Private sector puts shoulder on the wheel to redevelop South Africa’s fleet of cargo vessels: Vuka Marine

The Cape Acacia, Vuka Marine’s latest addition to the South African Ship Register berthed at the port of Saldanha on Saturday, 20 March 2021 for its cargo shipment of iron ore to Asia.

Saldanha Bay: 24 March 2021

The South African government’s ambitious plans to facilitate for and nurture the redevelopment of a domestically registered national fleet of trade vessels, as outlined in the Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy (CMTP), has the full backing of the private sector, with actual money on the table.

This was again amply expressed as well as demonstrated during the past weekend when one of the country’s trade ships owning company, Vuka Marine, added one more cargo ship – the largest of its class – to the South African Ship Register, this with the full backing of its mining client, Anglo American.

Visuals of the ceremonial flagging of the Vuka Marine owned cargo vessel, the Cape Acacia under the South African ship register at Saldanha Bay, Northern Cape on Saturday, 20 March 2021. The vessel is the 4th to be added to the country’s register by Vuka Marine since August 2015.

Saldanha Bay, the country’s main port for iron ore exports, was the venue on Saturday (20 March 2021) for the ceremonial hosting of the South African flag aboard stern of the newly acquired Vuka Marine ship, named the Cape Acacia. The vessel, a 206,000dwt Newcastlemax, built in 2005, was the 4th by Vuka Marine to be registered under the South Africa flag, bringing into the country’s ship register a cumulative deadweight capacity of 630 000 tonnes since 2015.

It was at the same port venue on the west coast of the Northern Cape Province in 2015 that Vuka Marine also formaly introduced its first ship that year, the Cape Orchid – now retired – and in the process, helping reintroduce large cargo vessels under the South African ship register since the collapse of a domestic fleet of such vessels type in the late 80’s.

All four of the Vuka Marine vessels – including the Cape Enterprise; and the ultramax Windsor Adventure – have Port Elizabeth (a.k.a Gqeberha) in the Eastern Cape Province as their home port – a matter itself described as having a particular significance for that region as well as the country.

At the port of Saldanha on Saturday, where the newly registered Cape Acacia berthed for its first load of iron ore export shipment to China, Vuka Marine senior officials, flanked by their Anglo American counterparts, representatives of the Department of Transport (DoT), the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), spelt out their investment vision.

Mr Andrew Millard. Director: Vuka Marine

“We view ships as a catalyst for a broader social impact (particularly job creation) and advancement of national interests – priorities that lie at the heart of National Policy. To this end, Via Maritime Holdings, majority shareholder of VUKA Marine, has been proactive in creating seafarer sourcing channels that apply international standards, best employment practices and are consistent with demand-side requirements. This is work in progress, but we are starting to see successes in the careers of young South Africans who have worked on Vuka Marine ships,” said Mr Andrew Millard, CEO of Vuka Marine.

Vuka Marine, said Mr Millard, was proud to have pioneered the domestication of cargo ships in the country and that his organisation was keen to share its own experiences with the rest of the sector.

Mr Andrew Mthembu. Chairman: Vuka Marine

The theme was further broken down into minute detail by the shipping company’s chairman, Mr Andrew Mthembu. In a 25 minute speech (captured in the video below), Mr Mthembu described it simply as “logical in every concievable way” that South Africa should strive to rebuild its own fleet of trade vessels if its geographical positioning as a maritime country is to be of benefit to all citizens as well as the global community.

For his full views, click on the video below.

Mr Pranill Ramchander, Executive Head of Corporate Affairs at Anglo American concurred with the Vuka Marine officials on the express need for supporting the South African economy through direct investment in shipping and associated infrastructure. Anglo, he said, had over the years demonstrated its commitment to the country and the partnership with Vuka Marine, through business support, was a typical example of such attitude and goal.

Mr Pranill Ramchander. Executive Head: Corporate Affairs, Anglo American

He said: “We highy comment Vuka Marine’s persistance and tenacity in developing and growing the maritime landscape in South Africa over the last few years. Anglo American is very proud to have been part of the journey which for us started in 2014. During that time Anglo transported approximately 15-milllons tons of cargo and contracts, most of it iron ore.

“Vuka Marine deserves credit from all in this room for taking a leading role in championing the agenda for growth of the South African maritime economy,” he said, adding that a strong and effective shipping infrastructure in South Africa would be an asset to a whole range of stakeholders, including job creation and skills development.

For his full remarks, click on the video below

South Africa’s Transport Minister, Mr Fikile Mbalula, billed to also grace the event but withdrawing at the last moment due to other pressing commitments, had his ministry’s views shared. In remarks shared on his behalf by DoT Marine branch deputy Director-General, Mr Mthunzi Madiya, he said: “Today is one of the most significant days for Maritime South Africa. When we developed this term, we envisaged a unifying entity that incorporates government and industry, enjoining them through their common interest in the success of the maritime sector. For us this means jobs, employment, influence and meaningful contribution to the economy.

Mr Mthunzi Madiya, Deputy Director-General: Marine Branch, Department of Transport

“I am sure Vuka Marine has similar indicators, perhaps an added few that nay includes profits. Equally Anglo would have their own scorecard that is well served by today’s event if not milestone.”

Mr Madiya said the redevelopment of the country’s shipping fleet was a critical building block to enabling South Africa achieve its goals of becoming a significant international maritime centre, characterised chiefly by an effective maritime sector administration able to facilitate economic growth of the industry.

“We are enjoined into ensuring a South African maritime sector that supports South Africa’s economic development. We have a stated objective, as contained in our Maritime Transport policy, that South Africa WILL be an International Maritime Centre. We have defined the characteristics of this International Maritime Centre as only two elements, a vibrant maritime economy that is supported by a model maritime administration,”he said.

To this end, he announced plans for further continued close engagement with the shipping industry for discussions on a range of issues including enhancement of investments incentives, contribution to greenhouse gas emissions control, skills development and training and related. Further details on the various subsector engagements would be shared with stakeholders soon, he said.

For the full remarks, click on the video below.

For SAMSA, the country’s agency responsible for promoting growth of the local ship register in accordance with its legislated broad mandate to, among other things, ‘promote South Africa’s maritime interests’; the additional cargo vessel into the country’s ship register was a welcome work in progress – occurring amid a whole range of challenges facing both the local and global economies, now compounded by the outbreak and rapid spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Now with a team of female leaders for the first time since establishment 21 years ago – Board chairperson, Ms Nthato V. Minyuku, and newly appointed acting Chief Executive Officer, Ms Tsepiso Taoana Mashiloane; SAMSA described the private sector’s efforts – as demonstrated by both Vuka Marine and Anglo American as both humbling, commendable and encouraging under current global economic and consequent social crisis, particularly with regards jobs creation.

Among other issues, SAMSA noted as particularly highly significant that Vuka Marine, with its further acquisition of another cargo vessel, made a point of ensuring places for skills development of South African seafarers. With its inaugural iron ore cargo shipment out of South Africa this week, the Cape Acacia is taking with eight (8) cadets for skills development in seafaring over a period of between 6-9 months.

The cadets on board including one 3rd Officer; two able seamen, one deck and two engine cadets as well as two ABs are Loyiso Jantjies, Jethro Kekai, Ludfie Kemp, Sibusiso Khawula, Siphesihle Sibaya, Lunga Dlamini, Aside Shaun Maqubela and Nduduzo Mahaye. According to Vuka Marine, they may be joined by a further two South African seafarers, probably in Asia.

For SAMSA, redeveloping a South African fleet of cargo vessels was necessary partly to address the challenges facing seafarer education and training.

For both Ms Taoana-Mashiloane and Ms Minyuku’s full remarks, click on the videos below.

In the midst of challenging conditions at the port of Saldanha including restrictions related to Covid-19 regulations and compouded by poor weather conditions, this blog sought and managed to secure interviews with at least two of the eight (8) cadets taken on board the Cape Acacia for stints of between 6-9 months honing their seafarers skills.

The two, Loyiso Sydney Jantjies, an Able Seaman; and Lunga Dlamini, a deck cadet; were beyond themselves with joy at the opportunity to sail and gain valuable skills in their chosen careers in the process.

For their remarks, click on the video below.

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MTCC-Africa region virtual conference on maritime sector energy plan gets underway in Mombasa, Wednesday: SAMSA

Pretoria: 16 March 2021

The Africa region’s challenges and opportunities with initiatives aimed at contributing to reduction of emmissions of obnoxious atmospheric gases, particularly in its maritime environment, and uptake of renewable energy resources as a contribution to climate change mitigation factors will come into sharp focus at this week’s regional virtual conference in Mombasa, Kenya.

The Energy Efficiency Conference and Exhibition (ConfEx) over four days – Wednesday and Thursday this week (17 & 18 March) and on 24 & 25 March 2021, is being organised by the Mombasa, Kenya-based Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre (MTCC-Africa). All sessions, including the exhibitions, will be conducted virtually online.

According to a preliminary programme,, among key participants scheduled to contribute to the discussions in the first session Wednesday (starting at 14h00 East African Time) is International Maritime Organisation (IMO) General Secretary, Mr Kitack Lim; Kenyan government representatives Mrs Nancy. K Kariguthu and Mr James Macharia (Shipping and Maritime and Transport ministries, respectively), academics including Jomo Kenyatta University of Technology Vice Chancellor, Professor Victoria Ngumi; World Maritime University President, Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry; International Maritime Law Institute director, Professor David Attard; Maritime Authorities including the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) as well as officials of MTCC representatives in Africa and Asian regions.

The aim of the ConfEx – originally scheduled for Durban, South Africa in June last year, but scrapped and postponed due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic – is to effectively set in motion, alternatively induce progressive pace to an Africa region maritime sector plan of action aimed at contributing to global measures to mitigate against climate change.

The exhibition alongside – targeting the Small and Medium-Term Entrepreneurs with innovations focused on climate change mitigation in the onshore and offshore shipping and maritime industry – is intended to provide “a highly interactive knowledge sharing and business networking platform, with the aim of connecting like-minded individuals and innovative solution providers from around the world.”

In the main virtual online conference, expected to feature prominently are lessons learnt so far in sets of ongoing studies involving current energy use and possible alternatives conducted by the MTCC-Africa at the Ports of Mombasa, Kenya and Port Douala in Cameroon over the last two years and some of whose preliminary findings were published in 2020.

Among these, is an audit report by MTCC-Africa on findings made at the two ports in November 2019. The objectives of the audits on ‘uptake of port energy efficient technologies and operatons’ at the two ports in the given phase were variably to;

  • Determine which of the proposed energy saving measures have been implemented at the Port of Mombasa.
  • Estimate the impacts of the implemented strategies on the energy consumption and emissions at the Port of Mombasa with the assistance of the IMO.
  • Identify the energy saving measures that are yet to be implemented at the Port of Mombasa.
  • Identify the challenges/barriers in implementation of the proposed energy saving measures and proposing measures that can be put in place to ensure that more energy savings are realized as well.
  • Utilizing the Global Maritime Energy Efficiency Partnerships (GloMEEP) Project Port Emissions Toolkit, provide training on developing an Emissions Reduction Strategy (ERS) to relevant stakeholders at the selected port(s).

Conclusions drawn included that, “…. The solar power generation potential in Africa is quite high. Kenya and the surrounding countries for example have solar irradiation of approximately 2200kWh per m2 per year. Maximizing and optimally utilizing this potential can result in great savings in carbon footprint and stabilization of the power supply systems for the African Ports. Some ports are already taking advantage of this natural asset and have installed grid tied mini solar grids to supplement the local utility supplies.”

Also, with the regulation on reducing the sulphur content of fuel oil used in ships, outside the Emissions Control Areas (ECAs) capped to 0.50% with effect from 01 January 2020, there is an expectation that Authorities will domesticate the MARPOL Annexure VI and implement it, accordingly. This regulation does provide an added incentive for development and implementation of other alternative clean energy by Africa and the rest of the world.

It states: “These requirements all the more makes (s.i.c) the implementation of shore power for visiting vessels very attractive. In addition, studies have confirmed that with a clean electricity mix coupled with installation of solar power plants in ports makes the shore power implementation very viable considering environmental benefits.”

“Whilst these alternative energy sources are a viable way to reduce emissions from ships, their development and implementation comes at a huge financial cost to the shipping industry. It becomes critical that all stakeholders work together to ensure that such technologies are shared, for the better realisation of the initial IMO GHG Strategy with a vision of a decarbonised shipping by the end of this century.”

South Africa, an IMO Member State and a designated Southern African Region Focal Point of the MTCC-Africa wherein it is expected to support the Centre in promoting technologies and operations aimed at improving energy efficiency in the maritime sector, is also lined up to make a contribution to discussion on the first day of the ConfEx, according to SAMSA.

In a recent statement, said SAMSA: “Through technical assistance and capacity building, the MTCC project is there to enable developing countries, especially Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing to effectively implement ship energy-efficiency and emissions reduction measures, thereby supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“South Africa is fully behind MTCC-Africa to ensure that it can deliver on its objectives that include; improving regional compliance with existing and future international regulations on energy efficiency for ships; promoting the uptake of low-carbon technologies and operations; and raising awareness on the need to reduce Greenhouse Gas and other emissions from the maritime transport sector

“We urge South Africans and Southern Africans, especially entrepreneurs and innovators to take the opportunity presented by the MTCC- Africa and the IMO, of engaging with global counterparts in the development and promotion of energy efficient technologies that can be used by the shipping industry in transitioning to the decarbonised future. It is also an opportunity for many, to learn about the work that the IMO has continually put in place to deliver on the strategic direction entitled “Respond to Climate Change “, as adopted by the IMO Assembly, during its 30th session in December 2017.”

To register Click Here

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Gender equity is more than a cliché – says SAMSA, marking International Women’s Day 2021

Pretoria: 11 March 2021

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic worldwide – and in its wake, the devastation both of economies as well as social development as the world knew it until December 2019 – should not be used as another excuse to dampen or delay the critical advancement of women both in the workplace as well as in society generally.

According to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in Pretoria this week, this is particularly true of especially the maritime economic sector globally and domestically – a sector in which only about two (2) percent of the global workforce is constituted by women.

The viewpoint surfaced strongly on International Women’s Day as the State agency under the Department of Transport, joined the global community for the first time in marking the event on Monday, 08 March 2021.

Leading the charge was newly appointed SAMSA acting Chief Executive Officer, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane on a secondment basis until month-end or such other time as a new CEO is appointed. Significantly, on her secondment recently from the Department of Transport, Ms Taoana-Mashiloane became the first woman ever appointed to lead SAMSA in its 21 years of existence.

Noteworthy also, SAMSA’s new Board of Directors appointed in 2020 is also chaired by a woman, Ms Nthato Minyuku.

This year’s IWD21 theme was #ChooseToChallenge and its overall message stated: “A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change. So let’s all choose to challenge. How will you help forge a gender equal world?”

  • Celebrate women’s achievement.
  • Raise awareness against bias.
  • Take action for equality.

In SAMSA’s inaugural marking of International Women’s Day 2021 this week at her urging, Ms Taoana-Mashiloane along with three of her colleagues; Captain Pretty Molefe, a principal officer for SAMSA’s Richards Bay office, Captain Antoinette Keller, also a principal officer for SAMSA Cape Town office, and Ms Zamachonco Chonco-Tladi, a chief financial officer for SAMSA since late last year, set aside time to reflect on the significance of the event on Monday to themselves personally and collectively as women both at SAMSA, as well as the general maritime economic sector in South Africa and globally.

Summarily, in the 20-minute video below, Ms Taoana-Mashiloane says while her recent appointment to lead temporarily the organisation is highly significant for women advancement generally, she is currently simply not impressed either by SAMSA or the country that women advancement and empowerment through gender equity centred policies and practices is being taken as seriously and meaningfully as it should, and for this, she says, there is absolutely no excuse.

Twenty-seven years since the dawn of democracy in South Africa and against the backdrop of a plethora of legislative reforms inclusive of a National Policy Framework for Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality, women advancement through gender equity still lags very much behind, she says.

As for the maritime sector and role-players therein including SAMSA, she says; South Africa as a Member State of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and related institutions, has a vast wealth of support to draw from in efforts towards purposeful women advancement.

Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane. Acting CEO: SAMSA

It is a strongly held view she first shared with SAMSA staff in an internal memo on Monday, wherein she stated: ““I join the IWD 2021 #ChooseToChallenge by expressing my sentiments as a woman in maritime transport. I am an empowered woman and I strive to always empower other women.

“We are SAMSAítes women and we are changing to rise to the challenge by celebrating all women in maritime/shipping. The gender split in SAMSA Executive level stills shows an organization stuck to the old saying that this is a ‘man’s world’.

“Women Can! And with the right skills set, education and empowerment, now is the time for SAMSA to embrace gender diversity, harness our energy and creativity to make a contribution to SDG#5 Gender Equality,” said Ms Taoana-Mashiloane.

In the video, Ms Taoana-Mashiloane strongly suggests that women, in fact, should be in the leadership of women advancement themselves.

In marking IWD21 internally, SAMSA developed a set of posters featuring some of the agency’s women. In addition, video interviews were arranged for some of the employees in order for them to also freely express their views on the subject. Two of these additional video interviews are shared below, here along with Ms Taoana-Mashiloane’s.

Crucially, the two SAMSA female employees interviewed, Captain Keller and Ms Chonco-Tladi – both holding senior ranking positions at SAMSA in administration and operations, shared much in common with the agency’s acting chief executive officer.

I don’t like to be placed in “a box”. I don’t like stereotyping, for example; the stereotype of women as the carer. Through hard work and determination women are just as capable as men to excel in the workplace.

Captain Antoinette Keller. Master Mariner and Principal Officer at South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)

Both Captain Keller and Ms Chonco-Tladi felt there was far more expressed intent – alternatively, “too much chit-chat about it’- than actual meaningful action in advancing women within both at SAMSA and the country in general.

Captain Antoinette Keller. Principal Officer: SAMSA (Cape Town)

In the video below, Captain Keller – South Africa’s first female Master Mariner as well as the first female Principal Officer for SAMSA – states: “It was through hard work and determination that I was able to work through the ranks and I believe that I opened the door for many other women pursuing a maritime career.”

Captain Keller, also the 2020 SAMSA’s CEO Excellence Award overall winner in recognition of her work contribution beyond the call of duty, states; “I do support gender equity strategies. However, I think it is sad that strategies such as these are required to be established in the first place. I don’t like to be placed in “a box”. I don’t like stereotyping, for example; the stereotype of women as the carer. Through hard work and determination women are just as capable as men to excel in the workplace.

“South Africa is a diverse nation and we should embrace the diversity by allowing fresh and dynamic perspectives based on who is most capable for the job. I do support gender equity. However, the tools must be given to allow success. There should be confidence in the person fulfilling the role otherwise it can open ways for one to be undermined in the workplace.

“Both genders bring strengths to the table. In the maritime industry, it is not that women are not given opportunities, however there is scope for a lot more that can be done. More focus and awareness should be placed on possible career opportunities in the maritime sector and we need a big behavioural change. Not many people are aware of what the maritime industry can offer or who SAMSA is and the role we play in the maritime sector,” says Capt. Keller.

For more on this, click on the video below.

Ms Zamachonco Chonco-Tladi. Chief Financial Officer: SAMSA

Meanwhile, Ms Chonco-Tladi, a Chartered Accountant with a relatively long professional service history, yet virtually a beginner in the maritime sector after having joined SAMSA in the second half of 2020, concurred with both views that the subject of women advancement was getting tired for being talked about for years, with little action to advance it; but also pregnant with opportunity for all members of society to work together to bring about transformation and justice for women.

She said she was among those prepared to roll up their sleeves and get into action for women empowerment and advancement. A mentor of note, quite keen to readily share her knowledge and experience, Ms Chonco-Tladi said more awareness through focused campaigns was crucial. Click on the video for her full views.

In Richards Bay, Captain Pretty Molefe, yet another pioneer in her own right for also being among the first batch of black females to qualify as Master Mariners in South Africa, as well as being the first black female Principal Officer, in acting capacity for SAMSA, shared her views in writing this week.

People always expect men in certain positions and often get surprised when a female pitch up. In general, it is a job that is predominantly perceived as a male job and one has to work extra hard than a male counterpart

Captain Pretty Molefe. Acting Principal Officer at SAMSA (Richards Bay)

She also remarked on the significance of marking IWD21 relative to the poor and painfully slow progress being made in the country and precisely the maritime sector towards women advancement through gender equity centred policies, several of which have long been in existence in a variety of forms.

Captain Pretty Molefe. Acting Principal Officer: SAMSA (Richards Bay)

“I generally love what I do. The ship and shore aspect of it. I like being part of a team and learning new things all the time. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I have only had male mentors in my career path as there are not many females that come before me. Some of those that came before me, I, unfortunately have had to admire from a distance; but one or two have made an indirect impact in my career path.”

“Many people often ask about challenges that one has faced in this career as a female. There are a lot, both at sea and on the shore side. People always expect men in certain positions and often get surprised when a female pitch up. In general, it is a job that is predominantly perceived as a male job and one has to work extra hard than a male counterpart,” says Captain Molefe.

According to Ms Taoana Mashiloane, SAMSA will continue to be among progressive State organisations to scale up efforts towards meaningful women advancement in the country’s maritime sector, at least if she has anything to do with it. She lists a set of initiatives she envisages should receive priority towards this end, among which is the formal re launch of a women in maritime structure whose rebirth last year was hampered by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Awareness campaigns conducted jointly with other organisations in the sector, including the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), Transnet and others are also in the planning, she sad.

By this time next year, said Ms Taoana-Mashiloane, there should be a comprehensive report in place reflecting on progress being made towards women advancement in the country’s maritime economic sector

End.

Even still gripped by a Covid-19 pandemic, African countries forge ahead with climate change mitigation measures – MTCC-Africa/SAMSA

Pretoria: 01 March 2021

Postponed a year ago due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdown rules promoting social distancing worldwide, an Africa region maritime sector plan of action aimed at contributing to global measures to mitigate against climate change gets underway again this month in the form of an Energy Efficiency Conference and Exhibition (ConfEx) over four days.

The ConfEx – originally scheduled for Durban, South Africa in June last year, before being scrapped – is being organised by the Mombasa, Kenya-based Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre (MTCC-Africa), and this time, it will be held virtually online, announced the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in Pretoria at the weekend.

The MTCC-Africa, is an International Maritime Organization (IMO) and European Commission funded initiative known as the Global MTCCs Network (GMN), with centres also in Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and Pacific regions. Initially funded to the tune of €10 000 000 over four years in 2017, it is geared towards building capacity in the targeted regions for climate mitigation in the world’s maritime shipping industry.

The ConfEx to be held over four days in two successive weeks this month, the first on 17&18 March 2021 and thereafter on 24&25 March 2021 will be staged within context of the IMO MARPOL Annex VI that is concerned with the prevention of air pollution by ships.

The IMO MARPOL Annex VI advances implementation of global regulations to address the emission of air pollutants from ships and the mandatory energy efficiency measures aimed at reducing emission of greenhouse gases from international shipping thereby ensuring that shipping is cleaner and greener.

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Representatives of 13 African countries involved with the IMO Global MTCC Network gathered at the first meeting of the MTCC-Africa branch in Mombasa in December 2017.                                (Photo: Courtesy of Global MTCC Network)

South Africa, an IMO Member State and signatory to the MARPOL Annex VI, is a designated Southern African Region Focal Point of the MTCC-Africa, wherein it is expected to support the agency in promoting technologies and operations aimed at improving energy efficiency in the maritime sector. The Southern African Region consists of Mozambique, Namibia, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Mr Kitach Lim. Secretary General. International Maritime Organisation (IMO)

A draft programme of the MTCC-Africa ConfEx event shows IMO Secretary General, Mr Kitack Lim and Dr Nancy Karigithu, Principal Secretary of Kenya’s State Department for Maritime Shipping Affairs as being among a host of high level officials scheduled to grace the occasion.

According to SAMSA at the weekend, in addition to experts and related in the field of climate change in the maritime sector, the MTCC-Africa online ConEx will focus also strongly on developers of energy efficient technologies for the maritime industry who will be provided a platform to exhibit their wares.

“The ConfEx is targeting the Small and Medium-Term Entrepreneurs with innovations focusing on climate change mitigation in the onshore and offshore shipping and maritime industry. The objective is to provide a highly interactive knowledge sharing and business networking platform, with the aim of connecting like-minded individuals and innovative solution providers from around the world. In addition to this, technological challenges and opportunities in climate action within the international maritime sector will be addressed. The exhibitors can showcase their market ready technologies and innovations,” said SAMSA.

However, because of social distancing regulations in compliance with Covid-19 mitigation measures, keen participants in both the main conference as well as exhibitors would have to book early online in order to claim their space at the ConfEx, said SAMSA.

The online booking details are:

Of the actual conference, said SAMSA: “With climate change affecting all of us, it makes sense to always encourage more people to participate in such events, for various purposes, educationally, economically and otherwise. It is against this background, that this event is open to all interested parties, to learn and or contribute in climate change mitigation and shipping’s transition to decarbonisation.”

For exhibitors: “The Confex will provide a highly interactive knowledge sharing and business networking platform with an aim of connecting like-minded individuals and innovative solution providers from around the world. In addition to this, technological challenges and opportunities in climate action within the international maritime sector will be addressed. The exhibitors can showcase their market ready technologies and innovations,” said SAMSA

SAMSA further states that this was an ideal opportunity for particularly South African and southern African countries’ entrepreneurs to expand their market reach both in Africa and globally. “Under the UNFCCC Paris Climate Conference, member countries agreed to limit global warming to below two (2) degrees Celsius. Shipping under the guidance of the IMO, must play a role in reducing its contribution to the global emissions. Developing countries, which play a significant role in international shipping, often lack the means to improve energy efficiency in their shipping sectors.

“Through technical assistance and capacity building, the MTCC project is there to enable developing countries, especially Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing to effectively implement ship energy-efficiency and emissions reduction measures, thereby ssupporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“South Africa is fully behind MTCC-Africa to ensure that it can deliver on its objectives that include; improving regional compliance with existing and future international regulations on energy efficiency for ships; promoting the uptake of low-carbon technologies and operations; and raising awareness on the need to reduce Greenhouse Gas and other emissions from the maritime transport sector

“We urge South Africans and Southern Africans, especially entrepreneurs and innovators to take the opportunity presented by the MTCC- Africa and the IMO, of engaging with global counterparts in the development and promotion of energy efficient technologies that can be used by the shipping industry in transitioning to the decarbonised future. It is also an opportunity for many, to learn about the work that the IMO has continually put in place to deliver on the strategic direction entitled “Respond to Climate Change“, as adopted by the IMO Assembly, during its 30th session in December 2017,” said SAMSA

End

Africa’s support of Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessel safety crucial to implementation in 2022: IMO

Pretoria: 25 February 2021

With 14 countries now already on board and needing just eight (8) more to bring to 22 the number of States required for implementation of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) sactioned Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessels safety globally, support by African countries in particular has never been more necessary, according to the London based United Nations (UN) body.

This emerged once again strongly this week during a two-day webinar for African region countries hosted by the IMO on Tuesday and Wednesday, essentially to share more information as well as ganner support for the Agreement ahead of its scheduled implementation in 20 months time (October 2022).

Several African countries including South Africa as represented by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), neighbouring Namibia and Gambia participated in the two-day webinar held over two hours on each of the two days, chaired by head of IMO Africa section subdivision for Maritime Development and Technical Co-operation, Mr William Azuh.

The webinar this week was one of several launched a year ago, beginning with Latin America in November 2020 and intended to cover all maritime regions across the world for information sharing and promotion of the ratification of the CTA treaty on fishing vessel safety ahead of its coming into effect next year.

According to the IMO, the CTA adopted in South Africa in 2012 by 51 of its Member States essentially; “outlines design, construction, and equipment standards for fishing vessels 24 meters or longer and details regulations that countries that are party to the agreement must adopt to protect fishing crews and observers. It also calls for harmonized fisheries, labor, and safety inspections.

“The agreement will enter into force once 22 States, with an aggregate fleet of 3,600 eligible fishing vessels, become parties to it. Once in force, this treaty will raise global safety standards for one of the most dangerous professions,” says the IMO

Key features of the CTA in terms of enhanced fishing vessels safety, according to the IMO, are:

  • Improve(ment of) safety of life at sea
  • Fighting illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing
  • Protecting the environment

The CTA, a predecessor to two previous failed treaties; the 1977 Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessels, and the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol, is one of four instruments intended to develop, entrench and enhance fishermen working conditions for safety globally in a standardised and harmonious way. Three of these have since been ratified for global application, supported and driven by the IMO and other organisations including the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The three include:

  • the IMO’s International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel (STCW-F), 1995 – in force since 2012 and currently being revised to align its standards with the current state of the fishing industry,
  • the ILO’s Work in Fishing Convention 2007 (Convention No. 188) now force since 16 November 2017 and implemented first by South Africa in December 2017. It sets minimum requirements for work on board including hours of rest, food, minimum age and repatriation.
  • the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)’s Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (PSMA), 2009, which entered into force in 2016. The latter is aimed at preventing, deterring and eliminating IUU fishing through the adoption and implementation of effective port State measures.
A Pew video outlining in detail the Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessel safety. (Source: Pew [YouTube])

However, even with three of the instruments now in play, formal implementation of the CTA to enhance fishing vessels safety universally worldwide is crucial, according to both the IMO and its associate, and global research and advocacy group, Pew Charitable Trusts (Pew).

In a statement encouraging African countries’ support and ratification of the CTA ahead of the Africa region IMO webinar this week, Pew stated: “Fishing continues to be recognized as one of the most dangerous occupations in the world and despite major efforts to tackle this problem there is currently no international binding instrument in force that addresses the design, construction, and equipment of fishing vessels.

“But the 2012 Cape Town Agreement (CTA) which was adopted at a Conference in South Africa in 2012 addresses all the difficulties that had been identified by States with large fishing fleets trying to improve vessel safety.

“It is expected that the CTA’s entry into force will give States a powerful tool to ensure that vessels flying their flags are held accountable for the safety of their vessels and crews; that fishing operations are conducted safely and legally; and that their safety obligations as responsible flag States are fulfilled. It will encourage vessel owners and operators to adopt a responsible approach to what is an inherently dangerous activity. And it will also help States to safeguard their citizens who work on board foreign-flagged vessels and mitigate the risk of IUU fish entering their markets.

“At this juncture in time and considering the African continent’s longstanding battle with illegal fishing hindering fish products coming to the African markets and our own artisanal fishing industry being threatened by large scale industrial operators, it is time to act and make ourselves heard, said Pew.

At the IMO webinar this week, some African countries, among them Namibia, expressed keen interest to support the CTA, however, some citing numerous challenges involving technical expertise, as well as setbacks recently experienced with the outbreak and spread of the Covid-19 pandemic since December 2020.

Meanwhile, South Africa, a key contributor both to the development and implementation of the ILO’s C188 Convention and a forerunner as signatory of the CTA, indicated that it remains “proactive in efforts to effectively implement the required Flag State requirements of the “Agreement”.

Domestically, the country’s main representative at the IMO, SAMSA, said that the country was among the lead 14 IMO Member States to have ratified the CTA agreement. The 13 others include Belgium, Congo, Cook Islands, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Spain

Speaking on Tuesday, the first day of the webinar, SAMSA deputy Chief Operations Officer, Captain Vernon Keller outlined some of the South Africa’s achievements to date since implementing the instruments aimed at fishermen safety. Among these was the significant and consistent reduction in the number of fishers fatalities in the two decades from 2000 to 2020. In the period, recorded fatalities fell from double digits of between 20 (2000) and 57 (2002) to single digits now hovering at about four (4) per annum in 2020.

It was also significant, he said, that in the 14 years between 2006 to 2020, the majority of fishers fatalies (55) involved fishing vessels measuring less than 10 meters in length, followed by those measuring between 10-24 meters (53) while the largest at 24 meters and above accounted for less than half (20) of the smaller vessels in both categories.

Of the few “lessons learnt’ by the country over the years, Capt. Keller said no country could afford to be a spectactor in its own as well as the global maritime environment. “Be more than a spectator country in the business of ocean and fisheries economy.” This, he said, implied a greater need for collaboration betwen multiple government departments and agencies “to ensure harmonised legislation in support of each others’ objectives.

Captain Vernon Keller. Deptuy Chief Operating Officer: South African Maritime afety Authority (SAMSA)

“Collaborate with the fishing industry and make them part of the solution to obtain a ‘buy-in’, modernise fishing vessel construction, equipment, safety and labour regulations. Equally important is the systematic implementation of new regulatons to allow for a change management process to take place,” said Capt Keller, further indicating that due to South Africa’s legislative process being slow, the country had to prioritise legislation for the implementation of the ILO’s C188 Convention.

Further, according to Capt. Keller, South Africa’s other lessons included knowledge sharing among key government agencies and departments as crucial, as the country soon noted with SAMSA’s training of Department of Environment, Forestry and Fishing (DEFF) fishing inspectors to help identify safety deficiencies during IUUF inspections onboard vessels at sea. And so was the case with close supervision of training institutions, programs and facilitators to formalise training. The country also found it worthwhile to create awareness with respect to fishers rights as well as allocating dedicated resources to seafarer welfare that SAMSA now operates.
Capt. Keller pointed out however’that, on the flipside of the coin, effective implementation of all the approved measures also had its negative consequences. Some of the emerging issues, he said; included Flag States who were failing to fulfil their obligations towards own fishers – with some fishers being abandoned by fishing vessel owners once foreign fishing vessels were detained.

“Abandoned fishing vessels are a financial burden on the State due to caretaking costs of vessel and the fishers onboard. In addition, there is port revenue loss due to abandoned fishing vessels remaining in port for extended periods and confiscating and selling an abandoned foreign fishing vessel is difficult due to the low financial value and conditon of the vessels.

(Source: IMO)

In terms of support of African countries, South Africa has continously availed itself for providing guidance based on development of own draft regulations. As part of that support effort, in October 2017, the country hosted a regional seminar for several African contries over five days at the historic Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town’s. The gathering – attended by 50 delegates from several English-speaking or Anglophone African countries in central and southern Africa – was the seventh in a series held by the IMO worldwide since the founding of the ‘Cape Town Agreement’ five years before.

For a brief glimpse at that Cape Town gathering of some of African countries for information on the CTA under the guidance of the IMO and SAMSA in 2017, click on the videos below:

Wrapping up this week’s IMO webinar on Wednesday evening (7pm South African time), participants issued a statement expressing gratitude to the government of South Africa, Liberia, and Spain as well as the IMO, ILO, FAO and Pew.

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Close engagement and collaboration, key to SA maritime sector growth: industry players

Pretoria: 16 February 2021

Continued engagement and close collaboration remain the key ingredient to redevelopment and growth of the South African maritime economic sector, according to industry players.

This was restated by virtually all invited guests to this year’s SAMSA Annual Stakeholder Event held on the eve of the Government’s State of the Nation Address that marks the opening of the country’s Parliament on Thursday last week.

With South Africa still bogged down under the hard grip of the Covid-19 pandemic, SAMSA’s event last Wednesday evening was held virtually online and for the reason, attracted more people than ever before, as it was also streamed live on social media platforms.

Ms Nthato Minyuku. Chairperson: SAMSA Board of Directors

This blog reported on Thursday on the remarks of the SAMSA Board of Directors perspective of the country’s maritime economic sector development currently and the role that SAMSA, a state agency under the Department of Transport continues to play along with its current strategy going forward. This was contained in remarks made by the Board’s chairperson, Ms Nthato Minyuku

In this report, packaged with video remarks of all the speakers that participated, we aim to present the full version of South Africa’s industry players’s views and responses on a whole range of issues concerning, affecting and impacting the country’s maritime economic sector. and central to whose key message was the need for continued close engagement and collaboration in the sector.

Among the issues, predictably, the outbreak and impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic in December 2019, and first experienced in the country from about February 2020, was top most. According to all speakers, the disruptive effect of the pandemic was felt by everyone but especially seafarers and whose struggle with it continues. Emerging strongly in this regard was the high level of cooperation experienced between industry and SAMSA in seeking to ensure alleviation of some of the pressing challenges that faced and continue to face seafarers.

Maritime industry participants, allocated per subsector, featured on topics that ranged from maritime law and regulations review – or poor lack thereof -; maritime education, training and skills development; shipping trends inclusive of South Africa’s plan for rescucitation of a domestic shipping fleet, to current and future ports regulations and plans, seafarers development and challenges, as well as oil and gas industry perspectives and matters affecting fishing.

Also outlined were SAMSA’s strategic objectives over the next five to 15 years within both the context of the country’s Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy under the Department of Transport as well as the agency’s legislated mandate of ensuring safety of life and property at sea, prevention and combating of pollution from ships and promotion of the country’s maritime interests.

The Department of Transport rounded up the presentations.

The video clips – and whose quality is disappointingly poor largely due to an online video feed that suffered low grade relay – are arranged in the order of 13 of the 14 speakers participating on the day – led by introductory remarks by (now former) SAMSA Acting CEO Mr Sobantu Tilayi. The duration ranges between 4m 30 sec to 15 minutes, with the biggest number averaging under 5 minutes.

South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA). Acting CEO: Mr Sobantu Tilayi

Industry responses and remarks

Legal Fraternity: Mr Andre Pike. Head: Ports, Transport and Logistics. Bowmans

Ports Regulator SA: Ms Johanna Mulaudzi. CEO

Shipping: Mr Andrew Millard, Director, Vuka Marine

Shipping: Mr Ross Volk, Managing Director, MSC Cruises SA

ShipOwners: Mr Peter Besnard. SAASOA
Maritime Manufacturing: Ms Sefale Montsi: Chairperson
Oil & Gas: Mr Mthozami Xiphu. Chairman
Academia: Mr Odwa Mtati. CEO: SAIMI
Fishing SA: Mr Loyiso Phantshwa Chairman
Seafarers Association: Mr Kevin Watson. President: SAIMENA
Maritime Risk: Mr Paul Mclons. CEO: AMSOL
Department of Transport: Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane. Director: Maritime Industry Development

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Stabilising SAMSA and strengthening its strategic role underway: SAMSA

Pretoria: 12 February 2021

The South African Maritime Safety (SAMSA) has announced the secondment of Department of Transport director, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane, as acting Chief Executive Officer of the agency, with immediate effect.

SAMSA said Ms Taoana-Mashiloane would be replacing Mr Sobantu Tilayi, SAMSA’s Chief Operations Officer, who had acted in the position since 2016.

“Her secondment to lead SAMSA is a transitional arrangement pending the finalisation of the recruitment and appointment process of a permanent CEO,” said SAMSA in the statement in Pretoria on Friday.

Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane. Seconded by Department of Transport to Acting CEO of South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)

The secondment – to be followed soon by a formal appointment of a permanent CEO – according to SAMSA’s Board of Directors, is part of a broader renewed effort currently to stabilise the agency, as well as strenghten its strategic role in the redevelopment and expansion of South Africa maritime economic sector as envisaged in its legislated mandate.

The statement described Ms Taoano-Mashiloane as the Department of Transport’s director for Maritime Industry Development and therefore a long serving and experienced civil servant with broad familiarity with the operations of SAMSA

Her academic qualifications include a Masters of Science degree in Botany & Environmental Management) and an MA in Maritime Safety & Environmental Administration.

“Ms Taoana-Mashiloane is also no stranger to SAMSA as, relative to her position at the Department of Transport, she  is well acquainted with SAMSA having worked closely with its management for many years on key programmes; among these the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) periodic audits, the World Maritime Day parallel events – the next scheduled for South Africa this current year – the SA national Inland Water Strategy and the National Ports Consultative Committee.”

The announcement on Friday comes a couple of days after SAMSA held its annual “pre-State of the Nation Address (SONA)” Stakeholders Event staged virtually online on Wednesday evening, involving a number of key maritime sector stakeholders from across the country.

Among these were Mr Andrew Pike, head of Ports, Transport and Logistics at Bowmans, Ms Joey Mulaudzi, CEO of Ports Regulator South Africa, Mr Andrew Millard, director at Vuka Marine, Mr Ross Volk, MD of MSC Cruises SA, Mr Peter Besnard, CEO of SAASOA, Ms Sefale Montsi, Chairperson of AMD, Mr Mthozami Xiphu, Board Chairperson at SAOGA, Mr Odwa Mtati, CEO of SAIMI, Mr Loyiso Phantshwa, Chairman at Fish SA, Mr Kevin Watson, President of SAIMENA, Mr Paul Maclons, CEO of AMSOL, Mr Mthunzi Madiya, and Ms Taoana-Mshiloane on behalf of the Department of Transport.

Ms Nthato V. Minyuku. Cairperson: SAMSA Board of Directors

In her address, SAMSA Board of Directors chairperson Ms Nthato Minyuku described the issue of SAMSA management leadership as among critical issues requiring attention as a matter of priority needed to ensure stability in the agency.

She said: “You would have seen that we are in the market looking for a permanent CEO for SAMSA. This is the first item we have to deliver on. Five years is a long time without a permanent CEO. I would wish to thank the EXCO team that has held SAMSA steady during this period.”

The second aspect to stabilising SAMSA related to its financial position. According to Ms Minyuku, various operational issues now compounded by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in December 2019, had hugely impacted negatively SAMSA’s finances. She said SAMSA was not about to go to the Treasury with a begging bowl, but the situation needed arresting. Part of this was a proposed five (5) per cent tarrif increase over and above that granted during the last financial year.

An address of SAMSA Annual Stakeholders Event by the agency’s Board of Directors chairperson, Ms Nthato Minyuku on Wednesday evening. The event held virtually online this year is staged annually the evening before South Africa’s official opening of Parliament and delivery of a State of the Nation Address (SONA) by the country president.

“In terms of SAMSA resources, we have been hit hard by the COVID pandemic. At some stage, we were contemplating what we have come to refer to as “cash flow day zero”. Although we have successfully evaded this day, we are by no means clear, much less financially sustainable.

“We are fortunate never having had to go to National Treasury to ask for a “bail out” and I must commend EXCO for this achievement. However, in order to keep sustainable, we have had to request an additional 5% tariff increase to the 6% that was already approved by the Minister with the concurrence of Treasury,” said Ms Minyuku.

Regarding the external environment, she said it was SAMSA’s view that the agency’s strategy was fit for purpose. “It is our view that first and foremost, SAMSA must discharge its regulatory obligations and build capacity to sustain our abilities in this regard. We have adopted a model of delivering on our objective of “promoting the republic’s maritime interests” via partnerships.

“These are partnerships that have seen us create hundreds of jobs for rural youths. These are the partnerships that have seen us starting what will be a long and steady growth of our ship register. We continue along this trajectory, to ensure that we use the synergies that exist between you, the industry and us, the government; as well as the various abilities and instruments among the government players.”

On her reflections broadly onto the country and global maritime sector, Ms Minyuku said South Africa was still relatively well positioned geographically to continue to play a meaningful role in the sector, but that the country needed to step up its effort to both cement its strategic role as well as ensure broader society beneficiation.

She pointed to the coming into effect last month of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area agreement and the vast business opportunities it presents to South Africa particularly from a shipping transport perspective.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement is poised as likely to …”create the largest free trade area in the world measured by the number of countries participating,’ says the World Bank.

Further, it says: “The pact connects 1.3 billion people across 55 countries with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) valued at US$3.4 trillion. It has the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty, but achieving its full potential will depend on putting in place significant policy reforms and trade facilitation measures.”

In this regard, Ms Minyuku, South Africa needed to up its maritime sector development efforts towards especially establishment of, among things, a locally registered and South Africa flag carring fleet of vessels.

Ms Minyuku further applauded South Africa’s endorsement of an International Maritime Organisation (IMO) resolution that declares seafarers as essential workers.

For her full remarks on these and related issues, Click on the video above.

More coverage of the SAMSA Stakeholders Event, inclusive of contributions by industry players, will follow.

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SAMSA and Home Affairs Dept lock hands to unblock SA seafarers’ passports renewal

Pretoria: 11 February 2021

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA says problems encountered by South African seafarers at Department of Home Affairs relating directly to renewal of their expired or expiring passports are being attended to and hopefully soon, these will be resolved.

The SAMSA statement in Pretoria on Thursday comes in the form of a Marine Notice 2 of 2021. The notice comes barely a week after the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), of which South Africa is a Member State, confirmed the country’s ratification of a resolution involving 50 other Member States, granting seafarers globally the status of ‘essential workers’.

In the notice, SAMSA acknowledges that with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and numerous problems arising since about a year ago, some due to Government’s counter-measures against the spread of the virus, such as the national lockdown at different levels since March 2020, seafarers but especially South African seafarers, have been among workforces who have suffered most even as the maritime sector remained operational for the longest of time under the circumstances to date.

In the notice, SAMSA in further acknowledgment of the effort put up by the South African government through various departments inclusive of the Department of Transport under which shipping transport falls, states nevertheless that: “….as much as Maritime Transport remained essential in the eyes of the world’s authorities as it continued to be allowed to operate under different lockdown regimes around the world, seafarers were forgotten. Crew changes were banned in many countries during the first half of 2020.

“This caused mayhem in the maritime industry as seafarers struggled to sign-off vessels and relievers struggled to get to ships. This resulted in what some termed as the humanitarian crisis at sea as seafarers had to stay on board for extended periods. Another humanitarian crisis was brewing at home as seafarers who had made it home before travel bans struggled to get back to the ships and were left without income for extended periods.”

According to SAMSA in the notice, even with global strides being made to alleviate the plight of seafarers globally, this inclusive of sets of resolutions by the IMO, the United Nations as well as organised business calling for seafarers to be declared ‘essential workers; with the second surge of Covid-19 infections in South Africa in  the latter part of 2020, South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs scaled down operations, in the process suspending applications for passports except for people under certain categories permitted to travel.

In this regard, SAMSA says even as the country’s seafarers were classified under Category 2, (people allowed to travel), several seafarers reportedly encountered problems when seeking to renew their passports at various offices of the Department of Home Affairs across the country.

“South African seafarers have been allowed to disembark and join vessels within the South African ports from as early as level 1 of lockdown. From 10 June 2020 they could travel internationally via repatriation flights to fulfil contractual obligations. SAMSA and the Department of Transport are currently engaged in talks with the relevant departments to ensure this matter is resolved,” announced SAMSA.

In the meantime, SAMSA called on all South African seafarers still battling to renew their passports to contact the organisation.

“When renewing a passport, the seafarer must take the following documents to the Department of Home Affairs office:

(1) Letter from the company, declaring you as a seafarer, employed and an essential key worker.

(2) Copy of the IMO Circular Letter No.4204/Add.35/Rev.3 which states that seafarers have been declared key workers (essential workers). A copy is attached to this Marine Notice.

“Should a seafarer experience any problems regarding renewal of a passport, kindly forward the following to welfare@samsa.org.za:

  • Name and Surname.
  • Contact details.
  • Company name.
  • Department of Home Affairs office visited.

The details, according to SAMSA, will allow the agency to take matters up with relevant authorities.

End.

South Africa joins the world in declaring seafarers ‘essential workers’; IMO

Pretoria: 09 February 2021

With the siege by the Covid-19 pandemic still gripping firmly most parts of the world and disrupting world trade since its outbreak more than a year ago, South Africa has joined more than 50 countries globally in formally ratifying a resolution that declares seafarers as essential workers.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO), of which South Africa is a Member State, confirms this in a circular to members and associated institutions including the United Nations, issued on Friday, 05 February 2021.

If all goes well, this may facilitate for seafarers globally to be ‘frontline workers’ to receive a Covid-19 vaccine as a matter of high priority.

This latest development, in terms of an IMO Resolution (MSC.473), Member States…”designate seafarers as ʹkey workersʹ providing an essential service, in order to facilitate safe and unhindered movement for embarking or disembarking a vessel and consider legal possibilities for accepting internationally recognized documentation carried by seafarers as evidence of their status as ʹkey workersʹ, and for the purpose of their travel and movement for crew change;ʺ

Further, in terms of IMO Resolution GB.340/Resolution (Rev.2), the Member States are urged and agree; ‘…in accordance with applicable national laws and regulations, to: … designate seafarers as ʺkey workersʺ, for the purpose of facilitation of safe and unhindered movement for embarking or disembarking a vessel, and the facilitation of shore leave, and when necessary, to shore-based medical treatment;ʺ

According to the IMO circular on Friday, as many as 55 countries that are Member States of the organization, and two others that are associates, had ratified the resolutions by the end of the week last week, with three African countries – South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya – being among those in the list.

The list of countries or Member States of the IMO that have ratified the resolutions include Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominica, Egypt, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Kiribati, Lebanon, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Moldova, Montenegro, Myanmar, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Yemen, (Associate Member: Faroes, Hong Kong (China).

The ratification of the resolutions by a growing list of IMO Member States, according to the IMO, brings to fruition a year-long strife to alleviate the plight of seafarers since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and which brought about an “ongoing crisis…impacting seafarers as well as other marine personnel.”

The resolution also has the full backing of the United Nation Assembly which recently also joined the seafarers campaign by calling on its own Member States “…to designate seafarers and other marine personnel as key workers and to implement relevant measures to allow stranded seafarers to be repatriated and others to join ships, and to ensure  access to medical care.”

The UN General Assembly’s own resolution was adopted during a session of the 75th United Nations General Assembly on 1 December 2020.

Further, the IMO resolutions ratification by the 55 Member States announced on Friday was also the second such major step recently towards improving the work conditions of seafarers during the Covid-19 pandemic situation following to the adoption earlier of the ‘Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change “ by more than 600 organisations.

According to the declaration: “Covid-19 has impacted the daily lives and wellbeing of seafarers in unprecedented ways, causing a humanitarian crisis at sea. Hundreds of thousands of seafarers have been stranded working aboard ships beyond the expiry of their contracts. As the frontline workers of the maritime industry carrying 90% of global trade, seafarers play a vital role in ensuring the global flow of goods that the world depends on.”

“The Neptune Declaration urges the implementation of four main actions to address the crisis:

  • Recognize seafarers as key workers and give them priority access to Covid-19 vaccines
  • Establish and implement gold standard health protocols based on existing best practice
  • Increase collaboration between ship operators and charterers to facilitate crew changes
  • Ensure air connectivity between key maritime hubs for seafarers
Mr Kitack Lim. Secretary General. International Maritime Organisation (IMO)

In a statement on its website, the IMO states: “IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has welcomed the industry-led Neptune Declaration, which calls for seafarers to be designated as key workers and for cooperation to end the crew change crisis, which is not only putting seafarers in a desperate situation but also threatening the safety of shipping and world trade. Hundreds of thousands of seafarers around the globe are unable to leave ships, while others cannot join, due to travel restrictions imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The statement further quotes Mr Lim as saying: “I am pleased to see the industry come together under the Neptune Declaration to support ways to resolve the crew change crisis. This very much reflects the calls made by IMO, its sister UN entities and more recently the United Nations General Assembly, in its recent resolution on seafarers…I encourage more companies, including charterers, to get involved and show their support for our seafarers.” 

With regards IMO Members States, Secretary-General Lim urged more Governments to designate seafarers as key workers. 

Remarking on South Africa’s ratification of the IMO resolution designating seafarers as ‘essential workers,’ SAMSA Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi in a statement on Tuesday, described the new development as progressive.

Mr Sobantu Tilayi. Acting CEO. South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)

Mr Tilayi said: “this resolution will go a long way attending to the plight of Seafarers currently stranded on ships or unable to join a ship because of the restrictions brought about by the pandemic. We are particularly pleased by the call for Seafarers also be given priority access to Covid-19 vaccines alongside other frontline workers.

“Seafarers are the key link in the economy chain and this designation will bolster the economy recovery efforts by many states affected by the pandemic. South Africa will host the 2021 World Maritime Day Parallel event later this year and will use this event to highlight its commitment to the global protection of Seafarers.”

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Ships and installations on South African oceans warned: ‘report discharge of harmful substances or face a criminal charge’ – SAMSA

Pretoria: 11 December 2020

Seafarers sailing their ships or manning installations across South Africa’s vast three oceans at the tip of the African continent could face fines of up to R25 000, six months in jail or both, should they fail to inform local authorities of such discharges as soon as it is practically possible.

That is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in a Marine Notice (No.55 of 2020) due out this week.

Acting in terms of the Marine Pollution (Control and Civil Liability) Act 6 of 1981, SAMSA said on Friday that should any harmful substance be discharged from a ship, tanker or offshore installation, the involved parties are legally obliged to immediately report the incident to local authorities. These include SAMSA and the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries.

The required report, according to SAMSA also involves any damage to a vessel, a tanker or installation from which a discharge of harmful substances onto the ocean may occur, this regardless of whether such discharge has not actually occured.

A stricken vessel being towed into a port after suffering damage while trarvessing South African oceans. (SAMSA File Photo)

The MN No.55 states in part: “…When any harmful substance has been discharged from a ship, tanker or offshore installation the master of such ship, tanker or offshore installation, or any member of the crew of such ship or tanker or of the staff employed in connection with such offshore installation, designated by such master, shall forthwith by the quickest means of communication available report the fact that such discharge has taken place to the principal officer at the port in the Republic nearest to where such ship, tanker or offshore installation is.

“If, while it is within the prohibited area (E.E.Z [Exclusive Economic Zone]), a ship or a tanker sustains any damage, whether to its hull, equipment or machinery, which causes, or creates the likelihood of a discharge of any harmful substance from such ship or tanker, or having sustained such damage, enters the prohibited area in such damaged condition, the master of such ship or tanker, or any member of its crew designated by the master, shall forthwith by the quickest means of communication available report to the principal officer at the port in the Republic nearest to where such ship or tanker then is the fact that such damage was sustained, the nature and location on the ship or tanker of the damage, the position at sea where the damage was sustained, the name of the ship or tanker, its port of registry, its official number, its position, its course and, if in the Republic, its destination, the quantity and type of harmful substances on board and, in the case of a tanker to which the provisions of section 13 apply, the particulars contained in the certificate.”

Bunkering services on the Indian Ocean near Port Elizabeth (SAMSA File Photo)

On reporting, the MN No.55 indicates that: “SAMSA, DEFF (Department of Environmental, Forestry and Fisheries) and African Marine Solutions (Pty) Ltd AMSOL (the managers of the standby tug “SA Amandla”) are all concerned with the prevention, containment and cleaning up of oil spills at sea. These organizations should be informed as soon as possible whenever there is an oil spill or a threat of an oil spill. SANNCOB (The South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) is dedicated to seabird rehabilitation. SANPARKS (South African National Parks) is the body responsible for managing South Africa’s National Park to develop, expand, manage and promote a system of sustainable National Parks.”

Contact details of all the relevant authorities and contributors to combating of pollution, inclusive of SAMSA regional offices from Port Nolloth on the Atlantic Ocean to Richards Bay near the border of Mozambique on the Indian Ocean, are given in the notice.

In terms of penalties where failure to report occurs, MN No.55 states: “If the master of a ship or a tanker fails to comply with the provisions…. such master shall be guilty of an offence. Any person convicted of an offence …. shall be liable to a fine not exceeding R25 000 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and such imprisonment..”

According to SAMSA on Friday, the marine notice will be on the Department of Transport agency’s website shortly.

End