Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 23 September 2022

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FIRST VIEW:   Port of East London

The week’s mastheads:

Monday: Port of East London
Tuesday: Port of Durban Sugar Terminal
Wednesday: Port of Durban T Jetty
Thursday: Port of Durban Container Terminal
Friday: Port of Durban Container Terminal by night
Saturday: Port of Durban City Multipurpose Terminal
Sunday: Port of Durban Island View Terminals

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FIRST VIEW:  Port of East London

Port of East London, looking towards the east, in Africa Ports & Ships
Port of East London, looking towards the east  Picture:  Transnet

The Port of East London is South Africa’s only true river port, having been built in the mouth and for a short distance upstream of the Buffalo River. The port has several distinctions, one of them being a dedicated car terminal on the West Bank, directly below the large Mercedes Benz manufacturing plant where Mercedes C-class cars are manufactured for export to the world.

The port also has a small container terminal near the entrance, while opposite on the West Bank is the grain terminal, with large silos for storage as necessary of grain for import or export. At one stage the port handled grain exports from the southern Free State region and northern Cape (now Eastern Cape province). Today it acts mainly as a relief terminal to the facilities in Durban harbour.

Of interest for this particular edition of Africa PORTS & SHIPS is the Princess Elizabeth dry dock, visible in the lower left of this photograph, which was commissioned by the then Princess Elizabeth during the Royal Tour of South Africa in 1947, and named in her honour with royal permission.

The dock underwent a refurbishment in 2020.

The buildings with reddish roofs facing the river form part of Latimer’s Landing, the port’s small waterfront development, with the yacht marina opposite.

East London was originally named Port Rex in 1836 by its founder, George Baillie, but began operating as a port only from 1870.  In 1847 a British fort, Fort Glamorgan was built on the West Bank, the site of the first settlement, and East London as the the small town was to becoma named, was annexed to the Cape Colony also in 1847.

Picture is courtesy of Transnet National Ports Authority.

and now the news….


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Port of Walvis Bay handles 80 new tipper trucks for mining operation

Tipper Trucks at the Port of Walvis Bay in Africa Ports & Ships
Tipper Trucks at the Port of Walvis Bay    Namport

The Port of Walvis Bay in Namibia recently handled an unusually large cargo of 80 new Tipper Trucks, imported in two batches from China.

The trucks are destined for the Xingfeng Mine, a Lithium Ore mine in Omaruru, within the Erongo region of Namibia.

Arriving in two separate shipments of 40 trucks each during July and August, the vehicles are expected to improve the mine’s capacity and efficiency.

The Xingfeng Mine extracts Lithium Ore for export to Xingfeng’s production plant in China. Lithium Ore is a product used in the production of ceramics and glass, as well as in primary aluminium manufacturing.

The Tipper trucks en-route to the Xingfeng Lithium Mine in Omaruru in Africa Ports & Ships
The Tipper trucks en-route to the Xingfeng Lithium Mine in Omaruru   Namport

So far this year, the Port of Walvis Bay has exported 25,000 tons of Lithium Ore to China with an additional 50,000 tons expected to be shipped later this month.

Namport’s Business Development Partner, Mr Tautinge Festus, said that Namport is enthusiastic about this venture, as the mine anticipates ramping up its export volumes through the Port of Walvis Bay. This is due to growing global demand as a result of the improving commodity price of Lithium Ore.

“The shipment of these trucks signifies the positive outlook that the investors foresee for the industry,” Festus said.

The Port of Walvis Bay currently has two bulk handling facilities – the Walvis Bay Bulk Terminal and the Bigen Kuumba Port Services Terminal. These play significant roles in the handling of this product and similar bulk commodities.

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Added 23 September 2022


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WHARF TALK: Oceanographic research vessel ANTEA

Owned by the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), of Marseilles in France, Antea arrived not once but twice in Cape Town port. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Owned by the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), of Marseilles in France, Antea arrived not once but twice in Cape Town port. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

Jay Gates, in Africa Ports & Ships

The arrival of foreign research vessels in Cape Town is a regular occurrence throughout the year, with ongoing international science programmes covering the South Atlantic Ocean, South Indian Ocean, Southern Ocean and Antarctica. The majority of these research vessels are large, with a length greater than 50 metres, and almost exclusively monohull. Very occasionally, there is the odd exception to that premise.

On 14th September the multipurpose oceanographic research vessel ANTEA (IMO 9128506) arrived off Cape Town from Mindelo, located on Ilhéu São Vicente, in the Cape Verde Islands. She entered the harbour and proceeded into the Duncan Dock, going alongside the Passenger Terminal at E berth, which indicated a crew change, and scientific complement change was due.

Looking down at the research vessel Antea on her berth in Cape Town. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Looking down at the research vessel Antea on her berth in Cape Town. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 1996 by Chantiers Naval Ocea at Les Sables d’Olonne in France, ‘Antea’ is 35 metres in length and has a deadweight of 405 tons. Unusually, she is a catamaran, and she is powered by two Volvo Penta D25-MS 6 cylinder 4 stroke main engines, producing 1,318 bhp (970 kW) each, and with one engine in each hull, driving a controllable pitch propeller on each hull for a service speed of 9 knots. Her auxiliary machinery includes two generators providing 156 kW each.

Antea is owned by the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), of Marseilles in France. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Antea is owned by the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), of Marseilles in France. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Effectively a French Government asset, ‘Antea’ is owned by the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), of Marseilles in France, and she is operated by the Institut Français de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER), of Brest in France. She is managed by Groupement pour la Gestion de Navires de Recherché (GENAVIR), also of Brest.

The IRD is charged, by the French Government, to conduct scientific programmes that contribute to the sustainable development of the countries of the South. As such, ‘Antea’ spends a lot of her time in both the Atlantic Ocean, and the Indian Ocean, although with her home base being Le Seyne sur Mer, near Toulon on the French Mediterranean coast, she also undertakes research cruises in the Mediterranean Sea.

The accommodation area of this unusual vessel. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The accommodation area of this unusual vessel. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She carries 13 crew, and 10 scientific passengers, and her endurance is 3,840 nautical miles, at a speed of 10 knots, over 18 days. She has three scientific spaces aboard, including a Wet Lab, a Dry Lab, and a large Scientific Data Collection Lab. For her small size carries a wide variety of both scientific, and deck, equipment.

Her scientific equipment includes a navigation echosounder, a water column echosounder, a scientific monobeam sounder, a deepwater sonar, water temperature sensors, trawlnet sensors, a doppler current profiler, CTD (Current, Depth, Temperature) sensors, bathythermographs, and a thermosalinograph.

The twin hulls of the catamaran. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The twin hulls of the catamaran. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her scientific deck equipment includes a gantry ‘A’ Frame on her stern, capable of lifting 5 tons, a knuckleboom deck crane capable of lifting 4 tons, a fishing winch, multipurpose winch, hydrology winch, and a CTD winch. For data collection she is equipped with demersal nets, pelagic nets, plankton nets, microplankton nets, and a CTD rosette.

She had left her home port in France at the end of June, to conduct a two month scientific programme around the Cape Verde islands. After a two day stop alongside E berth, having changed over her scientific complement, stored and taken in bunkers, she sailed from Cape Town at 11h00 on 16th September, bound for the French Overseas Department of Reunion Island, in the Indian Ocean.

Antea's stern. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Antea’s stern. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The next day, on 17th September at 07h00, to most people’s surprise, ‘Antea’ arrived back off Cape Town harbour. She entered the harbour, but instead of entering the Duncan Dock, she proceeded into the Ben Schoeman Dock and headed for berth 501. This berth is one of the Dormac repair quays, and indicated that ‘Antea’ had a problem that required shoreside engineering assistance.

She remained alongside for a further 4 days, which indicated the problem was possibly not a small, or easy, one to sort out. However, as always, the Cape Town maritime engineering fraternity sorted out the problem, and ‘Antea’ finally sailed from Cape Town at 11h00 on 21st September, once more bound for Le Port, on Reunion Island.

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Added 22 September 2022


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Boost for Liberia’s Port Buchanan with project cargo

General cargo ship Breadbox Warthog carrying project cargo for ArcelorMittal Liberia's Phase 2 iron ore concession. Picture: Fleetmon in Africa Ports & Ships
General cargo ship Breadbox Warthog carrying project cargo for ArcelorMittal Liberia’s Phase 2 iron ore concession. Picture: Fleetmon

As the Liberian port of Buchanan prepares for the start of Phase 2 of the ArcelorMittal Liberia expansion project, port officials advise of a boost to income generation from an increased number of ship calls and cargo to be handled.

The Port of Buchanan is expected to shortly see a major boost in income generation, ahead of the official start of ArcelorMittal Liberia’s (AML) Phase Two expansion project.

With the completion of Phase 1, a Greenfield mining project at the Yekepa concession in Nimba County, which has a capacity to export 4 million tons a year to ArcelorMittal’s European steel plants or the open market in Asia, attention has turned to Phase 2.

This entails increasing the capacity of AML’s iron ore mine to 15 million tons a year, the installation of a fixed ship loader at the Buchanan port and a concentrator at the Yekepa concession in Nimba County to produce iron ore pellets.

The railway from the mine to the port is also to undergo upgrades to handle the increased volume.

Material for Phase 2 is beginning to arrive, with the first shipment arriving on the vessel Breadbox Warthog (IMO 9419802), which was due in Buchanan this week.

Last week the port was visited by a delegation of technical and administrative personnel of the National Port Authority (NPA) of Liberia, to familiarise themselves with the latest phase of the project. They would also witness the arrival of the first shipment on Breadbox Warthog.

According to AML’s head of Logistics & Material Management, Leslie Dodds, the visit by the NPA personnel is necessary and important to both NPA and AML.

“We have many vessels that we will use to bring cargoes to Liberia for the development of the Phase Two project, and also to carry cargoes that need to go to different parts of the world to be repaired and returned. So, the relationship with the Buchanan Port is strategically important to us,” he said.

“So, we wanted them to understand what we are doing and it’s the first time they have come to visit us. We emphasised our culture of safety, and that we want to work as a team… not them and us. So, it’s a partnership.”

In addition to the Breadbox Warthog, which is bringing 4,000 rails from Spain, several other vessels carrying other material for the project can be expected, said Amos Reeves, AML Phase Two project Logistics Manager.

Reeves added that the ship will then load a consignment of logistics equipment for South Africa, for repair and refurbishment, before this will be returned to Liberia.

Buchanan Port Manager, Barsi-Giah welcomed the expansion project, noting that it will boost operations and income generation for the port and the Government of Liberia and create more jobs for Liberians.

“The Port of Buchanan through its commercial pier is going to be a direct beneficiary of AML Phase Two expansion project, and we’re very, very happy to see that happening,” he said.

AML’s logistics services are being facilitated by Bolloré Logistics, who were also part of the port tour.

Bolloré shipping Manager, Ernest Hallowanger said the tour provided insight on how they would be required to handle the different cargoes.

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Added 23 September 2022


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Return of the Bronagh J – back at Moma

Bronagh J back on her jetty at Moma in Mozambique. Picture: Kenmare in Africa Ports & Ships
Bronagh J back on her jetty at Moma in Mozambique. Picture: Kenmare

This is not the most recent news, being almost a month old by now, but at the Kenmare Moma Mine n the coast of Nampula province in central Mozambique, they welcomed back their vessel BRONAGH J (IMO: 9413133).

Their transshipment vessel had undergone its five-yearly maintenance dry docking in Durban and had been away since mid-May.

Bronagh returned to Moma on 25 August (we said it wasn’t exactly the latest news.

She is one of two transshipment vessels at the mine, which operate off a jetty opposite where the mine is located a short distance inland, and transships mineral sand cargoes to waiting dry bulk vessels lying in deeper water offshore.

Kenmare reported that a significant increase in shipments of processed minerals could be expected at Moma following the vessel’s return. The mine is operated by Kenmare, one of the world’s leading producers of mineral sands.

The Moma mine has been in commercial production since 2009, and is recognised as a major supplier of mineral sand products to a global customer base spanning over 15 countries.

Kenmare’s products are key raw materials, processed into intermediate products and ultimately consumed in everyday ‘quality-of-life’ products such as paints, plastics and ceramic tiles.

Last year Kenmare invested the equivalent of US$2.3 million in development initiatives for the mine’s Mozambican host communities via its Kenmare Moma Development Association (KMAD).

This included the construction of a second community health centre and five new primary schools.

The KMAD development programmes focuses on three strategic pillars: livelihoods and economic development, healthcare development, and education development.

A detailed report on the Bronagh J and the tug that took her to Durban earlier this year can be seen here in our 22 May EDITION

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Added 23 September 2022


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ATSB Report: BBC Rhonetal ship fire.Port Hedlnad, Western Australia

On 21 September the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) issued safety recommendations to the managers and parent company of the cargo ship BBC Rhonetal, following an investigation into a fire in the hold of the vessel at Port Hedland, Western Australia the previous year.

BBC Rhonetal was alongside at Port Hedland on the morning of 25 March 2021 when a fire broke out in the lower cargo hold during hot work using a plasma torch to cut welded sea fastenings for cargo units in preparation for unloading them. The fire was not declared extinguished until three days later.

ATSB’s transport safety investigation into the incident found this to be the tenth such fire on a ship managed under the same parent company in the past fourteen years, and the fourth investigated by the ATSB, identifying similar contributing factors.

In the words of ATSB Chief Commissioner Angus Mitchell: “The ATSB’s investigation found the risk of fire had not been adequately assessed by the crew prior to the commencement of the hot work.

“As a result, a continuous fire watch was not maintained, and proper precautions were not taken to sufficiently protect vulnerable cargo from catching alight.”

In its investigation the ATSB found BBC Rhonetal’s managers had not effectively implemented the shipboard safety management system procedures to prevent the fire.

Mitchell added: “The continuing incidence of fires on the cargo holds of ships while performing hot work highlights the importance of adhering to shipboard procedures and recognised safe work guidelines for hot work.”

BBC Rhonetal’s managers have advised the ATSB that procedures for hot work will be amended to better describe the role of the fire watch, emphasising its importance in fire prevention. Fire watch requirements will also be integrated into the hot work permit procedure and additional equipment for the fire watch is to be distributed across the fleet.

The company also intends to undertake measures to educate shipboard crew on the amended procedures and the additional equipment, including through implementation of a training video.

In conclusion Mitchell said: “While the ATSB considers the safety action proposed by the ship’s managers in this case has the potential to address the hot work safety issue, no timeline has been provided for their implementation, and the ATSB has therefore issued a formal recommendation to the ship’s managers, and the parent company.

“The ATSB is recommending the ship’s managers, Briese Heavylift, and its parent company Briese Schiffahrts, take safety action to ensure safety management system procedures are effectively implemented on BBC Rhonetal and all other relevant ships across their fleets.

“Ship operators and managers must ensure that their safety management system protocols for hot work are suitable and properly implemented on board their ships.

“This requires regular verification that ships’ crew understand and follow prescribed safe work practices for hot work.”

It is understood that an ATSB safety recommendation remains open until it is satisfied the responsible organisation has addressed the safety issue identified.

To read the AMSA report: MO-2021-002 Fire on board BBC Rhonetal Port Hedland, Western Australia on 25 March 2021 readers are invited to SEE HERE

Material published here is kindly provided by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, 2022 ©.

Paul Ridgway, London, in Africa Ports & Ships

Edited by Paul Ridgway

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Added 23 September 2022


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The Funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Picture by WO1 Rupert Frere. UK MOD ©. Crown Copyright 2022 in Africa Ports & Ships
Picture by WO1 Rupert Frere. UK MOD ©. Crown Copyright 2022

The UK Armed Forces played a part in the procession for Her Majesty The Queen’s funeral and committal service on 19 September, in London and Windsor.

Marking the end to ten days of proceedings, service personnel representing a variety of regiments, ships and air stations that held a special relationship with Her Majesty The Queen took part in the funeral processions in London and Windsor.

The State Gun Carriage seen here was pulled by Naval Ratings.

Around 4,000 regular and reserve members of the armed forces with musicians from military bands, took part in the proceedings. This included over 3,000 personnel in central London, with 1,650 forming part of the procession from the Palace of Westminster to Westminster Abbey and procession from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner.

In Windsor, over 1,000 military personnel were involved in ceremonial activity, including 410 taking part in the procession from Albert Road, Windsor, to St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.

Paul Ridgway, London, in Africa Ports & Ships

Edited by Paul Ridgway

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Added 22 September 2022


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Rubber Tyre Gantries arrive for Durban Container Terminal, STS for Cape Town

Zhen Hua 35 reversing out from her berth on the North Quay of the Durban Container Terminal, prior to sailing from the port with her cargo of a single STS crane. Picture: Carol Malley / Facebook, in Africa Ports & Ships
Zhen Hua 35 reversing out from her berth on the North Quay of the Durban Container Terminal, prior to sailing from the port with her cargo of a single STS crane. Picture: Carol Malley / Facebook

The Chinese heavylift vessel ZHEN HUA 35 arrived in Durban last week with an important cargo – a number of Rubber Tyre Gantry cranes (RTGs) for the Durban Container Terminal.

There has been no announcement by Transnet Port Terminals to this effect but on Saturday 17 September the Zhen Hua was observed at the North Quay of DCT Pier 2 having completed discharging what looked like a significant number of the RTGs onto the quayside.

Because of distance combined with extremely unpleasant weather conditions and no suitable camera it wasn’t possible to count the number – it appeared to be at least 20, maybe a few more. We’ll seek confirmation and advise readers.

Also of interest was a solitary Liebherr Ship-to-Shore (STS) crane on the deck of the ship, presumably having arrived with the RTGs although not for discharge at Durban.

When Zhen Hua 35 sailed from Durban this week the ship’s next port of call was shown as Cape Town, with the deduction being that this is where the STS crane will be discharged.

Zhen Hua 35’s expected ETA at Cape Town is shown as Saturday 24 September 2022 at 08h00.

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Added 22 September 2022


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DP World wins again in latest judgement over Djibouti concession

DP World, which has been in litigation with China Merchants Port Holdings in Hong Kong since 2019 over the unlawful interference with its rights in Djibouti, has earned another ruling in its favour.

During this time, China Merchants has unsuccessfully sought to move the case to the courts of Djibouti.

The latest ruling means DP World can finally move to a full hearing on the merits against China Merchants before Hong Kong Courts.

This latest ruling, saw the Court of Appeal of Hong Kong dismissing the latest request by China Merchants Port Holdings seeking permission to file a second appeal before the Court of Final Appeal, against its previous decision that DP World’s suit against the company should be heard before Hong Kong Courts, and not the courts of Djibouti.

DP World is defending its rights as shareholder and concessionaire in Djibouti’s Doraleh Container Terminal. DP World was forced to withdraw from Djibouti by the local port authorities.

As a result, DP World and joint venture company Doraleh Container Terminal, are bringing multi-billion dollar claims against China Merchants alleging that it induced the government of Djibouti to expel DP World from the country and hand over the Doraleh terminal to China Merchants.

China Merchants investments in other ports and free zone projects in Djibouti, in breach of DP World’s exclusivity rights, will also be examined.

According to DP World, China Merchants surprisingly argued that the case should be heard by the Djibouti courts, despite Hong Kong being its home jurisdiction. The High Court of Hong Kong agreed with DP World’s arguments that the case should proceed in Hong Kong and ordered China Merchants to pay its legal costs.

The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal against that decision, and has now refused to grant China Merchants permission to file a second appeal before the Court of Final Appeal.

The Hong Kong court ruling follows a ruling in January 2022, by the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) against the Republic of Djibouti, awarding interim damages of US$200 million for damages caused over the period between for the period 23 February 2018 to 31 December 2020.

That was the eighth decision by an international court or tribunal in favour of DP World in its ongoing dispute with the Republic of Djibouti, and total damages due to DP World now amount to US$686.5 million, plus accruing interest, while the concession itself remains legally in force.

The Doraleh Container Terminal is the largest employer and biggest source of revenue in Djibouti and has operated at a profit every year since it opened.

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Added 22 September 2022


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IN CONVERSATION: Supply chain management in Africa needs a rethink – COVID changed everything, or did it?

The cost and speed of moving supplies around the world have gone up
Flickr/Wikimedia Commons

Lilac Nachum, City University of New York

COVID-19 has laid bare the vulnerability of the supply chain model that has dominated the way African firms have organised their production. In this model firms rely on multiple suppliers, many of whom are located far away (mostly in China).

With goods stuck at factories and ports around the world and shortages emerging, the pandemic disrupted the supply of most essentials. It also exposed the weakness of global interdependencies. Foremost among these were of course the essential medical devices needed to save people’s lives. Shortages were apparent also in many food items, consumer electronics and other necessities.

As we leave behind the worst of the pandemic and African managers across industries prepare for the post-COVID era, there is a need to reconsider the underlying logic of supply chains. That means rethinking the trade-offs between the benefits of globally dispersed production and the need for secure supply and quick delivery.

Three things should guide managers in this:

  • short-term versus long-term effects of COVID-19 on the organisation of production and delivery
  • changes imposed by the pending African Continental Free Trade Area
  • green industrialisation (sustainable growth).

As an international business professor with several decades of experience in researching supply chains in an interconnected world, I have come to realise that these are the issues that should shape supply chains in the post-COVID era.

1. Short-term versus long-term effects of COVID

Before COVID-19, the patterns of production and supply of most products were largely based on the benefits that could be derived from cross-country variations in costs and resources. The gains of low-cost trade enabled companies to move products across countries at low cost. The pandemic outbreak challenged this logic.

The need to secure supply and ensure speedy delivery – especially, for example, of medical supplies – replaced the cost, skills and resource availability considerations that guided supply chain arrangements in different times.

As managers reconfigure their supply chains for the post-COVID era, they ought to distinguish between short-term changes imposed by the pandemic and lasting ones that cause structural changes to the way supply chains operate.

Shortages of supply and bottlenecks in production are likely to end. In fact, some of them are already disappearing, so there may not be a need to introduce major changes in response.

In parallel, many of the traditional benefits of supply chains have remained in place. There are still economic reasons to follow many pre-COVID practices and resume some production routines that prevailed in this era. Country differences in costs, skills and resource availability continue to offer compelling reasons for supply chain operations.

In contrast, the growing digitisation of some supply chain transactions and the greater virtualisation of economic activity that took place during COVID-19 appear to have left a lasting effect. For example, digitisation created new opportunities to coordinate activities and communicate with consumers in more efficient ways than was previously conceived and to reduce costs.

These developments are likely to shape the supply chains of the future and should be reflected in the reconfiguration of supply chains.

2. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)

The free trade agreement among all African countries has immense economic significance. If successfully implemented, it is likely to change the rationale for local and regional organisation of production and supply across the continent.

High trade costs in Africa – by some measures five times higher than those elsewhere – have undermined the benefits of separating production activities across countries and supplying distant markets.

In July 2022, the African Continental Free Trade Area Council of Ministers announced an initiative on guided trade, a pilot phase that allows seven African countries to begin trading under the new regime.

By reducing the cost of cross-border activities, the agreement removes many barriers and increases potential gains from the separation of production activities across African countries. Low-cost trade makes it economically viable to connect separately located production facilities. This increases the potential advantages of specialisation and scale. It changes the economic rationale for the organisation of production.

Low trade costs among African countries can also transform a continent of 55 mostly small countries into a single market of 1.4 billion potential consumers. This market size is only slightly below those of India and China. It enables firms to reach out to remote consumers and reap the advantages of scale.

3. Environmentally sustainable supply chains

The need to rethink supply chains opens opportunities for green industrialisation.

African firms are well positioned to join ‘green global supply chains’ as suppliers of key natural resources. These include, for example, scarce minerals like cobalt and lithium that are abundant in many African countries and are in high demand in many green industries. They can leverage their favourable access to these key natural resources, creating their own supply chains or supplying those controlled by others.

There’s another advantage for African firms in these kinds of supply chains: being at early phases of industrialisation, they do not carry the burden of the past, as do many of their counterparts in other parts of the world. They do not have to cope with sunk costs of changing old infrastructure and equipment that is expensive and difficult to replace.

Management choices

As I have laid out, these contemporary developments call for rethinking fundamental decisions related to the configuration and management of supply chains in Africa.

The choices managers make in relation to these developments will have a material impact on their competitiveness and financial performance. African managers should embrace them heartily!The Conversation

Lilac Nachum, Professor of International Business, City University New York; Fulbright scholar to Africa, Visiting Professor at Strathmore Business School, City University of New York

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

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Added 22 September 2022


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Rhenus Group opens large new warehouse in Durban

Rhenus Group opens large new warehouse in Durban in Africa Ports & Ships
Rhenus Group opens large new warehouse in Durban.  Picture: Rhenus Group

Addressing the demand for warehousing in the KZN and Durban region, the Rhenus Group, a global logistics service provider, has launched a new storage warehouse in the port city.

The new Rhenus facility measures 7,700 square metres – growing the company’s warehousing capacity in Durban by more than 50 percent in just two years.

The facility plays an integral role in serving the Port of Durban, which handles 32 percent of all South Africa’s ships and over 60% of the country’s import/export containers.

According to Rhenus, the additional premises are set to attract new clients from various industry sectors – including ones that Rhenus currently services like automotive, healthcare and food and beverages.

The warehouse is strategically located at Northfield Business Park in the north of Durban, just 21 kilometres from the King Shaka International Airport and 24 kilometres from the Durban Container Terminal. The warehouse also offers market proximity to a large part of the country’s airfreight.

Included in the offering are a range of solutions such as loading and offloading, packing, cross-docking, picking, as well as the capability of handling graded food items. With its new cross-dock area, the warehouse boasts high efficiency and quick loading and unloading turnaround times.

According to Kishore Kanayelal, Regional Director KwaZulu-Natal at Rhenus South Africa, increased demand for warehouse space, as well as more service offerings, have been driving strong growth. With KwaZulu-Natal having experienced many challenging circumstances, the launch of a new warehouse comes as welcome relief to a community in need of good news.

“We are proud that we have created more than a hundred new jobs to service the demand in our area. These additional 7,700 square metres strengthen our local capabilities significantly,” said Kanayelal.

He said the launch of this new warehouse marks an exciting time for Rhenus as a business. “It showcases our commitment to delivering innovative solutions that meet our clients’ transport and warehousing needs.”

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Added 22 September 2022


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SA Port Statistics for the month of August 2022

The port of Ngqura, with MSC Sola on her berth at the container terminal, in Africa Ports & Ships
The port of Ngqura, with MSC Sola on her berth at the container terminal  Picture:  Transnet

Port statistics for the month of August 2022, covering the eight commercial ports under the administration of Transnet National Ports Authority, are now available.

The statistics below show port cargo throughputs, ships berthed and auto and container volumes handled together with bulk and dry bulk volumes.

Motor vehicles are measured in vehicle units are included in tonnage on the basis of 1 tonne per unit (correction on May report).

Containers are counted in TEUs, with each TEU representing 13.5 tonnes.

For comparison with the equivalent month of the previous year, August 2021 CLICK HERE

Port Statistics continue below….

Figures for the respective ports during August 2022 are:

Total cargo handled by tonnes during August 2022, including containers by weight

PORT August 2022 million tonnes
Richards Bay 5.943
Durban 7.701
Saldanha Bay 2.260
Cape Town 1.450
Port Elizabeth 1.130
Ngqura 1.282
Mossel Bay 0.060
East London 0.175
Total all ports 20.001 million tonnes

CONTAINERS (measured by TEUs) during August 2022
(TEUs include Deepsea, Coastal, Transship and empty containers all subject to being invoiced by NPA

PORT August 2022 TEUs
Durban 249,706
Cape Town 69,473
Port Elizabeth 16,810
Ngqura 56,620
East London 4,699
Richards Bay 87
Total all ports 397,395 TEU

MOTOR VEHICLES RO-RO TRAFFIC (measured by Units- CEUs) during August 2022

PORT August 2022 CEUs
Durban 46,085
Cape Town 38
Port Elizabeth 17,069
East London 7,456
Richards Bay 0
Total all ports 70,648 CEU

SHIP CALLS for August 2022

PORT August 2022 vessels gross tons
Durban 255 9,269,879
Cape Town 148 3,196,124
Richards Bay 121 4,805,125
Port Elizabeth 72 2,128,970
Saldanha Bay 55 3,480,275
Ngqura 76 2,466,854
East London 26 920,281
Mossel Bay 27 268,362
Total ship calls 773 26,535,870
— source TNPA, with adjustments regarding container weights by Africa Ports & Ships
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WHARF TALK: Shell MR2 class tanker MORNING GLORY

The MR2 oil products tanker Morning Glory on her berth at the Cape Town Tanker Basin. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The MR2 oil products tanker Morning Glory on her berth at the Cape Town Tanker Basin. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

Jay Gates, in Africa Ports & Ships

One of the world’s big two oil majors is the Anglo-Dutch company, Shell. Recent local history has most uninformed folk thinking that Shell are involved mainly in offshore exploration, by way of seismic surveys, and drilling for oil. When in fact, Shell have, for a long time, operated a large fuel retail operation throughout South Africa.

Such an operation requires constant replenishment, and Shell has, for over a century, run its own fleet of tankers to transport fuel around the globe, including to South Africa. As with almost all of the oil majors, Shell have reduced their own in-house fleet to a fraction of the size that it was, and now relies on chartered tonnage to fulfill its obligations.

On 15th September at 04h00, the MR2 class tanker MORNING GLORY (IMO 9877793) arrived at the Table Bay anchorage, from Mossel Bay. She remained out in the anchorage for just over two days, and on 17th September at 08h00, she entered Cape Town harbour and proceeded to the Tanker Basin in the Duncan Dock, to continue with her coastwise discharge.

On a grey overcast day, Morning Glory lies at her berth discharging her cargo of petroleum products. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
On a grey overcast day, Morning Glory lies at her berth discharging her cargo of petroleum products. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her coastwise discharge was another one of those elongated runs that encompasses not just two South African ports, but in this case, it covered no less than five ports. She had loaded her current load of much needed fuel at Sohar, in Oman, back on 16th August, and set sail for Durban, where she arrived at the Durban anchorage on 3rd September.

After remaining out at anchor for three days, she entered Durban harbour on 6th September, proceeding up the Bluff Channel and going alongside berth 7 at the Island View Oil Terminal. On arrival she was showing a draft of 12.1 metres. Two days later she sailed, now headed for East London, where she arrived on 9th September, now with an arrival draft of 9.1 metres.

After 24 hours discharging in the Buffalo River port, she sailed for Port Elizabeth, where she arrived at the Algoa Bay anchorage later that same day, now with a slightly reduced draft of 9 metres. After a 24 hour wait out in the anchorage, she entered Port Elizabeth harbour on 11th September and, as with her previous port, she spent just 24 hours alongside before departing on 12th September, and now headed for her fourth South African discharge port.

Morning Glory at the tanker berth discharging cargo. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Morning Glory at the tanker berth discharging cargo. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The next morning, 13th September, ‘Morning Glory’ arrived in Mossel Bay, and was connected up to the offshore single point mooring (SPM), which services the fuel requirements of this small port city. The harbour of Mossel Bay itself is too small for an MR2 tanker to enter, and the SPM Is located 1.5 nautical miles offshore in 20 metres of water.

The SPM is connected to the shore by an undersea pipeline, and inbound products, are sent to the Oil Storage Terminal at nearby Voorbaai, where Shell have a facility. The SPM is also occasionally used to export refined fuel products, from the local PetroSA GTL terminal, to ports along the South African coast.

Weighing in at 200 tons, the SPM is also known as a Catenary Anchor Leg Mooring (CALM), which was developed by Imodco and Shell. It is designed especially for use in shallow, and relatively calm, waters, such as Mossel Bay.

Built in 2020 by Hyundai Mipo Shipbuilding at Ulsan in South Korea, ‘Morning Glory’ is 183 metres in length and has a deadweight of 50,322 tons. She is powered by a single Hyundai MAN-B&W 6G50ME-C9.5 6 cylinder 2 stroke main engine, producing 9,765 bhp (7,180 kW) to drive a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 15 knots.

Morning Glory in Cape Town harbour. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Morning Glory in Cape Town harbour. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her auxiliary machinery includes three generators producing 1,050 kW each, and she has a single Kangrim Composite exhaust gas boiler, and a single Kangrim CHO oil fired boiler. She has 12 cargo tanks, with a cargo carrying capacity of 53,016 m3.

Whilst she was ordered by Meiji Shipping Ltd., of Tokyo, ‘Morning Glory’ is nominally owned by a ‘one ship’ brass doorplate company by the name of Xiang T115 HK International Ship Leasing Co. Ltd., of Hong Kong. She is Operated by Sinokor Merchant Maritime Ltd., of Seoul in South Korea, and she is managed by V Ships (Norway) AS, of Oslo.

One of 4 sisterships, ‘Morning Glory’ was the first ship built as part of the Project Solar shipbuilding exercise, which was set up by Shell International Trading and Shipping Co. Ltd. (STASCO), of London. Project Solar is for a total of 30 tankers to be built, operated by the Sinokor Group, and to be placed on long term charter to STASCO.

Morning Glory's accommodation and bridge block, and green funnel area. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Morning Glory’s accommodation and bridge block, and bright green funnel area. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

After completing her small discharge at Mossel Bay, ‘Morning Glory’ sailed for her fifth, and her final, discharge port on 14th September. She arrived at the Table Bay anchorage the next day, finally entering Cape Town on 17th September with an arrival draft of 9 metres, which compares to her first arrival draft at Durban of 12.1 metres.

By 19th September, she had completed her fifth, and final, discharge, which is an incredibly unusual voyage plan, and at 11h00 she sailed from Cape Town, for orders, with a reported ballast, passage, draft of 8.4 metres. Her course is currently set to take her around the Cape, and it is likely she is headed towards the Fujairah anchorage in the UAE, in anticipation of her next load on behalf of Shell.

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IN CONVERSATION: Tanzania and Zambia want to upgrade the ‘Uhuru Railway’ – but can they?

A TAZARA passenger train crossing a bridge along the route in Africa Ports & Ships
A TAZARA passenger train crossing a bridge along the route   TAZARA

Tim Zajontz, University of Freiburg

Half a century ago, the Tanzania-Zambia Railway (Tazara) stood out as a crucial symbol of Africa’s struggle for independence. The 1,860km-long railway connects Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia with Dar es Salaam at the Indian Ocean.

In November 1965, the unilateral declaration of independence by Rhodesia’s racist regime had left newly independent Zambia extremely vulnerable to its hostile southern neighbour. Zambia, a landlocked country, remained highly dependent on transport routes through Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa. It relied on these to import essential goods such as oil and coal, and to export copper, its biggest source of revenue.

To address this vulnerability, then president Kenneth Kaunda sought an alternative route to the sea. He found an ally in Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere. The idea of the “Freedom Railway” (Reli ya Uhuru in Kiswahili) was born.

The two leaders tried to solicit funding. But the World Bank, several western governments and the Soviet Union declined. Nyerere and Kaunda turned to Beijing.

The Tazara became China’s biggest foreign aid project, costing about US$415 million at the time. It was financed through a combination of interest-free loans and commodity credit arrangements.

Tazara’s construction between 1970 and 1975, and inauguration in 1976, were steeped in anti-imperialist narratives that emphasised Sino-African solidarity. The network significantly boosted China’s influence across Africa and deepened its social, political, cultural and economic ties with Tanzania and Zambia. The railway is still frequently invoked by officials on both sides as the cornerstone for the “all-weather friendship” between Africa and China.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Tazara transported a significant share of copper and mining inputs for Zambia’s state-owned mines. The railway increased the mobility of the rural population in both countries. Trading centres and small businesses emerged at its dozens of stations.

The railway recorded its peak performance in 1977/78, when it transported 1.27 million tonnes of cargo. But it never came close to its design capacity of 2.5 million tonnes per year.

From the late 1980s onwards, liberalisation of the transport sector and the privatisation of Zambia’s mines resulted in fierce competition from road transporters.

The eventual demise of white minority regimes in the region further diminished Tazara’s geopolitical significance. Despite longer distances, a higher proportion of Zambia’s trade started to move along the southern corridors via South Africa’s efficient ports.

Inadequate management structures and chronic under-investment in infrastructure and rolling stock have amplified the steady decline of Tazara’s cargo and passenger services since the 1990s. The shareholding governments had to regularly inject funds for outstanding salaries and urgent repairs.

Signs of renewal

In recent years, political will to refurbish the Freedom Railway – not least to reduce the expensive wear and tear on roads – has grown. However, tight public finances have prevented a major recapitalisation.

In August 2022, Zambia’s President Hakainde Hichilema made his first visit as head of state to Tanzania. After meetings with his counterpart Samia Suluhu Hassan, they announced that the two governments had agreed to rehabilitate Tazara. They sought to upgrade its tracks from Cape gauge (1,067mm) to standard gauge (1,435mm) through a public-private partnership.

An upgrade to standard gauge would enable the Uhuru railway to interlink with Tanzania’s new standard gauge railway. The standard gauge tracks have meanwhile reached the Dodoma region. Contracts for extensions to Tabora (about 740km to the north-west of Dar es Salaam) and Mwanza (about 350km further north) have already been awarded. An inter-governmental agreement between Rwanda and Tanzania to build a line from Isaka (on the Tabora-Mwanza route) to Kigali was signed in 2018. Further connections to Burundi, the DRC and Uganda are planned.

But upgrading Tazara to standard gauge would be expensive and hence less attractive for a private investor. It would also pose connectivity challenges in Zambia. Zambia’s national network still operates on Cape gauge, as do South Africa’s and Zimbabwe’s.

A senior Tanzanian official with knowledge of the matter told me that the standard gauge upgrade was part of a long-term plan under the African Union’s Agenda 2063. The immediate objective is to rehabilitate the existing infrastructure.

TAZARA freight train in action, in Africa Ports & Ships
TAZARA freight train in action  TAZARA

Ups and downs

Since its inauguration, Tazara’s impact has gone beyond the immediate goal to remedy Zambia’s transport emergency. The railway transformed the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Tanzanians and Zambians who lived – or decided to settle – along its route. This is meticulously documented by the historian Jamie Monson in her formidable book Africa’s Freedom Railway.

Economically however, Tazara’s glorious days have long passed.

In the 2014/2015 financial year Tazara conveyed only 87,860 metric tonnes of cargo. According to its own estimates, it needs to transport at least 600,000 tonnes a year to cover its costs.

The situation has improved slightly since then, as a new management team brought down travel times and attracted new clients. Tazara’s governing bodies also decided to allow private operators to use its tracks.

Yet, the challenges for the company remain huge. The biggest one is the outdated, in some cases inoperative, infrastructure. Dilapidated tracks, bridges and buildings, a dysfunctional signalling system and insufficient rolling stock prevent Tazara from meeting market demands.

The Tazara Authority is also grappling with crippling debts.

In 2016, the shareholding governments – under the rigid control of the late President John Magufuli – rejected a 30-year concession proposed by a Chinese consortium. Irreconcilable differences about the terms and conditions arose which I documented in an article titled “Win-win” contested.

Evidently, the times have changed. China is now a global political and economic powerhouse. Faced with massive overcapacity in its home market, the country’s construction and railway firms are seeking opportunities elsewhere. For Chinese firms Tazara is no longer an aid project but an investment opportunity.

Rails on the TAZARA in Africa Ports & Ships
Rail tracks on the TAZARA

New momentum

Under Hichilema and Hassan there seems to be new momentum for the privatisation of the Freedom Railway. This is for several reasons.

Hichilema has long been considered a free marketeer. Hassan, for her part, has markedly departed from Magufuli’s confrontational approach to foreign investors. She has openly called for more public-private partnerships.

In addition, there is the factor of mounting fiscal pressure felt in Lusaka and, in recent years, also in Dodoma.

Under Zambia’s recently agreed International Monetary Fund rescue package all state expenses will be put to utmost scrutiny.

For its part, Tanzania’s sovereign debt has rapidly increased since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The World Bank adjusted its assessment of the country’s risk of debt distress from low to moderate early this year. As I recently argued in the Review of African Political Economy, Africa’s current debt crisis is likely to lead to a new wave of privatisations across the continent.

China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation was recently tasked with conducting yet another feasibility study for Tazara’s rehabilitation. It sent a 40-person delegation to visit Tazara in early September 2022.

The train towards privatisation seems to be picking up speed.

But the issue of incompatibility between old and new networks shows that Africa’s current “railway renaissance” requires profound regional and continental coordination and planning. Integrating Africa’s railways will be a monumental task, considering that the greater part of the continent’s network still operates on Cape or metre gauge – a colonial legacy that hampers railway inter-connectivity to this day.The Conversation

Tim Zajontz, Lecturer (Freiburg) & Research Fellow (Stellenbosch), University of Freiburg

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

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Suez Canal users face double-digit rates hike from January

The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) has announced new double-digit transit toll increases that will come into effect from 1 January 2023.

The news for shipping operators is that from that date they will face an increase of 15% across most vessels crossing between the Red and Mediterranean Seas.

Dry bulk and cruise ships however will pay an increase of 10% above current fees.

According to SCA chairman and managing director, Admiral Ossama Rabiee, the SCA is keen to apply “a balanced and flexible strategy on pricing and marketing that serves its own interest and that of its clients, and that takes into consideration the various changes in the global economy through clear mechanisms that include calculating a vessel’s transit tolls depending on the savings it achieves by transiting through the canal”.

Another way of looking at it, the SCA is saying to ship operators, you have had your turn with hiking rates to phenomenal effect – now it is our turn.

The problem with that is that this comes at a time when shipping rates are falling by as much as 80% year-on-year and what it may lead to is a return to slow steaming and the increased use of the route around the Cape of Good Hope on the return journey back to Asia, as a means of offsetting these high increases as freight rates drop.

Admiral Rabiee said the increased tolls come in light of “the SCA’s keeping up-to-date with all the market changes in the maritime transport sector” and the “ever-increasing daily charter rates for most types of vessels that have reached unprecedented levels.”

In that respect and particularly as it affects the container ships, those “unprecedented levels” have come and gone. The SCA should have hiked its rates more strongly a year ago when there was justification in their argument.

The SCA said determining the Suez Canal transit tolls involves several factors, but the most significant is the average freight rates for various vessel types.

“In this regard, there were considerable and consecutive increases within the past period, especially in container ships’ freight rates, compared with those recorded before the Covid-19 pandemic,” Admiral Rabiee said.

According to the SCA, daily charter rates for crude oil tankers increased on average by 88% compared with 2021 and 11% on LNG carriers.

Admiral Rabiee said the increases are “inevitable and a necessity in light of the current global inflation rates that have reached more than 8%”.

The SCA maintains that shipping lines make savings by using the canal, as compared with using the long way around the Cape.

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CMF Naval forces partner in Seychelles to build cooperation

CMF gathers in Seychelles, in Africa Ports & Ships

The world’s largest multinational naval partnership, Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), Sunday launched a two-week mission on Sunday 18 September in the Indian Ocean island nation of the Seychelles together with other international organisations.

The intention is to strengthen regional collaboration and enhance operational readiness.

CMF is leading Operation Southern Readiness in partnership with the Seychelles People’s Defence Force, European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR), and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Also participating is India, which began partnering with CMF earlier this year.

This is CMF’s first iteration of Operation Southern Readiness.

“Seychelles is a strong regional maritime partner and we are very grateful for them hosting this new opportunity,” said Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and CMF.

“We are also excited to work with other international partners, including India, to train and build capacity in a vibrant way.”

Nations including Australia, Canada, France, India, Italy, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, the United Kingdom and the United States are slated to participate with personnel, ships and aircraft during several training events.

Multinational forces will conduct training on visit, board, search and seizure techniques; search and rescue operations; maritime law and information sharing.

“The training is designed to enable our partners to meet face-to-face and learn from one another and is only possible because of the teamwork and commitment from all partners,” said Royal Canadian Navy Cmdr. Alexis Dieryckx, CMF’s senior mission planner.

“It’s all about building relationships because relationships are the fundamental building blocks for greater collaboration at sea.”

CMF consists of 34 member nations whose forces operate in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Northern Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean. CMF nations are united in upholding international rules-based order to protect the free flow of commerce, ensure regional maritime security and deter illicit activity by non-state actors.

Picture above: CMF

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Korean shipyards secure orders for eight ships from African operators

KSOE shipyard in Africa Ports & Ships
Picture: KSOE shipyard

Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering (KSOE) says in a regulatory filing that it has taken orders for eight ships from two African ship operators.

Four of the vessels on order are 1,400-TEU container ships fueled by liquefied natural gas (LNG), with an option for a further two, with delivery in stages as from the first half of 2025.

These will be built by Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries, an affiliate company of KSOE.

The other four are petrochemical product tankers capable of carrying fuels such as petrol, diesel oil and kerosene.

The 50,000-ton petrochemical carriers, to be built by Hyundai Vietnam Shipbuilding, a unit of Hyundai Mipo Dockyard, will be delivered during the second half of 2025.

The names of the two ship operators who placed the orders was not disclosed.

KSOE, is the holding company of shipbuilding, oil refining and machinery conglomerate HD Hyundai, formerly Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings. It has three major affiliates — Hyundai Heavy Industries, Hyundai Mipo Dockyard and Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries.

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Second of three patrol vessels for Senegal is launched

The newly launched NIANI, the second of thre Piriou OPV 58S patrol vessels, in Africa Ports & Ships
The OPV 58 offshore patrol vessel, of which the Senegal Navy has three under construction.  Piriou Group

The second of three offshore patrol vessels for the Senegalese Navy has taken place at the Piriou Group shipyard in Concarneau in Brittany, France.

Named NIANI, the OPV 58 vessel is designed for surveillance, identification and intervention purposes.

As Niani was being launched, the first of the three OPVs was in the fitting out stage nearby, ahead of her undergoing sea trials. The third of the trio will be launched shortly, it was learned.

Construction of the three vessels is spread over a period of 44 months with a completion time set for the European summer 2024. The contract was entered into in November 2019.

The vessels are being built with the support and expertise of partner company Kership and include a support period in Senegal spread over several years.

“It is an important event for this boat but also more broadly for the OPV 58S programme,” said Vincent Faujour, Chairman of Pirious Group.

He thanked the motivation of the Piriou and Kership personnel and the ongoing working partnership with the representatives of the Senegalese Naval Staff. “We are progressing according to schedule,” Faujour said.

The patrol vessels have an overall length of 62m, a width of 9.5m, draught of 3m, a speed of 21 knots and a range of 21 days or 4,500 nautical miles at 12 knots. The hulls and superstructure are built of steel and aluminium and the vessels will carry 2 intervention RHIBs on stern ramps and have space for two 20ft containers.

They have accommodation for 48 personnel including a crew of 24.

In addition to their surveillance, identification and intervention technologies, the OPV 58s possess anti-surface and anti-aircraft weapon systems.

They will be equipped with MARTE MK2/N anti-ship missiles. With the ability to strike at ranges in excess of 30 kilometres and their fire-and-forget capability, these missiles will provide the means to the Senegalese Navy to enforce their maritime superiority.

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Mozambique fishers complain of foreign trawlers taking their catch

The fishing community in Mozambique’s southern Gaza province have emphasised their concern over the presence of foreign fishing trawlers they accuse of carrying out illegal fishing in Mozambique waters.

Their concern has been expressed to Fisheries Minister Lídia Cardoso. They say the dwindling catches in the waters offshore of Gaza province is a direct result of fishing trawlers whose origin they say are unknown.

Minister Cardoso admitted that Mozambique is unable to provide effective inspection of fishing activities in the country’s waters. This is despite Mozambique having acquired several long-range high-speed French-built patrol craft obtained as a result of the EMATUM scandal.

The fishers met with Ms Cardoso in the town of Xai Xai who was on a working visit.

She said there were plans to integrate the country into the SADC surveillance system, which will then make it possible to combat illegal fishing.

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Saudi Port of Jazan City inaugurated for primary & downstreaming industries

One of the concept drawing of Jazan City and port complex in Africa Ports & Ships
One of the concept drawing of Jazan City and port complex. Picture Jazan City / Hutchison Ports

Hutchison Ports announced last week that earlier, on 7 September, the port of Jazan City on the Red Sea coast was inaugurated by Prince Mohammed bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz, the Governor of Jazan Region, for Primary and Downstream Industries (JCPDI Port).

Also present at the inauguration were Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz, the Deputy Governor, and the Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources, the Minster of Investment as well as other high ranking government and private-sector officials.

The President of the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu (RCJY*), Eng. Khalid Al-Salem praised the achievements made at JCPDI and revealed that a range of investments and partnerships had been inaugurated recently with many local and international partners.

These included the establishment of the Saudi Silk Road Company to attract Chinese industrial investments to the Kingdom, the investment and operation agreement with Hutchison Ports, as well as the agreement to establish an alumina refinery with Hangzhou Jinjiang with an investment capital estimated at 4 billion Saudi Riyals (SAR at 3.75 per US$).

Al-Salem added that the total existing investments at JCPDI sum up to about 88 billion SAR, though the city is still under construction. He revealed that an investment agreement was signed to establish a pasta production factory, in addition to signing a memorandum of understanding between the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu and the Saudi Coffee Company, besides another memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of Investment and Hutchison Ports Jazan.

Industrial growth

Eng. Khalid Al-Salem pointed out that the port is one of the most critical enablers supporting JCPDI’s industrial growth. Al-Salem clarified that the port consists, in its first phase, of three industrial berths, an SPM that provides services to Saudi Aramco Refinery, three commercial berths for handling containers including general cargo and bulk goods, in addition to storage yards with special areas for storing and monitoring refrigerated containers.

Ship-handling capacity

The RCJY president also revealed that the port has a berth with a depth of 16.5 metres, which enables receiving modern fifth-generation ships with a capacity reaching more than 21,000 TEU, and that can also handle general cargo and bulk cargo ships with a capacity of more than 100,000 tons per ship. The port has a total berth length of 1250 metres for containers, bulk and general cargo, with a design capacity of one million TEU per year and around four million tons of cargo, in addition to a liquid terminal for oil tankers of Saudi Aramco.

Mr Andy Tsoi (second from left), Managing Director of Hutchison Ports, Middle East and Africa and The Royal Commission in Jubail and Africa Ports & Ships
Mr Andy Tsoi (second from left), Managing Director of Hutchison Ports, Middle East and Africa and The Royal Commission in Jubail and Yanbu.

Furthermore, the Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources, Bandar Al-Khorayef, stressed that Jazan region is capable of attracting investments and of achieving the goals of the Saudi Vision 2030 in the sectors of industry, tourism, and entertainment.

He stated that the ports are the cornerstone of any industrial development and that JCPDI Port will be a key driver of the logistics services in the Kingdom and the Middle East, due to its strategic location as the port sits on a global trade corridor.

Eric Ip, Group Managing Director of Hutchison Ports, said: “We have been in Saudi Arabia for 22 years, and it is a very important market for Hutchison Ports.

“The inauguration ceremony marks a new chapter for us in the Kingdom and we look forward to working closely with the Royal Commission to make Hutchison Ports Jazan a success and help JCPDI reach its full potential and contribute to the Saudi Vision 2030.”


Edited by Paul Ridgway

Paul Ridgway, London, in Africa Ports & Ships


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WHARF TALK:   Royal visits to South Africa – in the 20th Century

HMS Vanguard in Cape Town harbour during the Royal Tour of 1947, with assistance from the tug John X Merriman 

Story by Jay Gates

Jay Gates, in Africa Ports & Ships

Today, we mark the day of the State Funeral of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. Whilst she was no stranger to South African shores, and was the last Royal to visit by sea, it is often forgotten that, as with the 19th Century, that there were a number of other Royal visits to South Africa in the early part of the 20th Century.

At the start of the 20th Century, the decision was taken that the then heir to the British Throne, Prince George, the Duke of Cornwall and York, should make a world tour of the Dominions, which included South Africa, and the two colonies of Natal, and the Cape of Good Hope. In 1901, the Boer War was still underway, and the planned call in South Africa was potentially controversial, due to the war still being in progress.

The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, 1901 in Africa Ports & Ships
The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, 1901

However, at the time, the British Government in London considered that it was important that the heir to the throne be seen to visit the territory, and to be seen supporting ‘loyal South Africans’. One forgets that pre-1948, many English speaking South Africans considered themselves to be British, as the concept of ‘South African’ did not really come into being until the 1910 Union of South Africa.

HMS Ophir 1901, in Africa Ports & Ships
HMS Ophir 1901

The decision was taken to commission the Orient Steam Navigation Company liner, ‘Ophir’, to serve as a Royal Yacht for the entire tour. Renamed ‘HMS Ophir’, the Officers and deck crew were to be Royal Navy personnel, but the engine room staff, from the Orient SNC, were retained. The vessel would be under the command of Commodore Alfred Winsloe RN for the duration of the cruise.

She was built in 1891 by the Robert Napier Shipyard at Glasgow, and was 142 metres in length with a gross tonnage of 6,814 tons. She was powered by two triple expansion engines, served by five coal-fired boilers, producing 10,000 bhp (7,500 kW) and driving twin screws for a service speed of 18.5 knots.

HMS Juno 1901 in Africa Ports & Ships
HMS Juno 1901

She sailed from Portsmouth on 16th May 1901, and by early August they had reached Mauritius. On 8th August ‘HMS Ophir’ sailed from Port Louis, escorted by ‘HMS St. George’, and ‘HMS Juno’, and headed for Durban, where they arrived on 13th August. As ‘HMS Ophir’ was too large to cross the bar in to Durban Harbour, she anchored offshore, and the Royal Party were transferred to one of the harbour tugs to make their way into Durban harbour for a successful two day visit to the city, and the Natal colony.

On arrival at Durban, the two escorting warships continued on their journey, and made their way to Simonstown. When the time came to depart from Durban, on 15th August 1901, ‘HMS Ophir’ was to be escorted to Cape Town by ‘HMS Gibraltar’. After an uneventful passage, they arrived at Simonstown on 18th August. The Duke and Duchess left the vessel the next morning and proceeded to Cape Town by train, for a four day visit.

HMS Gibraltar 1901 in Africa Ports & Ships
HMS Gibraltar 1901

One of the activities that the Duke carried out during his stay in Cape Town occurred on the last day of the tour when, on 22nd August 1901, he laid the cornerstone of the beautiful St. George’s Cathedral, designed by Sir Herbert Baker. The next day, 23rd August 1901, ‘HMS Ophir’ departed South Africa, bound for St. Helena, with the escort provided by ‘HMS Naiad’, and ‘HMS Terpsichore’. The tour of the future King to South Africa was over. It would be another twenty years before another Royal Tour was to arrive in South Africa.

Of the escorting Royal Navy warships for the visit of ‘HMS Ophir’ during the South African part of her world tour, all five of them were Cruisers. Two were Edgar class Cruisers, two were Apollo class Cruisers and one was an Eclipse class Cruiser.

HMS St George, 1892 in Africa Ports & Ships
HMS St George, 1892

Both ‘HMS St. George’, and ‘HMS Gibraltar’, were Edgar class Cruisers, 118 metres in length and with a displacement of 7,350 tons. They had two triple expansion steam engines, producing 12,000 bhp (8,949 kW), driving twin screws for a service speed of 20 knots. They had crews of 544, and were armed with 2 x 9.2” (234mm) guns, 10 x 6” (152mm) guns, 12 x 6 pounder guns and 4 x 14” (360mm) torpedo tubes.

Launched in 1892, ‘HMS St. George’ was built at the Earle Shipyard in Hull, and was broken up in 1920, and sistership ‘HMS Gibraltar’ was launched in 1892 at the Robert Napier Shipyard in Glasgow, and was broken up in 1923.

HMS Terpsichore, escorting HMS Ophir, in Africa Ports & Ships
HMS Terpsichore, escorting HMS Ophir

Both ‘HMS Naiad’, and ‘HMS Terpsichore’, were Apollo class Cruisers, 96 metres in length and with a displacement of 3,600 tons. They had two triple expansion steam engines, served by five boilers, producing 7,000 bhp (5,220 kW), driving twin screws for a service speed of 19.7 knots. They had crews of 234, and were armed with 2 x 6” (152mm) guns, 6 x 4.7” (120mm) guns, 8 x 6 pounder guns, and 4 x 14” (360mm) torpedo tubes.

Launched in 1890, ‘HMS Naiad’ was built at the Vickers Shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness, and was broken up in 1922. She had the distinction during the Boer War of having 117 of her men serving in Naval Brigades ashore at certain periods. Her sistership, ‘HMS Terpsichore’, was launched in 1890 at the John Thomson shipyard at Clydebank, and was broken up in 1914.

An Eclipse class Cruiser, ‘HMS Juno’ was built in 1895 by Vickers Shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness, and was broken up in 1920. She was 107 metres in length and had a displacement of 5,690 tons. She had two, inverted, triple expansion engines, served by eight boilers, producing 9,600 bhp (7,200 kW), driving twin screws for a service speed of 18.5 knots. She had a crew of 450, and was armed with 5 x 6” (152mm) guns, 6 x 4.7” (120mm) guns, 6 x 3 pounder guns and 3 x 18” (450mm) torpedo tubes.

Prince Edward 1925 on board HMS Repulse, in Africa Ports & Ships
Prince Edward, later King Edward VIII on board HMS Repulse 1925

On his return to England, the Duke of Cornwall eventually acceded to the British Throne as King George V, and in 1925 his eldest son, Edward, Prince of Wales, followed his father’s footsteps and embarked on a world tour.

On 28th March 1925, the Royal Navy Battleship, ‘HMS Repulse’, sailed from Portsmouth for a Royal Tour of West Africa, South Africa and South America, with Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, aboard. Although a warship, ‘HMS Repulse’ had received a squash court, a sauna and a bubble bath, solely for the use of the Prince of Wales during the cruise. She was commanded by Captain Herbert Hope RN.

After tours to the British West African colonies of Gambia, Sierra Leone, Gold Coast and Nigeria, ‘HMS Repulse’ arrived in Cape Town on 30th April 1925. After a short stay in Cape Town, Prince Edward left on his tour by a special Royal Train, and with two of the carriages built especially by South African Railways (SAR), for this royal journey. The tour was to take in the whole of South Africa, Basutoland, Swaziland, Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia, and the Bechuanaland Protectorate.

On 2nd May, ‘HMS Repulse’ sailed from Cape Town, and whilst the Prince of Wales proceeded on his tour, ‘HMS Repulse’ spent time visiting other South African ports, including Durban. The tour came to an end on 29th July, when the Royal party returned to ‘HMS Repulse’, which was awaiting their arrival back at Cape Town. She sailed for St. Helena, where she arrived on 3rd August 1925.

For ‘HMS Repulse’, the Royal Tour was not her first call at a South African port, as she had conducted a world cruise, in the company of the Battlecruiser HMS Hood some two years previously. She had arrived at Cape Town on 22nd December 1923, and stayed until 2nd January 1924, where she remained anchored out in Table Bay, but open to public tours throughout. After sailing from Cape Town she made brief, one day, offshore anchorage stops at Mossel Bay on 3rd January 1924, East London on 5th January and Durban on 6th January, before departing for Zanzibar.

HMS Repulse 1925, in Africa Ports & Ships
HMS Repulse 1925

Her last visit took place in 1941, when she escorted a trooping convoy from Freetown, in Sierra Leone, to Durban, where she arrived on 3rd October 1941. She sailed from Durban, bound for Mombasa, on 7th October, and from there to the Far East, where she met her destiny in December 1941. On 10th December 1941, she was sailing in company of ‘HMS Prince of Wales’, which had called at Cape Town when outbound to the Far East, and in a decisive battle, prior to the fall of Singapore, both battleships were sunk by Japanese dive bombers.

She was built in 1916 at the John Brown Shipyard in Clydebank, and was 242 metres long, with a displacement of 26,000 tons. She was powered by two steam turbines, served by 42 boilers, producing 112,000 bhp (84,000 kW), driving four screws for a service speed of 31.5 knots. With a crew of 1,242, HMS Repulse was armed with 6 x 15” (381mm) guns, 17 x 4” (102mm) guns, 2 x 3” (76mm) guns, and 4 x 2 21” (533mm) torpedo tubes.

She arrived back in England in October 1925, and Prince Edward went on to become King Edward VIII in January 1936. However, in the great scandal of the day, he abdicated the throne in December 1936 in order to marry the twice divorced American Socialite, Mrs. Wallis Simpson. This elevated his younger brother, Arthur, the Duke of York, to the crown, and he became King George VI, who was to become the third son, of King George V, to visit South Africa in later years.

Prince George, Duke of Kent 1934 in Africa Ports & Ships
Prince George, Duke of Kent 1934

Confusingly, the second of the brothers to visit South Africa was Prince George himself, the Duke of Kent. He arrived for a Royal Tour in 1934, not aboard a Royal Yacht, nor a Royal Navy warship, but as a VIP passenger on a scheduled passenger liner. On 5th February 1934, the Union-Castle Mailship ‘RMS Caernarvon Castle’ arrived in Cape Town, from Southampton, under the command of Captain C Stuart. She was escorted into Cape Town by ‘HMS Dorsetshire’.

Aboard ‘RMS Caernarvon Castle’ was Prince George, who embarked on a two month tour of Southern Africa, again on a Royal Train, but not before climbing Table Mountain with Jan Smuts. He then went on to visit the whole of South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia, the Belgian Congo and Portuguese Angola. In April 1934, at Lobito in Angola, Prince George boarded another Union-Castle mailship, ‘RMS Windsor Castle’ and sailed back to Southampton. Prince George died in an aircraft crash in 1942.

RMS Caernarvon Castle, pre 1937 in Cape Town harbour in Africa Ports & Ships
RMS Caernarvon Castle, pre 1937 in Cape Town harbour

The mailship ‘RMS Caernarvon Castle’ was built in 1926 at the Harland and Wolff shipyards in Belfast. She was 200 metres in length, with a gross tonnage of 20,122 tons. She was the first motorship to be utilised on the South African mail service, and was powered by an 8 cylinder, 2 stroke, double acting B&W engine, producing 15,000 bhp (11,185 kW) to give her a service speed of 16 knots. She was heavily rebuilt in 1937, with new engines and with just a single funnel, and she was scrapped in 1963.

The famous ‘RMS Windsor Castle’ was one of two sisterships, and one of only fifteen passenger vessels in the world to have four funnels. Built in 1921 at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, she was 201 metres in length and had a gross tonnage of 18,967 tons. She was powered by two steam turbines, producing 15,000 bhp (11,185 kW), driving twin screws for a service speed of 17 knots. She was also heavily rebuilt in 1937, with new engines and her four funnels were reduced to two. She was lost in March 1943, being sunk off Algiers by German bombers.

The four-funnel Windsor Castle at Cape Town 1937. Picture: Flickr in Africa Ports & Ships
The four-funnel Windsor Castle at Cape Town 1937. Picture: Flickr

After the end of the Second World War, it was decided that King George VI would embark on a tour of Southern Africa, accompanied by his wife, Queen Elizabeth, and his two daughters, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret. The journey to, and from, England would take place on the last battleship ever built for the Royal Navy, ‘HMS Vanguard’. It would be the most famous of all the Royal visits to South Africa.

On 17th February 1947, ‘HMS Vanguard’, commanded by Rear Admiral William Agnew RN, arrived off Cape Town, accompanied initially by three Simonstown based warships of the Royal Navy, namely ‘HMS Nigeria’, ‘HMS Acteon’, and ‘HMS Nereide’ and then by the three newest frigates of the South African Navy, ‘HMSAS Transvaal’, ‘HMSAS Natal’, and ‘HMSAS Good Hope’.

HMS Vanguard in Cape Town harbour, 1947 in Africa Ports & Ships
HMS Vanguard in Cape Town harbour, 1947

There is virtually nobody who has not seen at least one photograph of ‘HMS Vanguard’ in Cape Town harbour, or heard of the famous ‘dedication’ speech made by Princess Elizabeth on the occasion of her 21st Birthday during the tour. Her promise to dedicate her life to the service of her people, was a pledge that she kept, and she maintained it until the day before she passed away last week, at the age of 96 years, and after a magnificent reign of 70 years.

The Royal Tour took the route of those that had come before, once more by the famous SAR ‘White’ Royal Train. The tour ran for a two month period, covered almost 10,000 miles, with almost 5,000 miles being in the Royal Train, and took in South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, Swaziland, Basutoland and the Bechuanaland Protectorate. Whilst the Royal party were away on tour, HMS Vanguard paid visits to East London, Port Elizabeth and Durban.

King George VI and Queen Mary boarding HMS Vanguard in Cape Town harbour at the conclusion of their Royal Visit, 1947
King George VI and Queen Mary boarding HMS Vanguard in Cape Town harbour at the conclusion of the Royal Visit, 1947.  Picture: Transnet Heritage Library

The tour ended on 24th April 1947, when HMS Vanguard sailed from Cape Town, with the Royal Family onboard, bound for St. Helena. She was led out of Cape Town harbour by SAR&H Pilot Hodges, accompanied by a gaggle of the famous SAR&H Steam tugs, all dressed overall. Once outside the harbour she was escorted once more, under the guise of ‘Operation Tot Siens’, by the three South African Navy Frigates. She arrived back safely in Portsmouth on 11th May 1947.

An interesting aside is that ‘HMS Vanguard’ was the first ship that the young Princess Elizabeth was called upon to launch. She was launched in November 1944, but completed after the end of the Second World War, being commissioned in 1946. Built by the John Brown shipyard in Clydebank, ‘HMS Vanguard’ was 248 metres long, with a displacement of 45,200 tons.

She was powered by four steam turbines, served by 8 Admiralty, 3 drum, boilers to produce 130,000 bhp (97,000 kW),driving four screws for a service speed of 30 knots. She had a crew of 1,975, and was armed with 8 x 15” (381mm) guns, 16 x 5.25” (133mm) guns, and bristled with no less than 73 x 1.6” (40mm) Bofors Anti-Aircraft guns.

This was not the last time that South Africa would see the arrival by sea, of a member of the British Royal Family. However, the next visit would take 47 years to come about. Sadly, the next year, 1948, heralded the start of the long, dark, years of Apartheid, and it was not until 1994 that South Africa emerged into a bright new world, and a readmission into the Commonwealth of Nations.

RMY Britannia in Table Bay, March 1995 in Africa Ports & Ships
HMY Britannia in Table Bay, March 1995

On 19th March 1995, Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by her husband Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, arrived at Cape Town International Airport, and then transferred directly to Simonstown, by helicopter, to board the Royal Yacht ‘HMY Britannia’, that had arrived before her. That night, HMY Britannia sailed from Simonstown, and the next day, 20th March 1995, under the command of Rear Admiral Sir Robert Woodard RN, ‘HMY Britannia’ arrived off Cape Town , and proceeded into the V&A dock, where she berthed at the famous Waterfront, to be met by President Nelson Mandela.

After a full programme of opening Parliament, attending service at St. George’s Cathedral, Queen Elizabeth continued with her short tour of South Africa, and on 21st March ‘HMY Britannia’ sailed from Cape Town, bound for Durban, where she arrived on 24th March 1995. Whilst alongside at Durban, the Queen used her for an official state banquet, including the band of the Royal Marines conducting a ‘Beating the Retreat’ ceremony on the quayside.

Whilst in Durban, Queen Elizabeth II continued with the tradition of having lunch at the Royal Hotel. On 25th March, ’HMY Britannia’ sailed from Durban, and Queen Elizabeth II flew out of Durban Airport, to return to England. It was not to be her last visit to South Africa, but it was the last time that a British member of the Royal Family would arrive in a South African port by sea. Sadly, ‘HMY Britannia’ was retired from service in 1997, and is now preserved as a museum ship, open to the public, at Leith Harbour, in Edinburgh.

President Nelson Mandela and Queen Elizabeth II at Cape Town docks, 20 March 1995 in Africa Ports & Ships
President Nelson Mandela and Queen Elizabeth II at Cape Town docks, 20 March 1995

Built in 1953 at the John Brown shipyard at Clydebank, ‘HMY Britannia’ was 126 metres in length, with gross tonnage of 5,769 tons. She was powered by two Pametrada steam turbines, producing 12,000 bhp (8,900 kW), for a service speed of 21.5 knots. She had a crew of 271, and in wartime was expected to be converted into a hospital ship, a role she never carried out.

Queen Elizabeth returned to South Africa for the last time in 1999, when she came to Durban on 9th November 1999, to be met by President Thabo Mbeki, and to open the 16th Commonwealth Heads of State Meeting, being held in the city. She arrived by air, stayed for the week at the Royal Hotel and departed by air, on 15th November 1999.

Since then, there have been many other visits by members of the Royal Family, including Prince Charles, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince William, Prince Harry, the Duchess of Sussex, and the Duke of Kent. All have been by air. The era of the Royal Tour to South Africa by sea, lasted from 1860 to 1995 but it is now, sadly, over.

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Progress reported on Durban’s main container road to & from port

Not congestion on the highway featured but most of these trucks will have used the section quoted to arive in the Bayhead area of the port in Africa Ports & Ships
Not congestion on the highway featured but most of these trucks will have used the section quoted to arive in the Bayhead area of the port of Durban.  Picture: Terry Hutson

According to the eThekwini Municipality (Durban), the upgrade of the M7 Solomon Mahlangu Drive (former Edwin Swales VC Drive) is progressing well, with Phase 1 of construction underway.

The significance of this is the project forms part of the freight network to and from the Durban Harbour to the N2 and N3 road highways, and is aimed at alleviating congestion, and accommodating trucks and other transport networks.

Until recently much of this concrete road was marred with large potholes, caused by the excessive amount of heavy traffic arising as the main route from inland towards the port container and liquid bulk terminals.

Project Manager for the Roads Provision Department, Viren Beeharilal, said the through the project aims at alleviating any congestion or problems associated with expansion at the harbour and strains placed on the road network.

“Phase one is in construction at the moment and basically it’s an additional lane in each direction from Bellair Road intersection, going up to the N2 and in the opposite direction, as well from the N2 up to Bellair Road,” Beeharilal said.

He explained that the eThekwini Transport Authority is the client department, while the construction, including supervision and the design of the project, is undertaken by Roads Provision, which is the implementing agent, on behalf of eThekwini Transport Authority.

The project is expected to be completed by 2024.

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President Ruto reverses rule of clearing containers inland, Mombasa reinstated

One of Kenya Railway's magnifice standard gauge container trains at the Naivasha Dry Port, in Africa Ports & Ships
One of Kenya Railway’s impressive standard gauge container trains at the Naivasha Dry Port.  Picture: KR

Kenya’s newly elected President William Ruto has fulfilled one of his promises by ordering that containers arriving by sea at Mombasa will once again be cleared at the port, and not inland at the inland terminals near Nairobi.

To much applause he announced this at a public gathering in Nairobi. The controversial rule that containers were to be railed by freight train along the standard gauge railway to an inland depot near Nairobi, where they would be custom cleared, was introduced in 2019 by his predecessor, President Uhuru Kenyatta, who has completed his terms in office.

Ruling opposed

This ruling was strongly opposed by those affected in Mombasa, including the custom clearing firms and local importers at the port city.

It was said that the rule was introduced as a means of forcing container traffic to use the SGR railway, which is not meeting its hoped-for targets. This has left Kenya heavily in debt to the Chinese Exim bank that loaned the money to build the railway.

In his announcement President Ruto said: “I will be issuing instructions for clearing of goods and other attended operational issues to revert to the port of Mombasa as I made a commitment to Kenyans. This will restore thousands of jobs in the city of Mombasa.”

Speaking after the president’s announcement, Mombasa’s governor Abdulswamad Shariff Nassir, welcomed the decision, saying the need to repay the debt is not a reason to kill business at the city’s port.

“We have been fighting for it for a long time and we said openly, even if it was to repay the SGR debt, there are other ways to repay it. It’s not a must to kill the economy of one part of the country.”

Not attracting sufficient traffic

Though of excellent engineering and technical quality, the SGR has not succeeded in attracting sufficient traffic to cover the almost US$4.5 billion debt, of which $2.5 billion was financed by commercial loans from the Chinese Eximbank. As a result the Chinese have declined to continue with additional loans to extend the standard gauge railway any further than Naivasha, still hundreds of kilometres short of the Uganda border.

In 2020 the SGR earned $87 million, which increased to $108m in 2021 as a result of the enforced use of rail to clear imports, but still not sufficient to properly service the debt.

With custom clearance now reverting back to Mombasa, there are fears that the SGR railway will carry even less traffic, with road transport again dominating. Others argue that cargo bound for inland destinations should be allowed to be carried by rail in bond and cleared at the depots inland, while Mombasa and coastwise cargo should be cleared at the port.

Meanwhile, the cost of repaying the railway debt is likely to pass to the taxpayers.

In addition, the evidence thus far is that introducing SGR railways in Africa does not result in cargo and passenger traffic flocking from the road to rail in any meaningful volume to justify the enormous costs involved.

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Madagascar: Regional training for Port State Control officers

PSC Regional Workshop. Madagascar. Picture: IMO, in africa Ports & Ships
PSC Regional Workshop. Madagascar. Picture: IMO

The IMO Maritime Security (MARSEC) team organised a regional workshop for French-speaking participating countries on Port State Control (PSC) in Toamasina, Madagascar from 12 to 16 September. This was part of various activities under the EU-funded project on Port Security and Safety of Navigation in Eastern and Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean.

For more on this topic readers are invited to SEE HERE

Port facilities that link these routes require strong regional cooperation, robust maritime enforcement institutions, and rigorous compliance regimes, that adhere to international standards for safety and security.

In addition to the continuing activities delivered through the Global Maritime Security Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme, and the current technical assistance provided to Djibouti Code of Conduct signatory States, the IMO Maritime Security Section is embarking on a new programme of activities on Port Security and Safety of Navigation in Eastern and Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean.

The South Atlantic and Indian Oceans, joining the Americas, East Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, contain maritime trade routes critical to the economic development and prosperity of the Global South. Picture: IMO, in Africa Ports & Ships
The South Atlantic and Indian Oceans, joining the Americas, East Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, contain maritime trade routes critical to the economic development and prosperity of the Global South. Picture: IMO

EA-SA-IO region and the 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy

Under this project, IMO aims to assist participating countries to enhance maritime security and safety in the Eastern and Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region (EA-SA-IO) in line with the 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy.

The September regional workshop, which was attended by ten Port State Control Officers (PSCOs) from Comoros and fourteen PSCOs from Madagascar, aimed to provide support aiming to increase the capacity and knowledge of PSCOs, including with respect to the application and control of compliance measures under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) chapter XI-2 and the International Code for the Security of Ships and of Port Facilities (ISPS Code).

There were nine participating countries including Comoros and Madagascar.

Targeted assistance

Delegates received direct targeted assistance at both the national administration and port facility levels, to ensure that capacities of safety of navigation authorities are strengthened in the Eastern and Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean region. In turn capacities of maritime administrations and governmental agencies are thereby reinforced.

Edited by Paul Ridgway

Paul Ridgway, London, in Africa Ports & Ships

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Xeneta Rates Report: Week 37

The latest ocean freight rates data from Xeneta shows that spot prices across the main trans-Pacific and US West Coast corridors have converged over the past two to three months, with dramatic declines since the all-time highs recorded earlier this year.

Since the end of March, rates from South East Asia to the US West Coast have fallen by a massive 62%, while those from China have collapsed 49%. This leaves spot prices that were at one point separated by a spread of USD 3 800 per FEU on a par; with both trades currently in the region of USD 4 300 per FEU.

Dramatic decline

“Spot prices from Asia have, to be blunt, been falling considerably since May this year, with increasing rates of decline over the last few weeks,” comments Peter Sand (pictured), Chief Analyst, Xeneta. “We’re now at a point where the rates are down to their lowest level since April 2021.

“It’s not surprising to see the prices aligning across the corridors, as this was the case in early 2021, when there was little more than a USD 100 per FEU difference. What is startling is that a South East Asia container premium that stood at almost USD 4,000 in mid-September 2021 is, just one year later, back to zero. In fact, spot rates from China are slightly more expensive right now.”

Sand notes that the rates started to diverge in May 2021, when the global pandemic exerted severe pressure on all main trade lanes. The South East Asia corridor saw an unprecedented supply-demand imbalance, pushing prices through the roof.

Global trend

“In January 2021,” he says, “the spread was minimal, with spot rates from South East Asia standing at USD 4 360 per FEU and those from China at USD 4 290. However, by January 2022 prices from South East Asia to the US West Coast had climbed to a peak of just under USD 12 000, whereas those from China ‘only’ got to USD 8 700, peaking in March.

“However, it looks like it’s been a case of ‘the bigger they are, the harder they fall’, with rates from South East Asia following the overall global trend of decline, only doing so more drastically. We have to remember though, those rates are dropping from historical highs, so it certainly won’t be panic stations for the carriers just yet. We’ll continue watching the latest data to see if the trend continues and, crucially, how that impacts on the long-term contract market.”

Meeting demand

Oslo-based Xeneta’s unique software platform compiles the latest ocean and air freight rate data aggregated worldwide to deliver powerful market insights. Participating companies include ABB, Electrolux, Continental, Unilever, Nestle, L’Oréal, Thyssenkrupp, Volvo Group and John Deere, amongst others.

Xeneta logo in Africa Ports & Ships

This week saw Xeneta raise USD 80 million, valuing the business at USD 265 million. The move was led by funds advised by Apax Digital, the growth equity arm of Apax, a leading global private equity advisory firm, with participation from NY-based Lugard Road Capital. With the fresh funding in place, Xeneta will now aim to accelerate its growth, expand into new markets and continue scaling its global teams to meet demand from customers focused on supply chain resilience and the latest rates intelligence.

Xeneta is the leading ocean and air freight rate benchmarking and market analytics platform transforming the shipping and logistics industry. Xeneta’s powerful reporting and analytics platform provides liner-shipping stakeholders the data they need to understand current and historical market behaviour – reporting live on market average and low/high movements for both short and long-term contracts. Xeneta’s data is comprised of over 300 million contracted container and air freight rates and covers over 160,000 global trade routes. Xeneta is a privately held company with headquarters in Oslo, Norway and regional offices in New York and Hamburg. To learn more, please visit HERE

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Hapag-Lloyd acquires share in land-based logistics group Spinelli

Hapag-Lloyd, the world’s 5th largest container line, has acquired a 49% share in Spinelli Group, an Italian land-based logistics provider that includes port terminal services.

With this the German shipping company has become the latest to add focus on port and landside terminal operations.

The Spinelli family will continue to hold a majority 51% stake in the company, Hapag-Lloyd having acquired its shares from existing shareholders. Financial details have not been disclosed.

Completion of the transaction is subject to the approval of the responsible antitrust authorities, which is expected within the next months.

Hapag-Lloyd has a fleet of 253 modern container ships, operating worldwide with 126 liner services calling at over 600 ports, including in South Africa and other parts of the continent. Hapag-Lloyd however is particularly active as an operator in the Transatlantic, Middle East, Latin America and Intra-America trades but says it intends increasing its focus on Africa.

Earlier this year Hapag-Lloyd acquired German container company Deutsche Afrika-Linien (DAL), a specialist shipping line focusing on South Africa and trade between South Africa and Europe, this strengthening its position with this trade.

Although operating with just one container ship, DAL holds a long-standing position within the South Africa-Europe Container Service (SAECS) consortium.

The takeover of DAL followed Hapag-Lloyd acquiring, in March 2021, the Dutch shipping line NileDutch, another African specialist, which significantly increased its position in the African shipping market. NileDutch’s strength lies in the Far East-South Africa-West Africa trades.

Hapag-Lloyd employs around 14,300 employees in 400 offices and is active in 137 countries.

The Spinelli Group has operated in Italy since 1963, offering the entire logistics chain of container services to the shipping lines. These include port terminal services, multimodal transport solutions, container depots and repairs, warehouses, and customs agent activities.

The two groups of companies have long enjoyed a business relationship.

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