Women advancement in SA’s maritime sector on a giant historical leap: SAMSA

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South Africa’s first all female cadets and training officers team before sailing out in Cape Town on 27 December 2019 for a three months research and training sojourn into the Indian and Southern Oceans including Antarctica.

Cape Town: 30 December 2019

Women empowerment in South Africa’s maritime sector took on yet another relatively small but highly significant and historical step forward at the weekend in Cape Town after the country despatched an all women cadet and training officers’ team on a three months voyage to the southern seas.

The 22 women- two officers and 20 young female cadets sailed from the port of Cape Town on Friday night, headed for Mauritius where they will be joined in 10 days by a group of Indian scientists for their three months sojourn into the Indian Ocean and Antartica region.

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The 20 all female deck and engine cadets in full uniform on board the SA Agulhas a few hours before their historical training sojourn which will end in March 2020

According to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) – owners and operators of the SA Agulhas, the country’s only dedicated cadet training vessel – and the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) – the country’s agency for cadet training – the latest of three such training opportunities for the country’s cadets out sea was partly made possible by the out hiring of the SA Agulhas ship to the Indian National Centre for Antarctic Ocean Research (ICAOR).

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The SA Agulhas at the port of Cape Town. Owned and operated by the SA Maritime Safety Authority, the ship is South Africa’s only dedicated national cadet training vessel.

Scientists from the ICAOR will be conducting research of the Indian and Southern Oceans waters over a period of two months through to the end of February 2020. During this period, the all female 18 deck and two engine cadets will receive extensive training and earn crucial sea time to advance them through their studies as future mariners.

SAMSA and SAIMI described the send off of an all female cadet team and all female training officers in Cape Town at the weekend  as the first ever such adventure, deliberately aimed at advancing gender parity in the maritime sector through focused advancement of woman.

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From Left: Mr Ian Calvert, executive head of SAMSA’s Marine Special Services with the master of the SA Agulhas, Captain Reagan Paul in Cape Town on Friday 27 December 2019

Two of the 20 cadets will likely qualify for the Officer of the Watch exam after earning sufficient sea time during this voyage. For several of the cadets, this voyage will be the first time away from home and will be their first ever training opportunity at sea.

SAMSA Acting CEO Mr Sobantu Tilayi emphasized the importance of this particular voyage; “It is important that we use every opportunity we get to open up the maritime industry to all and this voyage is proof that South Africa is on-board with the international drive to empower women and is committed to do away with the notion that the maritime industry is a male dominated industry” said Mr Tilayi.

Mr Ian Calvert, executive head of SAMSA’s Marine Special Services, who was on hand to see off the all female training crew said: “Addressing poverty, unemployment and inequality is the responsibility of all South Africans. Further to this, gender parity in the workspace remains of great concern.

“Today, women signify two percent of the world’s 1.2 million seafarers with 94 percent of female seafarers working in the cruise ship industry. There can be no doubt this is a historically male dominated industry, subsequently there needs to be a concerted effort to help the industry move forward and support women to achieve a representation that is in keeping with 21st century expectations.”

According to Mr Calvert, the historical event send off at the weekend, was not just a uniquely South African initiative that was out of sink with the rest of the world, but a significant contribution to global efforts championed currently by international agencies such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the International Maritie Organisation (IMO).

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True to a call: (From Left) Ms Cher Klen and Ms Samantha Montes, the SA Agulhas training officers for the 2019-2020 historical all female cadet training voyage that began on Friday 27 December 2019

He said: “Through its Women in Maritime programme, under the slogan: “Training-Visibility-Recognition”,  the IMO has taken a strategic approach towards enhancing the contribution of women as key maritime stakeholders. In spite of this, the benefits of these and other initiatives still need to be fully felt in (South) Africa.

“For this particular voyage as a show of our continued commitment to the achievement of gender equality we have specifically dedicated it to the exposure of women in maritime,” said Mr Calvert

DSC_8091.JPGFurther, he said, the initiative was in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 5 “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”, the African Integrated Maritime Strategy, National Development Plan, Operation Phakisa as well as the Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy.

“It is an attempt to address gender empowerment and inequalities specifically in South Africa, in the year that the IMO declared The World Maritime Day theme as “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community”.

For Mr Calvert’s remarks on the topic, click on video below.

SA Agulhas Antarctica Voyage 2019: First All Female Training Venture

This blog also chatted with some of the youg female cadets as well as the master of the vessel on this voyage, Captain Reagan Paul, to gain their views and expectations of experience during the next three motnhs. The young cadets, Ms Lona Jiba (Eastern Cape), Ms Puleng Ramasodi and Thabango Ngobeni (both from Gauteng), and Ms Sinethemba Mdlalose (KwaZulu-Natal) were beyond themselves with joy at their first sea voyage and particularly on board the SA Agulhas on its journey to the ice mountains of the Antarctica region.

The blog also heard from one of the onboard training officers, Ms Samantha Montes who’s stated other interest during the voyage would be an observation of the implementation of the Polar Code.

For this and more click on the videos below.

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SA women in maritime: ‘There’s progress with gender transformation!’

DSC_7452.JPGPretoria: 19 December 2019

The general socio-political and economic mood might not have been the greatest in South Africa during the passing year, with good reason. But it is also just as true that – in the words of SA Ports Regulator, Mr Mahesh Fakir – there had also been ‘pockets of excellence’ the country simply can’t afford to ignore.

One such area of positive development, at least according to some of  the country’s leading women in the maritime sector, has been noticeable progress achieved in the advancement of women in the sector.

DSC_7506.JPGIt has been, according to them, a notable progressive achievement in South Africa capped late in 2019 by the appointment for the first time of a South African, and a woman, as President of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) General Assembly during its last sitting in London.

South Africa’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Ms Nomatemba Tambo became the latest symbol of maritime sector gender representation transformation success after she was elected the IMO General Assembly’s President during its 31st session held in London from 25 November to 04 December.

It was also during that session in London that the 174 Member States of the IMO also adopted a resolution on “Preserving the Legacy of the World Maritime Theme for 2019 and achieving a Barrier-Free Working Environment for Women in the Maritime Sector”.

18_12_11_IMO_WMD_WomenMaritime_Logo_Languages-English 2019That stance encapsulated and reflected on a year during which the advancement of women in the maritime sector worldwide received the highest attention from both the international and regional bodies as well as individual countries, as the 2019 theme for World Maritime Day also directed focus on deliberate gender parity in the sector.

DSC_7582.JPGIn Durban on Thursday evening (12 December 2019), the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) joined by the Department of Transport, hosted a stakeholders’ briefing function attended by various officials across the industry.

During the session, this blog took time to speak specifically to women present and who are leaders in the maritime sector in varied ways. They were, in no particular order; Ms Londiwe Ngcobo, Africa’s first black female Dredge Master; Ms Siyamthanda Maya, Managing Director of SA Marine Fuels; Ms Innocentia Motau, Director at Mediterranean Shipping Company and member of Women In Maritime South Africa; and Ms Kgomoto Selokane, Chief Executive Officer of COLT Marine.

Below are their views on business in general as well transformation in the maritime sector in South Africa.

Incidentally, it also emerged that one of the companies, MSC is aiming at creating no less than five (5) thousand jobs in the cruiserliner subsector over the next five years, working jointly with SAMSA.

Take a listen:

Ms Ngcobo: “South African has been so intentional to ensure success of women empowerment..”

Ms Maya: “We’ve seem the emergence of credible black companies….”

Ms Motau: “We launched Women In Maritime SA and we look forward to 2020 with anticipation and excitment…”

Ms Selokane: “Competing with well established companies not child’s play, but rewarding…”

 

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SA ship registry continue facing headwinds: SAMSA

Pretoria: 17 December 2019

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has expressed regret and disappointment that growth of the South African Ship Registry is failing to gather speed, this due partly to lack of common vision and understanding among State entities.

SAMSA Board Member, Ms Sekabiso Molemane told maritime sector stakeholders during a regular briefing in Durban last week that the organisation had failed to reach targets for ship registration under the South African flag that it has set itself two years ago, adding that this was both ‘deeply disappointing” and “regrettable.’

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Ms Sekabiso Molemane. SAMSA Board Member

Ms Molemane described it as highly significant that private sector industries had been highly supportive of the Department of Transport’s agency, SAMSA, in its endeavours and instead, the greatest challenges seemed to emanate largely from lack of support by other State agencies; among them the South African Revenue Services.

Both Ms Molemane and SAMSA acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi went to great detail explaining how the poverty of support from other fellow State agencies or government was negatively affecting SAMSA’s efforts to develop and grow the SA Ship Registry.

She said: “We started the year with enthusiasm, hoping that by this time we’d maybe have 15 ships in our register…and we’d have addressed issues of tariffs. But disappointingly, we are still where we were two years ago.

“It is heartbreaking that, because when we consult with industry and we say we have a situation, it (industry) says, we are here to support you. But unfortunately we have challenges somewhere else. Somewhere else, where we are supposed to unlock, it’s always locked. It is either a change of Ministers, or it is something else. One thing I could not  say though is that the industry failed us. I’d be lying,” Ms Molemane.

She added that the ship registry development was not the only one suffering lack of progress due to poverty of Government and State institutions’ support, but also systems development at SAMSA that both the agency and industry had identified as necessary to strengthen the effective performance of the organisation.

As a direct consequence, she said; issues that could be dealt with in a short period of time, sometimes took longer than necessary for SAMSA to deliver on. Even so, she told maritime sector stakeholders present at the function that: “Let’s not lose heart. Let’s hope that the best will come.”

For her full remarks, click on the video below.

Meanwhile, the South African Association of Ship Owners and Agencies (SAASOA), decried what it described as poor progress being made towards enhancing the country’s major ports cargo handling capabilities, citing a seeming apparent indifference by port authorities in addressing the matter.

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Mr Peter Besnard. Chief Executive Officer: SAASOA

SAASOA Chief Executive Officer, Mr Peter Besnard said it was now a matter of public record that the country’s ports poor cargo handling was a problem and which had surfaced as far as back as 2014.

He said: “Without a doubt, it is not something that has happened overnight. It has build up over time and I can safely say it started in 2014. But it appears to be overlooked or ignored and the situation has simply worsened. It is not a situation that can be sorted out overnight. It will certainly take a few years and a lot of money to get us back on track to where we were before.”

For Mr Besnard’s full remarks on the subject, click on the video below:

Also sharing some insights into the country’s trade ports state as well as an overview on recent and current developments was Mr Mahesh Fakir, the country’s Ports Regulator.

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Mr Mahesh Fakir. SA Ports Regulator.

According to Mr Fakir, a major highlight on tariffs this year was a 20% reduction on export containers which he described as intended to enhance the competitiveness of local goods in international market even as it would impact overall revenue for ports authorities.

“It (reduction) gives the country that ability to go out there and face the international market at a lower price, and that’s what the country needs as a shot in the arm to take this economy forward,” he said.

Mr Fakir said he believed that the country’s ports could perform even much better in cargo handling than is currently the case, were certain configurations to be made to improve them.

He cited a Colombian model he and senior officials of both SAMSA and the Department of Transport recently observed while attending the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) General Assembly Parallel Event in October 2019.

He described it as a model featuring partial ownership of ports by the State and the private sector – the latter involving individuals in areas where ports are situated.

For his full views on the matter click on the video below.

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SA govt to inject R5/R8-billion in country’s sea search and rescue capabilities: DoT

IMG_8510Pretoria: 17 December 2019

South Africa’s maritime risk management capabilities, precisely in oceans search and rescue as well as oil pollution, are to receive a major financial injection of up to R8-billion, the Department of Transport has announced.

Confirmation of the planned financial injection was made by Mr Mthunzi Madiya, Chief Director of Maritime at the Department of Transport, while addressing a maritime  sector stakeholders dinner hosted by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in Durban on Thursday evening.

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Mr Mthunzi Madiya. Chief Director: Maritime. Department of Transport

Mr Madiya said the funding by Government was in response to identified weaknesses in the country’s risk management capabilities, many of which were raised during a maritime sector stakeholders workshop held also in Durban in early 2019.

According to Mr Madiya, the funding will be made available through a Maritime Development Fund.  He said a technical committee would be set-up next month (January 2020) to look at funding models.

“The Department of Transport has realised that as a country, we lack the sea rescue and oil pollution control capabilities in the waters. This affects aviation as well as the maritime sector. So, the DG (director general) is spearheading this process whereby we need to look at certain legislation that can be amended so we can be able to find the funding model  that will be sustainable that will enable us to build the capacity and capability of this country when it comes to search and rescue, as well as pollution control,” said Mr Madiya.

He added: “We have realised that we are under resourced. The situation is that we have only one pollution tug…based in the Western Cape (and) if something happens on the eastern side of the country such as the Eastern Cape, we don’t have the capability to respond in time,” he said.

For Mr Madiya’s full remarks on the matter, click on the video below

 

South Africa to host SADC Search and Rescue Conference next February

DSC_7533.JPGNews of the intended funding injection towards the country’s maritime risk management capabilities last Thursday evening came as confirmation was also made of a Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states’ five day conference in South Africa next February.

Its aim, the statement said, would be to evaluate and determining the entire region’s state of readiness for maritime and aviation risk mitigation and effective management.

According to the Department of Transport, 17 SADC member countries will gather for the conference in Durban from February 17 through February 21.

Organised jointly with the International Maritime Rescue Federation, (IMRF) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), according to the Department of Transport,  the main purpose of the conference will be “to sensitise decision-makers and SAR experts of the need to establish and maintain SAR systems within the Southern African region as well as to explore tangible and innovative ways to improve cooperation in the provision of these services within the region.

“The objectives of the conference are, among other things; to establish co-operative means and develop strategies to enhance SAR capacity and capability within the region.

“The conference will be held under the theme “Embracing Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (AMSAR) Services: first and foremost as a Government and secondly as an Industry Social Responsibility, ” it said.

DSC_7616.JPGThe department said the conference would further “consider and endorse the draft Terms of Reference (TORs) of the SADC SAR Working Group (WG) with a view to request the 23rd session of the SADC Civil Aviation Committee to approve the draft TORs and formally constitute the WG.”

Low-sulphur ship fuel local legislation to miss 01 January target date

Meanwhile, the maritime sector stakeholders’s gathering in Durban last Thursday also heard that South Africa, contrary to an earlier pronouncement by the Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula, will not have in place an enabling legislation for the regulation of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)’s new low sulphur regime effective on 01 January 2020.

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Mr Sobantu Tilayi. Acting CEO: SAMSA

The confirmation was made by Mr Sobantu Tilayi, acting Chief Executive Officer of SAMSA. However, he said, the country would still be able to ensure that vessels traversing the region’s three ocean’s waters would be monitored appropriately as required in terms of the IMO’s Marpol  Convention Annexture VI, and in terms of which lower sulphur content for ships fuel becomes mandatory.

Precisely, in terms of the IMO,  the new sulphur limit in ships fuel is 0.50% from 01 January 2020.  Revised regulations for the prevention of air pollution from ships under the MARPOL (Annex VI) were adopted in October 2008 and ratified by more than 65 countries including South Africa.

In terms of this, all sizes of ships sailing on the world’s oceans will need to use fuel oil that meets the 0.50% limit from 1 January 2020. The 0.50% sulphur limit extends to carriage of bunker fuel with sulphur content of more than 0.50% for vessels not fitted with Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGSC). The carriage ban will come into effect on 1 March 2020.

DSC_7646.JPGIn Durban on Thursday evening, Mr Tilayi also announced that South Africa would allow scrubbing (vessels fitted with EGSC) until such time that ongoing studies of its efficacy had become conclusive.

For Mr Tilayi’s full remarks on this and various other maritime sector development issues, among them; reasons for the lacklustre development of the country’s ship registry, improved South Africa relations both in Africa and internationally, as well immediate to medium term future prospects of the country’s maritime sector,  click on the video below.

At the SAMSA stakeholders’ function in Durban on Thursday evening, this blog also chatted randomly with leaders in the sector and specifically women in maritime for both their company’s highlights of 2019 as well as progress being achieved in the general advancement of women in the sector.

Video interviews of their views will be shared on this platform soon.

 

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An SA seafarer – victim of a hurricane storm accident at sea – to be laid to rest.

Durban: 12 December 2019

South African seafarer, Mr Frank Isaacs one of a number sailors that lost their lives during an accident in the Caribbean Sea in September 2019, will be finally laid to rest in Cape Town at the weekend, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)

According to the government agency, Mr Isaacs was among seafarers on board a Luxembourg registered tug that sank some 12 000 nautical miles off the Martinique Island on 26 September 2019 after it was reportedly caught up in a Category 4 hurricane storm.

Shortly thereafter the tug by the name of Bourbon Rhode, sank. Three crew members were initially rescued, four bodies of others recovered and seven reported still missing, A search and rescue effort by the Regional Operational Centre of Surveillance and Rescue (Cross) Antilles-Guyane and other parties for the missing crew continued.

Mr Isaacs was later confirmed to be among the unfortunate sailors.

In Pretoria on Wednesday, SAMSA, which had been in constant contact with all relevant parties to the incident involving the tug crew rescue and retrieval effort, inclusive of Mr Isaacs’ family, said Mr Isaacs’ funeral service would be conducted on Saturday (14 December 2019) at Belhar, beginning at 8am.

A memorial service for Mr Isaacs was held on Wednesday evening (11 December 2019) at his home town, Delft, near Cape Town.

End.