The battle against global marine pollution has been given a massive boost following an announcement by the Norwegian government of the setup of a fund totaling NOK150-million (or R258-million) for use in efforts to combat marine waste.
In a statement, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Børge Brende said marine litter globally had become a huge environmental hazard, with some areas of the world far worse than others. The fund budgeted for 2018 would initially target these areas, he said.
‘Norway intends to take the lead in ocean affairs internationally. Marine litter, including plastics, has become one of the most serious environmental problems of our time. That is why the Government is launching a concerted effort to combat marine litter and microplastics and is establishing a development programme in this field,’ said Mr Brende.
He added that: “The new development programme will use effective and environmentally sound approaches to combating marine litter. To start with, the programme will focus on Southeast Asia, which is the region where the problem is most acute. We will also look at ways of using the programme to support other countries and regions where marine litter is a growing problem, for example in Africa.”
For Africa, this is expected to come as a boost particularly given that this comes only three months after the region held a five day conference in Port Elizabeth, South Africa to focus specifically on the progressively impending marine waste pollution disaster along the continent’s coastlines.
At that conference in July, it was revealed that with more than 150 million tons of plastic material floating across the world’s oceans – and likely to rise to 950mt in 30 years – and with very little being done about it, the world was facing an imminent ecological disaster.
However, it was also confirmed that the problem was especially acute in Africa.
Among more than a dozen scientists attending and sharing views on the problem, Dr Linda Godfrey, a manager of the Waste RDI Roadmap Implementation Unit at the Centre for Science and Industrial Research (CSRI) in South Africa, painted a disturbing picture of particularly the African continent with regards both its current status on waste management as well as imminent future challenges that could make the task of eliminating plastic waste more difficult if not arrested effectively, soon.
She said the continent was largely characterized by poor landfill practices, general poor waste management, uncontrolled dumping compounded by a rapidly growing population of middle income people who were increasingly migrating to predominantly coastal cities.
“Africa is at a watershed, in that if we do not stop and take action now, we are going to be faced with a massive marine waste problem locally, regionally and the potential impact globally. And there are essentially seven reasons that I see for why we should take action now,” she said.
Days later at a mini conference hosted jointly by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the United States Consulate, the International Ocean Institute and the V&A Waterfront held at the Two Oceans Acquarium at Cape Town’s Waterfront, it emerged that South Africa was among top contributors to marine waste generation.
It was revealed that the country at the southern tip of the African continent, at the point at which three oceans meet, ranks No.11 in the world for waste management production and that the country alone is responsible for 12% of global plastic waste and about 2% of total mismanaged plastic waste, leading to between 0.9-0.25 megatons of it ending as marine plastic waste annually.
A week ago in Oslo, the Norwegian government said Africa would be an area of focus for the new fund beginning 2018, adding that the contribution was part of Norway’s overall effort supportive of campaigns undertaken by such as the UN Environment, the World Bank and INTERPOL to combat marine litter.
“Norway’s new development programme will include efforts to reduce waste and improve waste management in the areas that are most seriously affected by marine litter. Supporting efforts to clean up shorelines and coastal areas can also have a major impact,” said Mr Brende.
Meanwhile, Mr Brende said his government also intended intensifying its engagement with other countries in the identification and responsible exploitation of more economic opportunities presented by the world’s oceans economy,
“The Government is calling for sustainable use of the oceans to be given greater priority at the international level.
“Prime Minister Erna Solberg hosted a high-level event at the UN General Assembly on 20 September on the wealth of opportunities offered by the oceans. The event was attended by heads of state and government and ministers from a number of countries.
‘Norway has also supported the initiative to appoint a UN special envoy for the oceans. Former President of the UN General Assembly Peter Thomson of Fiji was appointed to this important post in September, and Norway will support him in his work,’ Mr Brende said.
He further confirmed that the Norwegian Stortinget (or Parliament) had also approved in June this year, a white paper on the place of the oceans in Norwegian foreign and development policy.
“The white paper sets out three priority areas: sustainable use and blue growth, clean and healthy oceans, and the role of the blue economy in development policy. In the time ahead, the Government will conduct dialogues on ocean affairs with other countries with a view to strengthening cooperation in these three areas,” he said.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO), the host of this week’s seminar on the ‘Cape Town Agreement’ for the safety and security of fishermen across the globe is confident it will have secured enough support from more African countries by weekend for implementation of the now five year agreement.
Also counting on a more favorable support from fellow African countries is South Africa, the first among seven countries worldwide to formally ratify the ‘Cape Town Agreement’ – named as such as it was founded in the Western Cape city of South Africa by as many as 58 countries in 2012.
This week’s seminar that began on Monday and lasting five days until Friday (20 October) at the historic Castle of Good Hope, a stone’s throw from Cape Town’s central business district, is the seventh in a series being held by the IMO worldwide since founding of the ‘Cape Town Agreement’ five years ago.
It is the third in Africa – the first having been for French-speaking or Francophone countries, followed by one held for Asian countries.
This week’s gathering, involving about 50 delegates from several African countries in central and southern Africa as well as Europe, is intended for English-speaking or Anglophone countries, said seminar leader, IMO’s head of Marine Technology and GBS Maritime Safety Division, Ms Sandra Rita Allnut in a brief interview on Monday.
South Africa, the first of the few countries to formally ratify the ‘Cape Town Agreement’ that essentially seeks to enforce measures in IMO member States that will ensure the safety and security of fishermen, inclusive of the vessels they use for trade, has welcomed the IMO’s choice of the country as the venue for the Anglophone countries’ week-long seminar, expressing hope it will provide the platform for greater member awareness and support for the agreement.
During Tuesday’s proceedings, South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) deputy Chief Operations Officer, Captain Nigel Campbell said the IMO member States’ greater awareness campaign was crucial to African countries ratifying the agreement for implementation soon.
Captain Campell said he believed this week’s session with potential supporters from African countries, would bring closer to an end the strife for greater security of African and global fishing operations personnel safety.
For Captain Campbell’s full remarks, click on the video below.
Meanwhile, among maritime countries in southern Africa seemingly likely to ratify the IMO ‘Cape Town Agreement’ is neighboring Mozambique.
Representative, Mr Elcidio Agostunho, an international relations technician for Mozambique’s National Maritime Authority under the Department of Transport and Communications, said the IMO’s ‘Cape Town Agreement’ was a well-intended instrument likely useful for fishermen everywhere.
He described it as unfortunate that many IMO member States had not ratified it yet in order to ensure implementation, but was hopeful that Mozambique would follow the example of South Africa in giving the agreement the support it deserves.
Delegates from several African and European countries have gathered in Cape Town on Monday for a five day seminar to examine and discuss progress towards implementation of an international agreement on safety of fishermen in Africa and other parts of the world.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) hosted seminar underway at the Castle of Good Hope, is being held in the city of the birth of the agreement five years ago, and by which it is named: The IMO Cape Town Agreement of 2012 on the Implementation of the Provisions of the 1993 Protocol relating to the Torremolinos International Convetion for the Safety of Fishing Vessels, 1977.
As many as 58 States attended the founding of the agreement in Cape Town in 2012.
This week, leading the IMO delegation to chair the seminar is London based head of marine technology and GBS in the IMO Marine Safety Division, Ms Sandra Rita Allnut.
According to Ms Allnut in a brief interview before start of the seminar, the agreement is a crucial instrument that will, once fully ratified, be binding on all countries in the interest of ensuring the safety and welfare of fishermen globally.
However, although it breathed life for the first time back in 2012 in Cape Town, it was still in its early stages of development.
For the agreement to come into force, she said; it requires 22 IMO member States to sign it, as well as the registration of 3 600 fishing vessels in the fleet of the contracting states.
So far, she said, only seven countries had ratified the Cape Town Agreement, with only 884 vessels registered. South Africa is among the countries that have already signed.
Once the required numbers were in place, it would take approximately 12 months for the agreement to come to force. After more than 40 years of the IMO trying to have in place a binding agreement with members States for the sake of safety of fishermen worldwide, this was now overdue, she said.
Ms Allnut, explains this week’s week-long seminar in detail in the video below (approximately 5 minutes duration).
Meanwhile, in its welcome of both the IMO and the participating member States in the Cape Town seminar, the South African government said it particularly appreciated the IMO’s return to the country and city for further engagements over the global fishermen safety agreement.
In remarks welcoming the more than 50 delegates early on Monday, Mr Tlou Matlala, Department of Transport (DoT) assistant director; Maritime Policy, Development and Legislation said the gesture reflected on the good relationship the country enjoyed with IMO member states.
For his remarks lasting just over a minute, Click Here
The eloquence and apparent sheer constant focus of a group of maritime high school children at an awards ceremony held at the quaint Western Cape town of Simonstown last night drove renowned South African academic and author, Professor Jonathan Jansen into tears, literally.
And by his own admission, Prof Jansen, a former Vice-Rector of the University of the Free State, committed to sharing publicly the moving experience of his encounter with the group of children on Thursday evening. He’d tell it all in his regular national newspaper column due next Thursday, he said.
Prof Jansen, generally known for his outspokenness on especially educational matters in South Africa, was the guest speaker at a Lawhill Maritime High School annual awards presentation ceremony – an event during which the school’s top performing pupils are rewarded with a range of scholarship awards, some for continuance at the high school, others for near future advanced education at tertiary level, while the rest are for pure personal recognition.
The annual event at the hill side school overlooking the South African Navy naval base at the Simonstown harbour below, also presents the pupils an opportunity to reflect on their school related experiences during a given school year period.
Among these are their oft sojourns out of the classroom into the world of maritime sector transport in South Africa and abroad, courtesy of a range of sponsors and other supporters of the school in its ongoing maritime education endeavors.
At Thursday night’s event, true to form, Prof Jansen – clearly highly impressed by the evident sharpness of the group of pupils that made presentations during the function, as well as their high level of achievements in various aspects of their school life as reflected by their range of awards – was both highly grateful for their performance but also scathing towards the country’s general education authorities for what he described as the ‘dumbing down’ of children’s intelligence and consequently, their potential.
Prof Jansen said the country’s education authorities’ attitude was that the country’s school going children were not really expected to achieve much academically hence the lowered levels of pass marks, to as low as 20%, in crucial subjects such as mathematics.
“The biggest problem we have as South Africans is that they mess with your head! They told you can pass with 30%. You know what they did last year, your Government? They said they would condone the entire Grade 8 class last year with a pass mark of 20%”
“Thank goodness that black people can’t blush! I blushed. I was embarrassed. They were not talking about the children at Saxon and Bishopscourt. They were talking about you and me. The expectation of you is so low! You only just have to get up, dress nicely, write your name on a matric certificate and you pass, because the expectation of what you can achieve is so low” said Prof Jansen.
Sadly, he added that the low expectation was also prevalent among tutors at the country’s universities where the dominant approach was an emphasis on what students could not achieve rather than a positive focus on their potential and what was possible for them.
Partly as a result of this condescending and demeaning attitude, some of the country’s best achievers globally, such as Elon Musk, a former Pretoria Boys High pupil and later the founder of American automaker Tesla and aerospace firm, SpaceX; have had to leave South Africa for places in the world where they were better recognized for their potential to achieve.
Prof Jansen said while overseas, he’d had an opportunity to meet a group South Africans who’d gone to make sterling achievements elsewhere, and asked them why they’d left the country.
“They said ‘Professor, here, people expect us to do well. They look at you and they see greatness.
“Young people of maritime I am emotional, because I am so proud of what I saw here tonight.
A highly animated and sometimes tearful Prof Jansen heaped praises upon the Lawhill Maritime High School pupils for their ‘go getting’ attitude, urging them to not only be constantly vigilant in the look out for emerging opportunities but to also grab them with both hands at the first instance.
On national unity and race relations, Prof Jansen also said ‘old white people’ supporting the awards as well as other financial support to the school and similar institutions, should be welcomed as a benevolent, albeit, necessary gesture that is a crucial contribution by the previously advantaged to nation building, and an investment in the country’s youths.
To listen to Prof Jansen full remarks, Click on the video below.
The horrible wet and stormy weather that hit the port city of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday resulting in a massive flooding in parts of the city and causing chaos with shipping at the port, will continue to be monitored for its effects on sea traffic, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has said.
In a media statement shared on social media early on Wednesday, SAMSA said after the breakout of the heavy downpour of rain and massive storm that led rapidly to some vessels at the port of Durban breaking loose and drifting dangerously, the organisation – jointly worked closely with the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) round the clock to manage the chaotic situation.
The SAMSA statement released early today reads as follows:
October 10, 2017: Durban, South Africa:
The South African Maritime Safety Authority, working with the Transnet National Ports Authority in the emergency response operations within the Port of Durban today (Tuesday), will continue to monitor Durban’s and the coastal weather and sea conditions.
Chief Operating Officer for SAMSA, Sobantu Tilayi confirmed together with TNPA, SAMSA provided technical support during the multi vessel emergency operation. This was as a result of the major storm that hit Durban at about 09h30 this morning.
Tilayi said: “Our principal officer from SAMSA Durban office, Captain Hopewell Mkhize together with the Port of Durban Harbour Master, Captain Alex Miya convened a Joint Operations Committee which managed the emergency response operations. Five container ships in total were affected. We will continue monitoring weather conditions along the coast and monitor the situation in Durban for the next 48 hours.”
He said the Minister of Transport, Joe Maswanganyi, has been kept abreast of the emergency response and salvage operations.
An emergency meeting was convened at approximately 11h30 today with Mkhize and Miya to form a joint command and engage on the re-floating for the vessels MSC Innes, SM York, Bow Triumph and SA Shipyard floating dock with the new harbour tug. The meeting also dealt with vessels MSC Susanna and Maritime Newanda that broke moorings and had to be held by harbour tugs to prevent them also running aground.
The vessel, MSC Innes took priority as it blocked the port entrance. It took 5 tugs to re-float the 330-metre long container vessel and once re-floated, she was allocated a berth in the port for damage inspection.
The vessel, Bow Triumph, a 183-metre long product tanker, which was berthed in Island View broke its moorings and ran aground on the sand bank near the Island View Terminal. The vessel was re-floated at 16h30 and it took further effort to clear the anchors which were still stuck. All re-floating operations were completed at 17h30 and the vessel was allocated a berth overnight for damage inspection.
The vessel, MS New York, a 330-metre long container vessel, which ran aground near Maydon Wharf was also re-floated successfully and was allocated a berth for damage inspection. By 7pm tonight the vessel, MSC Susana, which had earlier broke from its mooring ropes, was secured. The Maritime Newanda vessel which broke loose was held by tugs and is currently berthed at Maydon Wharf.
The SA Shipyards’ floating dock and new tug remain grounded on bank. It will be attended to in daylight hours.
TNPA reported that there was a straddle carrier which was blown into the water and remains unsecured. There are also reports that some cranes were derailed by strong winds. Of concern, according to Tilayi, are reports that there were about three containers believed to have been lost into the water with the exact position unknown. These pose a danger to navigation within the vicinity. TNPA confirmed that a search will be conducted in daylight hours.
There were no injuries no pollution reported on all the above incidents. Durban Port was closed due to debris in the water and unknown position of some containers which pose danger to navigation and damages to vessels.
“We are pleased with the overall cooperation from all stakeholders and the swift action to ensure the safety of people and equipment. More importantly is the demonstration of emergency preparedness that was displayed during this major incident. It is the first time that we have had to attend to this number of casualties simultaneously.
“We are pleased by the reaction of TNPA and their handling of the incident. We are increasingly getting confronted with deteriorating weather patterns and can expect similar incidents in the future given the effects of climate change. It was a saving grace that all this took place within the harbour where all resources are concentrated, it could have been worse if it was over a large open sea area. A full SAMSA report will be done once all salvage operations are completed,” Tilayi said.
On Friday, 06 October 2017, South Africa’s government leader, President Jacob Zuma gave a report back on the progress being achieved with the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative that was launched three years ago.
The Premier of KwaZulu-Natal,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Executive Mayor of eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality,
Captains of Industry,
Representatives of civil society, labour and academia,
Fellow South Africans,
We greet you all.
In July 2014, we gathered here at eThekwini, to explore the potential of the vast ocean space under South Africa’s jurisdiction and launched Operation Phakisa: Unlocking the Economic Potential of South Africa’s Oceans.
I made an undertaking then, that I would periodically report back on progress being made as we seek to derive greater economic benefits from our oceans.
Operation Phakisa is an adaptation of the Big Fast Results methodology that was first applied by the Malaysian Government very successfully in the delivery of its Economic Transformation Programme and the Government Transformation Programme.
We renamed the programme Operation Phakisa, to highlight the urgency with which we want to deliver on some of the priorities encompassed in the National Development Plan 2030.
It is an innovative, pioneering and inspiring approach that is designed to enable us to implement our policies and programmes better, faster and more effectively.
Operation Phakisa is being implemented in the ocean economy, in the improvement of clinics, in rolling out information and communication technologies in education as well as in the agriculture, mining and tourism sectors.
The first implementation, which is the focus of attention today, is Unlocking the Economic Potential of South Africa’s Oceans.
We brought together in the Oceans economy project, representatives from government, industry, labour, civil society and academia to collaborate in unlocking the economic potential of our oceans.
A lot of progress has been made and I am happy to report back today.
Unlocked investment worth R24.6-billion
I am delighted to announce that thus far we have unlocked investments totalling twenty four point six billion rand (R24.6-billion), with a Government contribution of fifteen billion rand (R15-billion). Over six thousand five hundred (6500) jobs have been created through this Oceans Economy segment of Operation Phakisa.
This would not have been possible without the concerted effort and support of all our partners, especially the private sector.
It demonstrates again that if we work together, as a collective, we can achieve much more.
The largest contribution to the total investment in the oceans economy was from infrastructure development, mainly in our ports, manufacturing, mainly in boat building, aquaculture and scientific surveys in the oil and gas sector, having been facilitated through Government incentives.
From our own analysis, the total ocean sectors contribute approximately four point four percent to South Africa’s GDP, with the largest contribution coming from the value chains.
When I visited the Port of Durban this morning, I was impressed that we are building specialised super tugboats at Southern African Shipyards.
This is a one point four billion rand (!.4-billion) project. This is a demonstration of South Africa’s capacity and capability to build specialized vessels locally.
Seven of the nine tugboats have already been built as part of this project and around five hundred jobs had been created.
The South African Navy seeks to build their complex and specialized hydrographic survey vessel to map the sea floor, an investment of approximately one point eight billion rand.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would also like to announce today, that we intend to establish the KwaZulu-Natal Boatbuilding Park as part of this maritime vessel industrial complex at Bayhead in the Port of Durban.
The boat-building sector has long been recognized in our strategic plans as a major opportunity to stimulate new investment, exports and job creation.
The park is planned to be a world-class space for the production and repair of leisure and commercial boats. It will be the single largest boat building facility in Southern Africa.
It will also accommodate emerging and Black-owned boatbuilding companies and key suppliers.
The project represents an investment of more than two hundred and fifty million rand and will have the capacity to produce up to one hundred and fifty boats annually, mainly for the export market.
The Park will have Marine Skills Development Centre to provide on the job and practical training for the unemployed and youth.
The Operation Phakisa Oceans Economy programme has yielded further significant results in its various focus areas and I wish to highlight and elaborate further on some of these.
In the Marine Transport and Manufacturing Focus Area, the Port of Durban has seen the completion of the Outer Dry Dock Caisson to improve safety. The upgraded Durban Dry Dock will be key to attracting ship repair business to Durban.
It features the latest state-of –the –art technologies and has provided job opportunities, learnerships and artisanal training at this facility.
Earlier this year I reported on the major developments in the Port of Port Elizabeth with the refurbishment of the slipway, the reconstruction of the lead-in jetties and the acquisition of the boat hoist which made a significant impact in the fishing industry.
At the Port of Cape Town, the Burgan Fuel Storage Facility, a substantial private sector investment of over six hundred and sixty million rand (R660-million), has recently commenced operations, to augment the fuel supply and energy demand in the Western Cape.
A Cruise Terminal concession to fund, design, build and operate has been awarded to the V&A Waterfront Company in the Port of Cape Town, which will see an increase in cruise-liners docking in this port and bolster the tourism market.
In the Port of Saldanha Bay, the new Sunrise Energy Liquid Petroleum Gas Facility, through a concession issued by the Transnet National Ports Authority, has also commenced operation.
The construction of the Offshore Supply Base berth at the Port of Saldanha has been completed as part of the establishment of Saldanha Bay as an offshore oil and gas support hub.
In the Offshore Oil and Gas Focus Area, fourteen exploration rights, six production rights and two technical cooperation permits have been issued.
The establishment of an Incident Management Organisation for joint Government and industry response drills, in cases of oils spillage or accidents, is far advanced.
We can say with confidence that for the first time, a research cooperation agreement between Government and industry will facilitate joint research and surveys.
In order to further enhance the maritime sector, the Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy has recently been finalised.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Our fish resources are becoming more limited and are also being exploited to the maximum. In this regard, promoting the Aquaculture Focus Area has become extremely crucial.
The initial target of twenty four (24) catalyst projects has been exceeded and we now have thirty six aquaculture projects.
These projects are not only from the marine species but are also from inland freshwater fish.
Over fifteen (15) Small Medium and Micro Enterprises had been empowered. The Strategic Environmental Assessment for the aquaculture sector has commenced to facilitate aquaculture development.
In order to streamline authorisations and approvals, the Interdepartmental Authorisations Committee consisting of all the relevant departments, reviewed business processes to reduce timeframes for approvals, including decisions on leases.
The timeframes have already been reduced from eight hundred and ninety days to two hundred and forty days.
In terms of the Marine Protection Services and Ocean Governance, the Draft Marine Spatial Planning Bill and associated Marine Spatial Planning Framework, which will serve as areas for nurseries, have been completed.
Consultations have been concluded on eighteen (18) of the envisaged twenty two (22) Offshore Marine Protected Areas. These will cover approximately four point four percent (4.4%) of our Exclusive Economic Zone.
With regards to policing and protecting our Exclusive Economic Zone, Joint Operations continue to be conducted in all four coastal provinces as part of the coordinated enforcement programme with numerous arrests and confiscations that happened.
The National Ocean and Coastal Information System is being piloted as a decision support tool in respect of vessel tracking.
We are now in a better position to locate vessels, especially the ones entering our waters illegally and those engaging in illegal activities.
Furthermore, we can now signal an early warning for the occurrence of harmful algal blooms or red tides.
This detection and early-warning has a major positive impact on the West Coast Rock Lobster industry.
In addition, the National Marine Pollution Laboratory has been established at Walter Sisulu University in the Eastern Cape and will be responsible for the water quality analysis programme, along the South African coast.
Dear colleagues and stakeholders,
The development of Small Harbours has the potential to unlock economic opportunities along the coast and stimulate local economies.
To exploit this potential, we have commenced with preparations for the planned National Small Harbours Development Laboratory.
Investor conferences are being held in the coastal provinces as a build-up to the National Lab engagement.
Already, critical capital and maintenance projects of approximately four hundred million rand has been identified, to modernise and develop the twelve proclaimed fishing harbours.
We are also happy to report that the outcome of the Coastal and Marine Tourism Lab has been approved by Cabinet, thus taking Operation Phakisa in the tourism sector forward. Our aspiration is to grow a world class and sustainable coastal and marine tourism destinations.
These will enhance South Africa’s competitive advantages in nature, culture, and heritage, with the potential to contribute twenty one billion rand to the South African Gross Domestic Product and more jobs for our people.
Six (6) tourism development nodes have already been identified, where our integrated approach will be implemented.
These include, firstly, two nodes in KwaZulu-Natal which cover Durban and surroundings and Umkhanyakude District. The second is two nodes in the Eastern Cape, from Port St Johns to Coffee Bay and East London, Port Elizabeth and surroundings.
The third node is in Cape Town and surroundings, in the Western Cape. Lastly, there is one node in the Northern Cape, covering Port Nolloth, the West Coast and surroundings.
Through the Blue Flag Beaches Programme two hundred youth blue flag site ambassadors have been identified. One hundred and twenty two women and seventy eight men will be trained in safety, environmental management, infrastructure maintenance checks and environmental education.
Compatriots and friends,
We will not be able to grow the Oceans Economy without skills development, research and technology and innovation.
The newly-launched South African International Maritime Institute at Nelson Mandela University coordinates the skills development programme.
Our training programmes include cadet and seafarer training, marine engineering, various apprenticeships as well as specialised training.
The Marine Youth Development Programme of the South African Maritime Safety Authority has also facilitated the training of one hundred and twenty five young people from Orange Farm, Port St Johns and Buffalo City Municipality in hospitality and seamanship. This will help them gain jobs on international cruise liners.
We are pleased as well that many high schools now offer maritime subjects.
Eighteen schools in this province, KZN offer maritime subjects. The Department of Basic Education is working with the South African International Maritime Institute to designate dedicated maritime schools.
We have gone quite a distance indeed in unlocking our oceans to find economic value and jobs for our people.
We truly appreciate the contribution of all sectors – business, labour, academia and government, to make Operation Phakisa Oceans Economy successful thus far.
This month we recognise and celebrate the life of our national liberation hero, Oliver Reginald Tambo, who sacrificed life’s comforts so that South Africa could be free.
In his memory, let us work together in a true Phakisa spirit and as partners, and build a truly prosperous South Africa, without poverty, inequality and unemployment.”
The staging of this year’s World Maritime Day celebrations at the Wild Coast town of Port St Johns in the O.R Tambo District Municipality of the Eastern Cape province, by some accounts, arguably proved its worth beyond the simple recognition of the region as among South Africa’s undeserving highly underdeveloped areas, yet with direct access to 800 km of ocean space.
By design, the event on Wednesday (27 September), the first of two days of celebration, provided an opportunity for the AmaMpondo clan to also formally commemorate the 100th year of the sinking of the S.S Mendi – a 4000 ton British steamship that perished off the English Channel in 1917 along with just over 600 black South Africans soldiers, and dozens of whom were from the O.R Tambo District Municipality.
According to historical record, among those who perished during the sinking of SS Mendi were AmaMpondo chiefs Hendry Bokleni, Dokoda, Richard Ndamase, Mxonywa Bangani and Mongameli, and the Reverend Isaac Wauchope Dyobha.
The O.R Tambo district municipality settled along the Eastern Cape’s coastline is named after one of South Africa’s most famous liberation struggle icons and former president of the African National Congress, the late Mr Oliver Reginald Tambo who – along with Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the former wife of Nelson Mandela – was born in Mbizana and whose political contribution to the country’s liberation is also being celebrated in the country throughout 2017.
At last Wednesday’s World Maritime Day event staged at Port St Johns’ golf course, in a uniquely refreshing, educational and entertainingly fun way, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) through its Maritime Heritage project, brought to life the tragic sinking of the S.S Mendi a century ago this year via a docu-drama film – Troopship Tragedy – that was presented by its creator, researcher and narrator; Mr Mzwanele ‘Zwai’ Mgijima of Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape.
The almost hour long movie’s production in 2015 was directed by Marion Edmunds.
For his very presence at the event, Mr Mgijima, a stage actor and storyteller who, during production of the film, traveled from the rural O. R Tambo District Municipality area to England to find the sunken S.S Mendi and bring back to South Africa the spirits of the SA Native Labour Contingent’s members who perished therein, was as much a source of amazement and delight for the approximately 500 school learners and teachers at the event as was the film presentation itself.
The World Maritime Day event, an annual celebration driven by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) was staged in Port St Johns this year through a collaborative effort involving government departments including Transport, Tourism, Basic Education, the Eastern Cape Provincial Government and SAMSA; to also observe the centenaries of the sinking of the S.S Mendi, and O.R Tambo’s birth (were he alive this year).
The inclusion of a maritime heritage aspect followed to last year’s very successful inauguration of the SAMSA Maritime Heritage Project during the 38th World Maritime Day celebrations held at the Xhariep Dam in the Free State, in collaboration with the South African National Heritage Council.
Remarking during last Thursday’s event, Mr Mgijima said: “I hastened to say yes to the invitation because I was going to interact with learners from local schools when watching the film, the SS Mendi Troopship Tragedy”.
“To me”, he said, “this was knowledge dissemination in real time as the film was researched and shot in Pondoland. That, for me, was like going back to the source!
“What humbled me most,” said Mr Mgijima, “was the fact that a group of learners and their teachers came back with their lunch packs to watch the film: they never touched their food while watching it!”
“’I teach them about the Mendi – their forgotten history’ a voice from their teacher.
“It was all silent during the viewing of the film. A dream realized by me that the history has been told through water and land,” concluded Mr Mgijima.
*The South African Maritime Safety Authority has a copy of the movie for its archives.
The development of South Africa’s maritime sector is now formally in full swing under the banner of the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative, with billions of rand of State funds currently being invested in particularly ports and related infrastructure.
However, now absolutely crucial is a need to ensure that all South Africans are on board and involved, and central to strategy is a need to both broaden and entrench fully education and skills development of especially the young, Minister of Transport, Mr Joe Masangwanyi told hundreds of people – among them 400 high school children – attending this year’s World Maritime Day celebrations held in Port St Johns, Eastern Cape.
Port St Johns, a little town settled in a picturesque area of South Africa’s Wild Coast along the Indian Ocean, midway between East London and Durban, was chosen by the Department of Transport for this year’s observation of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) driven World Maritime Day on September 28 for a number of reasons.
Among these is that the town symbolizes one of the most under-developed areas of South Africa settled along the country’s 3200 km long coastline. It used to fall under the jurisdiction of the former Transkei homeland or Bantustan whose development was simply ignored by the apartheid government.
The town is now among coastal areas of the country earmarked earlier this year as part of a coastal and marine tourism initiative for a rapid development plan over five years beginning in 2017.
Port St Johns also falls under the O.R Tambo District Municipality which is home to former African National Congress president, Mr Oliver Reginald Tambo whose contribution to the country’s liberation struggle is being celebrated in 2017.
The World Maritime Day event held in the town on Thursday (28 September) was the second of its kind with an international maritime theme to be held in the region, the first having been the international Seafarers’ Day held in Mbizana in June.
Also preceding the event were a number of marine skills and related project targeting close on 300 youths from the region since June this year.
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) driven initiatives included a Maritime Youth Development Programme (MYDP) for youths keen on working on cruise vessels; a Corporate Social Investment Youth Skills project for youths keen on sea diving, life-guarding and related), a Coastal and Marine Tourism initiative aimed at facilitating infrastructure development and enhancement, job creation and entrepreneurship.
At Thursday’s event, Mr Masangwanyi said these maritime sector related initiatives were a clear indication of Government’s expressed commitment to driving new investment into areas that are both underdeveloped and with great potential to contribute to the country’s economy through business investment and job creation.
According to Mr Masangwanyi, there is no longer a reason why populations of people living in the country’s coastal provinces (Northern Cape, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal) should not be in the lead in the development of the country’s maritime economic sector.
Infrastructure development, education and skills development would be the key drivers for investment; he said.
“Government has identified the maritime sector as an important sector of the country’s economy
“Various ports across the country are receiving billions of rand in investment to enhance their capacity – facts of which will be fully revealed when President Jacob Zuma reports to the nation about the progress of Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) in Durban next month.
“We are not going to leave behind Port St Johns. Among highlights of projects in the area is the expansion of the N2 and which will formally link the town of Port St Johns to increased road traffic between the major cities of East London and Durban. As much as R8-billion is being invested in the Wild Coast road construction project.
“The cabinet has approved the comprehensive maritime transport policy, it provides further opportunity for investment in the country’s maritime transport sector.
“This welcome development indicates that as a country, we cannot remain consumers of maritime services of other countries while we have such coastal heritage.
“Gone are the days when our people are consumers. Now is the time that our people should also contribute to productions of services. Gone are the days when our oceans are dominated by big shipping companies from Europe, America and Asia. Now is the time that vessels should be owned and operated by South Africans and in the main, Africans.
“Through the maritime transport and manufacturing projects we will create between 40-56 000 job opportunities, whereby our people will be involved in maritime construction, telecommunication technologies and equipment manufacturing. These will contribute between R21-25-billion to the economy of South Africa. In order achieve these goals within the set timeframes, it cannot be business as usual,” he said.
To listen to his full speech (about 20 minutes) Click on the video below.
An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the incident involving a tourists cruise ferry in Cape Town from which about 60 people had to be rescued after it got into trouble off Robben Island on Friday, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has confirmed.
According to Captain Pierre Schutz, a senior ships examiner (deck) and deputy Principal Officer at SAMSA’s Cape Town Office, the incident involving the ferry named Thandi occurred on Friday afternoon, shortly after lunch, while it was returning from Robben Island to the port of Cape Town, with about 64 passengers on board and a crew of five.
The vessel is owned and managed by Silver Buckle Trade 21, said Capt Schultz.
He said according to preliminary reports, the drama began at about 2pm (CAT) after the ferry, packed with passengers, and sailing over a choppy sea due to a surge of wind over the Atlantic Ocean, began taking water over the bow.
“She was taking water over the bow due to the swell and wind when the port engine room bilge alarm sounded.
“A crew member attended and reported to the skipper that the bilge pump couldn’t cope. A ‘May Day’ (distress call) was raised. At this stage the forward windows of the vessel were apparently broken by wave action. The main life raft was apparently swept away,” said Capt Schultz.
He said at that point, at approximately 2.18pm, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) was activated and shortly thereafter, all the passengers and crew were rescued.
“This involved transfer to multiple vessels, principally the Madiba 1 and all passengers and crew were landed at Mandela Gateway by approximately 4pm. SAMSA has initiated a preliminary inquiry to determine the cause of the incident,” said Capt Schultz.
On Saturday afternoon, the vessel remained afloat and had been secured at Murray Harbour, in Robben Island, confirmed Capt Schultz.
Please note that this article has been updated to correct the number of passengers an earlier version stated as 68. This was apparently due to erroneous inclusion of some crew members of the Thandi’s sister ferry, the Madiba I who assisted with the passenger rescue.
The prevention of accidents and accurate, timely reporting thereon when incidents occur to and on board vessels in South African waters involving people’s lives, remains a key contributor to success of the development of the country’s maritime sector, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).
The statement, contained in the latest issue of the SAMSA industry periodic report on incidents at sea ; the SAMSA Maritime Occupational Health & Safety Newsletter 2016 (15th Edition) comes in the wake of what the State agency responsible for safety of people and property at sea, describes as a noticeable significant poor reporting of incidents to and on board vessels.
This, SAMSA says; is characterized either by a failure to report, or very late reporting and none of which assists the organization in ensuring timely investigation and accurate recording of such incidents.
“SAMSA is still concerned at the non-reporting and/or late notification of incidents. During audits, these incidents are picked up and it is problematic to investigate an incident that happened months prior as SAMSA (is) unable to attend the scene, equipment involved has been moved and or repaired and witnesses cannot be located or their recollection of events has faded,” the agency says in the report.
According to SAMSA, in terms of the Merchant Shipping Act 1951, a series of serious injuries and accidents occurring on board vessels, whether the vessel is afloat or not, are required to be reported to it. But so should incidents involving mechanical and equipment failure that leads to an accident.
In the Maritime Occupational Health & Safety Newsletter 2016 released this week, SAMSA gives an overview of operations in general in which incidents occurred on board vessels but also with specific focus on the stevedoring and ship repair subsectors.
In these subsectors, the report’s editor Kirsty Goodwin notes that in general in 2016 “for the sixth consecutive year, no stevedore fatalities occurred on board ships in South African ports.
“There has also been a steady decrease in the number of serious injuries, with eight injuries reported in 2015 and five in 2016. This is a welcome improvement, which I hope is sustainable during busy periods when there is a necessity to use workers from labour brokers.”
But she also laments the fact “in the ship repair industry, it is with dismay that SAMSA reports a shore contractor was fatally injured on board a vessel in Saldanha…and that there was a slight decrease in the number of serious injuries that occurred on board vessels.”
To read or download the full report in .pdf, Click Here