Archives For Durban

Artistic impression - Durban Dig-out Port

Artistic impression – Durban Dig-out Port

An international ports expert has expressed serious reservations about Durban’s proposed dig-out port. He said plans for a dig-out port should be put on hold, with efforts rather directed at maximising the existing facilities and potential at Durban Harbour.

International adviser and expert on port development Jamie Simpson, of Canada, has warned Transnet and the eThekwini Municipality against pursuing the dig-out port, saying the current port has to “keep going”. Simpson was a guest speaker at a ports and cities dialogue with Durban businesses, hosted by the municipality’s Edge (Economic Development and Growth eThekwini) at the Moses Mabhida Stadium yesterday. His point of view was supported by two other speakers.

However, Transnet group strategy general manager Irvindra Naidoo was adamant that the parastatal was forging ahead with the project, saying Durban was “running out of capacity” and had to expand.

Naidoo said: “The question was: ‘Okay, do we now go off somewhere else and develop a new maritime cluster around Richards Bay or somewhere else, or do we try to embed or strengthen the cluster… (by extending) the Durban port?’ That’s what this dig-out port really is about. It’s an extension of an existing cluster.”

The port, the continent’s busiest, caters for 2.6 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) a year. These result in about 8 000 daily container-related heavy vehicle movements around the Bayhead area. Transnet has repeatedly said that the port will battle to provide the capacity for future demand.

Naidoo said with a dig-out port at the old Durban International Airport site, the containers could reach 8.2 million TEU by 2040, resulting in about 17 500 heavy vehicle movements daily in the South Durban Basin.

Simpson told the panel that the move “might not be a very good solution”. He said: “In view of the likely availability of financing – a lot of uncertainty – I think the port has to keep going and develop a capital investment plan and operational improvement plans to meet demand in the next five to 10 years.”

From there, he said, the parastatal could “weigh up” whether a bigger port “makes sense in view of market conditions… and availability of finance at the time”.

The first phase of construction of the dig-out port was expected to start between 2021 and 2025. A pre-feasibility study started in 2013. To read the full article click here! Source: iol.co.za

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Dube Tradeport will be officially launched as an Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) by President Zuma on Tuesday 7 October.

At the launch event, the Dube Tradeport will officially be handed over an operator permit which provides them the status of an IDZ.

Situated at the Dube Centre, King Shaka International Airport, Durban, it was designated as an IDZ on 1 July 2014 by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies.

Davies says, “The Dube Tradeport IDZ will be launched during a period of transition wherein Industrial Development Zones as governed by the Manufacturing Development Act will become Special Economic Zones (SEZ) under the new Special Economic Zones Act 16 of 2014.”
According to Davies, the Act has been assented to by the President, and will come into effect before the end of 2014.

Davies adds, “The main areas that have designated as Dube Tradeport Industrial Development Zone (DTPIDZ) are Dube Agrizone and Dube Tradeport. Dube Agrizone is about 63.5 hectares and focuses on high-value, niche agricultural and horticultural products while Dube Tradezone which is 240.27 hectares focuses on manufacturing and value-addition primarily for automotive, electronic, fashion garments and similar high value, time-sensitive products and inputs.”

“The launch of the IDZ will highlight the continuous efforts by government to promote industrialisation and create awareness about the SEZ programme, and its potential to grow the economy and create jobs through creating a conducive environment for foreign direct investment.” Source: Transportworldafrica.co.za with images from dubetradeport.co.za.

Old Durban airport - site for new Dig Out Port (Picture credit: ACSA)

Old Durban airport – site for new Dig Out Port (Picture credit: ACSA)

The first phase of Durban’s dig-out port, which was expected to generate hundreds of jobs and turn the city into the shipping hub of Africa, would not be ready by 2020 as planned, and the current harbour might have to be expanded to provide a short-term solution. This emerged at a KZN Freight Task Group meeting recently where Transnet dig-out port programme director Marc Descoins admitted that a new completion date was being investigated.

‘The actual start date of the new port is uncertain as we are still in the early design phase,’ Descoins said last night. Technical issues, such as the requirements for the construction of a new single buoy mooring to replace the existing one, were affecting timelines. Other factors affecting the development were being re-examined, but Descoins did not give further reasons for the delay.

Transnet was still tracking demand forecasts to ensure that capacity creation was aligned to demand, he said. Nevertheless it had other plans for port expansion to ensure capacity met this demand. If an alternative could be found to expand the capacity of the port, the dig-out port project at the old airport site could be set back by a few years, he said.

However, a previously discussed option – the expansion of the current port into the Bayhead area – was ruled out by Descoins, as complex problems involved in developing the area as an additional container terminal would take at least 15 years to resolve. Engineering and technical businesses in Bayhead did not appear shocked at the news yesterday, saying they knew expansion in the area would not happen.

One of the most seriously considered – and quickest – options would be for the container terminal on Pier 1 to be expanded in the direction of Salisbury Island. This would also provide Durban with increased container capacity. A decision on this could be made soon, but if this option was decided on, the dig-out port might be even further delayed as Transnet would not develop both projects and create unnecessary capacity in the short term.

However, the dig-out port project would not be cancelled, and preparations at the old airport site would continue, Descoins said. Transnet had warned that without the dig-out port Durban would not be able to meet medium- and long-term shipping capacity demand. The project would increase the volume of container trade at the Port of Durban from the current 2.69 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) to between 9 million and 12 million TEUs over 30 years.

Durban was also the first choice for a port upgrade because of its good infrastructure, although the road and rail systems need to be considerably upgraded. Completion of the feasibility study was scheduled for the end of 2015 followed by a four-year construction phase. The first ships were expected to come into the port in 2020. For this to have been achieved groundwork would have had to begin by the end of 2016. Transnet bought the old airport land in 2012 for R1.85 billion. Building the port was expected to cost R75bn to R100bn over the next 30 years.

Desmond D’Sa, chairman of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, was pleased with the delay, but said the project should be abandoned.

‘Why do we even need another port? It is only going to become another white elephant like the Coega Industrial Development Zone in the Eastern Cape.

‘This is all about people with big pockets, and the extra time will only allow corruption.’

Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Andrew Layman said imports and exports from the harbour were not accelerating as much as expected.

‘This is reflected in the international trading market. South Africa is not the flavour of the month.’

There had always been plans for expansion of the current harbour, he said.

‘This is because ships are bigger these days – it needs to be deepened and widened. So I don’t think it is a case of one or the other.

‘The need for the dig-out port is not as imminent as originally thought, and money is probably not as readily available either.’

Layman said it was not ‘a train smash’ as jobs had not been created yet, but it was unfortunate that job creation would be delayed.

‘It is understandable that it would be further delayed in the current climate.

‘It would be pre-emptive to start construction as the system still needs a lot of work, such as our tariffs, which are higher than most ports around the world, and our service delivery.’ Source: The Mercury

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During December 2013, I received a fabulous book from a business acquaintance. Titled ‘Durban Harbour’, this special souvenir issue tells the fascinating history of Durban Harbour from 1835 to the present day. It reveals the extraordinary engineering skills and resilience that shaped Durban harbour into the largest and busiest harbour on the African continent and a major player in Global trade.

Recently another milestone was achieved for Durban harbour with the arrival in Durban of the largest container ship to dock in South African waters the MSC Sola – a giant of 131,771 tons and capable of carrying 11,660 containers, with a length of three and a half rugby fields. The ship’s visit to Durban was as a result of the widening and deepening of the port in 2010. See post – Durban awaiting arrival of 11, 660 TEU container ship.

But the story of Durban as a viable deepwater port is weaved in rich history and as Durban harbour approaches its second century – it is also time to toast the entrepreneurs for their innovation and the workers, harbour pilots, tug and train crews who played such a vital part in the day to day operations of the harbour.

For more information regarding the publication, and details of purchasing it visit the author, Stuart Freedman’s website – History of Durban Harbour.

Related articles
Transnet moves ahead with Maydon Wharf upgrade plan. (Picture credit:  Duane Daws, Creamer Media)

Transnet moves ahead with Maydon Wharf upgrade plan. (Picture credit: Duane Daws, Creamer Media)

Port Technology reports that the IMO’s stricter sulphur emission standards are likely to have a profound impact on the maritime industry. With this in mind, PTI’s sixtieth edition pays a particular focus to the challenges ahead if LNG is to become the shipping fuel of the future and if this is the most viable option for shipping lines vying to meet these new regulations. Elsewhere, we have contributions form Drewry, Liftech consultants and a host of key industry experts, engineers and analysts.

The Port of Durban is situated on the east coast of South Africa, in the KwaZulu- Natal Province. The port is the busiest on the African continent, and the biggest in terms of container capacity with 44 percent of South Africa’s break-bulk cargo and 61 percent of all containerised cargo flowing through it. In 2010 alone, the port handled 2.5 million TEU.

The port has 57 berths and is protected by the north and south breakwaters, which are 335 metres and 700 metres long respectively. It was developed primarily for import cargo but over the years, cargo flows have changed significantly and exports have become more important. Over 4,000 commercial vessels now call at the port each year.

The Maydon Wharf terminal

The Maydon Wharf multi-purpose terminal (MPT) handles a variety of containerised, break-bulk and bulk cargo, and specialises in the handling of specific commodities. The terminal also handles both import and export containers, taking it to an average of 15,000 TEU. It has an annual throughput of more than one million tonnes of break-bulk and neobulk commodities. The Maydon Wharf area consists of 15 berths and the MPT operates principally between berths eight and 13.

Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) has initiated an extensive upgrade of the infrastructure at the port. One of the major projects is to rebuild and deepen seven of the 15 berths in the Maydon Wharf area. The new quays will be able to accommodate larger vessels and provide suitable load-carrying capacity for the handling of cargos over the berths. Source: Port Technology

Proposed Durban-Free State-Gauteng Logistics and Industrial Corridor Plan (SIP2)

Proposed Durban-Free State-Gauteng Logistics and Industrial Corridor Plan (SIP2)

Notwithstanding on-going discontent amongst industry operators in regard to proposed legislative measures mandating customs clearance at first port of entry, the South African government (GCIS) reports that work has already commenced on a massive logistics corridor stretching between Durban and the central provinces of the Free State and Gauteng. Most of the projects that form part of the second Strategic Infrastructure Project (SIP 2), also known as the Durban-Free State-Johannesburg Logistics and Industrial Corridor, are still in the concept or pre-feasibility stage, but construction has already started on several projects.

These include:

  • the building of a R2,3 billion container terminal at City Deep
  • a R3,9 billion project to upgrade Pier 2 at the Port of Durban
  • R14,9 billion procurement of rolling stock for the rail line which will service the corridor.

Work has also started on the R250 million Harrismith logistics hub development to set up a fuel distribution depot, as well as on phase one of the new multi-product pipeline which will run between Johannesburg and Durban and transport petrol, diesel, jet fuel and gas.

The aim of these projects and others which form part of SIP 2, is to strengthen the logistics and transport corridor between South Africa’s main industrial hubs and to improve access to Durban’s export and import facilities. It is estimated that 135 000 jobs will be created in the construction of projects in the corridor. Once the projects are completed a further 85 000 jobs are expected to be created by those businesses that use the new facilities. Source: SA Government Information Service

Interested in more details regarding South Africa’s infrastructure development plan? Click here!

City Deep Container Terminal, Johannesburg

City Deep Container Terminal, Johannesburg

Online media company Engineering News reports that the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Johannesburg (JCCI) would take its objections of certain aspects of the recently tabled Customs Control Bill to Parliament and called on South African business and interested stakeholders to provide input as well.

The South African Revenue Services’ (Sars’) newly drafted Customs Control Bill, which, in conjunction with the Customs Duty Bill, would replace the current legislation governing customs operations, declared that all imported goods be cleared and released at first port of entry.

“The Customs Bill, cancelling the status of inland ports as a point of entry, will be before Parliament very soon, and only a short notice period for comment is expected,” JCCI former president Patrick Corbin said.

While all other comments and suggestions relating to the Bill were adequately dealt with, this remained the one disagreement that had not been satisfactorily resolved, he stated.

Corbin invited all parties to voice their concerns to ensure “all areas of impact and concern were captured”, adding further weight to the JCCI’s presentation. The implementation of the new Bill would directly impact the City Deep container terminal, which had been operating as an inland port for the past 35 years, alleviating pressure from the already-constrained coastal ports.

Despite customs officials assuring the chamber that the operations and facilities at City Deep/Kaserne would retain its licence as a container depot, Corbin stated that the Bill had failed to recognise the critical role City Deep played as an inland port and the impact it would have on the cost of doing business, the country’s road-to-rail ambitions, the coastal ports and ease of movement of goods nationally and to neighbouring countries.

“The authorities do not accept the fact that by moving the Customs release point back to the coast, a vessel manifest will terminate at the coastal port. There will not be the option of a multimodal Bill of Lading and seamless inland movements, as all boxes or the unpacked contents will remain at the coast until cleared and released by the line before being reconsigned,” he explained.

Citing potential challenges, Corbin said that only the containers cleared 72 hours prior to arrival would be allocated to rail transport and that those not cleared three days before arrival would be pushed onto road transport to prevent blocking and delaying rail operations.

This would also result in less rail capacity returning for export from Johannesburg, leading to increased volumes moving by road from City Deep to Durban.

He warned of the Durban port becoming heavily congested with uncleared containers, causing delays and potential penalties, while hampering berthing movements and upsetting shipping lines’ vessel schedules.

The release of the vessel manifest at the coastal port also placed increased risk on the shipping operators delivering cargo to Johannesburg following the clearance of goods at customs and required reconsignment at the country’s shores.

However, Transnet remained committed to investing R900-million for upgrading the City Deep terminal and the railway sidings, while Transnet CEO Brian Molefe had accepted the assurances from customs that “nothing would change and the boxes would still be able to move seamlessly once cleared”.

The Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport Department had allocated R122-million for the roadworks surrounding the inland port, while Gauteng MEC for Roads and Transport Dr Ismail Vadi said the department’s focus this year would narrow to the expansion and development opportunities at City Deep/Kaserne.

The department was also progressing well with the development of a second inland port, Tambo Springs Inland Port and Logistics Gateway, expected to be completed by 2017.

Vadi recently commented that the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport, which was currently developing a terminal master plan for the project, would link the freight hub through road and rail transport to and from South Africa’s major freight routes and other freight hubs, including City Deep, which was about 33 km away.

The National Economic Development and Labour Council, under which the Bill had been drafted during a three-year development process, had agreed to fund an impact assessment study, led by Global Maritime Learning Solutions director Mark Goodger. The study was “close to completion” and would be presented alongside JCCI’s objections in Parliament. Source: Engineering News

Old Durban airport - site for new Dig Out Port (Picture credit: ACSA)

Old Durban airport – site for new Dig Out Port (Picture credit: ACSA)

Transnet has concluded the first in a series of early stakeholder engagement sessions with local organisations on the proposed Durban dig-out port project. If built, the new port will be to the south of Durban on the site of the former Durban International Airport and 15 minutes by car from the existing port. It has been proposed that it will consist of 16 container berths, three Ro-Ro berths for the automotive business, and several oil and product tanker berths.

The engagement sessions just concluded form an integral part of the project’s concept phase which includes the development of a Sustainable Port Development Framework (SPDF) that will inform all future designs as well as operations. Transnet commenced with high-level technical and environmental studies in 2012 as part of the proposed Durban dig-out port project process. The current concept phase is scheduled to conclude in July this year, and comprises the generation of a number of technical design options.

The engagement sessions involved key representatives from local business, property, environmental and civic associations who met in order to comment on a discussion document which was distributed to them in mid-February 2013. The discussion document included important information on the background to, and process involved in, validating the viability of constructing a major container port on the site of the old Durban International Airport.

The sessions were held at various public venues and were facilitated by an independent sustainability consultancy. All feedback obtained during the engagement sessions was captured and will be factored into the development of the SPDF which will ensure the effective implementation of sustainability objectives throughout the life cycle of the proposed port project.

Along with promoting the long-term sustainability and operational excellence of the port, the framework also seeks to integrate environmental and social principles into the planning process. The series of engagement sessions, which will continue throughout the project’s lifespan, will also form part of the Department of Transport’s requirement for engagement during the strategic level environmental assessment as part of the legislative requirement for the promulgation of the port.

The process of moving from the current concept phase through the pre-feasibility and feasibility phases, and finally to actual implementation is anticipated to take approximately four years. The next phase, which is the pre-feasibility phase, is expected to proceed in July this year when the viability of the preferred design option will be thoroughly investigated.

The proposed port forms a key pillar of Government’s Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs) to upgrade the Durban-Free State-Gauteng Freight Corridor (otherwise known as SIP2 in the National Infrastructure Plan). Source: Ports.co.za

MSC Fabiola - sets new record for Durban container vessel capacity

MSC Fabiola – sets new record for Durban container vessel handling capacity

 

The visit to Durban, a fortnight ago, of the MSC FABIOLA has again raised the limit in terms of container ship sizes to call at the port. The previous largest box ship to call at Durban was the 11,660-TEU MSC Luciana, whereas MSC Fabiola can carry up to 12,562-TEU.

Obviously the ship was not fully laden otherwise the port would not have been able to accommodate the ship. The deepest berths at the Durban Container Terminal are 12.8m and those at Pier 1 are about the same.

MSC Fabiola is a charter vessel and is currently deployed on MSC’s pendulum service between Northern Europe and Singapore via Durban, Cape Town and Ngqura. The rotation is Northern Europe ports, Cape Town, Ngqura, Durban, Singapore, Durban, Ngqura, Northern Europe.

The next objective to aim at is to have the 14,000-TEU box ships deployed on the South African service, defying all previous projections, as indeed has been the case with the 12,500-TEU MSC Fabiola.

Of course, the main obstacle in having these post panamax ships calling at Durban is that the country’s main container port lacks a deepwater berth. This is despite the entrance channel having been dredged and widened several years ago to -19m decreasing to – 16.5m in the harbour inside entrance. In the process South Africa has once again been exposed by rapidly moving circumstances and questions need to be asked as to why the process of providing Durban with deep water berths is being delayed. Source: SAPorts.co.za

2012 World's Container Ports With Most Potential (Mercator)

2012 World’s Container Ports With Most Potential (Mercator)

According to the Shanghai International Shipping Institute’s (SISI) ‘Global Port Development Report 2012’, rapid growth in throughput has been pushing Chinese ports up the global ranking in terms of development potential.

The report also revealed that throughput in China’s ports was stable, with a growth rate of around 3% to 10%, affected by the worsening economic environment, growth in international shipping and a decrease in trade volume.

But, with global economic, trade and shipping centres moving eastward, some small and medium sized ports have recorded double digit growth (over 20% in some cases). As a result, Chinese ports, including Hong Kong, have taken up five positions among SISI’s Top 10 2012 World’s Most Potential Container Ports, nine positions among the Top 20 global container ports and 13 positions among the Top 20 global ports in terms of cargo throughput.

The report says that European ports are likely to see a return in stability, with a limited growth of less than 3%, while American and African ports may see some growth in throughput following the slow recovery of international trade volume and stronger cargo handling capacity.

Durban_Harbour_Photo Hi-ResA tad of nostalgia? No, this is relevant and historic. Look what Africa’s busiest seaport looked like 60 (or more) years ago. I am very grateful to Lois Crawley and Cecil Gaze (fellow customs colleagues in Durban) for sharing these historic gems. For purposes of contrast see the modern-day harbour (above). Real estate in the harbour area is in short-supply and significant operational expansion over the last 10 years has placed huge strain on the road and rail networks and the surrounding industrial areas. In recent times the expansion of containerised handling facilities has radically affected the traffic flows, even in nearby residential areas such as the Bluff. With increasing demand for premium containerised port handling facilities, the old Durban airport has been sited for development of a new port, perhaps the biggest and most ambitious construction project yet in South Africa. While one can marvel at the development over what is a relatively short period of time (a generation), spare a moment and view the seemingly archaic slideshow of Durban harbour purportedly between 1940 and 1960 – which some amongst us can even remember. Enjoy!

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South African logistics and shipping firm Grindrod has continued its expansion programme, with the purchase of Safmarine’s 51% stake in Ocean Africa Container Lines. Grinrdod gave no details of the price paid for Safmarine’s stake in Ocean Africa Container Lines (OACL), but Grindrod now fully owns the company, which operates a feeder service with four vessels between Durban and Angola, calling at several ports in between, including in Namibia and Angola.

OACL’s former COO, Mahmood Simjee, has now been appointed CEO. Grindrod hopes that OACL can continue to benefit from close ties with Safmarine and the latter’s parent company, Maersk. OACL could take advantage of Ngqura’s growing role as a transhipment port, particularly with Angolan ports. The shipping line previously operated between Durban and Mozambican ports and could again resume this role.

Röhlig-Grindrod, a joint venture between Grindrod Limited and Röhlig International, has also acquired Sturrock Group’s clearing and freight forwarding division in exchange for a 15% stake in Röhlig-Grindrod, leaving the founding partners with 42.5% equity each in the venture. The inclusion of black empowerment partners in Sturrock Group helps Röhlig-Grindrod to fulfil its empowerment requirements.

Hylton Gray, the CEO of Grindrod Logistics, said: “We are very pleased with the merger of the businesses and the introduction of the empowerment partners. Calulo, a partner in the Sturrock Group, already has a stake in Grindrod’s South African operations and has contributed significantly by way of existing relationships and experience in niche markets.” Source: worldcargonews.com

With reference to an earlier post “Trade costs and corruption in Ports of Durban and Maputo” (March 2012) the following article ‘Hawks probe Khulubuse Zuma’s pal’ published by the Daily News (Durban) suggests more sinister individuals involved in the scam which saw a policeman being gunned down at his home and no less than 10 SARS officials placed on suspension. A web of intrigue indeed.

A wealthy South Africa-based Taiwanese businessman and former business associate of Khulubuse Zuma, a nephew of President Zuma, is being probed for alleged links to a multibillion-rand racket at Durban Harbour. In June the Hawks in KwaZulu-Natal secured a warrant of arrest for Jen Chih “Robert” Huang, CEO of Johannesburg-based company, Mpisi 74, when investigators from the elite unit also raided Huang’s business in Bedfordview, and his home.

Huang, a convicted murderer, was in Hong Kong on business when the warrant was issued, and it has not been executed after he side-stepped the Hawks by directly approaching the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to make representations as to why he should not be arrested. The businessman, part of a delegation that accompanied President Zuma on a state visit to China in 2010, is wanted on multiple counts of alleged corruption.

According to Daily News, Huang denied having any links to alleged illegal activity at the harbour, and referred all queries to his attorney. “I have been out of the country. “Speak to my attorney in Durban. He is handling all matters related to my company.” His attorney, Quintus van der Merwe, confirmed representations had been made to the State, but declined to comment further.

The warrant for Huang’s arrest came weeks after a former South African Revenue Service (Sars) anti-corruption task team member, Etienne Kellerman, was arrested on 80 counts of alleged corruption. Kellerman, 42, is suspected of receiving substantial benefits for allegedly allowing contraband through the harbour. The Daily News broke the story when Kellerman was arrested in April this year after a three-year covert investigation. An international syndicate that was allegedly bribing customs and police officials to allow in container-loads of contraband, was also exposed by the Hawks.

Sars spokesman, Adrian Lackay, told the Daily News that following the joint investigation with police over several months into the existence of a criminal syndicate operating at Durban Harbour, 10 Sars employees had been suspended. “Their suspensions follow the arrests of other suspects outside of Sars. These employees were suspended over a three-week period following the arrest of Kellerman on charges related to fraud, theft and misconduct,” he said.

“The 10 employees remain suspended pending the outcome of an internal investigation into alleged involvement with clearing agents.” Over the past two years, during this investigation, police seized more than R1 billion worth of counterfeit goods and contraband. The alleged corrupt Sars and police officials are believed to be working in teams between KZN and Gauteng. They are allegedly paid bribes of up to R30 000 for each container allowed to pass through customs undetected. Big name international companies, mainly from China, are also being investigated. Kellerman has pleaded not guilty and is on R100 000 bail.

According to its website – before it was removedMpisi 74 is a massive concern, offering a range of services, including import, export, forwarding, warehousing, cellphone telecommunication and machinery, as well as vehicle manufacturing. Just days after Huang was contacted by the Daily News, the website was taken down.It had even boasted pictures of the president’s nephew, Khulubuse Zuma, with the Taiwanese businessman at the company’s headquarters in Bedfordview, on December 9, 2009. The Mail and Guardian, in January, described Huang as the influential middleman in deals between Chinese companies and Khulubuse Zuma. It said Huang was also instrumental in introducing Chinese vehicle manufacturer, Dong Feng Motor Corp, to Khulubuse Zuma, who at one point was the “chairman” of Mpisi.The report said that in 2010, Dong Feng announced a joint venture with Khulubuse Zuma and Huang to distribute its products in South Africa and the rest of the continent.In 1998, Huang was convicted of the murder of a Taiwanese businessman, Ching-Ho Kao, who was found shot dead in March 1996, in the Free State. His body was set alight. The trial began in the Bloemfontein High Court in November 1997. The indictment claimed the motive for the murder was that Kao’s family owed Huang money. Huang was sentenced to an effective 12 years in prison. But, through remission of sentence, he was released in 2003 and set up Mpisi 74.

Source: Daily News (Durban)

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Recent years have brought an increased awareness of the importance of trade costs in hindering trade, particularly in the developing world where these costs are highest, says a report in the latest edition of Port Technology. The most salient type of trade costs have often been tariff duties and costs associated with the physical transportation of goods. As a result, several countries embarked on extensive programmes of tariff liberalisation and a significant portion of aid effort was channelled to investments in hard transport infrastructure, such as rebuilding railways and ports (the World Bank alone devotes more than 20 percent of its budget to transport infrastructure projects worldwide).

More recently, new light has been cast on the importance of a different type of trade cost: the cost imposed by the soft infrastructure of transport, defined as the bureaucratic infrastructure handling the movement of goods across borders. While there are many possible sources of inefficiencies stemming from the soft infrastructure of transport, recent research is beginning to document the role played by corruption in transport bureaucracies in driving trade costs. This article provides an overview of this research.

Research into corruption

Corruption can take many forms and emerge in many different phases of the process of clearing goods across borders. Sequeira and Djankov (2011) documented in great detail the ways in which port corruption emerges in Durban and Maputo in Southern Africa – this report is featured in my next post. This research was based on a unique dataset of directly observed bribe payments to each port bureaucracy for a random sample of 1,300 shipments.

The study began by defining two broad categories of port officials that differed in their administrative authority and in their discretion to stop cargo and generate opportunities for bribe extraction: customs officials and port operators. In principle, customs officials hold greater discretionary power to extract bribes than regular port operators, given their broader bureaucratic mandate and the fact that they can access full information on each shipment, and each shipper, at all times. Customs officials possess discretionary power to singlehandedly decide which cargo to stop and whether to reassess the classification of goods for tariff purposes, validate reported prices of goods, or request additional documentation from the shipper.

Regular port operators, on the other hand, have a narrower mandate to move or protect cargo on the docks, and at times even lack access to the cargo’s documentation specifying the value of the cargo and the client firm. This category of officials includes those receiving bribes to adjust reefer temperatures for refrigerated cargo stationed at the port; port gate officials who determine the acceptance of late cargo arrivals; stevedores who auction off forklifts and equipment on the docks; document clerks who stamp import, export and transit documentation for submission to customs; port security who oversee high value cargo vulnerable to theft; shipping planners who auction off priority slots in shipping vessels, and scanner agents who move cargo through non- intrusive scanning technology.

The organisational structure of each port created different opportunities for each type of port official to extract bribes: the high extractive types -customs agents- or the low extractive types -port operators. These opportunities were determined by the extent of face to face interactions between customs officials and clearing agents, the type of management overseeing port operations, and the time horizons of each type of official.

Durban and Maputo

In Durban, direct interaction between clearing agents and customs’ agents was kept to a minimum since all clearance documentation was processed online. In contrast, all clearance documentation was submitted in person by the clearing agent in the Port of Maputo. The close interaction between clearing agents and customs officials in Maputo created more opportunities for corrupt behaviour to emerge in customs relative to Durban.

In Maputo, port operators were privately managed but in Durban, most terminals (for containerised cargo) were under public control, with very lax monitoring and punishment strategies for those engaging in corrupt behaviour. Private management in Maputo was associated with fewer opportunities for bribe payments due to better monitoring and stricter punishment for misconduct. As a result, the organisational features of each bureaucracy determined that the high extractive types in customs had more opportunities to extract bribes in Maputo, while the low extractive types in port operations had more opportunities to extract bribes in Durban. While corruption levels were high in both ports, bribes were higher and more frequent in Maputo relative to Durban.

Finally, port officials with opportunities to extract bribes at each port differed in their time horizons. Customs in Maputo adopted a policy of frequently rotating agents across different terminals and ports, and since bribes varied significantly by the type of terminal at the port, customs agents were aware of the risk of being assigned to terminals with lower levels of extractive potential. On the other hand, port operators in Durban had extended time horizons given the stable support received from dock workers’ unions. Customs officials were therefore the high extractive types with the shortest time horizons, the broadest bureaucratic mandates and more opportunities to interact face to face with clearing agents. As a result, they extracted higher and more frequent bribes, relative to port operators in Durban (the low extractive types) who had longer time horizons and narrower bureaucratic mandates. Source: Port Technology.

With recent developments regarding the proposed Durban dug-out port, a colleague of mine shared this gem of an article.

Vetch’s pier (Durban, South Africa) has redeemed itself by becoming a marine sanctuary. Historically, however, it is an expensive relic, a monument to flawed planning, poor workmanship and economic frustration.

Although potentially a major seaport, Durban’s bay was little more than an inaccessible lagoon before dredging and the construction of the north and south piers over a century ago unlocked its real worth. Nature guarded its entrance in the form of shifting sandbanks which made access to the safety of the inner harbor unpredictable and hazardous. As a result entry was restricted to small vessels drawing less than three metres of water. All other shipping had to anchor offshore and endure the extremes of wind and sea. Not surprisingly 66 ships were blown ashore on Durban’s beachfront between 1845 and 1885.

It was obvious from the outset to the British settlers that Natal’s economic prospects depended on the development of Durban harbour. For almost 50 years from 1850 the ‘harbour issue’ was the hardy annual of Natal politics and the correspondence columns of newspapers. Various plans were put forward, that of Captain James Vetch gaining the approval of Governor John Scott in 1857. Vetch, an engineer attached to the Admiralty in London, never actually visited Durban, yet he produced a report and plan to improve the harbour. Despite misgivings, it was rushed through the Natal legislature in October 1859 along with its hefty price tag -£165,000.

Vetch’s solution was to enclose the natural entrance to the harbour by means of two breakwaters, one curving northwards from the base of the Bluff headland and the other curving southwards from present day Ushaka beach. Besides the engineering challenge which that posed, Vetch’s plan ignored the prevailing wind an ocean current directions. But in August 1861 when construction of the northern breakwater commenced, such concerns were lost amidst the optimism of a growing economy and the belief that Vetch’s plan would resolve the frustrations of navigating the entrance to the harbour. A comment in the Natal Mercury on 13 July 1861 summed up the buoyant mood of colonists when it stated that Vetch’s plan would herald ‘new circumstances and be the scene of a busy, all pervading and prosperous industry.

The site engineer, George Abernethy, encountered difficulties with Vetch’s plan from the outset. The method of construction was impractical: sections of wooden framework filled with rubble simply collapsed in the surf, moreover, the contractor, Thomas Jackson, lacked the capacity to carry out the construction. Early in 1863 it was apparent that the six year project was stalled. Yet £90,000 of the budgeted £165,000 had been spent while less than ten percent of the work had been completed. Financial reasons and poor construction methods saw  Vetch’s pier abandoned in 1864. In time the ocean reduced it to what it is today. Both in design and placement, the small craft harbour now being proposed ignores the same natural forces that made Vetch’s plan impractical. Besides, it specifically ignores the pounding effects of the cyclone swells which emanate occasionally from the Mozambique channel.

In May 1864 a furious Natal Legislative Council demanded a detailed report on the Vetch project. In June the contractor walked off the job and left Natal. The Report tabled in August proved an embarrassing indictment. It found that no oversight had been exercised by Treasury officials on certificates for amounts payable and that the contractor had received payments in excess to that which he was entitled. It was also noted that freight for some materials had been paid for twice; that material had been ordered which was in excess of actual needs. To top it all, £113,500 or 70 percent of the allocated budget, had been spent on a project that was scarcely 20 percent complete and the problem of accessing Durban harbour was no closer to resolution.

Far from invigorating Natal’s economy, the submerged finger of an incomplete pier named after its designer, Captain Vetch, proved a drain on the colonial treasury for years to come, interest on the loan for the project amounting to about 17 percent of total revenue. A project born out of economic frustration left a legacy of even greater economic frustration. Until the 1880s Durban harbour languished having gained a reputation as a port of high charges and long delays. But from 1886 when dredging operations began, followed by extension of the breakwaters, the depth of the entrance channel improved. By 1892 it averaged over four metres allowing larger ships to cross the bar.

But the way forward was dogged by controversy. Two camps developed: one which saw the solution in dredging, the other in the extension of the north pier. So great was the agitation that it led to the fall of the government of Harry Escombe in October 1897. Ultimately, a combination of the scour facilitated by the north and south piers and the effects of dredging resolved access to Durban harbour. In 1904, the Armadale Castle, drawing 6,7 metres of water, became the first mail-steamer to enter the port.

Although incomplete and a non-starter, the remains of Vetch’s pier should serve as a reminder of the power of the ocean and the need for fearless scrutiny of public projects. Source: Duncan Du Bois (Ward Councillor) and Facts About Durban