23 December 2022
On Wednesday 21 December, the Executive Council agreed that SHG would proceed with entering into a contract with Meihuizen International to provide cargo freight shipping services to serve St Helena. This will be on a 12 month interim service. The transhipment service will begin in January 2023, with the first arrival of goods at St Helena expected on 11 March 2023.
This follows the announcement on 10 November 2022 that the current MV Helena service would not continue beyond February 2023, following which interested parties were invited to submit proposals by the beginning of December 2022.
The new service will be operated using the MV Maria da Paz. The full route will take approximately 21 days to complete, and will commence in Luanda. The route will therefore operate from Luanda to Walvis Bay, Walvis Bay to St Helena, and then St Helena to Luanda. Discussions regarding an additional service to Ascension Island as an extension of the main St Helena service are ongoing.
The new route will operate nine voyages a year calling at St Helena every six weeks. The estimated arrival dates for the first three voyages are 11 March 2023, 26 April 2023 and 09 June 2023. A full schedule for the next 12 months is being finalised and will be published in due course.
Officials have worked closely with the Chamber of Commerce and Island merchants in considering the options available, and determining the structure of the new service. By implementing a six weekly service, the level of forecast cargo demand is balanced most effectively against the capacity of the ship and its running costs. Whilst rates for different types of cargo will vary, it is anticipated that these will remain similar to the current shipping rates for most cargo when compared to the current MV Helena operation, with a small reduction in rates on other types of cargo.
The new service will allow for two transhipment routes, one from London Tilbury and another from Cape Town, along with introducing new consolidators and opening up new options to source goods and materials in Luanda and Walvis Bay.
As the interim service is due to operate until February 2024, a tender for a substantive replacement service will be issued shortly. Several operators have shown interest, and we expect to attract a number of robust proposals. This timeframe will allow for a thorough assessment of the options received, including potential new service models, with a view to obtaining the best option for our long term needs.
Further details of the new service will be made available in the New Year.
Minister for Treasury, Infrastructure and Sustainable Development Mark Brooks, said:
“We thank AW Ship Management Ltd (AWSML) for their time operating the MV Helena, but we are excited to announce this change in service operator. This secures cargo shipping services for the next 12 months, providing the public and merchants with the confidence needed to invest and develop. The new route and structure of the service will allow us to test out a new shipping itinerary, new transhipment options and even new consolidators and intermediaries.”
“Whilst this provides assurance to the Island for the next 12 months, we are also about to issue a tender for a substantive service to serve the Island beyond February 2024. The interim service will provide important context for both SHG and potential operators as we look to establish a new long-term shipping solution.”
Notes to Editor:
Meihuizen International was established in 1983 and is a South African based, logistics supply chain agency. The shipping firm has close links to St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha having operated services in the past, and continuing to operate services throughout the south Atlantic to this day.
23 December 2022