SAMSA senior official, Captain Thobela Gqabu appointed into intercontinental maritime body’s top leadership.

Pretoria: 28 August 2017

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has expressed delight with an announcement of the election of one of its senior officials, Captain Thobela Gqabu into the top leadership of the Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding (IOMOU) on Port State Control.

Captain Thobela Gqabu
Captain Thobela Gqabu, Principal Officer at South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Southern Region offices in East London, and newly elected Vice-Chairman of the Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding Committee (IOMOU) – a 19 member Port States structure most with borders on the Indian Ocean. (Photo: Courtesy of Lawhill Maritime Centre. Simonstown.)

Capt. Gqabu was elected the Vice-Chairman of the group during its 20th committee meetingheld in the Maldives over five days a week ago.


The IOMOU with its base in India is made up of 19 member States a majority of whom have borders on the Indian Ocean. They include Australia; Bangladesh; Comoros; Eritrea; France; India; Iran; Kenya; Maldives; Mauritius; Mozambique; Myanmar; Oman; Seychelles; South Africa; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Tanzania; and Yemen.

The IOMOU structure is one of nine similar regional port States agreements arrangements globally, the rest made up of Europe and the north Atlantic (Paris MoU); Asia and the Pacific (Tokyo MoU); Latin America (Acuerdo de Viña del Mar); Caribbean (Caribbean MoU); West and Central Africa (Abuja MoU); the Black Sea region (Black Sea MoU); the Mediterranean (Mediterranean MoU); and the Riyadh MoU. The United States Coast Guard maintain the 10th PSC regime.

The MOU structures form part of a global network of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) port states structures worldwide, established and tasked with ensuring   that oceans going vessels comply with international standards while serving international shipping demands.

ships at seaIn terms of the arrangements, ships generally are required to comply to no less than 28 international instruments that cover the design, safe manning, pollution prevention, seafarer training and welfare; and ensuring that the ships have adequate insurance cover for identified risks.

In the Maldives last week, the IOMOU Port States Secretariat announced in a communique at the end of its five (5) days meeting on Friday that Capt. Gqabu was elected as its new committee Vice-Chairman, along with Ms Beatrice Nyamoita, an assistant Director for Shipping & Maritime at Kenya’s Department of Transport, as the new Chairman.

Capt. Gqabu’s election was proposed by France and supported by several of the committee members. He has served on the IOMOU committee since 2015.

In the announcement on Friday, the IOMOU secretariat said the pair would lead the committee in its next three annual meetings, the very next scheduled for Freemantle, Australia in August 2018.

Back home, Capt. Gqabu is SAMSA’s Principal Officer for the Southern Region, based in East London in the Eastern Cape Province.  He has been with SAMSA since 2009.

In addition, Capt. Gqabu is one of trustees and a Vice-Chairman of the Lawhill Maritime Educational Trust – supporting educational aspirations and needs of youths involved with the Simon’s Town based maritime education foundation level institution, the Lawhill Maritime Centre – an involvement he says he is passionate about.

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South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Chief Operations Officer; Mr Sobantu Tilayi

In Pretoria at the weekend, SAMSA leadership reacted with excitement to the election of Capt. Gqabu to the leadership of the IOMOU, describing it as highly significant both for its reflection of local management talent, but also for South Africa’s role as a major role player in the regional and global maritime sector.

“I am thrilled for Captain Thobela Gqabu to have been elected to the leadership of this very important structure. SAMSA considers this appointment as a huge step in ensuring that South Africa plays its part in matters of international compliance by shipping thus ensuring the safety of lives and the environment at sea.” SAMSA Chief Operations Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi said.

Capt. Gqabu was just as appreciative of the confidence displayed towards him by the continental body, as well as the opportunity it provided.

He said: “It is definitely a great opportunity and there’s also a huge responsibility that lies ahead.

“However, I take courage from the support and confidence shown by the authority of South Africa and also my colleagues from different member states that supported France in nominating a delegate from South Africa as vice-chairman of the committee,” said Capt. Gqabu.

Meanwhile, the IOMOU also recently announced that member States of the structure would be embarking on a Concentrated Inspection Campaign (CIC) on Safety of Navigation for a three months period beginning on Friday, September 1, 2017 through to November 30, 2017.

The campaign would conducted simultaneously with the Paris MoU, Tokyo MoU and other MoUs, said the committee. It said the purpose of the exercise would be to verify that compliance by industry role players with applicable requirements of SOLAS Conventions, the overall status of vessels’ navigation safety and the competency of crews involve in navigation operations.” To read more on this Click Here.



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