St Helena : Shipping Report
Submitted by Saint Helena Herald (Juanita Brock) 21.01.2004 (Article Archived on 04.02.2004)
The Highpoint-Rendel draft report, if accepted, could further isolate Tristan.
The High-Point Rendel draft report on shipping was received late last year, and their final report was received in December. The report has now been fully considered by the St Helena Government.
The report focused on three issues
- How to maximise the benefit of the ship for St Helena
- The management arrangements for the shipping service
- The options for shipping following an airport
Executive Council reviewed the recommendations contained in the report in December and agreed that the proposal regarding rescheduling the ship should be broadly accepted since there are clear benefits to the Island and to the individual users of the shipping service. As a result, from next September, the RMS schedule will exclude trips to the UK or to Tristan da Cunha. The RMS will operate exclusively in the South Atlantic travelling from Cape Town to Ascension and calling at Walvis Bay. This will increase the number of calls at St Helena from the current 25 per annum to an estimated 33 per annum. For those Saints who have been unable to book passages on the RMS recently, the additional availability should be welcomed news.
It is felt that with the RMS calling on a more regular basis, more Saints will be able to travel to and from the Island. By adding Walvis Bay to the route, it will take just three days to get to the mainland and a commercial international air service, and a further three days to Cape Town meaning one more day at sea for persons travelling to this destination. The new schedule will also give tourists a better deal.
On the economic front, merchants will not need to stock up goods, as the RMS will be calling on a more regular basis. Goods from the UK will be transhipped via South Africa. Freight costs from the UK are expected to come down by 20% to 25%, although vehicles from the UK might be more costly. The tourism season should improve, running for a full 12 months per year instead of the previous eight months (RMS four months away to UK), and the increase in the number of tourists should mean more profits for those in the tourist trade. A more consistent flow of goods, services and earnings will be welcomed, and improved access will provide a better opportunity to market St Helena products.
SHG is also hoping that the new schedule will have a positive effect on the Island’s finances. If the new shipping schedule attracts more passengers, fewer berths will be empty. This means that the RMS would require less subsidy and it is hoped that St Helena would then be able to use this money elsewhere. With more calls to St Helena, Customs should also be generating more revenue for the Island.
For the individual, travelling to Walvis Bay will be about £200 cheaper than travelling to Cape Town although flights to the UK from Walvis Bay are more expensive than from Cape Town. Persons travelling to the UK would save between £10 and £20 if they decide to use the Walvis Bay route. However, they would get there two days quicker.
The arrangements for the new schedule are to be reviewed after one year. If market demand shows economic justification for a future excursion trip to the UK, the shipping schedule could be amended.
Executive Council will be considering the main conclusions of the report related to managing the shipping service later this month and a further series of decisions are expected in February.
Commenting on the new policy, the Deputy to Governor John Styles said “This decision demonstrates that we are serious about making major improvements to the access arrangements for the Island. We confidently expect that these improvements will lead to a better quality of life for Saints and improved economic performance for St Helena – areas identified by the public as priorities in the Island’s strategic objectives.”
SHG is now awaiting the draft shipping schedule from St Helena Line, which is expected in the next few days. Once approved this will be issued to the public.
Office of the Governor
12 January 2004