“Most Responsive Member-Africa and Middle East” Trade Ocean’s David Jooste, Darshan Dass and Andre Assam recently travelled to Bangkok to attend the 9th Global Logistics Network Conference and returned with an award! The conference was a great opportunity for Trade Ocean to network with other independent agents, importers and exporters across the globe. The highlight for Trade Ocean was being presented with the “Most Responsive Member – Africa and the Middle East” award, as voted for by all the attending members. “We are really proud of this accomplishment,” says CEO David Jooste. “It shows us that our Trade Ocean brand stands out and means something in the industry.”
We managed to corner our new Clearing and Forwarding Manager and find out more about him. Meet Andre Assam.
Andre, tell us a bit more about yourself.
I have been working in the shipping industry for over 14 years. I started as a driver before becoming an entry clerk. I was then an Operational Manager for about 7 years before working as an Import Manager for 4 years, when I also completed a customs course.
As the new C&F manager what do you see as your main responsibilities?
Making sure that our clients are happy with our service.
What do you enjoy most about working in this industry?
I find the whole logistics process fascinating – how something, anywhere in the world, can be shipped to your doorstep.
What are the challenges?
Keeping my staff together, ensuring that our clients do not move to other clearing and forwarding companies due to a lack of service.
How do you relax?
I enjoy playing golf.
Your favourite drink and dish?
I really like lime and soda and a good curry dish.
What motivates you?
My family (wife and child)
Most of us will have read and heard about the on-going piracy problem in the North of the Indian Ocean. We have all read-about the motivation of the pirates, their ruthlessness, their modus-operandi and the fact that piracy protection on vessels has turned into huge business. Perhaps like me, you also wonder how absurd it is to be talking about the issue of “piracy” in this modern day and age. What we perhaps don’t realise is that piracy originating in far-away Somalia has some very direct consequences for Trade Ocean.
Most of the Eastern tuna boat fleet (Taiwanese and Japanese) has moved away from the Indian Ocean and have relocated to the Atlantic Ocean because the security concerns are so great. In fact, we know of one Taiwanese owner whose vessel was captured by pirates in December 2010 and is still in use by the pirates as their “mothership”. The crew is still being held hostage by the pirates as the owner simply cannot raise the money demanded by the pirates to effect release of the crew. We hear the ransom demand is in the region of $5 million (R35 million)!
The direct consequences to Trade Ocean of vessels avoiding the Indian Ocean region is that it has reduced the port calls of these specific types of vessel to Durban. (Less calls = less revenue.) One would think that this would be off-set by additional port calls to Cape Town, but this is not necessarily the case as there are alternative ports to use in the Atlantic Ocean such as Las Palmas. The problem is not only confined to the tuna longline type vessels. It also affects the Japanese reefer carrier vessels which meet the tuna vessels at high seas for (legal) transhipment of fish can no longer do so for fear of the pirates.
Put it in perspective, the market value of the cargo on board a fully laden reefer vessel carrying Sashimi grade tune would be in the region of around R100-150 million, depending on what species is carried. And that’s just the value of the cargo, never mind the vessel. A juicy target indeed. Hence most of the reefer vessels have relocated to the Atlantic Ocean, some to the Pacific. The ocean area affected by piracy is ever increasing. More importantly, the pirates seem to be getting more brazen and are moving their areas of “influence” more and more southward, even as far as the Northern Mozambique channel and Madagascar. So don’t be surprised if pretty soon you might just see a bunch of Somali-looking gentlemen popping up over the horizon at Balito Beach! The next time you are watching Captain Jack Sparrow in action you might think twice about the notion that pirates are “cool” and piracy is a noble and romantic pursuits. They are not. Modern-day piracy is a scourge which in one way or another affects all of us negatively.
Seems that the Clearing and Forwarding team just cannot get away from getting involved in projects!
In Cape Town the team has been presently busy with managing the protocols and procedures for refit and refurbishing of a high-tech stern trawler. There is a ton of red tape that we were responsible for in order to secure customs’ permission to handle this project. Needless to say that we were successful and the vessel is currently in port for her dry docking and refit.
We also have had to cope with trans-border meat exports. This is an extraordinarily complicated and time consuming task. Our team needs to be present at each loading which takes several hours.
Further afield we handled granite blocks for export from Saldanha. Although this is old hat to us, we have, for the first time, had to deal with snow in Pofadder. Now that seems unlikely but if this were Ripley’s believe it or not – this incident would have featured! Trucks got so badly stuck and delayed that services of additional truckers were required. All’s well that ends well as all the blocks were delivered to Saldanha on time.
In Johannesburg, our team secured the account of a blue chip granite re-worker and have already exported in excess of 35 containers of polished slabs of cut granite for the overseas market. Obviously this has its own set of peculiarities. It is not unknown to happen on occasion that the factory has cut slabs out of sync to container specifications and hence the slabs have to be re-cut! This means that we need someone at the factory to oversee the loading of the containers. Quite time consuming, but once again we are up to the task at hand.
The team in Durban had their hands full with NUTS and more NUTS. In actual fact so many NUTS that we have over supplied to the warehouse and in desperation had to find alternative premises, which is, not easy at all in Durban. Over and above that Trade Ocean’s Durban office can now officially be called the “Meat Guys”!!!
Trade Ocean is very proud of our Marketing Director, Michelle Kirov, who’s been elected as chairperson of the WBPUA (Walvis Bay Port Users Association).
The WBPUA represents the users of the port of Walvis Bay, and strives to achieve competitiveness in relation to other neighbouring ports. “The association’s members negotiate with the port, government and private sector to ensure that the rights of members are maintained and enhanced at all times,” says Michelle, who’s also been a member of the board before her election. “They further provide and arrange opportunities for members to meet from time to time to consider matters of interest.”
As chairperson Michelle will have the privilege to become a member of the Board of Directors for the Walvis Bay Corridor Group. “I will need to coordinate and guide the committee and members of the association in achieving its aims and objectives, as well as facilitate proper communication between the port authorities and other relevant government institutions,” she says.
For Trade Ocean, Michelle’s new position demonstrates that our management operate amongst the leaders in our industry. And it certainly gives our company valuable exposure, putting us on the map!