World’s eye to turn on South Africa in 2020: SAMSA

DSC_8820Pretoria: 16 February 2020

The staging later this year of the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) World Maritime Day Parallel event in South Africa presents both the country and the African continent a major opportunity to not only showcase own advances in maritime sector developments, but also a business case to enhance economic ties.

This is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) during a presentation to stakeholders of a report on the state of South Africa’s maritime sector in Cape Town this past week.

The SAMSA Stakeholders Dinner, held this year at the Cape Town Waterfront is an event staged annually on the eve of the country’s State of the Nation address by the country’s President in Parliament.  In addition to the Department of Transport, attendees include some of the country’s leading figures across several subsectors of the maritime economic sector.

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Mr Sobantu Tilayi. Acting CEO: SAMSA

On Wednesday evening in Cape Town, SAMSA acting CEO Mr Sobantu Tilayi said the historic inaugural staging of the IMO’s World Maritime Day Parallel event from 27-29 October 2020, in Durban – involving no less than 170 IMO Member States – would appropriately draw the world’s attention to the country, thereby presenting it an excellent opportunity to showcase its own advances in the maritime economic sector.

However, with the Association of African Maritime Administrators (AAMA) also staging its annual conference in the country also during the same period, the events presents an opportunity for the continent to strengthen and enhance cooperation on joint programmes to build and widen economic opportunities in the maritime sector.

Mr Tilayi said one such aspect of emerging closer cooperation and collaboration among African countries was an agreement being worked in AAMA to align general regulatory processes, as well as harmonise standards for maritime sector education and training programmes.

Mr Tilayi also highlighted progress being achieved domestically to unlock bottlenecks that inhibit the expansion of the South African maritime economic sector as well as efficient and effective regulation.

These challeges included the thorny issue of taxation affecting shipping,  delays in passage of crucial legislation to enable implementation of IMO’s regulatory instruments, creeping high costs in cargo shipments due to the introduction in January 2020 of the low sluphur fuel regime and others.

Mr Tilayi thanked the country’s maritime sector roleplayers and interested parties for their continued support of SAMSA and the Department of Transport, describing the established close relationship as vital to success with programmes to advance the country’s maritime economic sector.

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Mr Mahesh Fakir. South Africa’s Port Regulator

The country’s Ports Regulator, Mr Mahesh Fakir also weighed in, sharing highlights of progress being achievined to enhance the performance of South Africa’s commercial ports.

For  their full remarks,  click on the videos below.

Also as captured in the video below, Captain Nick Sloane, a director of Resolve Marine Group expressed appreciation of the regular feedback by SAMSA to maritime economic sector roleplayers.

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South Africa in pace with global efforts to prevent spread of coronavirus.

coronavirus getty image from business insider
(A Getty photo, courtersy of Business Insider) The Diamond Princess, the world’s largest cruise vessel with more than 3500 passengers reportedly quarantened in Japan due to rising infections of coronavirus reportedly found in passengers on board the vessel in the past week. As of Monday (10 February) at least 130 people said to be infected so far, with that figure rising by the day.

Port Elizabeth: 10 February 2020

Global efforts to first restrict and then contain a worldwide rapid spread of the coronavirus (2019-nCov) currently causing havoc in China, where it originated, are now fully impacting shipping, with several countries including South Africa reportedly having implemented health measures that restrict the movement of seafarers whose ships have been to China recently.

According to shipping group, Wilhelmsen, “due to coronavirus, many ports have implemented safety measures for vessels coming from countries with confirmed cases of 2019-nCov, especially from China.”

This comes amid news that crew – as well as passengers – aboard some ships that have been to China are among a growing list of victims; the latest of these being a cruise ship, the Diamond Princess reportedly with more than 3 000 people onboard and some 130 of which have since been found to be infected.

The Wilhelmsen report, (citing a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, said 16 countries where the virus was confirmed include China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Nepal, Sri Lanka, United States of America, Canada, France, Germany and United Arab Emirates.

The report said: “Most often used safety measures involve quarantine stations, temperature screenings Maritime declarations of Health send (sic) by the Master of a vessel prior to its arrival, Free Pratique confirmations, identifying high risk vessels – which are vessels coming from China or other countries where coronavirus have been confirmed ad necessary for Port Health clearances among others.”

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In a separate report currently tracking country ports responses across the globe – including a live map with regular updates – Wilhelmsen mentioned South Africa as among countries now with certain restrictions to movements of vessels originating from China.

The report states that South Africa currently has two restrictions; (1): ‘vessels whose previous port of call was China and (2): “crew changes etc for Chinese seafarers or those who embarked in China.”

corona virus
Graphic courtersy of Oxford University.

In South Africa, on 30 January 2020 the National Department of Health issued a document named: “Standard Operating Procedures for Preparedness, Detection and Response to a Coronavirus (2019-NCOV) Outbreak in South Africa.”

The Health Department’s document states that while as at 29 January 2020 there had been no reported cases of the coronavirus in the country, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) would closely monitor the situation “and will test patients that satisfy the criteria for suspected cases, bearing in mind that it is influenza season in the northern hemisphere and the expected respiratory tract infections are common.”

On restrictions and containment management of risk at the country’s ports of entry, including shipping ports, the Health Department says Port Health Service ‘is the first line of defence to protect citizens of South Africa and visitors against the health risks associated with border movement of people, conveyances, baggage, cargo shipments and other imported consignments.

“It is thus vital for all points of entry to be on the alert and (be) prepared to respond to possible importation of a communicable disease, whether intentional or unintentional.”

DSC_3548To this end, the document offers a set of ‘standard operating procedures’ (that) “detail measures that must be implemented by port health officials in preventing and responding to a suspected case of EVD.”

Screening measures include:

  • “Port Health officials must monitor all arriving conveyances from the affected countries and increase surveillance measures
  • “Upon arrival of the conveyance, Port Health officials must collect and verify the health documentation and interview the crew members/operators to determine if there is any sick passenger on board.
  • “In addition to the routine interview of crew members/operators, Port Health officials must ask crew members questions specific to signs and symptoms of 2019-nCov.
  • “If the Port Health official is certain that there are no sick passengers on board and all health requirements have been met, the passengers may be allowed to disembark.
  • “All arriving passengers must be channelled through thermal processes.
  • “Travelers found to have elevated temperature must be escorted to the Port Health clinic where available, for further examination and must be interviewed to determine their travel history
  • “Where Port Health clinic is not available, Port Health must interview the traveller with elevated temperature to determine their travel history, record the details of the traveller and if required, transfer the traveller to the nearest health facility. Finally,
  • “Travellers presenting with any of one these symptoms; fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, sore throat, and weakness, diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach pain and have travelled to the affected countries must be isolated and arrangements made to transportation of the traveller to the nearest designated health facility.

In the case of known and reported cases by vessels themselves, the procedure involves the following:

  • “From an incoming vessel, a patient or others passengers (must) inform Captains/ and the crew must move the suspected patent to an isolated area, and the Captain must report illness to the harbour
  • “The Captain or vessel Clearing Agent must inform Port Health Officers
  • “The Port Health officers must contact emergency Medical Services and the designated hospital for patient referral, as well as notify the provincial and/or district CDC
  • “The Port Health officer must facilitate assessment of a passenger(s) and contact the vessel prior to their departure from the habour
  • “CDC coordinator must monitor contacts utilising information provided by the port health
  • “If close contacts develop signs and symptoms, they must be referred to designated health facility
  • Where cleaning and/or disinfection is required, the Port Health office must inform cleaning/handling company and monitor the process.

Health centres designated as “hospitals for managing 2019-nCov cases” in South Africa’s coastal provinces include the Greys Hospital (Durban, KwaZulu-Natal), Livingstone Hospital (Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape), Tygerberg Hospital (Cape Town, Western Cape) and Kimberley Hospital (Kimberley, Northern Cape).

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Stimulus packages come under focus for maritime economic sector: Presidency

DSC_8461Port Elizabeth: 09 February 2020

Tracking down a set of stimulus packages earlier announced by government, and the revival of an inter-ministerial committee focused on South Africa’s maritime economic sector are among key issues to be pursued in the short term, according to Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Ms Thembi Siweya.

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Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) Projects Focus: Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Ms Thembi Siweya (centre) flanked by (Left) Eastern Cape MEC for Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism and (Right), Deputy Minister of Public Enteprises, Mr Phumulo Masualle during their visit of maritime economic investment projects in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape on Wednesday, 05 February 2020

This, she pronounced on at the end of a whistle-stop visit to the Eastern Cape this past week along with Public Enterprises Deputy Minister, Mr Phumulo Masualle, to make an assessment of impacts as well as identify gaps in economic and investment programmes under the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative launched in the area.

In their company were senior officials of the Eastern Cape government, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) the Coega Development Corporation (CDC), the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), Nelson Mandela Bay local government officials, leaders of business, and others.

The projects visited included the fledgling bunkering services recently established off-shore in the precinct of the port of Port Elizabeth, the planned relocation of a fuel tank farm and a manganese ore dump currently settled at the port of Port Elizabeth, as well as energy generation investment projects currently underway at the Coega Industrial Development adjacent the Ngqurha deep water, also near Port Elizabeth,

The Deputy Ministers also utilised the opportunity of their visit to meet leaders of business in the maritime economic sector with direct and indirect interest in the operations, as well as aspiring and established small businessmen.

The visit took place amid varied concerns involving, on the one hand, groups of  environmentalists in the area worried about the possible highly negative impacts of the new bunkering services to the environment, while on the other hand, small business fears of being overlooked for business opportunities now arising from the bunkering services.

Reporting on their observations after visiting the projects on Wednesday morning, Ms Siweya described the developments as showing good progress while acknowledging the challenges faced by some both in terms of concerns of possible environmental threats as well as difficulties faced by investors and business in general in the sector.

Matters of express concern raised, she said, revolved around poverty of legislation governing the new bunkering services, but also shipping especially terms of tax legislation, and the apparent absence of financial support and incentives to encourage investment in the sector. In addition, constant interaction between government, business and civil society to ensure proper alignment was crucial to success, she said.

Ms Siweya said the country’s maritime economic was among sectors identified under the National Development Plan (2030) as key to economic development and expansion and deliberate focus on it was necessary.

To this end, an inter-ministerial committee established in 2015 and which had since become dysfunctional would be revived, In addition, she said, it had become clear that there was a need for financial support of businesses in the sector in the form of a maritime fund.

In this regard, she said: “In 2018, the President spoke about a stimulus package, and there were departments that received stimulus packages. We are going to follow up on that to establish how far they are… what has been done with the funding.”

For Ms Siweya’s full remarks on this and various other matters, click on the video below.

Meanwhile, at the imbizo attended by no less 150 people at a venue located adjacent the Coega Development Zone, leaders of business in the maritime sector as well as aspirant business people wasted little time expressing their displeasure on numerous challenges which they face and towards which they felt government was failing them.

For a full perspective on the proceedings, invest time on the following video. It is about an hour long but goes a long way in depicting the exchanges as they happened.

Key highlights include the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA acting CEO, Mr Sobantu Tilayi (video: 55th minute) revealing for the first time in public, the enmvisaged establishment of a dedicated fund in the Nelson Mandela Bay to both fund expenses towards environmental preservation (in the case of an oil spill from bunkering services) as well as  support small and medium businesses operating in the sector.

End.

 

 

 

 

Missing Cape Town fishermen found despite foul weather hampering rescue effort: SAMSA

DSC_2845Port Elizabeth: 06 February 2019

A three day search for a group of fishermen at sea off the coast of Cape Town ended happily on Wednesday after they were all found along with their boat in the earlier hours of the day.

The group, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority’s (SAMSA) Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) reportedly got into trouble at sea on Sunday and after an initially fruitless search fouled by poor weather conditions, they were found by another fishing vessel that took them to Cape Town for medical attention.

The MRCC in a report said the rescue of the five (5) fishermen at about 3.45am on Wednesday eventually ended happily three hours later when the men were dropped off the port of Cape Town by the the crew of the Silver Dolphin.

This was exactly three days after the fishermen were believed missing after a National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) report of a fishing boat thought to have been in distress following its firing of flares off the sea near Noordhoek Beach.

“MRCC received information on Sunday night, 02 February 2020 from the National Sea Rescue Institute Emergency Operations Centre of a red flare sighted by a member of the public at Noordhoek Beach. NSRI Stations at Houtbay and Kommetjie were launched to investigate.

“The initial report was relayed as the vessel had run out of fuel and had fired off flares to attract attention to its plight. It was stated that there may be 6 (six) persons onboard the vessel at the time. Additional rescue stations were tasked and set to sea to try and locate the vessel,” reported the MRCC

It added: “Search efforts continued into the night and the surface search accompanied by an aerial search using the SANDF Air Force Oryx helicopter took place Monday 03 February.

“All the while the weather in the form of heavy fog persisted and made search efforts very difficult and very low levels of visibility was very challenging. Efforts were suspended late on the evening and a reassessment was done.

“Five NSRI boats conducted a search again late Monday night well into Tuesday morning but as the weather again got worse efforts needed to be suspended. MRCC Cape Town made provision for another SANDF helicopter and a helicopter from EMS Western Cape but with the heavy fog persisting flying was not possible. Surface craft were alerted of the situation with a continuous MAY DAY Relay being broadcast.

“Assets from the TNPA were also placed on alert but with the visibility challenges no search efforts could be undertaken,” said the MRCC.

According to MRCC, the drama ended in the early hours of Wednesday morning after the crew of another fishing vessel, the Silver Dolphin, reported to have found the missing fishermen, together with their boat.

The MRCC report on Wednesday stated further: “At around 03.45 this morning, MRCC Cape Town was contacted by the Silver Dolphin reporting they had located the missing boat and crew. The fishing vessel was bound for St Helena Bay but was requested to change course and head towards Cape Town and to rendezvous with the NSRI Table Bay Station 3 vessel, with a medical team, which was activated by MRCC to render assistance and bring the crew back to Cape Town.

“The families have been notified along with the Maritime Authorities, who have sent a representative down to the port. The stricken vessel and crew arrived at the NSRI base just after 0630am and are being evaluated by the Western Cape Metro medical personnel.

“The efforts and commitment by all involved actively and those who stood by to deploy while the weather created challenges are highly commended and the MRCC wishes to express its sincere gratitude and appreciation during the operation.”

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Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) interventions under spotlight in Eastern Cape

DSC_08724 February 2020

Economic interventions currently being implemented under the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative in the province of the Eastern Cape come under focus on Wednesday when three Governtment deputy Ministers and the provincial government descend in Port Elizabeth where the assessment will occur.

Leading the government delegation is deputy Minister in the Presidency, Ms Thembi Siweya accompanied by Deputy Minister of Public Enteprises (formerly Eastern Cape Premier) Mr Phumulo Masualle, Eastern Cape MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs & Tourism Mr Mlungisi Mvoko, senior management of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) as well as Nelson Mandela Bay local government officials.

Specific focus for assessment will be on projects currently under development in the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan area, precisely at the port of Port Elizabeth as well as the Coega Industrial Development Zone adjacent the city’s second and newest ports: the port of Ngqurha.

These include the fledgling bunkering services recently introduced off shore near the port of Port Elizabeth, initiatives by the TNPA including the planned relocation of the manganese ore and oil tank farms from the port of Port Elizabeth to the Coega IDZ near Ngqurha, as well as acquaculture and energy related investment projects earmarked or already underway in the zone.

An event programme for Wednesday indicates that the ministerial visit to these projects is intended to “assess the progress and impact made by projects under the Operation Phakisa {Oceans Economy) delivery lab and get a sense of the needed sustainable interventions to exising challenges. {It is also to) “visit other Oceans Economy projects identified as having a potential of unlocking economic growth and address the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality.’

The programme will also involve an afternoon session for a business community ‘imbizo” during which the Government officials will address and engage with the local business community.

According to the programme, the imbizo is intended to; “engage the business community on existing opportunities in supporting and partnering with government and (for government to) gain an understanding of the challenges experienced by the business community with a view of identifying possible solutions.”

The day’s programme starts at 6am with an offshore visit of the bunkering services followed by a visit of the Coega IDZ projects, afterwhich the gathering for the imbizo takes places shortly after lunch. The event is scheduled to end at about 5pm on Wednesday.

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