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

IMG_8510Pretoria: 17 December 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

South Africa to host SADC Search and Rescue Conference next February

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mr Sobantu Tilayi. Acting CEO: SAMSA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Durban: 12 December 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

End.

Advanced training in oil spills management enhances South Africa’s skills: Department of Transport

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Delegates from across both the public, private and non governmental sectors attending this year’s International Maritime Organisation (ILO) led Incident Management Systems (IMS)300 module in oil spills prevention and management course in Cape Town from Monday to Thursday (04-07 November 2019)

Cape Town: 07 November 2019

Working on an imaginary major oil spill incident off the southern coast of South Africa, at a location some 78 nautical miles (144km) south of Mossel Bay, between 50 and 90 officials from various organisation across the public and private sector as well as non governmental, have been working flat out for two days on an action plan to effectively and efficiently manage the incident.

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Inside the Durbanville Conference Centre from Monday to Thursday this past week, delegates hard at work on desktop training in IMO’s IMS300 module advanced training that was followed by two days of practical training. 

The ”Incident Management and Command Centre” is the Durbanville Community Centre – some 30 kilometres north east of Cape Town – where for four days, the South African officials have been undergoing extensive classroom type training on an advanced Incident Management Systems (IMS)300 module, conducted by a set of international oil spills management experts from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and IPIECA.

It is South Africa’s third such joint Government and oil and gas industry training exercise  supported and conducted by the IMO and IPIECA under the auspices of the Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa (GI-WACAF) Project in conjunction with the Department of Transport, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the national Incident Management Organisation (IMOrg) and various other role players.

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Mr Terrence Mabuela. Interim Incident Management Organisation (IMOrg) co-chairman.

According to IMOrg co-chairman, Mr Chueu Terrence Mabuela, the exercise is consistent with requirements of South Africa’s new National Oil Spill Contingency Plan whose draft legislation is currently before Parliament.

The training exercise currently underway in Cape Town this week is aimed at equipping South Africans with modern and advanced skills in the prevention of oil spills at seas, alternatively, providing them with advanced techniques in the management oil spills as and when they occur.

It will be followed later – possibly in about 24 months – by an actual exercise out at sea, utilising real materials, tools and equipment necessary to fully enable the various role players in oil spills management to display the skills so far acquired.

For Mr Mabuela’s full remarks in Cape Town on Thursday – the last day of the training – click on the video below.

Meanwhile, one of the experts involved in the training of South Africans in oil spills prevention and management, Mr Zal Rustom, Chief Executive Officer of Ambupar Response; has applauded the country for its expressed and demonstrated interest in preparing itself with the necessary skills in oil spillages prevention and management.

According to Mr Rustom, while incidents of oil spillages were decreasing significantly across the world, they were still a possibility that requires preparedness by all countries with access to the seas.

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Mr Zal Rustom. Chief Executive Officer: Ambupar Response.

Equipping African countries with advanced skills in oil spillages prevention and management was also highly relevant in a continent currently with a huge potential for increased oil and gas extraction investment – with South Africa looking at potentially 30 such wells in the next few years.

As evidence, a recent report by the country’s Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) indicated that oil and gas exploration in South Africa was lead investment sector over the last five years in the country’s maritime economic sector.

In Cape Town this week, Mr Rustom shared his views and for these, click on the video below.

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International experts conduct advanced training for South Africans in oil spills prevention and management: SAMSA

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South African officials receiving a four day advanced training course in oil and gas spills Incident Management Systems (IMS300) from IMO and IPIECA international experts in Cape Town this week. The training, conducted on behalf of IMOrg in conjunction with the Department of Transport and SAMSA began on Monday and finishes on Thursday.

Cape Town: 05 November 2019

South Africa’s resolve to organise its state of readiness for the prevention of oil spills at its oceans as well as maintain an effective and efficient management system of oil spill incidents  when they occur is again being demonstrated in Cape Town this week with the staging of an advanced practical training course in oil spills incident management, conducted by international experts in the field.

IMG_9134.JPGThe training over four days this week involving about 40 South African officials – and the third of its kind in recent years – is being conducted on behalf of the South African government and domestic oil and gas industry by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and IPIECA international oil spill experts. It was organised through the Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa (GI-WACAF) Project.

It is a spin-off of and spill-over from last week’s GI-WACAF four day conference also held in Cape Town involving more than 20 African countries bordering the Atlantic Ocean’s east coast.

Spokesperson for organisers, Mr Chueu Terrence Mabuela, the chairman of the South African Interim Incident Management Organisation (IMOrg) under the Department of Transport, says the initiative is informed by the country’s National Oil Spill Contingency Plan (NOSCP).

Its goal, he says, is to firmly establish and maintain a management system where “the right people at the right time with the best-suited skills and accountabilities’…are at hand to both prevent and manage oil spills at the country’s oceans.

“In identifying the potential impact of offshore oil and gas production, the critical issue of oil spills and their impact on the marine environment was raised. In the context of preliminary discussions which initially took place in 2014 during the Operation Phakisa ‘Oceans Economy’ collaboration sessions, it was clear that there was a need for a joint-government/industry response approach to marine pollution incidents in the maritime and oil & gas sectors.

“By adopting international best practice in incident management, South Africa is proactively preparing to manage marine pollution incidents effectively, ensuring that the appropriate resources and stakeholders are mobilised quickly – and important and timeous decisions made,” says Mr Mabuela

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Captain Ravi Naicker. Senior Manager – Navigation, Protection Services & Environment: SAMSA

Captain Ravi Naicker, a senior manager for Navigation, Protection Services and Environment at the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and co-chairman of IMOrg, says the training event currently underway at the Durbanville Conference Centre is the 3rd joint industry and Government national oil spill response exercise of its kind with an endorsement by the IMO.

According Captain Naicker, who had been central to organisation of the event, working closely with the IMO: “South Africa is fortunate to be part of the GI-WACAF, a project that sees the IMO collaborating with IPIECA – a global oil and gas industry association for environmental and social issues – to enhance the capacity of partner countries to prepare for and respond to marine oil spills.

Captain Naicker says central to the success of the training initiatives is the involvement and collaboration of both government and industry because all relevant national Government departments and authorities, local and municipal responders, pollution prevention, containment and clean-up organisations, as well as vessel and offshore installation operators need to be aware of their responsibilities in the case of an incident.

As such, regular oil spill response exercises – initiated and managed by the Interim IMOrg utilising the Incident Management System (IMS) – bring together accountable designated representatives from a number of departments and state institutions such as the Department of Transport (DOT), Department of Environment, Forestry & Fisheries (DEFF), SAMSA, Department of Minerals and Energy (DME), Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), South African Police Service (SAPS), National, Provincial and Local Disaster Management Centres.

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Mr Rupert Bravery, Industry Chair of the GI-WACAF Project (Left) with two other IMO and IPIECA officials during the second day of an IMS300 Module training for about 40 South African officials in Durbanville, Cape Town this week.

Others include the Petroleum Agency South Africa (PASA), PetroSA, Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL), Offshore Petroleum Association of South Africa (OPASA), Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF), various environmental Conservation Agencies, as well as non-profit organisations such as the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), Industry role players in emergency response, oil spill response and marine operators, amongst others.

At this week’s advanced training in IMS300 module, participants are being prepared as team members for response management by the application of the IMS to the higher levels of sustained oil spill response management, including management of complex incidents involving multiple types of concurrent emergencies.

IMG_9139.JPGAccording to Captain Naicker, the course is a more focused look at IMS and a greater in-depth description of the roles under the various structures.

“IMS 300 is therefore a continuation of IMS 200 and thus IMS 100 and IMS 200 is a requirement. The course will provide participants an understanding of , among other issues; a greater technical and functional understanding of IMS, IMS Section functions, including the Incident Action Plan (IAP), completion and facilitation of the various IMS forms, and the roles and duties of the various organisational striations under IMS.

Course topics include management of expanding incidents, area command concepts, IMS organisation for multiple command posts, and sustained incident planning and development of multi-layered Incident Action Plans as well as resource management and demobilisation.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the trainees will then undergo a practical training in many of these issues.

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22 African countries recommit to working together against oil spills; Cape Town.

GI-WACAF CONFERENCE 2019 WRAP UP

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Deliberations on the last day of the GI-WACAF Conference of 22 African countries in Cape Town on Thursday.

Cape Town: 03 November 2019

Oil spills in the world’s oceans remain a dreaded possibility at all times whether through human handling or natural disasters, and preparedness for such eventuality by both industry and governments in concert are the key prerequisites for successful prevention or effective, and efficient management of such spills when they occur.

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Mr Brian Sullivan, Executive Director; IPIECA

It was for that reason that, according to Mr Brian Sullivan, executive director of IPIECA (International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association), regional collaboration, cooperation and teamwork between and among countries with coastal access was absolutely critical to oil spills combating anywhere at seas across the world.

This, he told about 100 delegates from 22 African countries bordering the Atlantic Ocean on the last day of their four day conference in Cape Town on Thursday, under the aegis of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) led Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern African (GI-WACAF) Project.

Mr Sullivan’s organisation, IPIECA, established in 1974 with the encouragement of the United Nations Environmental Program, and now with about 65 member companies and organisations, describes itself as ‘the global oil and gas industry association for advancing environmental and social performance..and convenes a significant portion of the oil and gas industry across the value chain, bringing together the expertise of oil and gas companies and associations to develop, share and promote good practice and knowledge.”

IPIECA further describes itself as the oil and gas industry’s ‘principal channel of engagement with the United Nations,’ a position it says enables its members to ‘support the energy transition and contribute to sustainable development.’

IPIECA member companies include BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Total, Shell, Woodside and dozens others.

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Some of the delegates that attended the 8th GI-WACAF Conference in Cape Town a week ago

GI-WACAF on the other hand, launched in 2006, is a regional organisation of 22 African countries on the south, central and north Atlantic Ocean east coast, and was established  to promote and encourage close collaboration between governments and industry to enhance oil spills preparedness, response and cooperation.

The GI-WACAF member countries, among them South Africa, comprise countries among which are signatories to no less than three conventions, such as the Abuja and Benguela Current Conventions – and all of which collaboration and cooperation instruments aspire to similar goals as the GI-WACAF.

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Delegates to the 8th GI-WACAF Conference of 22 African countries in Cape Town from Monday to Thursday last week being taken through a demonstration of an oil spill containment and management.

For all of last week, bar Friday, delegates from the 22 African countries spent considerable time, both in conference at a hotel in Newlands as well as at an oil spill management demonstration site at a lagoon near Cape Town, deliberating over a variety of issues all aimed at strengthening their national systems for preparedness and response in case of an oil spill anywhere in their region.

The intended outcome, according to the IMO and IPIECA, both which directed proceedings of the gathering, would be a further two year agreement on an action plan of defined activities in the period.

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Ms Patricia Charlebois (seated second from Left), an International Maritime Organisation (IMO) taking notes during during a session of the GI-WACAF conference 2019 in Cape Town from Monday, 28 October to Thursday, 31 October.

Split in two groups by language – French and English speaking country groups –  during working groups sessions, such a list of actions proposed to form the two year agreement emerged on Thursday, and would be consolidated and shared among represented countries by the GI-WACAF secretariat in due course.

The issues ranged from legislation, cross boundary co-operation to shoreline waste management and quite a few others.

In closing remarks, Mr Sullivan applauded the participating countries’ demonstrated commitment to the GI-WACAF Project, describing it as encouraging that governments and industry in the region, showed willingness and determination to work closely together in preserving the oceans environment integrity through prevention and combating of oil pollution.

He further noted that the compulsory implementation of lower sulphur oil for ships fuel in January 2020 by the IMO would present its own challenges to shipping and oil industries in general, but expressed confidence that through the established and sustained healthy cooperation and collaboration between industry and governments, the challenges would be overcome.

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Ms Patricia Charlebois. Deputy Director, International Maritime Organisation (IMO)

Both IPIECA and the IMO, the latter through its deputy director, Ms Patricia Charlebois, also expressed gratitude to South Africa, precisely the Department of Transport and its agency, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) for assistance with the conference.

For both Mr Sullivan and Ms Charlebos’s full closing remarks, Click on the respective videos below.

Meanwhile, in an effort to gain further insight into the IMO and IPIECA driven GI-WACAF Project – one of three across the globe – as well as glean an understanding of its significance to South Africa in particular, this blog charted to SAMSA’s key representative at the conference, Captain Ravi Naicker, For the interview, click on the video below and for his presentation to the conference, the next video.

Supplementary to the above, this blog further obtained a series of interviews with both IMO and various other delegates that attended. These will be uploaded as soon as processed.

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Oil pollution combating strategies at African seas under focus in Cape Town: IMO

DSC_6221.JPGCape Town: 29 October 2019

Consultation and closer collaboration in the implementation of measures to prevent and combat oil pollution at the world’s oceans remains the key to success, delegates to an African regional conference of the Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa (GI WACAF), heard in Cape Town on Monday.

 The advice was shared by industry chair of the GI-WACAF Project, Mr Rupert Bravery during the opening of the four-day conference, from Monday to Thursday, and during which a further two-year agreement on a regional action plan is hoped to be discussed and endorsed.

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Delegates from 22 African countries attending the 8th Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa Project conference currently underway in Cape Town. The conference started on Monday and ends on Thursday (28-31 October 2019).

As many as 100 delegates from about 22 west, central and southern African countries are attending the bi-annual conference, now in its 13th year, and led by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in collaboration with hosts, South Africa, via the Department of Transport’s Maritime Directorate as well as the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

Countries represented include Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Mauritania, Namibia, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Africa, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

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This year’s banner of the 8th conference of the GI-WACAF in Cape Town, South Africa from Monday to Thursday (28-31 October 2019)

According to the IMO, the main objectives of the conference are to address the challenges of oil spill preparedness and response in the region, to review the progress achieved since the last regional conference, and to highlight the benefits of the GI WACAF Project.

“The event will also be used to agree on a two-year action plan (2020-2021) to strengthen oil spill preparedness and response in the region. In view of the risks that these pollution events represent for the marine environment, it is paramount to foster cooperation between the countries of the region so that they can respond to oil spills in an effective manner. Cooperation with the local oil industry, a key aspect of the project, is also strongly encouraged,” said the IMO.

It added that the success of the GI-WACAF Project depended heavily on the involvement of the countries themselves.

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Mr Rupert Bravery, Industry Chair: GI-WACAF Project

In his opening address on Monday, Mr Bravery expressed pride and delight in the achievements of the GI-WACAF Project over the last few years, saying that consultation and collaboration, along with adaptability in response to changing needs of individual countries in the group were the hallmark of the success being achieved. For his full remarks click on the video below.

In her welcoming remarks, Ms Patricia Charlebois, deputy director of the IMO highlighted a number of achievements that were being made in efforts to combat oil pollution globally. Among these was the issue of compensation for countries affected by oil pollution, improving cooperation and collaboration between industry and institutions such as the IMO, as well as an encouraging increase in the number of women now visible in country representations such as GI-WACAF conference in Cape Town. For her full remarks, Click on the video below:

Meanwhile, speaking on behalf of the Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula; Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane said South Africa was delighted to be the host of the conference as it would help enhance its own learning and state of preparedness for oil spills prevention and combating at a time when oil and gas exploration in the country’s coastline was increasing and other economic activities such as bunkering were taking shape.

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Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane. Director Maritime Industry; Department of Transport

Ms Taoana-Mashiloane said South Africa had embarked on an initiative called Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) intended broadly to expand inclusive economic activity at three oceans, inclusive of oil and gas based industries, this in addition to managing increasing ships traffic utilising the southern African corridor for transportation of trade goods between the east and the west.

The expansion in oceans based economic activity was leading to clashes between business, government and environmental groups which she described as unnecessary.

This notwithstanding, the oceans based expanding economic activity  required South Africa to be at the top of its game when it comes preparedness for oceans environmental protection. For her full remarks, click on the video below.

Following to her presentation, this blog chatted to Ms Toaona-Mashiloane for further clarity on some of the issues she raised, inclusive of South Africa’s preparations for the inaugural hosting of the IMO’s World Maritime Day Parallel Event in the coming year.

She described the country as excited and looking forward with great anticipation to hosting the IMO’s biggest annual event in Durban for the first time in October 2020.  Click on the video below for her remarks.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) which has worked closely with the IMO over the past few months in preparation for the 8th GI-WACAF conference  in Cape Town, said in addition to contribution to discussions on the planned action plan to be adopted for the next two years, it would be taking advantage also of the several experts in oil pollution combating attending the gathering to milk them for their knowledge while they were still in the country.

SAMSA deputy Chief Operations Officer, Captain Vernon Keller said South Africa had experienced a few oil spills and it was to its advantage to draw knowledge and experience from other countries in order to prepare itself effective strategies to prevent and manage oil spillages at sea. For his remarks click on the video below:

There will be more conference news updates on this block in the next couple of days.  Among these will be SAMSA’s Captain Ravi Naicker on the role of the GI-WACAF Project and South Africa’s involvement in it, as well as his presentation to the conference on South Africa’s ‘wish list’ for assistance by member countries.

The blog will try to capture and present here the reports of Tuesday’s two working group’s discussions on legislation, shoreline response and waste management and trans-boundary co-operation.

End