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.

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(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.”

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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.

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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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MRCC Cape Town activates sea rescue after crew of a Netherlands ship fall sick off the east coast of South Africa

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(Photo Supplied) An image of the BOKA VANGAURD, a heavy lift vessel when unladen. On Tuesday 08 January 2020 five crew members were evacuated from the vessel and taken to a Durban (South Africa) hospital after they reportedly suffered methanol poisoning on board while sailing from China to Brazil. A sixth crew member had already died at the time of the evacuation.

Pretoria: 09 January 2020

Methanol poisoning is believed to be the cause of the death of one crew member and hospitalization of five others in Durban, South Africa, from a Netherlands ship that was sailing past the country early this week.

According to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) activated a rescue mission at about 7.51am on Tuesday after receiving a call for assistance from the Captain of the BOKA VANGUARD to help evacuate and seek urgent medical attention for five crew Brazilian crew members who had apparently fallen sick on board. An additional crewman had already died before MRCC was notified.

This occurred while the vessel – described as a heavy lift ship – was sailing on the Indian Ocean, approximately 276 kilometres East from the port city of Durban on its way from Qindao in China to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

On receiving the urgent call for assistance, MRCC said medical and evacuation support was activated involving the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), the Western Cape Metro Emergency Medical Services, the South African Air Force as well as the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) in Durban.

At the time of rescue and evacuation of the vessel’s sick crew, all five were in a critical condition with the potential risk of death, said the MRCC. It was reported by the Captain that the methanol poisoning happened during the evening but he only got to know about it that morning.

Both the TNPA and SAAF readied aircraft for use in the evacuation. The Air Force’s resources were utilised as it could carry all five casualties at once, while the NSRI also launched a boat from Durban as an additional safety measure. The MRCC described the sea and weather conditions during the operation as calm with the wind at 13 km/h and with a swell at 1.7 metres

At the time of writing, it could not be established what condition the sick crew were in since hospitalization on Tuesday.

MRCC Cape Town expressed its appreciation for the support provided by the SASAR Signatory Agencies and the contribution to the successful medical evacuation.

 

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Called out to save lives at sea, SAMSA responds accordingly, as fate of foreign crew stranded in SA remain unclear

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A HELPING HAND:  A SAMSA official hands over food items and related material to six crew members of a stranded vessel that entered South African sea waters and anchored off the port of Cape Town without permission a month ago. The vessel believed to be of Asian origin has since been quarantined and detained at the port of Cape Town pending resolution of its law transgressions since entering the country’s waters illegally.

Pretoria: 08 January 2020

The fate of six stranded Asian sailors found in a desperate situation in a poorly conditioned vessel off the port of Cape Town recently may remain uncertain still, but their safety and general well-being going forward is ensured for time being, thanks to the timely intervention and assistance efforts of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

According to the agency, part of whose mandate is to ensure the safety of property and life at sea, the epic drama involving the six foreign sailors – two from Taiwan and four others from Mynmar, and some of whom now face possible legal sanction – apparently unfolded after SAMSA officials were alerted by the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and the Department of Environment, Fisheries and Forestry (DEFF) about a drifting, fuel-less and permit-less vessel spotted at sea, off the port of Cape Town on 02 December 2019.

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Four of the six member crew of the Yong Qing Fa No.666 currently believed to have been abandoned by their employer and who are currently residing on board the crippled vessel at the port of Cape Town after it was detained following its unauthorized entry and anchorage in SA waters, and a subsequent C188 inspection that found it not seaworthy. The six member crew of the vessel consists of four seafarers from Mynmar and two others from Taiwan.

Captain Pierre Schutz, a deputy Principal Officer at SAMSA’s western region Cape Town office, recounted this week about how the agency’s officers scrambled to the rescue of the foreign seafarers to ensure primarily their safety and general welfare while their sea sailing troubles including legal issues were being interrogated for a possible resolution.

The legal woes facing both the owners and crew of the now quarantined fishing vessel known as the Yong Qing Fa No.666 but whose flag state has yet to be determined, it emerged, include the vessel’s unauthorized entry into South African sea waters, the absence on board of necessary documentation including certificates of nationality, tonnage, drawing plans, crew list, Voyage Management System (VMS) transmitting, and an off Automatic Identification System (AIS).

On entering South African waters without permission and dropping anchor near Cape Town harbor without authorization on 30 November 2019 due to apparent desperation for bunkers, the six member crew on board reportedly also initially failed to communicate properly their plight with local authorities due to language difficulties, until the Taiwanese Fisheries agency in South Africa got involved, almost a week later.

pic 5In fact, on entering the country’s waters in the Atlantic Ocean and putting anchor near the Cape Town port, according to SAMSA, based on TNPA reports, the vessel’s crew did so without following any protocols and had maintained complete radio silence, something unusual and illegal.

It had since emerged that the six crew members and their poorly maintained vessel had were likely abandoned by the owner, with four of the crew members having not been paid their wages.

According to SAMSA on Wednesday this week, two of the stranded seafarers, from Taiwan, had since been charged with certain law transgressions (unspecified) and were due to reappear in a Cape Town magistrate’s court on 27 January 2020.

Reporting about the drama, Capt. Schutz says SAMSA got drawn initially to the plight of the crew of the vessel – and which had since been established to have been sailing from West Africa to Mauritius – after respective authorities including the TNPA, DEFF and others, all bound by relevant legislation and protocols, were initially reluctant and refused it entry into a South African port without standard procedures having been fully observed.

These included a 21 day offshore containment period to determine the vessel and crew health condition that it did not carry any communicable diseases such as – in this case – Ebola, as the vessel had reportedly sailed from a West African region where the deadly disease is reputably rife. 

He says 12 days after the drama ensued, with engagements ongoing among respective authorities, SAMSA appealed to the TNPA, DEFF and others to allow an inspection of the vessel and crew in order to facilitate provision of basic essentials to the crew, such as food and water. Crucially, this was also to ensure the safety of the vessel given its unauthorized anchorage which could prove hazardous to other sailing vessels in the vicinity if left unattended for too long.

By 13 December 2019, according to Capt. Schutz, the vessel was eventually allocated a berth in an isolated area at the port of Cape Town following to which nutrition was brought on board for the vessels’ crew while a variety of inspections were conducted.

He confirmed that a SAMSA inspection in terms of local and international legal instruments including the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) C188 – Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No. 188) found the vessel to be not seaworthy and it was officially detained, while a DEFF inspection led to the arrest of the vessel’s skipper and his subsequent appearances in court.

cropped-samsa-master-logoAs of last week, according to Capt. Schutz, the vessel still had no power and it still had no local agent appointed to attend to its needs as required by law. Meanwhile Taiwanese authorities in South Africa were still not taking responsibility for a majority of the crew members on board the vessel while DEFF officials’ efforts to seek assistance from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) had proved fruitless so far.

Capt. Schutz says: “The SAMSA (Cape Town office) is liaising with DEFF in terms of the court appearance of two of the seafarers. It is also liaising with the local Apostleship of the Seas in terms of welfare and food. Currently also, SAMSA is supplying food while awaiting for the court appearance.”

Regarding the detention of the vessel, Capt. Schutz says its release will be conditional to the owners carrying out the repairs it is so advised to do and on completion, inform SAMSA.

“Once so advised, SAMSA would conduct another inspection, and if the vessel is found in good condition, the vessel would be released from detention. There is no time frame attached to this,” he says, save for a range of port charges it will incur, accruing to the TNPA, for its safekeeping at a South African port, and which could escalate depending on how long it takes to repair it.

Capt. Schutz says further that the vessels’ crew will be repatriated  once all matters related are finalized to the satisfaction of South African authorities.

“The responsibility however lies with the owners. There has been no final decision in this regard,” he says.

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Please note that this story has been updated to provide additional details and correct certain inaccuracies.

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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