Seafarers’ world due for a significant shakeup in South Africa: Department of Transport

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Some of South Africa’s growing cadre of seafarers, young and old, gathered on board the country’s dedicated cadet training vessel, the SA Agulhas in Cape Town on Monday to observe the international Day of the Seafarer – one three venues in the country where the event was held in three cities simultaneously for the first time. The other venues were Durban and Port Elizabeth. In Cape Town, the event was marked by two distinct activities; while officials from government, industry, education representatives and related held a dialogue behind closed doors, the seafarers took time to have a cake as well as a braai.

Cape Town: 26 June 2018

The seafarers career in South Africa is bound for a major shakeup in the coming months involving three major aspects: a re-look at the status of their qualifications for proper positioning, an overhaul of the process of their intake into the career path, as well as expansion of employment opportunities – the latter expected to involve the establishment of a South African fleet of vessels to do port to port shipments.

The policy shifts by government, driven by the Department of Transport in collaboration with the maritime sector and various others, emerged during observation of the international Day of the Seafarer held in Cape Town on Monday – one of three similar events held also in Port Elizabeth and Durban.

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In dialogue: (From Left) Mr Leon Mouton of the Sea Safety Training Group, Mr Rob Whitehead
President – The Society of Master Mariners South Africa, Ms Leone Louw, a lecturer at Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s Department of Maritime Studies and Mr Dumisani Ntuli, acting Chief Director General: Maritime at the Department of Transport during discussions of seafarers well-being related issues during observation of the international Day of the Seafarers in Cape Town on Monday.

It was the first time for South Africa to observe the annual seafarers’ event at three locations simultaneously on the same day at three venues – the other two being Durban and Port Elizabeth.

Participants at all three events included government and its agencies including the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), higher education and training institutions, industry representatives as well as seafarers, among others.

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Mr Dumisani Ntuli. Acting Chief Director General: Maritime; Department of Transport

In Cape Town, Department of Transport acting Chief Director General for Maritime, Mr Dumisani Ntuli said a policy revision was currently underway to shakeup the country’s maritime sector but specifically shipping, with a view to facilitating the establishment of a domestic fleet of vessels to take over port-to-port shipping transport.

Primarily, this was to ensure greater participation of South Africa in the shipping sector involving its own people, but equally important, to create a stable and expanded opportunity for ongoing,  sustainable development of a professional cadre of South African seafarers immersed in an own culture.

However, Mr Ntuli also acknowledged an urgent need currently to both address the issue of already qualified seafarers and whose qualifications as well as related experience do not enjoy recognition by the country’s education system in terms of the South African Qualifications Authority.

He said a task team involving appropriate representations from relevant stakeholders would be set up to fast-track the process.

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Mr Dumisani Ntuli with some of the seafarers that attended South Africa’s observation of the Day of the Seafarers 2018 in Cape Town on Monday.

In tandem, the quality of young people entering the profession would also require a re-evaluation as it was being established that some, if not a significant number of people pursuing seafaring for a career were either ill-prepared or simply not suitable for the type of work.

Currently, it emerged, there was a high drop out rate of maritime sector education students by especially cadets, once they get employed fully at sea.

According to Mr Ntuli, the main goal of all the initiatives was to ensure a stable career path for seafarers and that they are absorbed into the shipping transport industry and remain employed for their working lifetime.

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Having fun: Some of the aspirant seafarers currently undergoing the first ratings training of its kind on board the SA Agulhas at the Cape Sun hotel in Cape Town on Monday for the observation of the international Day of the Seafarer 201 event – one of three held in the South Africa’s major coastal cities for the first time this year since inception of the Day of the Seafarer by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) eight years ago.

With regards the observation of the Day of the Seafarer annually, he said the new format involving the staging of the event in cities across the country’s coastline would remain the feature, primarily to ensure engagement of all stakeholders for a continuous dialogue on matters affecting the sector.

For a detailed presentation of Mr Ntuli’s remarks on this and related matters, Click on the video below.

A full round up of the various participants’ contributions to the discussion at the Cape Town event on Monday will follow soon.

Among the key participants were Ms Leone Louw, a lecturer in maritime studies at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Mr Rob Whitehead, president of the Society of Master Mariners South Africa, Mr Leon Mouton of the Safety Training Group, Captain Ravi Naicker of the South African Maritime Safety Authority, as well industry and seafarer representatives.

 

Meanwhile, dozens of young and aspirant seafarers attending the event were all enthusiastic about the prospects of their careers given the increasing attention that was now being given to their well-being going into the future.

Among these were Ms Lelethu Ntuzula and Mr Sanele Hlongwane, both in their 20’s – one a deck cadet and the other currently undergoing the first ratings training of its kind on board the SA Agulhas – an initiative of the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) together with the TETA, that began three weeks ago in Port Elizabeth.

To hear their views, click on the video below.

Still in Cape Town, about two kilometers or so from the Cape Sun venue of the Cape Town leg of the Day of the Seafarers observation, at the Cape Town harbour, dozens of seafarers, young and old, on board the country’s dedicated cadet training vessel, the St Agulhas, had a cake and a braai, to mark the day, and fun was had by all.

In the other two coastal cities where the event was held, similar sentiment and merriment emerged.

Mr Sobantu Tilayi, Chief Operating Officer for SAMSA reiterated the authority’s openness to seafarers and informed those gathered that the overall wellbeing of seafarers was their priority.

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Mr Sobantu Tilayi. COO: SAMSA

Seafarers had to prepare themselves for the challenges associated with working in a diverse and multi-cultural environment, he said.

Some seafarers gathered in Durban asserted that one of the challenges they faced at sea was being perceived as ill-disciplined when they raised labour-related issues with their superiors on-board.

Mr Tilayi said: “It is important for our seafarers to understand that it is the Merchant Shipping Act, rather than the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, which governs the labour rights of seafarers.”

He encouraged seafarers to view the maritime industry in its global context, and consider the norms and standards established in the companies in which they worked.

“We encourage all our seafarers to understand the complexities of the industry they serve,” Mr Tilayi said.

In summary the DoT and SAMSA said the maritime industry had the potential to address the high unemployment rate, and a plan of action was necessary to include the following interventions:

  • Adopt South African models and knowledge to solve the country’s unemployment rate.
  • Develop and own a South African shipping fleet for economic growth.
  • Develop a seafarers’ culture and create employment opportunities for qualified South African seafarers.
  • Develop a career path plan.
  • Build the fishing industry to accommodate SA seafarers.
  • Strengthen the capacity of the SA Agulhas to use it as a training vessel for South African seafarers.
  • Integrate technological advancements in the industry.

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Day of the Seafarer, Monday June 25. Giving recognition where it’s due, seafarers: DoT

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Cape Town: 24 June 2018

The eyes of the maritime sector globally turn their focus on Monday onto the role of one of the most critical key role players in the field, seafarers – upon whose shoulders the movement of ships of all sizes as well as safety of global goods trade rests.

It is observance internationally of the Day of the Seafarer (DosT) in South Africa for the first time, the event led by the Department of Transport (DoT), with assistance by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) will be marked simultaneously in the three coastal cities of  Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, beginning from about 9am.

Participants are expected to include several role players in the country’s maritime sector inclusive of government agencies, shipping and related company representatives,  higher education and related institutions, seafarers and others.

And central to the events, in addition to messages both by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the Department of Transport, will be a round-table session (Duban) and panel discussions (Port Elizabeth and Cape Town) on matters affecting seafarers.

(For a preview of the Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga’s full message for DosT pre-recorded earlier, and for that of the IMO, Click on the videos below)

According to the DoT, for this reason, the South African Day of the Seafarer event will have as its supportive domestic theme: “A Dialogue with the South African Seafarer on the Day of the Seafarer.”

Reflecting on how the annual observation of the seafarers day came about eight years ago, the department says the IMO designated 25 June as the international Day of the Seafarer “as a way to recognize that almost everything that we use in our daily lives has been directly or indirectly affected by sea transport.

“International shipping transports more than 90 percent of global trade to peoples and communities all over the world and about 20 million containers are traveling across the oceans every day.

“Driven by the IMO together with partner countries including South Africa, this year’s Seafarers Day celebration theme is “seafarers’ well-being”. IMO asserts that the year 2017 and 2018 have seen strong momentum in the industry to address seafarer’s well-being, particularly their mental health.” says the DoT

Also noting that “South Africa, as a member of IMO has traditionally supported and participated in the Seafarers Day celebration,” the department says the country’s approach this year to include a stakeholder dialogue as part of the observation is intended to ensure that seafarers are not just celebrated, but also given opportunity to share their owns views about matters that impact their profession.

“The Department of Transport wants to create a platform to engage with seafarers in order to better understand the challenges they are facing and together to develop responses to the identified challenges. The purpose of participation is to create awareness about the role of seafarers and to inculcate the seafaring culture and excellence in South Africa.

“The IMO encourages governments, shipping organizations, companies, ship owners and all other parties concerned to duly and appropriately promote the Day of the Seafarer and take action to celebrate it meaningfully,” it says.

Monday’s observation of the Day of the Seafarer in South Africa in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban will then have its main goals; the initiation of a dialogue with the country’s seafarers, with the intention to find possible solutions on how to tackle challenges they may be faced with, but also provide ideas and projects to improve seafarers prospects for placement on ships worldwide and related opportunities, says the DoT.

Notably, the DoT says it also wants to focus attention on the role of especially female seafarers and about whom it says, remain under represented in the shipping subsector.

“The Department of Transport will use the Seafarers Day to launch an annual platform of engagement on issues affecting  seafarers including promotion of female seafarers. Shipping is one such wherein women constitute a very miniscule part of the shipboard workforce.

“The Seafarers day is a great opportunity for seafarers and maritime professionals in general from all sectors to promote and raise awareness of the value of seafaring culture and practice including training and development. The industry still foresees a shortfall of skilled, licensed officers and engineers in future years.

In keeping with modern communication trends, two hashtags are being used to highlight the event: #SupportSeafarersWellbeing through dialogue and  #GoodDayatSea

According to the DoT, The first hashtag can be used by shipping companies and others within the industry, “to show how they create opportunities and decent working environment for seafarers and how they address mental health issues among their seagoing staff.

“The second hashtag can be used to engage the general public, to wish them a good day at sea and encourage seafarers to share photos of themselves in a positive work environment.”

Meanwhile, in support of the ‘dialogue’ aspect of the observation, a couple of weeks ago SAMSA launched an initiative involving video interviews with local and international seafarers currently in South Africa, but also a social media initiative encouraging seafarers anywhere else to share their stories.

In the video interview series dubbed: “In Conversation with Seafarers – In celebration of Seafarers’ Day 2018′ 10 seafarers ( five female and five male including three international) shared their joys as well as frustrations that they experience in the profession, yet with most stating that seafaring is remains their first love and so it shall remain for a while yet.

To view the interviews (averaging 15 minutes each) go to the “Day of the Seafarer 2018” page or Click Here.

Of Monday’s Day of the Seafarer observation event nationally, in addition to traditional media coverage, SAMSA’s news information online platforms, inclusive of social media, will share news and information flowing from the events on a regular basis throughout the day. In addition, this blog will provide a comprehensive multi media report, inclusive of interviews with some of the participants, from late afternoon on Monday through to Tuesday.

End

Notice to Seafarers

Delays in Issuing of Certificates for Seafarers

Pretoria: 15 June 2018

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) would like to inform all seafarers and stakeholders that we are currently experiencing challenges with the issuing of Certificates for all Seafarers. This is affecting the turnaround time for seafarers to receive their certificates timeously.

 There’s a contingency plan in place for seafarers who need to join their ships before our systems are  up and running again. We are confident we will resolve the issues before 30 June 2018 and commence issuing the certificates immediately. We will post further notices when all systems are up and running again.

 Sincerer apology to all those seafarers, employers, agents, etc. who are affected by this.

 Issued by: The Deputy Chief Operations Officer

South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)

SA World Oceans Day 2018 observation puts focus on growing menace of plastics pollution

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Durban: 09 June 2018

With global recognition increasing about the dangers of plastics waste pollution particularly on the world’s oceans, closer collaboration among role-players remains crucial to success in combating the rapidly expanding menace.

At least that was the dominant message flowing from this year’s observation of World Oceans Day in Durban at the weekend – a two day event hosted by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in collaboration with several institutions including the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

SAMSA is charged statutorily with responsibility for the monitoring and prevention of pollution by ships at sea all around South Africa, an area spawning more than 1.5-million square kilometres and over which the country has interest in as an exclusive economic zone.

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The venue of this year’s event at the Durban port marking the World Oceans Day on 08 June.

In Durban over two days, from Friday and Saturday, several institutions across the public, private, higher education, research as well as community sectors gathered under one roof at a hall located at the harbour for an exhibition as well as a public awareness campaign focused on sharing information about the menace of plastics pollution.

 

 

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Mr Brian Kekana (Left) of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) sharing information on the work of SAMSA in preventing pollution by ships at the country’s oceans but also information on careers in the country’s maritime sector.

The first day was almost exclusively dedicated to high school pupils in the Durban area while the following day was open to members of the public and for whom, another major attraction was country dedicated marine research vessel, the SA Agulhas II.

In addition to maritime careers information for the school pupils, both groups were taken through various information sharing sessions on the importance of the country’s marine resources as well as the absolutely crucial need to spare the environment of pollution, and of which plastic  waste was the most dominant currently across the world.

They were also taken on a tour of the country’s dedicated sea research vessel, the SA Agulhas II ahead of its departure to the Antarctic region with supplies for the research stations there, as well as further studies by a group of marine scientists on board.

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Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) Marine scientist (biological oceanography), Ms Keshnee Pillay at this year’s World Ocean Day observation event at the Durban harbour held on Friday and Saturday.

According to Ms Keshnee Pillay, a marine scientist in biological oceanography at the Department of Environmental Affairs, greater collaboration among all stakeholders and roleplayers engaged with the plastics waste pollution campaign, is crucial to future success.

In the following video, explains why the focus of this year’s World Ocean Day celebration had to be on plastics pollution particularly as it affected the oceans and other marine environment.

Injured crew members rescued from weather rattled vessel off South African coast

KS_FLORAPretoria: 06 June 2018

The South African Maritime Safety Authority’s (SAMSA) Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC)  in Cape Town had to spring into fast action early on Wednesday after two crew members of a bulk carrier departing from South Africa for Brunei reportedly suffered serious injuries while sailing through choppy waters on the Indian Ocean.

Working in collaboration with a number of local institutions as well as a medical doctor in the Eastern Cape, the MRCC dispatched a South African Air Force aircraft from Port Elizabeth to pluck the injured crew members from the bulk carrier for medical attention in East London.

In a statement, the MRCC said the rescue scramble occurred early on Wednesday after the bulk carrier, KS Flora, sailing from the deep water port of Ngqurha in Port Elizabeth and while approximately 81 kilometers south west of East London, on its way to the Maura Port in Brunei, sent and emergency call for assistance with two injured crew members

“Today at 0934 SAST MRCC Cape Town received a call from RSC East London advising of two injured crew members on-board Bulk Carrier ‘KS FLORA’ approximately 81 kilometres from East London. The vessel had left Algoa Bay (Ngqura) bound for Muara Port in Brunei. The two crew got injured  due to vessel experiencing bad weather. One crew suffered severe left knee injury and the other suffered severe fracture left foot.

“MRCC then requested our coastal radio station (PORT ELIZABETH Radio) to connect the vessel to the METRO doctor for him to make a medical judgment on the condition of the two crew.

“The Metro doctor advised that one of the crew should be evacuated as soon as possible and he suggested air evacuation due to the urgency in the casualty requiring treatment. The vessel was diverting to East London as it was the closest port from their position.” said the MRCC.

A South African Air Force aircraft dispatched from Port Elizabeth rendezvoused with the vessel during the day approximately 36 kilometres from shore, for evacuation of the injured crew members and who have since been admitted to a hospital in East London.

The MRCC confirmed that the bulk carrier had since returned onto its journey to Brunei.

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To learn more about the role of the SAMSA MRCC, please click here:

https://www.samsa.org.za/service/rescue-co-ordination/mrcc

New ratings training expands maritime sector job opportunities for SA youth

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A group of 20 South African youths that boarded the SA Agulhas in Port Elizabeth on Thursday for an onboard practical ratings training – the first of its kind in the development of skilled seafarers. The pilot ratings training involving 45 youths currently is funded by the Transport Training and Education Authority (TETA) and managed by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI). With the ratings trainees (third from Right) is training officer, Captain Steven Paulse.

Port Elizabeth: 02 June 2018

The launch in Port Elizabeth of a new national ratings practical training for aspirant seafarers is among new and ongoing initiatives to expand the skills base in the country’s maritime sector, thereby giving more youth opportunities, according to the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) and the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

Launch of the practical aspect of the ratings training took place at the port of Port Elizabeth on Thursday when the first group of 20 youths – 11 males and nine females – boarded the SA Agulhas to join in on its two weeks ocean sojourn on the Indian Ocean on a scientific research mission.

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The SA Agulhas spotting a new coat of paint as well as stock for its 2018 scientific research and training mission in June 2018.

The SA Agulhas, the country’s dedicated cadet training vessel under the command of SAMSA, will be sailing some 300 km into sea along the eastern coast of South Africa,  from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town, on a charter to the SA Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), a business unit of the National Research Foundation (NRF).

The scientific research mission will involve retrieval of data from a number of scientific buoys deployed in the coastal waters to monitor the Agulhas current and its role in climate change.

It is the first of two missions in 2018 for the SA Agulhas and for which it was recently dry-docked for fine tuning as well as refurbishing at the port of East London.

The scientific research missions for which the vessel is chartered offer an excellent opportunity also for the country’s growing cadre of young cadets undergoing training to become qualified seafarers.

This time around, focus by SAIMI along with its partners including training services providers, has been turned on practical training for ratings – a new category of skills development for aspirant seafarers that is being piloted and aimed at growing the pool of employable South African seafarers.

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The new SAIMI ratings trainees boarding the SA Agulhas in Port Elizabeth early this past week.

The ratings training is funded by the Transport Education Training Authority (TETA).  According to SAIMI, the 20 youths that boarded the SA Agulhas on Thursday are part of a group of 45 candidates in the pilot project.

In a joint media statement, SAIMI chief executive officer Professor Malek Pourzanjani said getting a project of this nature off the ground was the result of strong partnerships and collaboration, involving both public and private sector role-players and training providers.

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Dr Malek Pourzanjani, Chief Executive Officer of the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI)

“Special mention should be made of TETA as the funder and SAMSA as the owner of the vessel for providing this valuable opportunity for the trainees to gain sea-time,” he said.

Malcolm Alexander, TETA’s maritime education training and development practitioner, said: “We are pleased to see this pilot training project taking shape with the trainees being able to gain practical experience at sea aboard the SA Agulhas.

“The project expands TETA’s involvement in maritime sector education and training at a practical skill level and is a positive for the maritime sector and oceans economy growth.

“It also grows the pool of South African seafarers available for local and global employment.”

According to SAIMI, the current group of trainees is being managed by the South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) and the Sea Safety Training Group.

Marine Crew Services is also a partner to the project, having agreed to place trainees in their managed fleets for further training.

The next phase of the project, according to SAIMI, will entail building the capacity of TVET (Technical Vocational Education & Training) Colleges to offer the training.

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Mr Sobantu Tilayi. COO: SAMSA

Weighing on the project, SAMSA Chief Operating Officer, Sobantu Tilayi described the initiative as forward looking.

“As part of our commitment to address the high unemployment rate, this rating training provides a wider scope of maritime training and skills development.

“It addresses the gap for career opportunities. Young people would be able to find jobs in areas such as maintenance of the vessels, its equipment and gear, in rigging and deploying equipment, and handling and securing cargo.” he said.

Mr Tilayi said the SA Agulhas which SAMSA owns and manages, was particularly well suited for its training role, and its recent refurbishments at the dry dock, was testimony of its strength and calibre.

By supporting the hands-on aspects of maritime training, the project partners are contributing to skills development as outlined in the South African government’s Operation Phakisa plan to fast-track the growth and development of the oceans economy, he said.

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The SA Agulhas exiting the port of Port Elizabeth on Thursday 31 May 2018 on its first of two scientific research and training missions in 2018, this time involving new ratings training of some 20 youths.