Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 21 October 2023

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Week commencing 16 October 2023.  Click on headline to go direct to story : use the BACK key to return.   

FIRST VIEW:   Bariloche


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INVITATION TO TENDER: Dock Pontoon – Pontoon Lifter

Dock Lifter SSR-1

Morska Stocznia Remontowa “Gryfia” S.A., Szczecin, Poland
announces a written invitation to tender for the sale of Set of units:
(Dock-pontoon PN – SSR –1, Dock-pontoon PN-SSR-3, Pontoon Lifter SSR-1)

Dock Pontoon SSR-1
Dock Pontoon SSR-3

The subject matter of the tender procedure is the ownership right to the Set of units (Dock-pontoon PN-SSR-1, Dock-pontoon PN-SSR-3, Pontoon Lifter SSR-1).

Submission of Tenders  to:

Technical description:

Dock-pontoon PN-SSR-1 – Built in 1966

– total length is 91,40 m
– external width 19,40 m
– internal width 17,00 m
– total height 9,30 m
– pontoon height 2,00 m
– load capacity 1460 tons

Dock-pontoon PN-SSR-3 built in 1967

– total length is 91.40 m
– external width 19.40 m
– internal width 16.00 m
– total height 9.20 m
– pontoon height 2.60 m
– load capacity 1460 tons

Pontoon Lifter SSR-1 built in 1966

– total length is 74.00 m
– external width 27.00 m
– internal width 21.00 m
– height of the pontoon 11.00 m
– carrying capacity 1700 tons


Set of units – USD 1,100,000 (in words USD: one million one hundred thousand 00/100) net + applicable VAT.

which consists of:

Dock-pontoon PN-SSR-1 300 000 USD net + applicable VAT
Dock-pontoon PN-SSR-3 – 380 000 USD net + applicable VAT
Pontoon Lifter SSR-1       – 420 000 USD net + applicable VAT


USD 55,000.00 (in words USD: fifty-five thousand 00/100)


Submission of Tenders  to:

1. The tender will take place on 27.10.2023 at the registered office of Morska Stocznia Remontowa “Gryfia” S.A. in Szczecin, ul. Brdowska 12, 71-700 Szczecin, Poland.
2. The rules concerning the tender procedure and the qualification procedure of the tenderers, and the formal requirements concerning the tender are regulated by the “Tender Rules” available on the website of the Morska Stocznia Remontowa “Gryfia” S.A.:

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Added 3 October 2023




Bariloche. Durban 7 October 2023. Picture by Keith Betts
Bariloche. Durban 7 October 2023. Picture by Keith Betts

Africa Ports & Ships

The bulk carrier BARILOCHE (IMO 9725885) shown here leaving Durban on 7 October, bound for Maputo. Named for a city in the Río Negro province in Argentina, more fully known as San Carlos de Bariloche, the handsome-looking geared bulker with a length of 190 metres and a beam of 30m, has a deadweight of 43,389 tons.

Bariloche arrived in port the day earlier, 6 October, having also spent a couple of days in port in mid-September, followed by another 17 or 18 days at the outer anchorage off Umhlanga before again entering port on 6 October for just 1 day and 5 hours before this departure for the Mozambique port.

Having now completed her business in Maputo, Bariloche is again at sea heading this time for Richards Bay, presumably where’s there’s further cargo to load.

Bariloche is registered in Majuro which is in the Marshall Islands, which has one of the world’s largest registers. Her nominal owner is Oceano Shipping AG, care of her ISM and ship and commercial manager, Suisse-Atlantique in Switzerland.

This picture is by Keith Betts



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NEWS FLASH – Tau Morwe appointed acting head of SAMSA, and confirmation of Sobantu Tilayi’s reinstatement as COO

Africa Ports & Ships

SAMSA announces the appointment of Tau Morwe, as acting chief executive officer of the South African maritime Safety Authority.

Tau Morwe, SAMSA acting chief executive

In addition to overseeing the company’s day-to-day operations, Morwe is tasked with providing stability to the organisation, whilst undertaking a recruitment process for a permanent CEO and for other executive and senior positions that require filling.

Mr Morwe was the first chief executive of the then newly created Transnet Port Terminals. He later served as Transnet’s acting group chief executive during 2018/19.

In addition, SAMSA has confirmed the reinstatement of Mr S Tilayi at SAMSA as the Chief Operating Officer “after a difficult period of absence.”

See our earlier report HERE

Our Monday edition will carry a more detailed report on these developments.

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Added 20 October 2023


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Power outages impacting Richards Bay port operations

Dry bulk, break bulk and general cargo sections of the Richards Bay port. Power outages have impacted port operations this week.  Picture: TNPA

Africa Ports & Ships

The Port of Richards Bay, the second busiest in terms of cargo handled and by far South Africa’s largest export harbour, and thus vital for the sake of the country’s economy, has been severely hampered this week by power outages.

On Monday this week (16 October) the problems began with the port experiencing an initial power failure at around 05h00, caused by an issue with the municipality’s power supply.

This outage impacted the Western, Eastern, and Southern regions of the port. Power was successfully restored by 15h00.

That was just the start of things. The challenges continued when power to the port tripped again on Monday evening around 18h30.

This second incident affected the Western and Eastern regions. Power in the Eastern region was restored at 23h00 that night, while power in the Western region was only fully restored on Tuesday, the 17th of October, at approximately 14h45.

Yesterday, the situation escalated further (Wednesday, 18 October), when at around 04h00, power to the port was interrupted once more, impacting the Western side.

This outage occurred just before a planned outage scheduled from 09h00 to 11h00. Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) said it anticipated that power will be fully restored later that day at 16h00.

TNPA said it was working in collaboration with the municipality and power supply authorities, to address these issues and minimise the impact on the port users and partners.

“We understand the inconvenience these power outages have caused and assure you that we are doing everything in our power to ensure the timely restoration of services and the resumption of regular operations,” the TNPA said.

Maybe the answer IS one of the Karpower floating power stations!

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Added 19 October 2023


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WHARF TALK: MR2 product tanker – WHITE PEACH

White Peach and her mannequins, in Cape Town harbour. 16 October 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

It certainly appears to be a time of transit callers at the Cape, whether they are calling for bunkers, as most of them seem to be, or for necessary engineering support, and sometimes it would seem that their arrival is for both requirements. There are precious few other opportunities around the African continent where everything the vessel in need requires, can be found in one place.

It would certainly not be beyond the bounds of the imagination of the casual maritime observer to believe that most vessels routing around Africa, in either direction, or transiting from the Atlantic Ocean, to the Indian Ocean, or vice-versa, are quite happy, and even relieved, to know that the approaching Southern African shoreline offers them numerous port opportunities to seek succour, and assistance, when needed.

On 15th October, at 16h00 in the afternoon, the MR2 product tanker WHITE PEACH (IMO 9328144) arrived off Cape Town, from a short voyage around from Mossel Bay, in the Southern Cape. She entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock, but did not go to into the Tanker Basin, but went straight alongside the Landing Wall. This was a clear pointer that she was either in for bunkers, for engineering support, or perhaps for both.

White Peach, Cape Town 16 October 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She had arrived in Mossel Bay on the 11th October, at 21h00 in the evening, from the new port of Duqm in Oman. By 14th October, at 08h00 in the morning, after two and a half days in the bay, she was ready to sail from Mossel Bay, and she duly made her way around Cape Agulhas, and up to Cape Town.

Built in 2007 by Guangzhou International Shipyard, at Guangzhou in China, ‘White Peach’ is 183 metres in length and has a deadweight of 53,187 tons. She is powered by a single Dalian Wärtsilä 7RT-flex50 seven cylinder, two stroke, main engine producing 15,418 bhp (11,200 kW) and driving a Wärtsilä CPS145 controllable pitch propeller for a service speed of 15 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes four Wärtsilä 6L20 generators providing 875 kW each, and a single AGCO Sisu 634 DSBAG emergency generator providing 150 kW. She has a single Zhangjiagang Greens Shazhou GFL160-0.7 exhaust gas boiler, and a single Zhangjiagang Greens Shazhou DF20-0.7 oil fired boiler.

White Peach, Cape Town 16 October 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

For added manoeuvrability ‘White Peach’ has a Wärtsilä CT200 bow transverse thruster providing 1,200 kW. She has twelve cargo tanks, with a cargo carrying capacity of 51,399 m3, and twelve Marflex cargo pumps, each capable of pumping at a rate of 550 m3/hour. She has a loading capacity rate of 4,900 m3/hour, and a discharging capacity rate of 3,600 m3/hour.

One of a set of five sisterships, ‘White Peach’ is nominally owned by White Peach Shipping Co. Ltd., and is both operated and managed by Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement India Pvt. Ltd., of Mumbai in India. She is part of the Super Ice operating pool. Her previous name ‘Gotland Sofia’ is still clearly visible on raised lettering on her bow.

White Peach, Cape Town 16 October 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Of interest, in this so-called post Somali Pirate era, is that she still has a set of freshly dressed mannequins, strategically placed around her aft decks, providing the permanent ’anti-pirate’ watch some Masters still desire as they cross the Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea, and down the African coast off Somalia.

Although her arrival draft appeared to show that she was not quite fully loaded when she arrived at Cape Town, this is no longer any indication that she conducted any fuel discharging operation at the Single Point Mooring (SPM) Buoy, whilst she was in Mossel Bay. Her time in Mossel Bay is also no guarantee that her call there was for purposes of discharging a parcel of her much needed fuel products for the Southern Cape market.

Rather, like Algoa Bay appears to be a parking lot for bunker tankers, so Mossel Bay is starting to look like a poor man’s Lomé anchorage, or Fujairah anchorage, as it has recently become a place for a small fleet of MR2 tankers to swing on the pick. These tankers are, presumably, either awaiting further orders, and Mossel Bay is geographically, perfectly situated for that purpose, as it faces both East and West.

Alternatively, the local bulk fuel buyer has severely underestimated the amount of fuel available from the tanks in the local Voorbaai Storage terminal, leading to someone having seriously over-ordered the amount of fuel products needed for the local area. Currently, there are no less than five MR2 product tankers lying at anchor in Mossel Bay, the earliest having been there since the 3rd of October, and the latest arrival being 13th October. Surely, they are not all waiting to discharge at the SPM.

White Peach, Cape Town 16 October 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

All of the tankers have arrived laden with fuel products, as they all started their current voyages from familiar fuel loading ports such as Ruwais in the UAE, Sikka in India, and Singapore. It is certainly unusual to note on AIS that Mossel Bay is playing host to this small band of tankers. The reason why they all arrived over the last fortnight, and simply went to anchor, is unknown.

Interestingly, one of her sisterships, ‘Royal Jasmine’, also had a connection with her loading port being in Oman, and for discharge in South Africa. She arrived in Durban on 6th October, from Sohar in Oman. She sailed from Durban on 9th October, after a three day discharge at Island View 2, bound for Fujairah to await orders.

The departure port for ‘White Peach’ was the new port of Duqm, in Oman. Located on the Arabian Sea coast of Oman, at 19°39’ North 057°42’ East, the port is 297 nautical miles south of the capital city, Muscat. It was designed as a dual civil and military port, and whilst it began limited operations in 2012, the port was only officially opened in 2022, and is still developing.

White Peach, Cape Town 16 October 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

It was built as part of the greater development plan for the country, set in motion by the late Sultan Qaboos, to modernize Oman, and open it up for increased trade. It includes a container terminal, a dry bulk terminal, multi-use terminal, and a Ro-Ro terminal. There are two large drydocks, both capable of holding a VLCC, and a large ship repair facility.

Duqm also has three loading tanker berths, and a tanker lay-by berth. These serve the new Duqm Oil refinery at the port, which was only commissioned in 2023. The loading berths are linked directly, by pipeline, to an oil storage terminal at the port, and it is quite likely that the visit to South Africa by ‘White Peach’ is the first ever visit by a tanker from the port.

White Peach, Cape Town 16 October 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The new refinery is designed to process 230,000 barrels of oil per day, with the crude oil piped in, via an 80km pipeline, from the Ras Markaz Crude Oil Storage Terminal. The refinery covers an area of 900 hectares, and is a joint venture between the two state owned oil companies of both Oman and Kuwait.

Alongside at the Landing Wall in Cape Town, ‘White Peach’ has the appearance, and draft, of being loaded. As to whether she moves across to one of the three discharge berths in Cape Town, once her requirement to be berthed at the Landing Wall is completed, remains to be seen.

Similarly, it is unknown if she will return to Mossel Bay, and resume a period in the anchorage there, or simply sail out to the Table Bay anchorage, and await her orders there. She may even sail on to a third port along the Southern African periphery to continue, or even begin, her discharge of the fuel products that she is carrying.

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Added 19 October 2023


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Vessel catches fire and burns out in Liberia’s Buchanan port

Picture: Front Page Africa

Africa Ports & Ships

A commercial vessel in the port of Buchanan caught fire this week and burned out, but not before causing some disruption and concern.

By the time the fire burned itself out the commercial vessel had been almost totally destroyed and one of its crew, believed to be the vessel’s engineer, received severe injuries and has been hospitalised.

It appears the vessel was carrying drums of fuel oil when it was decided to carry out a service of the engine room. Something went horribly wrong that started a fire that got hurriedly out of control.

As clouds of thick black smoke spread across the area, firefighters from ArcelorMittal Liberia and the Liberian National Fire Service rushed to the scene to attempt to extinguish the blaze. It took them several hours to achieve this task.

No damage to the adjacent harbour facilities have been reported. An investigation into the cause has commenced.

The Port of Buchanan is situated 272 kilometres south-east of Monrovia and is Liberia’s second largest port. The Port of Buchanan was developed in the 1960s to handle the export of iron ore mined in the Nimba Range by the Liberia-American Swedish Mining Corporation (LAMCO).

Protected by two breakwaters and an entrance channel 210 metres wide, the port has two available quays, one of 225-metres in length with a depth alongside of 10.5 metres, and a second of 334 metres and a depth alongside of 9.5 metres.

The port authority and American concession holders have ambitious plans for expanding operations at Buchanan. Watch the following YouTube video for details [3:37].

sources: Prista Port Buchanan/Front Page Africa

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Added 19 October 2023


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Heavy sentences for two rail equipment thieves

Unrelated to this story, but overhead cable theft has crippled railway operations, including freight trains and heavy-haul rail across several parts of the country.  TFR

Two Zimbabwean nationals who were caught thieving railway equipment, have been given ten year sentences from a magistrates court in Pretoria.

Welcoming the sentences, PRASA – the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa – said the sentences were a victory achieved by its security team.

The two men were apprehended by PRASA security guards who caught them in the Wonderboom area of Pretoria in possession of eight pieces of signal copper cables.

The PRASA security guards took the two and the cables to the police station to report the matter, where they were arrested and taken into custody.

In the Pretoria North Magistrates Court on Tuesday Namer Ndovu (27) and Collen Singanje (28) each received 10-year direct imprisonment sentences.

According to a state witness, John Motswaledi, who is a corporate security investigator at PRASA, each cable was valued at R3,000 each. He told the court however, that the crime committed had an impact of over R300,000 because of what went into replacing and repairing the damage done.

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Added 19 October 2023


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MOL confirms introduction of Starlink into more than 200 ships in its fleet

MOL Truth, the first of a series of 20,000-TEU container ships introduced by MOL as from 2017.  Picture MOL

Africa Ports & Ships

Japanese carrier MOL has confirmed reports of a full-scale introduction of Starlink onto more than 200 of its ships.

Earlier, Africa Ports & Ships speculated that MOL may soon follow with a decision to install Starlink’s satellite communication system across the fleet – see here.

According to MOL, it intends having 233 of its ocean-going ships managed by MOL Group management companies so equipped, with about 140 vessels completed by the end of the financial year.

Starlink is a satellite communications service that uses multiple small satellites deployed in low orbit to provide high-speed, low-latency connectivity.

The trials conducted by MOL reported a dramatic improvement in the communication environment, with up to a 50-fold increase in communication speed.

This enabled seafarers to make video calls with family members and watch videos, which were difficult in the past.

Considering the positive impact on seafarers’ wellbeing, MOL has decided to proceed with a full-scale introduction of the system on its managed ocean-going vessels.

Shortage of seafarers

MOL said that the shortage of seafarers in the shipping industry is becoming more serious. “As of January 2023, there will be a 10% shortage of seafarers compared to the number needed around the world.

“Against this backdrop, MOL sees an urgent need to improve the wellbeing of seafarers onboard its vessels. Because the general onboard communication environment causes time lag and capacity limitations for private communication with family and friends, improvement of the onboard communication environment is a critical issue that must be addressed not only by MOL but also by the industry as a whole.”

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Added 19 October 2023


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Wharf Talk: SA Port Statistics for September 2023

The changing face of the ports. With much emphasis on manganese exports along the Eastern Corridor to  Port Elizabeth, it can easily be forgotten that until fairly recently Durban had a major role in the export of this commodity. Maydon Wharf berth 15, adjacent to the graving dock, was where this happened, a shown in this black and white picture of the scene. Can someone date this scene from the motor car?  Compare this to the recent picture shown below, with berth 15 being opposite the modern turquoise-coloured warehouse. 

By Africa Ports & Ships

Port statistics for the month of September 2023, covering the eight commercial ports under the administration of Transnet National Ports Authority, are now available.

The statistics here reflect 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 as well as included in tonnage on the basis of 1 tonne per unit.

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

The 15 general cargo berths of Maydon Wharf in the Port of Durban    Picture: TNPA

Figures for the respective ports during September 2023 are:

Total cargo handled by tonnes during September 2023, including containers by weight

PORT September 2023 million tonnes
Richards Bay 6.246
Durban 7.382
Saldanha Bay 4.285
Cape Town 1.361
Port Elizabeth 1.413
Ngqura 0.726
Mossel Bay 0.109
East London 0.203
Total all ports 21.725 million tonnes

CONTAINERS (measured by TEUs) during September 2023
(TEUs include Deepsea, Coastal, Transship and empty containers all subject to being invoiced by NPA

PORT September 2023 TEUs
Durban 228,221
Cape Town 67,278
Port Elizabeth 18,577
Ngqura 36,799
East London 6,163
Richards Bay 38
Total all ports 357,076 TEU

MOTOR VEHICLES RO-RO TRAFFIC (measured by Units- CEUs) during September 2023

PORT September 2023 CEUs
Durban 54,044
Cape Town 2
Port Elizabeth 17,114
East London 4,379
Richards Bay 4
Total all ports 75,543

SHIP CALLS for September 2023

PORT September 2023 vessels gross tons
Durban 281 10,149,505
Cape Town 142 3,507,349
Richards Bay 116 4,886,289
Port Elizabeth 87 2,459,625
Saldanha Bay 53 3,415,131
Ngqura 57 2,817,144
East London 24 839,884
Mossel Bay 32 155,277
Total ship calls 792 28,230,204
— source TNPA, with adjustments regarding container weights by Africa Ports & Ships
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Added 18 October 2023


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WHARF TALK: handy size bulk carrier – UNITY LIGHT

A MarineTraffic picture of Unity Light in waters far removed from South Africa. Picture by Steven Watkins/MarineTraffic

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

Recently, there seems to be a run on vessels arriving at Cape Town, for no other reason than to ostensibly uplift much needed bunkers on their long voyages, but also to receive some needed engineering support, as one of only a handful of Southern African ports between the Americas to the West, and Asia to the East capable of providing such services.

The casual maritime observer who keeps an eye on the port will have seen a number of different vessel types calling in for the usual transit stopover of less than a day. Depending on size they will have been berthed all around the port, from the Landing Wall, to the Repair Quay, the Eastern Mole, and even in one instance on a working berth.

On 10th October, at 20h00 in the evening, the handy size bulk carrier UNITY LIGHT (IMO 9832444) arrived at the Table Bay anchorage, from Tampa in the US state of Florida, and went to anchor for just short of one day. At 17h00 on the afternoon of 11th October she entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock, and going alongside the outer berth on the Eastern Mole. This berth is a non-working berth, and generally used as a short stay transit bunker berth.

Unity Light, Cape Town 12 October 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2019 by Oshima Shipyard at Saikai City in Japan, ‘Unity Light’ is 180 metres in length and has a deadweight of 36,898 tons. She is powered by a single Mitsui MAN-B&W 5S50MC-C8 five cylinder, two stroke, main engine producing 7,682 bhp (5,650 kW) and driving a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 14 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes three generators providing 540 kW each. She has a single Miura auxiliary composite boiler. She has five semi box-shape cargo holds, served by four hydraulic cranes, each with a lifting capacity of 30 tons, and equipped with grabs. The cargo carrying capacity of ‘Unity Light’ is 47,044 m3.

One of four sisterships, ‘Unity Light’ is owned by the Unity Group, of London, and managed by Unity Maritime, also of London. She is managed by Unity Shipmanagement, of Varna in Bulgaria. Her clear connection with the Unity brand is shown by her flying the company logo on her funnel, as well as on the prow of her bow.

The current charterers of ‘Unity Light’ are Cargill, founded in 1865 and based in Minneapolis, in the US state of Minnesota. Cargill also operate a ship chartering arm, based in the Swiss city of Geneva, and are one of the largest dry bulk chartering companies in the world. They specialise in carrying bulk cargoes for the mining, agricultural, and food, industries worldwide.

Unity Light, Cape Town 12 October 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

In the figures from their last published year, 2021, Cargill completed over 4,500 charter voyages worldwide. One of the major agricultural bulk commodities shipped by Cargill is fertiliser. In 2021, their published figures showed that they had carried over 17 million tons of fertiliser to where it is needed.

If one assumes that the cargo carrying capacity of ‘Unity Light’ is the base standard for fertiliser carriage, it works out that Cargill operated 361 voyages last year, or the equivalent of almost one sailing per day of a vessel carrying a full cargo of fertiliser, bound for the benefit of a national agricultural industry somewhere in the world.

Whilst her loaded cargo, and voyage from Tampa, was not bound for discharge in a South African port, Cargill have operated two offices in South Africa since 1981, the longest period in any of the seven countries of Africa that they have direct representation. They are also members of the South African Cereals and Oilseeds Trade Association (SACOTA). Their office in Chartwell, Johannesburg, deals with cereals, and their office in Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal, deals with animal feeds.

Unity Light, Cape Town 12 October 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The link between Cargill, fertiliser, and Tampa, where the voyage of ‘Unity Light’ had originated, is the commodity of phosphate fertiliser. Yet, most folk will most likely think of Tampa as a major cruise ship destination, the home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the great American Football team, and a place for sub-tropical sun worshippers in Florida. The holiday ethos of Tampa is so popular, that British Airways operate a daily service from London Gatwick to Tampa, and Virgin Atlantic Airways operate a daily service from London Heathrow to Tampa.

However, from a fertiliser standpoint, what most folk don’t know is that the port of Tampa is the number one ranked port in the USA for the export of Phosphate Fertiliser. The port has a dedicated fertiliser terminal, with a warehouse capable of storing 90,000 tons of fertiliser. The terminal is connected directly by conveyor belt to a single berth, equipped with a self-loader.

There is also a Liquid Ammonia terminal, where 450,000 tons of ammonia was piped into the port last year, and where the ammonia is used as a product to support the manufacturing process of Ammoniated Phosphate, producing both Mono-Ammonium Phosphate (MAP), and Di-Ammonium Phosphate (DAP).

Unity Light, Cape Town 12 October 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The export trade of fertiliser from Tampa in 2022 totaled US$986 million (ZAR18.53 billion). Phosphate rock is mined in the greater Tampa area, with the mined phosphate, once treated, providing enough phosphate fertiliser to cover 75% of the annual needs of the vast American agricultural industry.

As expected, the stopover in Cape Town for ‘Unity Light’ was not very long, and after taking on bunkers from the Cape Town harbour bunker tanker ‘Lipuma’, she was made ready to sail. At midday on 12th October, after just 19 hours alongside, she sailed from Cape Town, with her AIS indicating that her destination was the port of Kwinana, located in Western Australia.

The port of Kwinana is a constituent part of the Fremantle Ports group, which serves the city of Perth, and the greater Western Australia outback, but it is located 12 nautical miles to the south of the main port of Fremantle. With Fremantle being called the Inner Harbour, and Kwinana being called the Outer Harbour, with Kwinana being created in 1955, and specialising in bulk cargoes, both dry bulk and liquid bulk, with five bulk jetties available.

One of the jetties is known as the Grain Terminal Jetty, and is operated by the CBH Group, who are a Western Australia Farmers Co-Operative, and is used as a grain, and wheat, export terminal with a single berth, of 291 metres in length, served by three self-loaders. Alongside the grain terminal, and using the same jetty, is the Kwinana Fertiliser Terminal.

Unity Light, Cape Town 12 October 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The Kwinana Fertiliser Terminal is brand new, and was only completed in March this year. It consists of a warehouse capable of storing 55,000 tons of imported granular fertiliser. It also has two 16,000 ton tanks, both used for the storage of the liquid fertiliser, Urea Ammonium Nitrate (UAN).

The new fertiliser terminal is for the benefit of the Western Australian grain farmers, and it is almost certain that this new terminal facility is the destination of ‘Unity Light’ when she finally arrives in Kwinana, which is expected to be on 30th October.

Also of interest, Unity Light sailed from Bunbury WA, earlier this year, on a voyage to Portland in Victoria, then Port Kembla in NSW, before heading across the Pacific ocean, calling at Balboa in Panama. She then went through the Panama Canal, en route to Tampa. From there she headed for Cape Town, and is now en route to Kwinana in WA. This means that, on arrival there, she will have actually completed a continuous circumnavigation of the globe over the last few months.

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Added 18 October 2023


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AGL wins bid to manage and operate Lobito port terminals

Port of Lobito Picture 

Africa Ports & Ships

Africa Global Logistics (AGL) has won the bid to operate and manage Angola’s Lobito port container and conventional terminals.

This was revealed by Celso Rosas, Chairman of the Port of Lobito’s Board of Directors.

Rosas indicated that AGL, a division of Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), is the successful bidder to the tender launched in January this year.

“A new dynamic is coming that aims to bring more development to our port,” he said, “always with the perspective of increasing production and productivity.”

The insertion of AGL into the management and operation of the Angolan port is expected to lead to an increase in trade and the boosting of support for industrialisation efforts in the region.

The report states that AGL will invest more than US$ 100 million to attract more business to the port with a special emphasis on agricultural projects.

The concession agreement, which is still to be signed by AGL, will become effective only in the first quarter of 2024 and will see AGL taking over the staff and workforce of the Empresa Portuária do Lobito EP port authority.

Africa Global Logistics

AGL, while still a new name on the African continent, has been present in Africa for more than a century through its previous branding of Bolloré Africa Logistics. Following the takeover by the MSC Group, which itself has half a century of history in Africa, AGL has affirmed its ambition to continue to contribute to the sustainable transformation of Africa and emerging markets, thanks to its global, customized, and innovative logistics solution.

In a separate statement concerning Africa, AGL said it will develop multimodal logistics solutions (rail, road, air, river) to meet the expectations of its customers and meet the challenges of logistics.

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Added 18 October 2023


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AGL vence licitação para gerir e operar o Lobito terminais portuários

Porto do Lobito foto

Africa Ports & Ships

A Africa Global Logistics (AGL) ganhou o concurso para operar e gerir o porto de contentores e terminais convencionais do Lobito em Angola.

A informação foi revelada por Celso Rosas, Presidente do Conselho de Administração do Porto do Lobito.

Rosas indicou que a AGL, divisão da Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), é a licitante vencedora do concurso lançado em Janeiro deste ano.

“Vem aí uma nova dinâmica que pretende trazer mais desenvolvimento ao nosso porto”, disse, “sempre com a perspectiva de aumentar a produção e a produtividade”.

A inserção da AGL na gestão e operação do porto angolano deverá conduzir ao aumento do comércio e ao reforço do apoio aos esforços de industrialização na região.

O relatório afirma que a AGL investirá mais de US$ 100 milhões para atrair mais negócios para o porto com especial ênfase em projetos agrícolas.

O contrato de concessão, que ainda não foi assinado pela AGL, entrará em vigor apenas no primeiro trimestre de 2024 e fará com que a AGL assuma os quadros e mão-de-obra da autoridade portuária Empresa Portuária do Lobito EP.

Logística Global da África

AGL, embora ainda seja um nome novo no continente africano, está presente em África há mais de um século através da sua marca anterior de Bolloré Africa Logistics. Após a aquisição pelo Grupo MSC, que tem meio século de história em África, a AGL afirmou a sua ambição de continuar a contribuir para a transformação sustentável de África e dos mercados emergentes, graças à sua solução logística global, personalizada e inovadora.

Num comunicado separado sobre África, a AGL afirmou que irá desenvolver soluções logísticas multimodais (ferroviária, rodoviária, aérea, fluvial) para satisfazer as expectativas dos seus clientes e enfrentar os desafios da logística.

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Adicionado em 18 de outubro de 2023


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“Procurement challenges” and “lack of capacity” keep SA Navy in harbour

SAS Spioenkop entering port at Durban. Picture late Manny Gounden

by defenceWeb

That the SA Navy (SAN) needs to rebuild is borne out by the hours at sea recorded by the maritime service of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) in the 2022/23 financial year.

The latest Department of Defence (DoD) annual report has it the SAN “planned for 8,000 hours at sea” during the period under review. It achieved a paltry 2,770 between April 2022 and end March 2023, less than half what was envisaged.

On the positive side more sea time was spent on force employment – 1 413 hours – than force preparation, which weighed in with 157 less at 1,356 hours.

Transposed into day terms, the numbers show SAN crews spent 115 days at sea over the 365 day period of the 2022/23 financial year. Force employment accounted for 58.5 days with the balance of 56.5 going to preparation, including training.

In the 2021/22 financial year the SA Navy spent 7,614 hours at sea, out of a planned 8,000 hours. This is down from the 10,000 allocated sea hours the previous year following a reduction in 2021/22 due to “insufficient budget allocation”.

The rebuilding phase is noted in the maritime defence section of the annual report stating “the SAN ensured maintenance and repair of the surface warfare capability (frigate capability) was prioritised within the resource allocation. This enabled SAS Spioenkop (F147) to achieve mission level of capability and deploy to Mozambique on Operation Vikela (SAMIM – the Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique) with effect from 3 March to 31 May 2022”.

The report notes further maintenance and repair of vessels “with the emphasis on achieving deployment status of large vessels for long-range maritime patrols” was ongoing. Hulls named are Type 209 submarine SAS Charlotte Maxeke (S102) frigates SAS Amatola (F145), SAS Isandlwana (F146) and Spioenkop (F147), and the replenishment vessel SAS Drakensberg (A301) with “major repairs, upkeep and overhauls” underway.

“Persisting procurement challenges” added to “lack of capacity” at the Armscor dockyard in Simon’s Town, the annual report has it, “negatively impacted on availability of naval platforms.”

This state of affairs saw single deployments for operations Vikela and Corona with not one hull allocated to a long-range Op Copper maritime patrol mission in the Mozambique Channel. The SADC initiated and approved tasking aims to prevent piracy and crime at sea in the busy shipping lane east of the sub-continent. South Africa is the lead nation providing maritime and limited airborne platforms with Mozambican military personnel aboard whichever SAN platform is on station.

Written by defenceWeb and republished with permission. The original article can be found here.

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US$ 290 million expansion & modernisation promised for Beira port

The container ship Penang Bridge at the Beira Container Terminal earlier this year. Picture: Cornelder

Africa Ports & Ships

According to a report from Lusa, the Portuguese news service, the Mozambique government intends investing US$ 290 million to expand and modernise the Port of Beira.

The port, Mozambique’s second largest and busiest, is managed and operated by a Dutch terminal and port and rail operator, Cornelder de Moçambique.

The Port of Beira serves not only the Sofala and adjacent provinces in central Mozambique, but is an important port of entry for neighbouring landlocked nations of Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia.

“The government has approved the Port of Beira Business Plan, in which investment of up to US$290 million (€276 million) is planned over the next 15 years for the expansion and modernisation of the Port of Beira, depending on market conditions,” Mateus Magala, Mozambique’s minister for transport and communications, is quoted by Lusa.

The minister was speaking in Beira at the opening of the business forum for the Beira Corridor.

He said that studies indicate that the number of containers handled at the port will increase 300% over the next 20 years.

What this amounted to, he said, is that container handling at the Beira port will increase from the current 300,000 TEUs annually, to 700,000 TEUs.

The investment will bring other improvements at the same time, he said, involving increased capacity for handling general breakbulk cargo, greater storage capacity, and improved access among other developments.

The minister challenged Cornelder de Moçambique to continue with the planned investments, which he said should reach the milestone of handling more than one million containers.

This would amount to repositioning the Port of Beira at an international level with more significant absolute volumes.

Magala said that by investing in the expansion and modernisation of the Port of Beira, it will be possible to accelerate the socio-economic growth of the central region, as well as fulfilling the objective of achieving Mozambique’s ambition of becoming a logistics solutions provider for the countries of southern Africa.

Not in isolation

He said the government is aware that the port operator does not act in isolation and that it is dependent on the performance of other roleplayers, such as road and rail transport, shipping lines, maritime services, logistics services, agencies, customs brokers and other players.

“With this in mind, the government has been mobilising resources for the integrated development of the Beira Corridor, such as the recent investments made in dredging the port access channel, rehabilitating national road number 6, rebuilding the Machipanda railway line, among other investments,” Magala said.

The 318-kilometre Machipanda rail line connects the port of Beira, in central Mozambique, to Zimbabwe, a country that depends heavily on this route for access to the sea to export its produce.

In addition to expanding and modernising infrastructure, the Mozambican government’s vision is to implement reforms that will allow the transport corridors to be transformed from mere transit routes for goods into a space for economic development, promoting industrialisation, agriculture, trade and other activities.

He said the transport corridors must generate concrete development opportunities for economic agents while improving the lives of the people, “which can generate quality employment and income for national and regional development.” source: Lusa

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Added 17 October 2023


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WHARF TALK: MR1 product tanker CR TETHYS

The MR1 products tanker CR Tethys which called in Cape Town on Friday 13 October 2023 from the Caribbean. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

In this day and age, where most oil majors, and most oil traders, have an insistence in regard to the age of a tanker chartered to carry their oil products around the world, it is highly unusual to see a product tanker, of any class or description, which is greater than 15 years old, or 20 years at most. That is not to say older tankers than this do not continue to sail the seven seas.

However, the vast majority of tankers that reach this age are generally sent to the scrapping beaches of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, to be reduced to produce the proverbial razorblades. The big worry about those greater than 15 to 20 years of age is that they have been purchased, or are being utilised, in what is known as the ‘Dark Fleet’. Again, that is not to say that all older tankers are engaged in this nefarious practice.

On 13th October, at 14h00 in the afternoon, the MR1 product tanker CR TETHYS (IMO 9133068) arrived off Cape Town, after a long transatlantic voyage from the anchorage at Chaguaramas in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago. She appeared to be fully loaded, and she entered Cape Town harbour, and proceeded into the Duncan Dock, but she did not go to any one of the three working tanker discharge berths. Instead, she went alongside the Repair Quay, which is a sign that engineering support is required, or she is on a transit call, for bunkers and stores.

CR Tethys, Cape Town 13 October 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 1996, more than 27 years ago, by Halla Heavy Industries (now Hyundai Shipyards) at Samho in South Korea, ‘CR Tethys’ is 180 metres in length and has a deadweight of 44,970 tons. She is powered by a single MAN-B&W 6S50MC-C six cylinder, two stroke, main engine producing 10,151 bhp (7,572 kW), driving a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 14 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes three MAN 5L23/30 generators providing 650 kW each, and a single Valmet emergency generator. She has a single Alfa Laval Aalborg AV-6N exhaust gas boiler, and a single Alfa Laval Aalborg AQ-9 oil fired boiler.

She has sixteen cargo tanks, with a cargo carrying capacity of 52,038 m3, and is capable of carrying four grades of product at the same time. She has sixteen cargo pumps, with each pump capable of pumping at a rate of 450 m3/hour.

One of three sisterships, all built in 1996, the other two sisters are currently involved in carrying product cargoes from the Middle East to China. Having recently changed hands, ‘CR Tethys’ has been under her current owner only since June this year. Her nominal owner is Sunton Shipping Co. Ltd., thought to be located in Hong Kong, with her operations and management falling under Shanghai Huitong Shipping Co. Ltd., of Shanghai in China.

CR Tethys, Cape Town 13 October 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The AIS activity of ‘CR Tethys’ is not readily accessible beyond her short stay at the Chaguaramas anchorage in Trinidad and Tobago, which is unusual. Whilst not necessarily connected, tankers involved in ‘Dark Fleet’ activities, which included moving sanctioned Venezuelan oil, have often been reported by Lloyds List Intelligence as falsely using AIS calls at ports in Trinidad, which lies just 6 nautical miles off the coast of Venezuela, to mask their loading point, in an effort to conduct sanctions busting operations. Time spent recently in Point Lisas, and Pointe a Pierre, both small ports in Trinidad, have also been registered by ‘CR Tethys’.

So what is the ‘Dark Fleet’? Well, the Dark Fleet refers to tankers that engage in dark activities, such as disabling their AIS, to make themselves invisible, or using deceptive shipping practices, such as GNSS manipulation or spoofing, ID and location tampering, to prevent their movements being followed. All this occurs, despite it being an illegal practice, and a breach of IMO International regulations. The Dark Fleet is characterised by weak ownership structures, and the use of multiple flags of convenience, all over short periods of time.

Originally, the ‘Dark Fleet’ was confined to trade with Iran and Venezuela, and mostly to do with moving sanctions busting oil cargoes to China. The fleet is thought to be in the region of almost 500 vessels, but has been increasing now that Russia is under sanctions, and some shipping of Russian oil is mostly an act of sanctions busting. The new fleet associated with Russia are known as the ‘Grey Fleet’, as there is some confusion, and overlap, between the terms ‘Dark Fleet’ and ‘Grey Fleet’, as both are engaged in questionable shipping practices, in an attempt to avoid sanctions.

CR Tethys, Cape Town 13 October 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Essentially, the ‘Grey Fleet’ is a new phenomenon that has evolved in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and its subsequent sanctions. Shipping companies involved in ‘Grey Fleet’ activities have obscured the vessel origins, and true ownership, to give off the appearance of legality. This fleet is described as ‘Grey’ due to the difficulty in determining the vessel’s legal status, and if it is operating in compliance of sanctions. The cargo that they carry is primarily Russian oil routed to countries that haven’t banned trade with Russia, such as China, Turkey, and India. 

Both types of fleets primarily transport different types of cargo, with the ‘Dark Fleet’ typically using smaller product/chemical tankers, while the majority of ‘Grey fleet’ vessels are crude oil tankers. Almost 60% of the ‘Dark Fleet’ consists of Product Tankers over 30,000 deadweight tons, whilst the ‘Grey Fleet’ consists of mostly VLCC crude oil tankers. As a combined fleet, they are not small in nature, as they comprise 18% of all tankers currently moving oil cargoes.

According to Lloyds List Intelligence, all of these ships are well above the average age for oil tankers, with the latest reports showing that more than 50% of the combined fleets are 15 years or older. Not unexpectedly, Panama is listed as one of the top 5 flags for ‘Dark Fleet’ vessels. In the top 5 list for ownership, many of the details of ‘Dark Fleet’ vessels fall under Hong Kong ownership.

Being anonymously owned, these elderly tankers that have been drawn to the high-risk, but high-rewards, stakes of circumventing sanctions. As such, they are often not properly maintained to the highest standards, which increases the odds of a major oil spill, or accident, due to faulty equipment.

CR Tethys, Cape Town 13 October 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Most of this ‘Dark Fleet’ have not undertaken surveys recently, or been the subject of recent Port State Inspections either. They have substandard maintenance, unclear ownership, poorly paid crews, little or no insurance, and are being operated solely to circumvent sanctions, and avoid high insurance costs.

Should one of them be involved in a major pollution incident that affects a coastline, such as that of South Africa, as the Cape sea route is the preferred route to China, it is unclear as to who will be responsible for the clear up. And yet, knowing that, South African ports have been a welcome stopover for many of the vessels that are known to be involved in ‘Dark Fleet’ activities.

Whilst alongside the Repair Quay, ‘CR Tethys’ uplifted bunkers from the harbour bunker tanker ‘Lipuma’, and after 24 hours alongside, she sailed from Cape Town at 14h00 on the afternoon of 14th October. Her AIS showed her destination to be Lianyungang in China. A fully laden MR1 tanker, on the long sea route around the Cape, from Trinidad in the Caribbean, to China, and covering a distance of over 13,000 nautical miles. Of course, it may simply be a positioning voyage for her new owners, making a small profit with a small cargo of products. Or it may not.

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Added 17 October 2023


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Happy Birthday for Green Point Lighthouse KZN as it marks 118 years of service

Green Point KZN Lighthouse was first lit on the night of 16 October 1905. Picture: TNPA

Africa Ports & Ships

On Monday 16 October 2023 the Green Point Lighthouse in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) marked 118 years of service. It was also the first lighthouse to be fully automated on 18 November 1961.

Green Point Lighthouse is situated near Scottburgh on the KZN south coast. The 22-metre circular cast-iron structure is painted with red and white horizontal bands, and the white lantern house has a red dome. The rotating lens system produces two flashes every 15 seconds.

It is connected to the mains supply and has a standby diesel generator set. The lighthouse is automated, and there is a resident lightkeeper who oversees day-to-day maintenance.

Scheduled maintenance is carried out by teams from Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) in Durban. They will check and service the light, the tower, and the standby engine. Regular grass cutting is important, to discourage the resident black mambas.

It was the second last lighthouse to use petroleum vapour burners, like the ones pictured here. Picture: TNPA

It is one of three lighthouses that assist mariners to safely navigate the Aliwal Shoal, a submerged reef approximately five kilometres off the coast. In 1889, wooden beacons were used to mark the extremities of the shoal. These were replaced by two cast-iron lighthouses in 1892 – one at Scottburgh to mark the southern end, and the other at Mahlongwa Head to mark the northern end.

The lighthouses were confusing to mariners, and the relocation of the lights to Port Shepstone and Green Point was proposed. The Scottburgh light was moved to Port Shepstone. At Green Point, a completely new lighthouse was erected and brought into operation in 1905.

Green Point Lighthouse is one of 11 operational lighthouses along the KZN coast. The other 10 are: Cape Vidal, Cooper, Durnford, Ifafa Beach, Jesser Point, North Sand Bluff, Port Shepstone, Richards Bay, Tugela and Umhlanga Rocks.

Green Point KZN must not be confused with Green Point in Cape Town. Green Point Lighthouse in Cape Town is the oldest lighthouse of the 44 operational lighthouses on the South African coast. It was commissioned on 12 April 1824.

TNPA is mandated by the National Ports Act, 2005 (Act No. 12 of 2005) to provide, operate and maintain lighthouses and other marine Aids to Navigation (AtoNs) to assist the navigation of vessels within commercial port limits and along the coast of South Africa.

A marine AtoN is defined as: ‘A device, system or service, external to vessels, designed and operated to enhance safe and efficient navigation of individual vessels and/or vessel traffic.’ Lighthouses, beacons, and buoys are the most common types of visual AtoNs.

Virtual AtoNs are new technology that use digital signals to warn of dangers in specific locations, without the need for physical buoys or lighthouses. The digital signals are transmitted from Automatic Identification System (AIS) stations and are received by AIS units onboard vessels.

Large vessels – such as container ships and passenger ships – are required to carry AIS in terms of International Maritime Organisation regulations, but smaller vessels are not. Therefore, visual marine AtoNs cannot be done away with.

TNPA AtoNs conform to the standards set by the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA). South Africa, represented by TNPA, is a founder member of IALA. source: TNPA

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EXMAR’s two newbuild gas tankers will have ammonia dual-fuel engines

Digital impression of one of the two ammonia dual-fuel gas tankers now being built. Picture: Exmar

Africa Ports & Ships

Belgian-registered shipping company Exmar, in a joint venture with Seapeak, is going ahead with ammonia as fuel for two Midsize Gas Carriers (MGCs) on order at Hyundai Mipo Dockyard in South Korea.

The 46,000-cbm ships will be the first ever oceangoing vessels to be propelled by dual-fuel ammonia engines, allowing for close to zero emissions trading when using ammonia. The engines will be delivered by WINGD and the fuel supply system by Wärtsilä Gas Solutions.

Carl-Antoine Saverys, Exmar’s Exec Director

“As leading global transporters of ammonia, we are proud to be developing vessels with an operational carbon footprint reduction of 90%, which significantly exceeds the International Maritime Organization (IMO)’s emissions reduction targets,” said Carl-Antoine Saverys, Executive Director at Exmar.

He ascribed this to the decades of experience of Exmar’s operational and technical teams, and the joint effort and contribution of all the project partners.

The MGCs are scheduled for delivery in early 2026.

Saverys said that throughout the design and development phase of the vessels, meticulous attention has been given to operational safety when introducing a toxic substance into the engine room.

“A risk-based design appraisal conducted by classification society Lloyds Register, combined with input from Exmar’s experienced crews and accepted by the Flag State (Belgium), has been paramount during the process and will continue to guide further design enhancements.”

Exmar has a long tradition of innovation in new ship designs, including the world’s first floating infrastructure platforms.

With over four decades of know-how in handling ammonia cargoes, the company and its dedicated seafarers remain confident in their ability to navigate safely and successfully using this new zero-carbon shipping fuel.

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In Conversation: Nigeria wants to revamp its railway network. Four things it needs to do to succeed

Tokunbo Aderemi Ayoola, Anchor University

Nigeria’s railway network serves only a small portion of the country. The country is 923,770km², with a railway network of 3,505km colonial narrow gauge and 669km modern standard gauge. Egypt, not that much larger than Nigeria, has a network of 6,700km.

There are signs that the government in Abuja has decided to address the inadequacy of the railway network. A number of projects are under way aimed at revamping and extending it. Over the last few years these have included the new rail corridor between Ibadan and Apapa port as well as the Abuja-Kaduna line (2016), the Abuja light rail network (2018) and the Itakpe-Warri line (2020).

In 2023 the Muhammadu Buhari administration introduced a new law that enabled states to build railway lines. This was previously the preserve of the national government.

As a Nigerian railway historian, I welcome renewed efforts to revitalise the rail network.

The return of rail transport is important. Railways brought many social, economic and cultural benefits. This is especially true of the colonial period and in the postcolonial era up to the late 1960s.

But efforts to revive the network won’t succeed unless four things happen. The government invests in existing lines and new ones, the railway corporation begins manufacturing some of its equipment and tools locally, the laws governing road transport are enforced to ensure there’s healthy competition in the sector, and foreign investors are encouraged to come in.

The history

In 1896 the British colonial government in Nigeria started the construction and development of the local railway network. This was part of European “railway imperialism” in Africa, starting from the late 19th century. The key purpose was exploitation of the colony’s agricultural and mineral resources.

The first phase of the system, the Lagos Railway, began in 1898. Construction started from Iddo in Lagos. The line then extended to Abeokuta and got to Ibadan in 1901, a distance of about 190km.

Over time, rail transport became the backbone of the country’s import and export economy.

Railway routes were laid before modern roads. In 1916 a line was constructed between Port Harcourt and Enugu in eastern Nigeria to assist in transporting coal to other parts of the country. On completion of the Markudi Bridge across River Benue, the eastern line was extended northwards and reached Kaduna in 1932.

Rail led to a host of villages and towns becoming large commercial cities – like Lagos, Ibadan, Kano and Enugu.

There were also social benefits. By the early 1960s, the Nigeria railway carried on average 12 million passengers annually. The population was 45.26 million according to the 1962 census. From Iddo, Lagos in 1898 to Abeokuta and Ibadan in 1901, south-west Nigeria, to Jebba and Minna, the rail lines linked many cities and towns and facilitated movement of people from the rural areas to urban centres.

The transformation of the rail company itself had an impact on Nigerian society. From the late 19th century until 1955, Nigerian Railways was owned and managed by the colonial British government. It was transferred to a public corporation in 1955 when it became known as the Nigerian Railway Corporation. Nigerians assumed responsibility for managing the corporation in 1960. The railway workshops and stations became centres of multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-racial communities: oases of trading and socialising.

Declining fortunes

In 1964 the railway corporation achieved its best financial performance in the postcolonial era: revenue of about £16.30 million (US$19.90 million) and a working surplus of about £2 million (US$2.4 million). After that, the fortunes of rail transport in Nigeria began to decline rapidly and they have not fully recovered. This has been due to a number of factors, including ageing infrastructure, general neglect and mismanagement.

These days the railway and its facilities have lost their pride of place in the country’s social, economic and cultural life. Their value and importance are now limited to a few parts of the country.

The volume of freight transport by rail is increasing. But it is minuscule compared with the huge volume being carried by road and air transport.

There have been numerous efforts to reorganise and modernise the railway infrastructure.

In 1978, under the Olusegun Obasanjo military regime, the Railway of India Technical and Engineering Services was contracted to reorganise the corporation and rehabilitate its infrastructure.

In 1995, the Sani Abacha military junta unveiled a three-year, US$528 million agreement with the China Civil Engineering and Construction Company. The agreement was, again, to rehabilitate old assets. No new lines were constructed.

Then between 1999 and 2007, 124 billion naira (about US$158 million) was allocated to the project. But by 1999, when the civilian government of Obasanjo came to power, there was virtually nothing to show for it, or the almost US$600 million the Abacha government had spent on rail between 1995 and 1998.

In 1999, the administration appointed international consultants to develop a 25-year strategic vision for the Nigerian railway. This resulted in a report which was approved in 2002. The aim was to change the existing rail routes to higher-capacity standard-gauge tracks across the country.

A budget of US$60 billion was prepared for the work. This didn’t start until 2007, Obasanjo’s last year in office. In 2006, the government had signed an US$8 billion agreement with China to design, construct and manage more than 1,315km of new and standard gauge railway from Lagos to Kano within four years. The capital for the project would come from foreign exchange from the sale of petroleum and a US$500 million concessionary loan from the Chinese government.

Basic Nigeria Railway Map

In 2007, the government paid a US$250 million mobilisation fee to start the project.

It ran into serious political headwinds after Obasanjo left office in 2007. His successor, Musa Yar’ Adua, suspended the contract, claiming that proper procedures hadn’t been followed. The government decided, once again, to rehabilitate the existing narrow gauge network. But, in a sudden about turn, it decided to resurrect the abandoned 25-year modernisation project.

On 18 July 2012, the Goodluck Jonathan government approved US$1.49 billion for the Lagos-Ibadan double track railway line modernisation project. Scheduled for completion in the second half of 2015, it was completed in June 2021.

These improvements led to an increased number of passengers, from 1.28 million a year to about 5 million in 2014/2015. In 2021, 2.71 million passengers used the trains and 3.21 million did in 2022.

State lines

As to whether allowing states to build railway lines will revolutionise rail transport in Nigeria, I believe it won’t, for three reasons.

First, it will be difficult for many of the 36 state governments to finance and manage railway development. Second, unless states develop regional railways together, individual urban and light railway services will run at a loss. Third, foreign investors would only be interested if they could make profits. And the most profitable aspect is freight railway.

Going forward

The central government should vote more money for capital and recurrent expenditures for railway operations.

The railway corporation should endeavour to manufacture some of its equipment and tools locally.

Abuja needs to enforce existing laws governing road transport in Nigeria, for healthy competition and efficient service.

Finally, foreign investors should be encouraged to invest in rail development, to help develop the Nigerian economy.The Conversation

Tokunbo Aderemi Ayoola, Reader in History and International Studies, Anchor University

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

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Transnet seeks proposals for Maydon Wharf citrus terminal

A digitalised image of the existing fruit terminal on Maydon Wharf. TNPA now seeks proposals for a second terminal to replace the existing terminal on the T-Jetty.  Picture: TPT

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) is calling on interested parties to respond to its Request for Proposals (RFP) for a terminal operator to design, develop, finance, construct, operate, maintain, and transfer a multi-purpose terminal for the handling of a citrus & other fruit, including break bulk cargo at the Port of Durban’s Maydon Wharf Precinct.

Maydon Wharf is the Durban port’s main precinct for general cargo and has been developed in phases since the early twentieth century. The precinct extends over approximately 145 ha with 15 common-user berths and an annual cargo capacity of over 7 million tons.

TNPA says that responses to the RFP will assist it in responding to potential investors in the agricultural industry.

Bidders are required to submit bid responses for the exclusive right to complete the financing, refurbishment, procurement of terminal equipment, operation, maintenance, and transfer of the facility to TNPA after the concession period of 25 years.

RFP documents can be accessed from the National Treasury’s e-tender portal and/or the Transnet website:

A briefing session was scheduled for 16 October 2023. RSVPs for the briefing session.

Queries for clarification in respect of this RFP must be directed to

Responses to the RFP must be submitted by no later than 26 January 2024 at 16h00 as per the submission requirements of the RFP.

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Transnet Board completes turnaround plan – now it’s over to DPE

The Board is seeking to strengthen the operational state of the freight rail division (TFR) in particular

Transnet’s Board of Directors said at the weekend that the development of a turnaround plan for port, rail and logistics business has been completed and will be submitted to the shareholder (government) this week.

“To this end, the representative of the Board will meet next week with the Shareholder Ministry [Department of Public Enterprises] as well as the Ministry of Finance to discuss the operational and financial details of the business turnaround plan, including areas which require immediate Government support.”

Once approval by the shareholder and funding commitment is secured, the plan will be discussed with key stakeholders such as organised labour, employees, customers and lenders.

The turnaround plan outlines operational and financial initiatives which must be implemented in the next six, twelve and eighteen months to stabilise the business and position the company for growth.

The announcement says the turnaround plan is predicated on several detailed goals to reform and strengthen the operational state of the freight rail division (TFR) in particular, and with priorities of key elements, specifically the rail corridors that service key sectors of the economy.

The turnaround plan is premised on principles which include:

• The balancing of the financial stability and the operational performance of the business
• Improved utilisation and care for operational assets and infrastructure
• Improved integration and operation execution across operating divisions
• Improved employee engagement and visible management at operations
• The development of a deeper accountability framework
• Cost reduction measures, cashflow and working capital improvements
• Continuous engagement and collaboration with all relevant stakeholders, including organised labour, customers, funders, government and industry.

The Board says it has prioritised the filling of the three executive positions in the business, with the recruitment process having commenced this past week.

“The recruitment process is being prioritised for urgent finalisation, given the criticality of these positions to the organisation, and the lead role the incumbents will play in execution of the turnaround plan.”

The Board says it is also continuing to work closely and collaboratively with stakeholders, including the National Logistics Crisis Committee (NLCC).

Further updates in the coming weeks are expected.

Popo Molefe resigns

Meanwhile, another Transnet-related resignation has been received, this time from Popo Molefe, the former chairperson of the Transnet Board of Directors and more recently as a director on the board.

Molefe was appointed as board chairperson in 2018 but was replaced by Andile Sangqu in July this year after serving in that capacity for five years.

He was reappointed as a director on the board. Molefe’s resignation comes barely two weeks after the announcement of the resignations of Group Chief Executive (GCE) Portia Derby and Group Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Nonkululeko Dlamini from the company.

The Public Enterprises department said Molefe’s resignation is due to personal reasons.

“The stepping down of Mr Molefe…must not be misconstrued or interpreted as being in any way related to the recent developments at the company,” the department said.

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WHARF TALK: Panamax gearless bulk carrier – SHI DAI 10

The Panamax gearless bulk carrier Shi Dai 10 in Cape Town harbour 11 October 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

Quite often, the casual maritime observer can spot large gearless bulk carriers sitting out in the Table Bay anchorage. As Cape Town has no facilities whatsoever to handle gearless bulk carriers, it is quite clear that whatever their reason for sitting out in the Table Bay anchorage, it is not because they have any commercial reason for being here, such as awaiting a working berth to load or discharge in Cape Town.

The reasons for them being here are varied. It may be that they are awaiting orders to proceed elsewhere, either as to the port to proceed to for loading, or the port to proceed to for discharging a cargo. Sometimes that port is Saldanha Bay, located a half day’s sailing up the Western Cape coast.

Other reasons are logistical, such as to conduct a crew change. Technical reasons also apply, especially if the need is for a technician, rather than for an engineer. Or they are simply awaiting a transit berth, either because they do need engineering support, or their current voyage means that an uplift is bunkers is required.

On 10th October, at 09h00 in the morning, the Panamax gearless bulk carrier SHI DAI 10 (IMO 9591715) arrived at the Table Bay anchorage, from São Francisco do Sul in Brazil, and went to anchor for just over a full day. At 09h00 the following morning, on 11th October, she raised her anchor and, instead of continuing onwards on her voyage, she entered Cape Town harbour, entering the Duncan Dock, and going alongside the Landing Wall. Such an arrival is always transitory, and meant she was either in need of engineering support, or taking on bunkers.

Shi Dai 10, Cape Town 11 October 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2012 by Jiangnan Shipyard at Shanghai in China, ‘Shi Dai 10’ is 225 metres in length and has a deadweight of 75,414 tons, with a beam is 32 metres. She is powered by a single Hudong MAN-B&W 5S60ME-C8.2 five cylinder, two stroke, main engine producing 12,012 bhp (8,833 kW), and driving a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 14.5 Knots.

Her three dimensions of length, beam, and deadweight, are those that identify her as a Panamax vessel, and built with the expectation that she was the maximum size for a vessel to pass through the Panama Canal, in terms of the original canal locks, rather than the newer, and larger, set of canal locks, for which larger vessels known as NeoPanamax were designed.

Her auxiliary machinery includes three Yanmar 6EY18ALW generators providing 750 kW each, and a single Cummins 6BT5.9-D(W) emergency generator providing 122 kW. She has a single Alfa Laval Qingdao Mission OC exhaust gas boiler.

Shi Dai 10, Cape Town 11 October 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The design of ‘Shi Dai 10’ is from the Shanghai Merchant Ship Design and Research Institute (SDARI), and she is known as a SDARI 76 class of vessel. They have proved very popular, especially with Chinese State owned, or controlled, shipping companies, with over 30 of them built. She is gearless, i.e. she has no deck cranes for loading or discharging, she has seven holds, and a cargo carrying capacity of 90,540 m3.

Owned, operated, and managed by Shanghai Time Shipping Co. Ltd., of Shanghai, whose houseflag she proudly display son her funnel, ‘Shi Dai 10’ is one of four SDARI 76 sisterships in the company fleet, all with the same name ‘Shi Dai’, followed by a number.

For the nomenclature fan, ‘Shi Dai’ in Mandarin means ‘Age’ or ‘Period in One’s Life’. This descriptive name is very appropriate by virtue of the company name relating to time.

Shi Dai 10, Cape Town 11 October 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her departure port in Brazil, São Francisco do Sul, in Santa Catarina State, is located at 26°14’ South 048°38’ West, is the 7th largest port in Brazil, and the third largest port for bulk commodities. The main exports from the port are Soybeans and rolled steel, with China being the primary export market.

The latest export figures for August 2023 show that São Francisco do Sul exported goods in that month to the value of US$102 million (ZAR1.94 billion), with US$55 million (ZAR1.01 billion) of that export total, or 54%, going to China. To show how skewed towards China that trade is, the next largest export customer in August 2023 was Brazil’s closest neighbour, Argentina, with an export trade of US$12.3 million (ZAR233.79 million).

Shi Dai 10, Cape Town 11 October 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

By far the largest export commodity is Soybeans, with US$67.8 million (ZAR1.29 billion) of the August 2023 export figure coming from that crop. So far, throughout 2023 to date, Soybeans have accounted for a full 73.7% of São Francisco do Sul’s exports. The last full year export figures for 2022, show that total exports of all commodities stood at US$974 million (ZAR18.51 billion), with Soybeans making up US$554 million (ZAR10.53 billion), or 57% of the annual total.

Another agricultural commodity that is starting to make a significant impact on exports from the port is Corn. Corn exports from São Francisco do Sul in 2023 thus far, have tripled in comparison to the same period in 2022, with the majority of the Corn exports going to China. The figure for the first 7 months of 2022 were 802,000 tons of exported Corn, with a creditable 2.5 million tons exported in 2023 so far.

Shi Dai 10, Cape Town 11 October 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Whilst alongside the Landing Wall in Cape Town, the AMSOL harbour bunker tanker ‘Lipuma’ came alongside ‘Shi Dai 10’ and began a transfer of fuel to her. Whatever reason, other than bunkers, there was for ‘Shi Dai 10’ that made her require to stop over in Cape Town, they were sorted out after just under 12 hours alongside, and at 22h00 in the late evening of 11th October, she sailed from Cape Town.

Her AIS was showing that she was bound for Singapore initially, and then expected to change to a discharge port somewhere in China, in order to offload her cargo. Her draft clearly indicated that she was almost fully loaded with a bulk cargo from Brazil, and with what was likely to be a cargo of either Soybean, or Corn.

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Breaking the back of the coal theft syndicates

Africa Ports & Ships

An inter-governmental search and seizure operation across five provinces was carried out on Thursday to break the back of a sophisticated criminal syndicate of alleged coal-smugglers.

Led by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) the operation involved inter-governmental co-operation and information-sharing under the auspices of the NATJOINTS Energy Safety & Security Priority Committee.

“The committee was tasked with unmasking and bringing to book the criminals that have caused economic hardship and personal hardship to all citizens of the country,” SARS said in a statement.

Such investigative breakthroughs can ensure that South Africans can return to a lifestyle without loadshedding, SARS added.

The alleged coal-smugglers and their related entities have a presence in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Limpopo.

Suspects targeted last week include former Eskom employees who facilitated procurement fraud, as well as other individuals involved in the diversion of high-grade coal.

SARS was able to establish links between individuals and related entities and confirmed possible gross contraventions from a tax perspective.

Local & foreign nationals

The sophisticated network of coal-smugglers is suspected to consist of local and foreign nationals. Coal trucks destined for power stations are diverted to designated coal yards where high-grade coal is replaced with low-grade or sub-standard product.

The high-grade coal is then exported or sold to willing buyers. The low-grade coal is often blended with scrap or other materials and then delivered to power stations.

The low-grade coal damages the infrastructure at the Eskom power stations, which is a major factor in crippling the power utility’s ability to generate electricity for the South African grid.

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Operational delays – SAECS service updates

The Maersk vessel on the SAECS service, Santa Clara, departing Durban on a previous rotation. The vessel will be omitting her Cape Town call.  Picture by Keith Betts

Africa Ports & Ships

In a South Africa Europe Container Service (SAECS) update, it was announced by Ocean Network Express (ONE), that the vessel SANTA TERESA on voyage 233N/234S would be performing a double call in Rotterdam.

The reason given is to maintain schedule integrity, says ONE.

After discharging her import cargo on 11 October 2023 (ETA), she will proceed to London Gateway for full cargo operations before returning to APM Terminal for loading export cargo.

Below is the full updated service schedule for Santa Teresa v.233N/234S:

SANTA CLARA, Voyage 233S/234N

In an addition advisory, ONE announces that due to ongoing operational delays and to maintain schedule integrity, the vessel SANTA CLARA on v.233S will omit her Cape Town call.

Cape Town imports will be discharged in Durban and transferred to the vessel Santa Isabel v.233S, ETA 31 October 2023.

The cargo originally planned for the vessel Santa Clara on voyage 234N in Cape Town will be transferred to the vessel Santa Isabel v.234N, ETD 5 November 2023.

SANTA ISABEL Voyage 233S/234N

ONE has announced that due to berthing constraints in the port of Ngqura, the vessel Santa Isabel v.233S/234N was unable to complete her operations and moved to Port Elizabeth (PECT) on Friday 13 October 2023 to complete her import discharge.

Cargo originally planned for the the vessel Santa Isabel on v.234N in Ngqura will be transferred to the vessel Mehuin on v.234N, which is ETD 20 October.

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IMO and West Africa: Implementing oil pollution, liability and compensation measures

Picture: IMO

Edited by Paul Ridgway

Those responsible for implementing IMO conventions on pollution preparedness and response, and for transposing them into domestic legislation, have been attending a sub-regional workshop aimed at sharing best practices relating to the instruments’ application in West Africa. This was reported by the IMO media service on 12 October.

Law makers in WA

The event in Lomé, Togo held from 10 October was targeted at policymakers and those who advise on, and who draft national laws in, Benin, Guinea, Mauritania and Togo.

Raising awareness

The objective was to raise awareness of how IMO develops international rules that, to be effectively implemented, must be reflected by Member States in their national legislation, and to support them in doing so.

Sharing experiences

The workshop provided an opportunity for participants to, through presentations and lectures, share their experience relating to the legal and technical aspects of articles that make up IMO Conventions on oil pollution, liability and compensation, that is OPRC 1990, CLC and FUND 1992, as well as the Bunkers Convention.

Delivered by IMO with GI WACAF.

The meeting was delivered through IMO’s Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP) under the framework of the Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa (GI WACAF). It forms part of the Organization’s commitment to supporting African Small Island Developing States (SIDs) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

As in 2021

Similar workshops were held remotely in 2021 for the benefit of the Gambia, Liberia, Namibia and Nigeria and in 2022, under the GI SEA Project, for Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam.

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Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd to provide Starlink to their fleets


Africa Ports & Ships

Anglo-Eastern and MOL may soon follow

Maersk says it will be deploying Starlink’s high-speed satellite internet connectivity to its owned fleet of over 330 container ships as from the first quarter of 2024.

The announcement follows a similar decision by German carrier, Hapag-Lloyd, following a successful pilot phase.

Hapag-Lloyd, the fifth largest container carrier with a fleet of more than 250 container ships, of which 122 are owned by the carrier, said the introduction of high-speed onboard connectivity has been proven to enhance crew welfare, boost operational efficiency and safety, and contribute to attracting and retaining top talent.

Starlink is a pioneering satellite internet constellation developed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

With bandwidth of up to 250 Mbps, the service is a leap forward in terms of internet speed and latency which will bring significant benefits in terms of both crew welfare and business impact, according to Maersk.

Testing on 30 vessels

The Danish carrier carried out its own successful pilot phase where crew members on more than 30 Maersk vessels have had the opportunity to test the Starlink technology – resulting in very positive feedback.

Maersk said that besides obvious benefits from highspeed internet resulting in seamless streaming and high definition videocalls for crew members, high-speed, low latency internet will also facilitate cost saving measures by moving business critical applications into the cloud and by strengthening remote support and inspections of the vessels.

‘We are excited to announce our journey with Starlink to provide state of the art connectivity to our sea going colleagues,” said Leonardo Sonzio, Head of Fleet Management and Technology at A.P. Moller – Maersk.

Picture: Wikipedia

“The highspeed connectivity will enable our seagoing colleagues to stay connected with their loved ones while at sea. It will also propel the expansion of seamless cloud solutions, enabling our vision to digitalise our vessel operations.”

Both Maersk and Starlink said their vision is to create a globally connected world where opportunities are not limited by geography – making it a great fit to solve the challenges of staying connected on the high seas of the world.

Hapag-Lloyd’s COO Maximilian Rothkopf said they are very happy to provide their seafarers with Starlink’s high-speed satellite internet and to enhance their well-being on board. “But also for Fleet Management, the change in communication and connectivity will be huge,” he said.

Hong Kong-based ship manager Anglo-Eastern, which conducted tests with Starlink on 12 of its managed ships, is reported to be ready to install over 200 Starlink systems on its managed ships. Meanwhile, Japanese carrier MOL has also conducted trials with positive results and may soon follow with a decision to install Starline across the fleet.

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Grindrod donates 177 bicycles to schools in Mozambique

Grindrod’s Mozambikes  Picture: Grindrod

Africa Ports & Ships

Grindrod, which has extensive shipping, port and logistics interests in Mozambique, has donated 177 bicycles to schools in Namaacha and Boane in the province of Maputo.

Referring to this as part of its corporate social responsibility, and a way of touching the lives of communities in which it operates, the project will directly impact 77 teachers, school staff, 5 mechanics and 95 students from 5 schools in the region.

The initiative is being carried out in partnership with Mozambikes, with the aim of encouraging education and development in the communities where it operates.

In addition to providing bicycles, lectures have been held on traffic safety, and a workshop will be made available, which will be managed by the schools for maintenance.

Ismenia Ferreira, National HR Manager from Grindrod in Mozambique, said the initiative is aimed at significantly impacting on education, not only by helping students attend schools but also allowing teachers to reach schools efficiently.

Teachers, students, and employees, Ferreira said, live between 5 and 45 kilometres from their place of work.

“Public transport is scarce. On average, most employees spend 3 hours a day commuting. This fact has causes delays and regular absences by teachers, both at school and in the classroom, thus harming the teaching and learning process of the 2,148 students.”

Grindrod said in a statement that by its presence in the Maputo port and strategic terminal operations and its logistics capabilities, it is well positioned to deliver on its purpose of making a positive difference in Africa’s trade with the world.

In this way it is able to touch the lives of the communities in which it operates.

Commercial services provided by Grindrod include clearing and forwarding, customs management, intermodal solutions, project logistics, rail logistics, road and maritime transport, ships agency services, terminal operations, and warehouse management.

A proven track record of operational expertise across the supply chain and its investments in strategic infrastructure enables Grindrod’s divisions to deliver cargo from the hustle and bustle of cities to the most remote regions in Africa or across the globe.

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Transnet and eThekwini Municipality take next step on developmental projects

eThekwini Municipality City Manager, Musa Mbhele signing the MOU with TNPA’s Managing Executive for Eastern Region ports, Moshe Motlohi

Africa Ports & Ships

Collaboration agreement strengthens Durban Port and City integration

Transnet and the eThekwini Municipality (Durban) have signed a second addendum to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) focusing on developmental projects and areas of co-operation.

The collaboration concerns areas where the two parties have mutual interest and benefit.

The second addendum also seeks to establish institutional structures to help the two parties to achieve various objectives. This is in terms of section 41 of the Constitution, Section 13 of the National Ports Act, and section 3 of the Municipal Systems Act.

“Through this partnership, we aim to maintain a transparent method of sharing information and consultation with eThekwini Municipality to ensure many of the projects we work together on are implemented timeously,” explained Moshe Motlohi, Transnet National Ports Authority’s (TNPA) Managing Executive for the Eastern Region ports.

The collaborative relationship between Transnet and eThekwini Municipality was made official in 2006, following a period where a certain amount of friction and non-cooperation between Transnet and the municipality existed.

The MOU focused on a wide range of joint interests – spatial planning and land use, economic development, tourism, environment, transport, traffic management, special projects, security, services and sharing of best practices.

In 2016, the first MOU addendum included an addition of port operations and development, spatial planning and land use including zoning, as well as interface planning and strategy implementation.

Container Terminal’s second access road

Through the MOU, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was developed for the Durban Container Terminal’s second access road and the traffic modelling strategy for the Port of Durban.

City Manager, Musa Mbhele said the city’s symbiotic relationship with the Port serves as an economic engine that drives infrastructure development, creates employment opportunities, encourages environmental sustainability and promotes innovation.

“By recognising and cultivating this partnership, we ensure that our city and port will continue to thrive and make significant contributions to the well-being of the residents and the global economy,” Mbhele said.

He added that eThekwini’s collaboration with Transnet is not merely a partnership, it’s a vital lifeline that ensures the success of the city and port.

“Our objectives, as outlined in the agreement are ambitious but very much achievable. Therefore, by working together, we can overcome any challenge and seize every opportunity that come our way.”

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In Conversation: New treaty to protect the world’s oceans may hurt vulnerable African fisheries

Ifesinachi Okafor-Yarwood, University of St Andrews

Following two decades of fierce negotiations, over 60 countries recently signed a UN Ocean Treaty to conserve biodiversity on the high seas.

The “high seas” are all ocean areas which aren’t under a specific country’s direct ownership or regulation. They make up two-thirds of Earth’s oceans, providing 90% of the habitat available for life.

The treaty has been celebrated as historic. It’s the first time that action will be taken against unregulated use of resources in this ungoverned space.

It’s estimated that 90% of the world’s marine fish stocks are now fully exploited, overexploited or depleted. Although less than 10% of the total global fish catch is from the high seas, the unregulated nature of fishing there has a harmful impact on marine life.

The treaty consists of 76 articles. Their goals include the protection and sustainable management of the marine environment, preserving the integrity of ocean ecosystems – such as coral reefs – and conserving biological diversity. Once ratified, the treaty will allow the establishment of marine protected areas in the high seas.

Though it doesn’t explicitly prohibit commercial fishing in the high seas, it includes language that may allow for their “sustainable use”. So, the establishment of a protected area in the high seas is expected to address unsustainable fishing activities in the space, but only if fully implemented.

Part of my expertise lies in maritime and natural resource governance in Africa, so I’ve been following this development. There are reasons to celebrate the Oceans Treaty for what it represents – an extra mechanism to protect our oceans and their resources. But my main concern – which has also been flagged by others – is that the treaty could drive distant water fleets (fishing outside their own territory) to fishing grounds closer to land. And many of the most lucrative grounds belong to African countries.

The treaty has been described as “extremely broad” and lacking specifics. Clear regulations must be put in place by the treaty’s implementing agency. It’s not yet clear who that will be. The treaty calls for state parties to allow for the establishment of various committees and working groups, together with a Conference of the Parties to guide implementation.

I argue that clear regulations must ensure that fisheries subsidies to vessels that once relied on the high seas must be cut. Subsidies given to distant water vessels can encourage the overexploitation of vulnerable species.

Attractive fishing grounds

Having lost access to fish on the high seas, fleets will need new fishing grounds. African waters are an attractive target for various reasons.

Firstly, they’re rich in diverse species.

Secondly, these waters are not properly monitored, which means countries can take advantage of them. Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing already costs Africa over US$2.3 billion annually.

Thirdly, coastal African states appear willing to enter into new agreements with nations that fish outside their own borders.

This is worrying because it’s going to put Africa’s vulnerable fish stocks at risk. Distant-water vessels are already known to be exploitative.

Who are these vessels?

About 97% of high-seas fishing is done by vessels flagged to high-income countries – the vast majority (86%) are from China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and Spain.

Vessels from some of these countries, such as China, South Korea and Spain, already have fisheries arrangements with countries in Africa. And they’re known to contribute to the overexploitation of fish on the continent through legal and illegal fishing.

Harmful subsidies

These high-sea fishing vessels come from the top 10 countries providing fisheries subsidies.

Fisheries subsidies are financial support given by governments to help the private sector, including distant-water vessels, to catch more fish. Some of these subsidies have been shown to be harmful, particularly to vulnerable species.

Harmful subsidies encourage overfishing, as the money is spent on capacity-expanding activities such as artificially lowering fuel and vessel construction costs. This allows large vessels to catch more fish than is sustainable by fishing farther out to sea and for longer periods. Many industrial fleets wouldn’t be profitable without these subsidies.

The treaty doesn’t clearly address subsidies, but they are the subject of the World Trade Organization’s 2022 Fisheries Subsidies Agreement. This, however, has not come into force as two thirds of the signatories have not yet accepted the deal. Under the proposed agreement, signatory countries must commit to stop providing harmful subsidies.

If harmful subsidies aren’t effectively addressed, a ban on fishing on the high seas could end up contributing to increased fishing activities within the jurisdictions of coastal countries.

What must happen

Aside from the treaty being effectively implemented, several measures and strategies can be deployed to ensure African countries are protected.

There must be more support from the international community for regional fisheries bodies – such as the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea and Regional Fisheries Commission for the Gulf of Guinea – for countries in west Africa. The regional bodies must be in a better position to guide member states on sustainable fisheries practices, enforce regulations where they exist or update regulations as needed.

There must be increased support in monitoring fishing. Partners and non-governmental organisations share data from satellite technology and vessel tracking systems that helps coastal states monitor what goes on in their waters. The international community must provide further support so that coastal states can enforce existing regulations by sharing capacity, technological know-how and assets.

By combining these strategies and fostering international cooperation, it is possible to strike a balance between implementing the treaty and fishing sustainably in Africa’s oceans.The Conversation

Ifesinachi Okafor-Yarwood, Lecturer, University of St Andrews

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

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Standing NATO Maritime Group 2: Reintegrating in eastern Med

Warships of Standing NATO SNMG2 rendezvoused in the eastern Mediterranean to complete an intensive period of combined training and operations. Picture: NATO MARCOM 

Edited by Paul Ridgway

Warships of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) have rendezvoused in the eastern Mediterranean to complete an intensive period of combined training and operations. This was reported by the SNMG2 & Public Affairs Office at NATO MARCOM on 10 October.

Seven strong task group

After almost a month of being dispersed on individual tasks throughout the Mediterranean, the now seven-strong multinational NATO task group is back operating closely together, it was reported. During week commencing 1 October, the ships and staff of SNMG2 were put through their paces with a comprehensive and high-intensity training programme. This enabled all parts to experience a variety of increasingly complex integration scenarios, including: tactical communications and manoeuvring, live gunnery, air defence, surface warfare and replenishment-at-sea.

The opportunity to train together so as to be able to understand and maximise these attributes, while reinforcing common tactics and procedures, is vital to maintaining the interoperability of these NATO warships. This in turn is key to success as a task group

SNMG2 currently comprises almost 1,500 personnel, split between seven ships from six nations, including: HMS Duncan (UK), ESPS Méndez Núñez (Spain), ITS Margottini (Italy), FS Surcouf (France), TCG Yavuz (Türkiye), ESPS Patiño (Spain), and FGS Frankfurt Am Main (Germany). The task group is led by the Royal Navy’s Commodore Paul Stroude.

By 10 October warships of SNMG2 had rendezvoused in the eastern Mediterranean to complete an intensive period of combined training and operations.


In the words of Commodore Stroude: “Each nation brings its own capabilities and unique strengths to the group.”

Of the recent period at sea he commented: “The opportunity to train together so as to be able to understand and maximise these attributes, while reinforcing our common tactics and procedures, is vital to maintaining the interoperability of these NATO ships. This in turn is key to our success as a task group.”

Well supplied

The recent addition of the Spanish supply ship ESPS Patiño has significantly increased SNMG2’s sustainability at sea, and enhanced the support already offered by the German supply ship FGS Frankfurt am Main.

Stroude concluded by saying: “Having dedicated supply ships as part of the task group underpins our very high readiness by enabling us to stay forward deployed on operations at sea for much longer.”

Complex replenishment-at-sea undertaken

In a demonstration of this capability, HMS Duncan, ESPS Méndez Núñez and FS Surcouf conducted a complex replenishment-at-sea (RAS) with FGS Frankfurt Am Main, simultaneously pumping fuel to two ships, whilst also transferring personnel via helicopter.


Another key part of the week’s integration training saw SNMG2’s combined helicopter force rack up dozens of hours of flying (Pictured). Now numbering five helicopters, these aircraft allow the task group to extend its effective range well beyond the horizon.

Logistic flexibility

Equipped with a variety of advanced sensors and weapon systems, the aircraft are capable of defending against threats both above and below the water. They also offer logistical flexibility to the group, allowing for the rapid movement of personnel and equipment both between ships and back to shore. After numerous deck landings on each other’s ships throughout the week, the task group’s aircrew have shown that they are well prepared for alliance operations.

SNMG2 is one of four Standing Naval Forces groups operating under NATO Allied Maritime Command in Northwood, NW London.

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Port Louis – Indian Ocean gateway port

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Total cargo handled by tonnes during August 2023, including containers by weight

PORT August 2023 million tonnes
Richards Bay 6.678
Durban 7.199
Saldanha Bay 5.643
Cape Town 1.314
Port Elizabeth 1.589
Ngqura 1.243
Mossel Bay 0.083
East London 0.230
Total all ports during July 23.947 million tonnes
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