Port St Johns: 22 August 2017
A joint initiative between government, private sector companies and non-governmental organizations to not only skill but create job opportunities in the maritime economic sector will pay off for 97 Eastern Cape youths this week, when they are officially sent off to join tourism cruise vessels sailing across the world.
The 97 youths out of a total 128 that recently completed specialized training in basic marine skills under the Maritime Youth Development Programe (Eastern Cape) over the last two months, are to join MSC Cruises vessels in different parts of the globe.
A ceremony to wish them well in their new venture into the maritime world is to be held on Wednesday in Port St Johns, an Eastern Cape town on the spectacular Wild Coast region of the Indian Ocean, midway between East London and Durban.
The joint partners in the MYDP Eastern Cape initiative include the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the Eastern Cape Provincial Government, and Harambee.
More than half the youths due for send-off on Wednesday – some for their first jobs ever – are from the O.R Tambo District Municipality, and precisely Port St Johns; an area that is targeted this current year for a series of maritime sector related projects, primarily by SAMSA, for both maritime awareness and associated youth skills development and local community social upliftment.
But perhaps crucially, the SAMSA inspired and driven MYDP’s impact in the O.R Tambo District Municipality occurs against the backdrop of a Government announcement last week that Port St Johns has been declared one of six nodes in the country to be targeted for an Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) marine and coastal development programme over the next five years.
In a statement last week, Department of Tourism Minister, Ms Tokozile Xasa said following to Cabinet approval earlier this month, the Coastal and Marine Tourism Plan would be implemented in a nodal or cluster approach that would prioritize destinations rather than individual tourism projects or products.
She said the identified nodes/clusters in the first phase of up to five (5) years) would involve five geographic areas encompassing (Node 1) Durban and surrounds and (Node 2) Umkhanyakude District including Umhlabuyalingana and surrounds – all in the KwaZulu-Natal province; (Node 3) Port St Johns to Coffee Bay and (Node 4) East London, Port Elizabeth and surrounds – in the Eastern Cape province; (Node 5) Cape Town and surrounds in the Western Cape province and finally, (Node 6) West Coast and surrounds in the Northern Cape province.
Meanwhile, regarding Wednesday’s event in Port St Johns, according to SAMSA on Tuesday, the successful placement of the 97 youths on cruise vessels worldwide beginning September 2017, is a major achievement as it exceeds an original target of 50 youths originally planned for the first send-off.
“We are pleased that the EC project has been a resounding success. We completed the entire preparation process at the end of last week with MSC interviewing the final 128 candidates that successfully completed the training program.
“MSC Cruises has agreed to place 97 candidates in this year’s intake that starts from 1 September. This number far exceeds he initially agreed target of 50, which was our SLA with the client, Office of the Premier of the Eastern Cape. This means we exceeded our target by 80% or we had an 180% achievement,” said SAMSA Programme Manager for Operation Phakisa initiatives (Marine Transport and Manufacturing Delivery Unit), Mr Sizwe Nkukwana.
Mr Nkukwana along with some senior SAMSA management headed by Chief Operating Officer (COO), Mr Sobantu Tilayi will join Eastern Cape Premier, Hon. Phumulo Masaulle – MPL, Eastern Cape provincial government officials, local traditional leadership, officials of the O.R Tambo District Municipality at the send-off ceremony tomorrow, which will characterized by a colourful display of AmaMpondo cultural activities including dance.
‘’The time to work with young people, to alter positively their future prospects and fortunes is now. As an entry point it is good that these young people are getting this kind of exposure and opportunity, to actually work on cruise liners to gain that international outlook and experience.
“It is also important that we do not position to only take up the lower layers level jobs in the sector, but we must move to empower these young people to go on to captain these ships, to be the engineers and ports officials and so, in essence, we must strive to penetrate all sectors including scarce skills in the maritime space’’, says Premier Masualle.
The event to be held at Port St Johns 2nd Beach – notorious for some spectacular shark attacks these last few years – will be beamed live on SABC radio and television (MorningLive as well as on Umhlobo Wenene, Trufm and local radio stations).
The ceremony in three stages; a media session, a maritime exhibition and formal send-off, begins at 7am in the morning through to 2pm in the afternoon.