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Buenos Aires Province Inaugurates Tecplata Container Terminal

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The province of Buenos Aires on Tuesday formally inaugurated the $450 million-dollar first stage of the Tecplata container terminal of the port of La Plata, the provincial capital city, Argentina’s largest port investment in half a century.

The inauguration was headed by Daniel Scioli, the Peronist province governor seeking to succeed fellow-Peronist Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in 2015.

Tecplata is wholly owned by ICTSI (International Container Terminal Services, Inc.), from the Philippines.

On Tuesday, the terminal received a feeder container ship as a pilot test on its 600-metre long dock. With two dolphins, the dock has a total length of 660 metres.

The facilities also include four Chinese-made state-of-the-art portico cranes worth US$10 million each, and nine RPGs or trastainers, also made in China, worth US$1.5 million each, Tecplata General Manager Eduardo Zabalza told the Herald.

The local company Industrias Metalúrgicas Pescarmona Sociedad Anónima (IMPSA) used to manufacture portico cranes and Tecplata contacted it when it need to buy the four cranes. By that time, however, IMPSA had ceased to manufacture them, Zabalza said.

Tecplata has a capacity to handle 450,000 TEUs a year but its inauguration comes at a time when container trade in Argentina — handled by the Buenos Aires port terminals and the Dock Sud Exolgán terminal — has fallen sharply from 1.85 million TEUs in 2008 to 1.38-1.4 million TEUs now, due to a combination of the global crisis with local export and import restrictions and a steep decline in the local economy.

“The fall has been very steep. I think that it has exceeded the projection of all operators,” Zabalza said. He added that Tecplata is in talks with ship-owners, but so far, he said, no contract has been secured. However, he added, “Argentine trade has historically recovered quickly and we expect to clinch an accord sometime in 2015.

“We are optimistic. We have always considered this to be a medium- to long-term investment. We have a 30-year concession and we trust Tecplata’s strengths: location, infrastructure, equipment, systems and staff.”

“These US$450 million in foreign investment are here to stay. Come what may, the port of La Plata has now its container terminal,” Zabalza said.

Tecplata is seeking to compete with other Argentine, Brazilian and Uruguayan terminals. It aimed to initially capture 20-25 percent of Argentina’s container trade.

The company plans a second stage expansion to handle 850,000 TEUs a year, “but we are talking about 2021 onwards.

“There will be some minor additional investments over the four or five coming years but capacity will be kept at 450,000 TEUs,” Zabalza said.

The authority of the port of La Plata — 37 kilometres from Buenos Aires by water — has deepened the access channel to 34 feet from 28 feet.

Zabalza said the dock has a depth of 36 feet.

An additional minor dredging, he said, will be conducted to remove sedimentation, when the terminal effectively starts operating.

The dredging works include the removal, over a year, of 5.5 million cubic metres of earth, also to widen the area of manoeuvres.

“These were enormous works and a qualitative leap for the port of La Plata,” he said, adding that it is not worth dredging deeper as long as the Paraná-Paraguay Waterway (hidrovía) has a depth of 34-feet. If the hidrovía authorities deepen it to 35 or 36 feet, Tecplata plans to match that depth. The waterway is shared by Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
The port of La Plata grew from a capacity to berth two design vessels of 310-320 metres by 40-45 metres at the same time, from a previous design of 215m by 30m.

The Tecplata works included 25 hectares for truck manoeuvres and circulation ways.
After long delays, the authorities of Buenos Aires Province this year finished paving Avenue 60, connecting the port with the Buenos Aires-La Plata Highway.

Also, Avenue 122 was completed and there has been a lot of progress regarding Road 6, the fourth ring allowing cargo from the north of the province (Zárate, Campana) to reach the port with no need to enter the area of Buenos Aires-La Plata Highway.

Then, a third lane has been added to the Buenos Aires-La Plata Highway until Hudson, and works to extend the highway until four kilometres of the port are already under way.

“There has been a lot of progress in the area of land accesses and we trust that, in a year, there will be a Copernican shift,” Zabalza said.

He added that, once in full operation, the Tecplata is expected to create between 320 and 350 direct jobs and an additional 200 or more to cover demand.
The Tecplata terminal is one of the key public works in the province which generated the conditions to harbour it.

“It is with great joy that we are inaugurating this container terminal in Berisso, the cradle of Peronism, an emblematic site of the workers’ mobilization which made this a great country,” Governor Scioli said.
“This is the largest port work in Argentina of the last 50 years. Where there were just weeds, a geopolitical and strategic project has started,” Scioli said.

This is my vision of the future of the province and the country,” he added.
Referring to road works, he said that, “The best competitive conditions are being generated in the region and this will lead to more investments.

“This is not an isolated work but the adaptation of our road infrastructure to the new reality.”
He thanked President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner for having laid the cornerstone of the Tecplata project in 2009.

The President was invited to Tuesday’s ceremony but failed to attend due to timetable issues, Zabalza said.
Fernández de Kirchner cannot seek a third straight term — she was elected in 2007 and re-elected in 2011.
Source: Buenos Aires Herald Tribune

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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