Centre for Seafarers commits to meeting December 2016 deadline with new version certificates
Pretoria: 04 July 2016
Hiccups experienced over the past few weeks with the issuance of newly revised seafarer certificates should soon be history following to anticipated successful upgrade of software systems, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) said in Pretoria on Monday.
SAMSA’s Chief Examiner at the Centre for Seafarers, Captain Azwimmbavhi Mulaudzi said delays were experienced due to information technology infrastructure problems and quality assurance issues, leading to backlogs in the issuance of seafarer certificates.
The revised certificates covering a whole range of seafarer skills levels are being issued in terms of the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention (Manila Amendments) effective from May 2016.
In terms of these, all certificates issued by SAMSA prior to the Manila Amendments, in terms of The Merchant Shipping (Training and Certification) Regulations (1999 as amended) would expire at the end of 2016.
A Marine Notice (No.24 of 2016) to the effect was published by SAMSA on 24 May 2016, advising all affected parties of the need for affected band of seafarers to renew or revalidate their certificates prior to their expiry date on 31 December 2016.
According to the notice (available on SAMSA’s website) applicants could use any number of ways to lodge their applications including delivering them in person or via a proxy to any of SAMSA’s offices countrywide, or filing their application online especially if they are out at sea or abroad.
At the time of the issuance of the Marine Notice, SAMSA anticipated issuing out as a matter of top priority, as many as 2300 Certificates of Competency and about 4000 Certificates of Proficiency compliant with the new Manila Amendments by December 2016.
This would be followed in sequence by as many as 5000 local certificates for fishing and port operations
On Monday, Captain Mulaudzi said a few hundred applications had been received from seafarers since publication of the Marine Notice, but then SAMSA’s IT infrastructure ‘hit a snag’ that had led to “frustrating” delays in the roll out of new certificates.
Captain Mulaudzi said SAMSA had noted reports that some employers had begun to place on unpaid leave seafarers who were affected by the delays.
“SAMSA’s Centre for Seafarers would like to update the South African seafarers, including foreign seafarers holding South African certificates, on the progress being made in issuing their certificates.
“SAMSA is mindful of the fact that it is six months to go to the deadline set in the STCW Convention in the issuing of the new Manila Compliant Certificates. We are also aware of the seafarers who have applied for their certificates more than two months ago and have yet to receive them. We are also concerned about reports that employers are starting to place seafarers on unpaid leave if they are not holding these certificates.
“We would like to assure fellow seafarers that every effort is being made to ensure that no seafarer is further disadvantaged by the delays we are experiencing. Being mindful that this has become an urgent matter to all seafarers, SAMSA will, in the interim be prioritizing certificates for those seafarers who are being placed on unpaid leave.
“Seafarers who are facing loss of income during the month of July 2016 should inform the SAMSA office where they made their applications. The relevant office will advise the Chief Examiner and the Registrar of Seafarers, to prioritize the certificates of those seafarers. SAMSA will then be able to increase the priority of that application,” said Captain Mulaudzi.
He further issued and assurance that the backlog will be cleared by the end of July 2016. However, for those seeking any further clarity or wishing simply to make an inquiry, they may direct these to the following:
- SAMSA Media and Communications officer Tebogo Ramatjie, or
- Chief Examiner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 012 366 4783, or
- The Registrar of Seafarers at email@example.com or 012 366 2633
- Seafarers are also encouraged to communicate all their queries to firstname.lastname@example.org