Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
In the first quarter of 2019 North Sea Port handled 17.8 million tons of maritime cargo transhipment, almost the same volume as the previous year. According to the port it remains on the same course.
The first quarter of 2019 was the third best quarter ever. With just under 200,000 tons less transhipment (-0.9%), the companies in North Sea Port have consolidated the growth which has been taking place over the past two years.
Bulk goods and containers
The rise in cargo transhipment via seagoing vessels is mainly related to dry bulk in which North Sea Port is the specialist. The increase can be seen in a strong construction market (sand, gravel and building materials) and in agribulk and animal feed. (See illustration here by courtesy of North Sea Port www.northseaport.com © )
Transhipment of containers has almost doubled as a result of attracting new services and the shift from transhipment of general cargo to transport in refrigerated containers, as is the case with bananas. Ro/ro and liquid bulk goods (petro-chemical products for example) have also fallen. Coal transhipment remains stable.
Inland traffic generated 14.5 million tons, a reduction of 300,000 tons (-2%). The total maritime and inland traffic for the first quarter thus amounted to 32.3 million tons.
North Sea Port offers many advantages for handling various types of cargo – its location on the open sea, accommodation of vessel draughts of up to 17 metres, congestion-free hinterland connections and specialised terminals.
With a central location in the logistical heart of Europe and a mix of transport links with activities and cargo in the European hinterland, North Sea Port is a true economic hub. The port is able to serve no fewer than 500 million consumers within a radius of 500 kilometres. With around 70.3 million tons of maritime cargo transhipped there annually, North Sea Port is among the top ten European ports.
North Sea Port is located along both banks of the Western Scheldt and is accessible to global shipping on the North Sea. The port area of Vlissingen and Borsele is a tidal harbour with direct access to the sea. Port areas of Terneuzen and Ghent are reached via the lock complex at Terneuzen, which lies at the head of the Ghent-Terneuzen canal. This straight and wide canal offers smooth and rapid nautical access to the harbour area of Ghent, at North Sea Port’s southern limit.
Our picture shows a Carnival line up. Five Carnival ships are due in Durban in week commencing 24 May. (Photo: www.africaports.co.za )
No less than five Carnival Cruise ships are due to arrive in Durban between 26 and 28 May to take on bunkers and to restock depleted supplies.
These five ships are part of a group of 12 engaged in the humanitarian task of repatriating over 26,000 crew from the Carnival fleet and other companies, as well as personnel from entertainment centres ashore, who because of the coronavirus pandemic, have had their employment suddenly curtailed.
Hotel staff and entertainers
These are the entertainment staff, the onboard shop workers, beauty salon practitioners, waiters and bus boys, chefs and kitchen staff, cabin cleaners, pursers and front desk people all making up the staff working on board cruise ships.
With cruising curtailed these former employees are finally returning home to destinations like India, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines after having remained on board their ships for more than two months, unable to go ashore or receive visitors ever since cruising operations were suspended in mid -March. Ahead they face another three or four weeks at sea before being allowed to disembark. However, there’s something of a problem.
Call to governments
IFSMA* calls upon Governments to adopt the ‘Framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the COVID-19 pandemic’ without delay to allow ship owners and management companies to change over their dangerously tired crews.
Governments must act now in order to avoid personal injury to, and mental breakdown of, seafarers and avoid the significant risk of accidents and consequential danger to life and the environment.
Concern at IFSMA
IFSMA is receiving an increasing number of reports from its ship masters’ associations around the world concerned for the welfare and safety of crews and the increased risk with which they are operating in an already high risk environment. Seafarers are feeling let down and abandoned by their Governments.
Following concerns from the maritime industry, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) issued a circular to all Member States, the UN and agencies and IGOs and NGOs in consultative status with IMO. This document concerned recommendations to Member States about measures to facilitate ship crew changes in seaports during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The IMO Secretary General has received a framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the pandemic, proposed by a cross-section of global industry associations in consultative status with the IMO, for example: ICS, IAPH, BIMCO, IFSMA, and P&I Clubs as well as the International Air Transport Association (IATA).