Friday, January 5, 2018

Some Smaller Freight and Shipping Items in a Quiet Week for Logistics News

Things You May Have Missed as You Recovered from the New Year Celebrations
Shipping News Feature

INDIA – We start a quick, and quiet, week's run-down of some smaller items in the world of shipping, freight and logistics with a road haulage item from the subcontinent. As well as being Chairman and Managing Director of Intercontinental Consultants and Technocrats Pvt Ltd. (ICT) headquartered in New Delhi, Kiran Kumar Kapila is also the chair of the Geneva based International Road Federation (IRF) which promotes better roads worldwide.

Speaking as IRF boss, the trained (and internationally recognised) engineer has spoken out to advocate mandatory changes to the lighting requirements for vehicles in his home country. He pointed out that many areas of India, particularly the hilly regions, are subject to outbreaks of fog and that only compulsory changes to lighting regulations can be certain to impact accident rates.

Mr Kapila says research shows that diminished visibility due to fog, snow and dust exacerbates the risk of accidents by 30%, especially during foggy months from December to February, and year round in mountainous areas of the country. He went on to say that in Europe drivers habitually fitted such aids as a matter of course and illustrated other steps to be taken, also common in other countries, to further reduce risk.

These included highway lighting systems incorporating smart sensors, more illuminated signs showing road conditions and radio stations giving regular bulletins illustrating current and forthcoming weather.

MYANMAR – Despite the many concerns regarding the country’s human rights record it seems investors continue to put money into the country. The two ‘dry ports’ planned for completion in 2019 at Ywar Ywar Thar Gyi, Yangon and Myitnge in Mandalay are said to be on schedule, both based near rail hub in the regions concerned. Plans are to link the two ports with a rail freight service by the end of 2018 according to Myanma Railways and a service between Wardan in Yangon and Mandalay’s Paleik station commenced in August 2017.

The current service charges per mile (believed to be €1. 84/tonne/100 miles at the time of writing) and a normal train consists of eleven carriages, each with a maximum load of 60 tonnes with often several trains running each week dependent on demand. As soon as the two ports are completed the freight will shift to the new route.

The tenders to operate the port projects were won in January 2016 with the Hong Kong based Kerry Logistics group successfully bidding for both via its subsidiary KLN Singapore with a reported overall investment of $42 million and a fifty year concession on each port with options to extend the contract.

As one of the 14 United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) member countries Myanmar plans to have six more dry ports completed within the next few years under an agreement with that organisation. Dry ports eliminate customs checks at sea ports and provide a multimodal transport solution whilst eliminating many problems associated with sea ports, particularly congestion.

UK – The intention to change the permissible weight limit for drivers in alternatively-fuelled vans announced by the government in December, following a consultation, will mean vehicles up to 4.25 tonnes gross vehicle weight will be able to be driven on a standard (category B) driver’s licence. The change, an increase of 750 kilogrammes over a normally fuelled van, is mainly to allow for the heavier powertrain employed when batteries are the main source of fuel.

Simultaneously the government will institute other changes including similarly raising the weight limit for own account haulage, currently covered by restricted O-licence, as well as for hire and reward haulage, again for alternatively-fuelled vehicles, but electrically powered vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes, except those first registered before March 1, 2015, will no longer be exempt from MOT tests. Jesse Norman, parliamentary under-secretary of state for roads, local transport and devolution, commented:

“We consulted on removing the blanket exemption for all electrically-powered goods vehicles, but retaining a limited exemption for alternatively-fuelled vehicles up to 4.25 tonnes. We have decided to proceed with those plans in order to help incentivise the use of cleaner fuel vans, while avoiding the regulatory ‘payload penalty’ associated with heavier powertrains (including battery weights).

“Alongside this change, we are also taking the common-sense step of bringing electric vans under normal roadworthiness testing rules. We intend to bring forward amending legislation to put these decisions into effect.”

CHINA – An accident earlier this week saw the death of 10 sailors, crew of the freighter Chang Ping which collided with the bulk tanker Xinwang 138 in the harbour at Shanghai. NIne of the ten are still missing at the time of writing, one body having been taken from the water days after the accident on Tuesday January 2.

High winds and stormy seas are hampering the searchers but nobody else is expected to be found alive as the ship foundered quickly after the initial collision. The freezing seas have prevented a dive team accessing the wreck which was said to have loaded 5,000 tonnes of steel which it is now alleged may have exceeded the 1,500 dwt vessel’s permitted load.

Photo: The upper structure of the sunken Chang Ping sticks up forlornly from the freezing harbour.