Weekly Press Review – 21 August 2017

South Africa’s weak economy is impacting those renting Transnet sites in the country’s eight commercial harbours.

According to the press tenants of Transnet sites have stated that if the economy continues on its current path they will have no choice but to renegotiate their contracts or simply return their sites to Transnet.

At present TNPA have 750 tenants and 90 cargo operators renting within the major harbours.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has sent out a plea to ask concerns citizens who cut floating buoys from fishing gear, with the intention of removing the gear in which whales and other marine mammals may become entangled, to please be aware that they may be doing more harm than good.

The department explains, “The buoys are markers which mark the ends of lines of fishing gear lying along the sea floor. Removing the floating buoys may result in slower times to find and retrieve the fishing gear by fishers, thus increasing the opportunity for entanglement of whales and other marine mammals.”

Even more dangerous is that once the buoys are removed, fishers are no longer able to find and retrieve the lines of fishing gear. These lines then continue to engage in “ghost fishing” – meaning that they continue to entrap marine creatures over time.

The NSRI was called into action this weekend as it rescued a whale entangled off the coast of Kleinmond.

According to the press, Dawie Malan and his wife reported the incident and the 12m whale was discover approximately 50m offshore entangled in rope and with a buoy attached to its tail. The whale was freed and swam away unharmed.

Weekly Press Review – 14 August 2017

JSE-listed Sea Harvest has acquired a new freezer trawler from listed Icelandic fishing company, HB Grandi. According to the press, the vessel, the MV Therney, was built in Sterkoder yard in Norway.

The group said that there are currently three Sterkoder class vessels in South Africa, two owned by Irvin & Johnson, and one acquired by Sea Harvest in 2014.

Sea Harvest has invested more that R300 million over the past three years in vessel acquisition and factory upgrades to create a world-class asset base.  After listing, the company said that it wanted to pursue growth organically and through acquisitions, in an effort to position itself as a global seafood producer.

In an interview with the Sunday Times this week, Cape Town mayor, Patricia De Lille said that in attempt to deal with the water crisis currently facing the Western Cape, some 250 million litres will come from desalination projects. As this infrastructure is not yet in place, a desalination boat, to be parked at sea, is an option on the table in the interim.

Importers, exporters and shipping lines may be faced with an 8 or 9 percent fee increase to use South African harbours.

According to the press, Transnet is holding public hearings in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban to discuss the National Port Authority’s tariff application for 2018/19.

Increasing the availability of liquid petroleum gas (LPG) to South Africa, Sunrise Energy officially launched the R1,2 billion LPG plant near Saldanha Bay this week.

According to the press, the first cargo of LPG was received in May from a LPG vessel and William Bopape, plant manager, said that the import point has been extremely busy ever since.

Sailing clubs claim that they are being muscled off government owned land.

According to the press, South African Sailing says that clubs in Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Mossel Bay and East London are in the midst of legal action over new lease agreements or are facing eviction or stringent new terms.

The organisation claims that steep rental increases and diminished access to water are threatening development programmes that produce top black sailors.

Transnet National Ports Authority has denied targeting sports clubs, but declined to comment on sub judice matters.

Marine scientists and conservationists have warned that the annual sardine run in Kwazulu Natal could be under threat from both climate change and the impact of fishing.

According to the press, the sardine run generates an estimated R500 million in tourism for the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast and is being impacted by increased ocean temperatures.

Marine conservationist, Lesley Rochat says, “What we do know for certain … is that the world’s oceans are undergoing rapid and regionally specific warming as a result of climate change.”

“Climate change must be addressed in order to preserve marine life, including the sardines,” says Rochat.

Transnet and the Game of Thrones

Yesterday the Minister of Transport, Joe Maswanganyi, toured the Port of Durban with the Chief Executive of Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) ahead of the official launch of the Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy. There’s nothing altogether strange about that – but I did feel like I had missed a crucial episode of The Game of Thrones.

Richard Vallihu, who less than a month ago revealed the new TNPA building at the Port of Ngqura, was nowhere to be seen. Instead it was Shulami Qalinge that stepped up to the title of CE at yesterday’s proceedings.

It seems that there has been a succession to the title in the few weeks since the unveiling in the Eastern Cape, but with none of the usual official announcements from the State Owned Entity, the Department of Public Enterprises or even a Cabinet congratulatory notice. Why?

Minister Maswanganyi made it clear last night that the shift to promote women leaders in the maritime space was welcomed by his Department and Qalinge appears to come to the position with good and relevant experience within the logistics sector and Transnet.

TNPA is not usually shy with appointment announcements, but Qalinge seems to have flown in under the radar and ousted Vallihu who’s appointment was certainly officially announced in 2015 when he took over following the sudden departure of Tau Morwe.

Industry sources say that they too are surprised at the seeming secrecy around the appointment and report that news spread to them via the grapevine and not through official Transnet channels.

Indeed Vallihu is still listed in the position on the TNPA website and I am left questioning the validity of my own eye-witness account of yesterday’s proceedings as I scour TNPA as well as government statements for confirmation of the episode I seem to have missed.

Nevertheless, welcome aboard Ms Shulami Qalinge and may your time in the position help steer the Port Authority forward.

Weekly Press Review – 27 March 2017

PetroSA has made headlines again this week. According to the press the state-owned oil company is set to suffer a projected devaluation of assets of R1.1 billion this financial year, in addition to the R14.5 billion in impairment it suffered in the 2014/15 financial year.

The PetroSA board, however, managed to escape an attempt to have it dissolved. A call was made to Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson to fire the entire board.

Committee member, Motswaledi Matlala said, “On behalf of the committee I request of the minister: let’s fire the board and get new people who are serious about the lives of the people of this county.”

Interim board chairman, Bhekabantu Ngubane responded by saying that it would be sad day if the board were fired.

Adding to the company’s woes it was also reported in the press that an inexplicable decision by executives at the embattled oil company to feed oil into the state-of-the-art gas-to-liquid facility at Mossel Bay has led to a break down of the refinery, resulting in a two week shutdown and a R500 million loss in revenue.

Transnet has made headlines this week with parliament calling for a forensic investigation into Transnet and the Passenger Rail Agency’s multi-billion rand locomotive contracts.

A display commemorating the black South African troops who lost their lives aboard the SS Mendi in 1917 is currently open at the Centre for African Studies at the University of Cape Town.

According to the press the centre will also be hosting a multi-discipline conference focusing on the role that the soldiers aboard the SS Mendi played in the greater struggle for human rights and human dignity.

The SA Navy will just have to do more with less. That was the message delivered by Vice Admiral Mosuwa Hlongwana, Head of the SA Navy, in Simon’s Town this week.

According to the press the navy is experiencing more challenges, but with far less funding. Vice Admiral Hlongwana also stated that it is important to remember that the navy has 3,000km of coastline to patrol and traditional concepts would have to be challenged in driving the navy into the future.

The annual SA Navy Festival, in conjunction with Armscor, took place at East Dockyard in Simon’s Town last weekend. According to the press the event afforded the public the opportunity to tour naval ships and submarines, as well as view multi-capacity anti-piracy demonstrations.

Weekly Press Review – 23 January 2017

Grindrod Asset Management this week announced plans for a deal that would culminate in Infinitus Holdings gaining a 76 percent stake in Grindrod.

According to the press Infinitus is focused on high-growth businesses in the consumer, industrial and financial services sector.

Through its subsidiary GFS Holdings, Grindrod will exchange its entire Grindrod Asset Management for Infinitus shares.

GFS managing director, David Polkinghorne, said, “Grindrod is changing the way it holds its interest. This is an important step to free up the business to develop its own identity as Bridge Fund Managers pursue sensible growth opportunities while retaining its loyal client base. Grindrod will continue to support the business in every way.”

Also making headlines this week is the news that Transnet has initiated an investigation into complaints regarding the management of the training programme at its Marine School of Excellence.

According to a statement by Transnet executive head, Siyabonga Gama, the complaints are focused mainly on the issues of access to practical training and the duration of the programme.

Transnet has made a R7.7 billion investment in training over the next decade and with hopes to expand the maritime training academy.

Weekly Press Review – 9 October 2015

There is exciting news in the scientific world as scientists discover a host of totally new marine species.

According to the press scientists have made the discovery in the “twilight zone” around the Hawaiian islands.

The discoveries were made during a 28-day trip aboard a research ship from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and includes a new species of start fish, sea horses, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, algae and fish.

Advanced diving technologies were used to reach the extraordinary depths required (60m – 90m) for this research.  The scientists discovered many creatures that they could not identify and that are believed to be completely new to science.

The specimens will be sent to a number of museums from around the world in an attempt to identify them.

Also in the news this week was the awarding of Blue Flag status to seven of Cape Town’s most popular beaches.

The beaches were awarded the Blue Flag status at an event hosted by Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom by the Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa.  The event took place in Hermanus.

Our Blue Flag status beaches are:  Bikini Beach, Mnandi Beach, Strandfontein Beach, Llandudno Beach, Camps Bay Beach, Clifton 4th Beach and Silwerstroom Beach.

News of a cargo ship El Faro that sank in a hurricane off the Bahamas made the pages of local newspapers yesterday as safety officials began an investigation into why the vessel decided to chart such a risky course. Investigators hope to retrieve the vessel’s black box.

According to other reports, Nigeria’s offshore contracts with international oil companies are being reviewed. Analysts predict the move will bring uncertainty to an industry that already lacks regulatory clarity. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has production sharing contracts with Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Total and Eni.

Transnet, who’s infrastructure expansion plans have received significant press coverage over the last few years, attracted some more coverage this week as Reuters quoted company sources that claimed that consideration was being given to cutting expansion plans.

World Maritime Day

Today is World Maritime Day today. This day, set aside for the last week of September each year, offers a day to reflect on how the maritime industry has influenced our lives over the past year and also offers an opportunity for organisations, companies and individuals to actively do something to acknowledge the people involved in an industry that so many take for granted.

This year South Africa is recognising the day with various events around the country. Transport Deputy Minister, Honourable Sindisiwe Chikunga will host the World Maritime Day Career Expo and Exhibition in Kimberley in the Northern Cape. The celebrations are being held under the theme: “Sustainable Development: International Maritime Organisation’s contribution beyond Rio+20.”
The event is being attended by school children from previously disadvantaged communities who will be given the chance to display their knowledge of the maritime sector through educational displays and exhibitions.

Schools around the Northern Cape will participate in a competition involving: ship designing, essay writing, drama and art competition.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the Department of Environmental Affairs, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), Transnet Port Terminals (TPT), Grindrod Shipping Company, Smit Amandla Marine and various other key maritime stakeholders will engage with the learners, providing information surrounding various activities within the maritime industry.

The day will be closed with a gala dinner.

The South Africa Navy is also acknowledging the day and participating in the celebrations.

World Maritime Day in South Africa also serves as a platform to create awareness around the career opportunities available within the maritime industry. It’s just a bit of a pity that the industry seems to rely on the usual suspects (see the list above) to promote their sector. Where is everyone else? We should all be involved in these initiatives.

Make a note in your diaries because in September 2014 Maritime Review will challenge the entire industry to come to the party!