock tippler capacity.


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The RoRo vehicles carrier Hoegh Trident which was in port at Port Elizabeth on Sunday 2 August 2020. Picture: Maritime Connector, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
The RoRo vehicles carrier Hoegh Trident which was in port at Port Elizabeth on Sunday 2 August 2020. Picture: Maritime Connector

With South Africa enjoying a bumper citrus season and Cape Town port having been severely affected by a deluge of problems from the COVID-19 pandemic to a particularly stormy winter season, and resulting in citrus exports being trucked across the southern Cape to Port Elizabeth for export, the two Eastern Cape ports are confident of not only enjoying strong exports themselves, but also of clearing the export logjam that arose from the situation in Cape Town.

The two Eastern Cape ports are in fact at the centre of efforts to ensure South Africa reaps maximum benefit from the bumper citrus crop.

According to the Citrus Growers Association’s (CGA) South Africa should export more than 140 million tons of citrus in the 2020 season, compared to 127 million tons in 2019. That’s a 10.23% increase on the previous year.

The CGA says this has been because of an early start to the season that saw crops maturing earlier than in previous years, which in turn meant South African citrus could arrive in Northern Hemisphere countries ahead of some competition and just as demand was rising.

The problems at Cape Town have been well documented with the Western Cape having an early rise in COVID-19 cases that outstripped the rest of the country. This resulted in large numbers of port and terminal staff being unable to work and the port operating at one stage at 50% of its capacity. The trucking sector was smiling as a long stream of trucks carried citrus containers and cartons across country to the Eastern Cape ports.

Siyabulela Mhlaluka, TPT’s General Manager of Sales and New Business Development said TPT had catered for a 13% increase in citrus volumes for 2020 and was confident of handling this capacity despite the impact of the pandemic. He said TPT has remained fully focused on the fruit industry since the citrus season opened.

New Mobile Cranes

PE's new mobile cranes that recently arrived, feature here in AfrIca PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
PE’s new mobile cranes that recently arrived

Port Elizabeth’s two new mobile cranes have been commissioned and handed over to operations, providing relief for the loading and discharging of cargo. Mhlaluka said that while Level 5 lockdown conditions had restricted the movement of cargo to and from the ports over a two-month period, with these relaxed now to Level 3 it was all systems go.

“Regular industry engagements and integrated planning leaves us optimistic,” he said. “We have a robust plan for replacing equipment across our terminals through to 2024 and as we have promised to industry, we are tracking according to plan.”

Port Elizabeth and Ngqura each had four ships in port, not counting the bunker tankers or fishing vessels and harbour craft. There were 12 vessels outside in Algoa Bay, some for bunkering.


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The bulk carrier Glory Harvest which was in port at Cape Town on Sunday evening. The 64,000-dwt vessel is 199 metres in length and 32m wide and was built in 2014. This picture is courtesy of Shipspotting, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
The bulk carrier Glory Harvest which was in port at Cape Town on Sunday evening. The 64,000-dwt vessel is 199 metres in length and 32m wide and was built in 2014. This picture is courtesy of Shipspotting

The Port of Cape Town is reporting it has all of its marine crew back on duty and is continuing to ramp up operations and reduce shipping backlogs caused by the impact of COVID-19 on the port’s human resources.

By 30 July, volumes had increased, container terminal performance had improved and only one container vessel was at outer anchorage, reduced from nine vessels just two days earlier. Transnet Port Terminals said it is confident the backlog of cargo will be cleared by mid-August, this after the previous week’s inclement weather delayed progress and shifted the original target of end July.

Marine operations human capital has improved – from 60% capacity at the beginning of July due to actual cases of staff with the coronavirus coupled with employees in quarantine, to 100% as at 30 July.

All marine pilots have been on duty throughout the month and TNPA has been able to offer a full marine service to move vessels in and out of the port. The full marine fleet available includes two tugs, and a third tug on standby, one workboat, one pilot boat and one launch.

Berthing services – which was most affected by the virus spread among employees – was back to normal at the beginning of the month with two berthing gangs in place.

The trucker strike action outside the port had not impacted port operations at the Port of Cape Town Container Terminal. The port handled 17,438 TEUs versus 12,000 TEUs the previous week. Efficiency rates had improved last week with gross-crane moves per hour (GCH) slightly up to 18 from 17.

The average waiting time at anchorage for container vessels had been reduced to four days by 28 July and by 30 July there was only one vessel at anchorage and one on the horizon.

The terminal operators from Durban returned back to KZN on 29 July, but the Cape Town terminal is able to maintain the six-gang operation due to Cape Town employees being back at work. Preparations to introduce the seventh gang in time for the reefer season were underway with recruitment and training progressing well.

The four new straddle carriers were handed over to operations during the past week, following their commissioning.

The Multi-Purpose Terminal (MPT) was working two berths with two gangs, two mobile cranes, four straddle carriers and two reach stackers and has handled 1450 tons of cargo since the last report.

There were 11 ships in port on Sunday late afternoon and two cargo vessels outside, of which one is a reefer and the other a container ship.


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Earlier last week (Monday 27 July) the Transnet Group Chief Executive Portia Derby met with the leaders of various community organisations in Saldanha Bay, in order to address challenges in the port town that have led to protests in the area.

Portia Derby, Transnet Group Chief Executive

The meetings were part of Derby’s engagement with stakeholders in the west coast, including the Saldanha Bay IDZ and the local municipality, to strengthen collaboration between Transnet and the broader Saldanha Bay community.

Included in groups she met with were All Truck Drivers Foundation (ATDF), Cosatu, Satawu and SANCO.

The community forums raised issues challenging Transnet procurement processes, employment practices by Transnet suppliers and service providers, as well as development and upskilling of communities in Saldanha Bay.

Derby committed Transnet to providing an update in three months to the stakeholders on steps Transnet has taken to address all the issues raised.

The organisations that met with the GCE include the All Truck Drivers Foundation (ATDF), Cosatu, Satawu and SANCO.


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Captain Gengan Pillay stepped in to assist with vessel docking and sailing at the Port of East London. Captain Pillay is a qualified marine pilot, tug master and trainer from the Transnet Maritime School of Excellence, with many years of experience. Picture: TNPA, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Captain Gengan Pillay stepped in to assist with vessel docking and sailing at the Port of East London. Captain Pillay is a qualified marine pilot, tug master and trainer from the Transnet Maritime School of Excellence, with many years of experience. Picture: TNPA

South Africa’s eight commercial ports have shown the way in collaborating to minimise the effect of COVID-19 on its marine operations.

Lessons learnt at the Port of Cape Town, which was badly affected in June and into early July, have since been transferred to other ports. This has included redeploying staff and equipment where necessary to support ports more severely affected by the coronavirus.

TNPA’s Acting Chief Operating Officer, Captain Rufus Lekala said the COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a new spirit of collaboration between the eight complementary ports in South Africa. “Less affected ports have stepped in to assist by deploying members of their teams to provide relief service to keep cargo flowing into and out of the country. We have virtual meetings where we can all come together and plan across the entire network of ports,” he said.

Earlier in July a potential crisis was averted at the Port of East London, where a critical employee in the Marine Operations department tested positive for COVID-19 and a number of close contacts in the department had to go into self-quarantine awaiting test results. The affected workspaces and the port’s marine craft were sanitised.

With East London airport still closed at that time due to the lockdown, TNPA was able to use its own helicopter service to fly Captain Gengan Pillay from the Port of Durban to East London, to assist with vessel docking and sailing for a few days.

Captain Pillay is a qualified marine pilot, tug master and trainer from the Transnet Maritime School of Excellence, with many years of experience. He is also one of only a few personnel able to operate the older tugs in use at the Port of East London, which use Z-Peller propulsion unlike the newer tugs which use Voith Schneider propulsion and are more easily manoeuvred.

The Port of Richards Bay also rose to the occasion to offer support to the Port of East London, with tug master Njabulo Gina later deployed to East London to relieve Captain Pillay.

The marine personnel in East London, South Africa’s only river port, have since been given a clean bill of health and operations are back to normal.

“We are thankful for the position we have as a multi-port authority and to our port users and stakeholders for their patience while we explore and implement measures to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on our ports and on their businesses,”said Lekala.


Wharf Talk reports from TNPA, Transnet Group, TPT, Richard Vashan, John Hawkins, edited by Terry Hutson


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