For many of the 20 South African newest cadets that docked in Port Elizabeth on Friday for the first time on home soil since November 2017, missing Christmas with family at home was a completely new experience.
But apparently it did not matter, not really; as after all, they were out charting the course of their future maritime careers over the Indian and Southern Oceans, and while about it, almost reached the ends of the earth.
The group was South Africa’s newest deck and engine cadets from the Cape Peninsula and Durban universities of technology, and were the second most recent group of cadets undergoing their first practical training to sail as far as the Antarctica region over an 80 days period in 2017/8.
Trained under the tutelage of the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) based in Port Elizabeth – an entity now responsible for the country’s National Cadet Programme – in collaboration with the South Africa Maritime Training Academy (actual training providers on board the SA Agulhas) as well as the South African Maritime Safety Authority (owners of the vessel), the group left South Africa from Cape Town on Friday, 27 November 2017.
Young cadets returning from a three months sojourn into the Antarctica in 2018
The route took them to Mauritius over four days where they picked up a group of about 40 Indian scientists involved in research projects of the oceans closest the sub-continent.
From Mauritius they headed south towards the Antarctica and for just over two months they spent the time on board the vessel, learning the basics of ship sailing – their training split between deck and engine duties.
On return and arrival in Port Elizabeth on Friday morning, they could not wait to share their wealth of experience. Click Here.
Among those on hand to welcome the cadets back were SAMSA senior officials; deputy Chief Operations Officer, Captain Nigel Campbell and SAMSA Maritime Specialist Maritime Projects Operations Manager, Mr Roland Shortt.
Briefly, the officials were most impressed by the group of cadets both in terms of its focus on training as well as general conduct.
For their remarks to the cadets, Click on the video.
Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape will again be the receiving and welcoming city to about two dozen of South Africa’s newest cadets to successfully set sail – and venture for the first time into the icy Antarctica territory over the last the last 80 days.
The welcoming back ceremony takes place on Friday morning at the port of Port Elizabeth where the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) along with the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the South Africa Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) and various stakeholders, including the media will see the cadets get off their their training vessel, the SA Agulhas on South African soil for the first time since 24 November 2017.
The 20 cadets comprising 19 deck and one engine, left the country on the day to join a group of Indian scientists in Mauritius and with whom they would spend the rest of the time at sea from the Indian to the Southern Oceans for about 60 days.
The cadets under the stewardship of Port Elizabeth based SAIMI are mostly from the country’s two universities specializing in maritime education and sailor development; the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and Durban University of Technology.
During the trip on which their supervision was under SAMTRA officials, the cadets underwent extensive training in their respective streams as part of their academic education towards a set of maritime qualifications including of engineering.
Sea training on board sailing vessels is a vital aspect of their maritime training and education and for which the SA Agulhas, hauled from certain retirement by SAMSA some five years ago, is designed.
After acquisition by SAMSA from the Department of Environmental Affairs, the SA Agulhas was converted into the dedicated cadet training vessel, complete with a state-of -the-art modern simulator that allows the students real time experience of sailing and managing vessels in actual sea conditions.
The trip to the Indian and Southern Oceans over 80 days was the second by the SA Agulhas in 2017 involving, on each of the occasions, the deployment and training of young South Africans cadets in the company of scientists from India.
On their departure in November from Cape Town, the new cadets had high hopes and spoke well of their expected experience during the voyage in the video below.
This blog will again speak to them to find out if their experience matched their expectations. We will share those views on this blog from Friday onward.
Friday’s welcome back event is scheduled to take place at the port of Port Elizabeth from early morning till noon.
Among expected guests are senior officials of both SAMSA and SAIMI, among them Mr Sobantu Tilayi (COO at SAMSA) and Dr Malik Pourzanjani (CEO of SAIMI).
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has warned that the country is badly equipped to manage effectively weather induced disasters at sea, and that unless serious attention is given to the situation, the maritime economic sector and the country’s economy in general could face serious consequences.
The warning by SAMSA Chief Operations Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi came in the backdrop of observable dramatic climate changes affecting the country and which saw areas such as KwaZulu-Natal – home to two of the country’s busiest ports in Durban and Richards Bay – battered by severe storms that led to loss of life and damage to property at sea.
Mr Tilayi’s remarks were shared during a gathering of some of the country’s maritime economic sector’s leading players for a SAMSA sponsored event in Cape Town on Wednesday evening.
The purpose of the SAMSA event was to share with industry and government officials the agency’s perspective on issues affecting and impacting the country’s maritime economic sector, inclusive of its own contribution towards the sector transformation and expansion.
This was within context of the State agency’s legislated mandate to among other things, promote South Africa’s maritime interests domestically and globally.
Among key issues raised by SAMSA’s ‘sector score-card’ on Wednesday evening were;
The pace of transformation in the sector with regards development and creation of opportunities for business, job creation and general participation of all South Africans. SAMSA’s view was that with general economic performance domestically and globally taken into account, the sector’s pace was all too sluggish.
Skills development trends: There was progress, but still very limited.
Legal challenges relating to manning in ocean going vessels: The sector but particularly the fishing subsector had to get its act together.
New International Maritime Organization (IMO) stipulations coming into effect in January 2019 relating to type of fuels to be used by vessels: Role players must act with speed.
State of readiness of the country with regards climate change impacting ocean bound trade: The matter can no longer be left to chance.
State of relations between South Africa and the rest of the African continent: South Africa is letting itself down unnecessarily, dragging down along with it the rest of Africa
Nature of relations among local sector role-players. There is simply not enough ongoing engagement.
On climate change, recollecting the single most devastating weather induced disaster affecting Durban in recent times, Mr Tilayi said the major storm that hit that city in 2017 exposed the poor state of readiness the country experiences when it comes to natural disasters.
On the day of the storm, according to Mr Tilayi, no fewer than six vessels – some fully laden with cargo – ran aground, some momentarily blocking the mouth of the port of Durban.
Had any of the vessels, even a single one, broken its back; the country’s busiest port would have to had to shut down.
“In a meeting with the deputy Transport Minister three days later, I said this country does not have any contingency plans for disasters of this nature,'” he recalled, adding that the weather phenomenon was attributed to global climate change which required that South Africa urgently established early warning systems.
“I still don’t know what we could have done differently to avert the disaster. It a good thing that it did not get worse and harmed the economy,” said Mr Tilayi.
He noted that the disaster still did not spare the oceans’ environment however, as millions of tiny plastic pellets that had escaped from one of lost containers polluted an area of some 1000 km from north of Durban to the south west of the Eastern Cape coastal area in the Indian Ocean, and in its wake, posing an enduring threat to both marine and human life.
A major clean-up had since been launched along the affected coastline with good results, he said.
For Mr Tilayi’s full remarks (30 minutes) on this and other aspects of the state of the country’s maritime economic sector development, click on the video below.
More pictures of guests at the SAMSA Stakeholders’ Dinner at the Mount Nelson Hotel on Wednesday:
The launch recently of South Africa’s Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy (CMPT), coupled with the revised Merchant Shipping Act, as well as envisaged full implementation of the National Ports Act (No 12. 2005) can be expected to see rapid transformation of the country’s maritime economic sector, according to the Department of Transport.
Such transformation crucially will involve the deliberate creation of space for all South Africans to participate in the economic sector and with that process, the attraction of new and expanded investment and much needed job creation, Transport Department acting Deputy Director-General, Mr Mthunzi Madiya said in Cape Town.
He was addressing guests to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) annual Stakeholders Dinner held at the Mt Nelson Hotel in Cape Town on Wednesday evening.
As many as 60 guests – most of them major and lead players in the various subsectors of the country’s maritime sector – attended the event.
In his brief address, Mr Madiya said from a government policy development and implementation perspective, the country’s maritime sector no longer had an excuse about why it cannot rapidly transform as well as increase financial investment.
“The responsibility of government is to develop policies. On the 15th of July 2017, Minister of Transport launched the Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy. It was a milestone for the sector for various reasons, as we were always reminded that the reason why there was no transformation was because there was no industry policy certainty and therefore we needed a policy.
“South Africa today has the policy that needs to be implemented. We want transformation,” he said, adding that Government was hopeful that the sector would be sufficiently incentivized to not compel the hand of Government to forcefully use the new laws to engender needed transformation.
He said a CMPT strategy would be presented to Cabinet for approval before the end of the current financial year. Once approved, the strategy would allow for the targeting of investment opportunities in especially what he described as ‘low handing fruit’; coastal shipping of particularly bulk and liquid cargo along the country’s 3200km coastline.
Also the revised Merchant Shipping Act of 1951 would be presented to Parliament for formal approval in a few months, he said.
Getting the buzz of the South Africa maritime sector during this year’s SAMSA stakeholder’s dinner ahead of the opening of South Africa’s Parliament in February 2018
According to Mr Madiya, desperately needed and overdue transformation of the sector to create space for all South Africans would be all encompassing, inclusive of the utilization of the country’s vast ports land.
He said: “The National Ports Act is the biggest instrument to force the industry to transform. We are talking about what is happening in the real estate of the National Ports Authority and the Act responds to this. We feel we need to do something because that’s what the Act says.
“If your tenure comes to an end after 20-25 years, the law says you must vacate the port so that new tenants can come in and Transet has been very clear on this that whoever then participates, must have a minimum of 51% black ownership.
“We hope and we trust that we will be able to use those instruments to make sure that people who had never had an opportunity, are given an opportunity to participate in the ports space.”
Mr Madiya also confirmed the formal approval of the SAMSA Funding Model by the Department of Transport following a month’s long consultative process with stakeholders in the maritime sector.
He said with the approval, SAMSA could now begin to implement it in order to ensure a sustainable source of income going forward.
In addition, he said, a salvage strategy had also been finalized and the department would be engaging with SAMSA on what next was needed to be done to ensure effective implementation.
Further, Mr Madiya reemphasized the crucial role played SAMSA as the Department of Transport’s implementing agency, and that the department would do all in its power to ensure the agency was sufficiently empowered and resourced to pursue its mandate that includes the promotion of the country’s maritime interests locally and abroad.
To listen to the full speech of Mr Madiya, Click on the video below.
Administrative efficiencies at South Africa’s eight commercial ports from Saldanha Bay on the west coast through to Richards Bay on the border of Mozambique will have to stack up significantly and stay stacked up if expected greater productivity by the shipping sector in the country is to be achieved, the South African Ship Operators & Agents Association (SASOAA) has urged.
The message to the country’s maritime sector authorities, among them the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), was shared with maritime sector representatives at this year’s South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) ‘Stakeholders’ Dinner’ held in Cape Town on Wednesday evening.
The SAMSA event held annually at the foot of the Table Mountain in Cape Town to coincide with the congregation of among others, the country’s maritime sector stakeholders in the city for the country’s Parliament’s official reopening in early February every year, is an informal gathering designed to allow for sharing of views on current trends in the sector.
This year’s venue for the SAMSA event was the Mount Nelson Hotel, a stone’s throw from the South African Parliament.
However, the country’s State of the Nation address in Parliament scheduled for Thursday, 08 February 2018, was postponed. The SAMSA event went ahead anyhow.
Addressing more than 50 industry representatives as well as Government officials, Chief Executive Officer of SASOAA, Mr Peter Besnard said it was all very well that the shipping subsector in the country was correctly expected to show more productivity, but that there were creeping constraints, top of which were declining administrative and related efficiencies at the country’s ports.
South African ports are said to have a terminal capacity to handle container traffic totalling 8 013 000 TEUs per annum and just over half of which is available as
Mr Besnard singled out the port of Durban and to a degree, that of Richards Bay; as among ports in the country that were increasingly showing declining efficiencies in ship cargo handling.
According to Mr Besnard, requisite tooling, equipment and manning were increasingly becoming a problem that was contributing to the stifling of the shipping subsector’s greater productivity.
He said as things stood, anything between 14 to 17 days were being lost by the shipping subsector, at great cost, due to creeping inefficiencies where more than 5 000 containers would stand idle and not being attended to as they should be.
“I get reports every morning that between 4500 to 5000 containers stacked underground are ready for collection and they are not moving… those containers are in a congested state, and in next line is that two and half thousand of those containers are unassigned..which means that no truckers are assigned to move them.”
To listen to his full address, Click on the video below.