UPDATE: GI WACAF Webinar on Africa oil spills contingency plans held on Wednesday (16 September 2020)
Port Elizabeth: 17 September 2020
South Africa’s state of readiness for oil spills at its oceans space remains a critical factor to the country’s effective management of its maritime and marine environment and remains a work in progress, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).
The position was outlined during Wednesday’s 3rd webinar hosted by the Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa Initiative (GI WACAF) involving 22 African countries that are member states of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and global private sector oil organisation, IPIECA founded grouping.
For more info on the GI WACAF and Wednesday’s webinar background information, see the news story below.
To listen to South Africa’s full presentation at the webinar, which was made by SAMSA’s senior manager for Navigation, Security and Environment, Captain Ravi Naicker, please click on the image at the top of this article.
Please do note that the webinar’s entire presentation lasts about one (1) hour 30 minutes, and Captain Naicker’s presentation starts at about the half hour mark of the full webinar presentation, lasting about 20 minutes.
Port Elizabeth: 16 September 2020
Participants from 22 African (mostly maritime) countries including South Africa are to continue engagement on strategies for oil spills contingency planning during a day long webinar scheduled for Wednesday.
The list of invited country participants include Angola, Benin, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mauritania, Namibia, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, The Gambia and Togo.
The webinar is one in a series organised and managed by the Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa Initiative (GI WACAF) under the auspieces of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) jointly with cofounders, global oil and gas industry association IPIECA. It is the third since June 2020 after GI WACAF activities were momentarily canned due to the outbreak of the Covid-!9 pandemic in March 2020.
GI WACAF involves mainly African countries as launched by the IMO and IPIECA in pursuit of what the two organisations describe as “a shared desire to improve the level of preparedness and response to oil spills in the west, central and southern Africa region.”
GI WACAF states its mission as working “in close cooperation with relevant national authorities in 22 African countries, supporting them in strengthening their oil spill preparedness and response capabilities. By doing so, GI WACAF is contributing to a better protection of the marine and shoreline environment in the region.”
About the webinar on Wednesday acccording to GIWACAF: “This third live webinar of the series will be dedicated to oil spill contingency planning and will present the key aspects of contingency planning in preparedness and response to oil spills from different perspectives and viewpoints.
“For this webinar, we will enjoy the company of leading international experts from Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL), the South African Maritime Safety Agency (SAMSA), and ExxonMobil Angola.”
Outcomes expected of the webinar include development of:
an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the various stakeholders involved in contingency planning (national authorities, oil and gas industry and other industries);
knowledge on the main tools used in contingency planning such as Oil Spill Contigency Plans and National Oil Spill Contingency Plans;
knowledge on the challenges and successes faced when planning for oil spills through case studies shared by the experts.
Confirmed among those scheduled to offer South Africa’s perspective on these matters is SAMSA’s senior manager for nativigation, security and environment, Captain Ravi Naicker.
Three other listed speakers are Mr Julien Favier, GI WACAF Project Manager and webinar host and facilitator; Mr Richard Tindell, a principal consultant at Oil Spill Response Limited a well as Ms Tania Augusto, a senior advisor at ExxonMobil Angola.
The webinar will be in two sessions, the first presented in French scheduled for 12 noon (11am London Time), with the next penned for 3pm (2pm London Time).
The Covid-19 pandemic that’s engulfed the world since about the end of 2019, killing as many as nine hundred thousand people so far and forcing periodic national lockdowns, may have had a truly devastating impact on the world’s economy – the world’s maritime economic sector that’s an essential lifeblood to world trade included – but it has also presented opportunities to refocus priority areas for economic development.
At least that was the dominant view of contributors and participants in a webinar organised by the Eastern Cape provincial government last Thursday. For South Africa’s maritime economic sector, and precisely that of the Eastern Cape – one of the country’s four coastal provinces with the second biggest claim to a coastline along the Indian Ocean – five specific areas of business investment opportunity are beckoning.
These include the fledgling ships bunkering services at Algoa Bay near Port Elizabeth established only four years ago, coastal and marine tourism along the province’s largely pristine and underdeveloped Wild Coast coastal corridor, fishing and aquaculture, skills development and environmental protection.
Participants in the webinar, among them the acting CEO of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), Mr Sobantu Tilayi, and representatives of the Eastern Cape provincial government and associated entities including the Eastern Cape Socio Economic Consultative Council (ECSECC) and Eastern Cape Rural Development Agency (ERCDA), the Nelson Mandela University (NMU), the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) etc, were agreed that these identified areas of maritime sector investment opportunity were also interlinked and therefore highly acquiescent to close alignment.
The webinar on Thursday, attended by about 50 people, was according to the provincial government, intended to probe its Covid-19 scuppered Oceans Economy Masterplan launched with much fanfare in March this year, for low hanging viable investment opportunities for pursuit almost immediately in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This was because, the provincial government said: “COVID-19 has upended major sectors of the economy. The lockdown measures imposed on companies to enforce social distancing resulted in supply-side shocks for the economy. The closure of international borders disrupted the global value chains for critical industries such as maritime industry.
“These supply-side shocks induced the demand-side shocks, with most workers losing jobs and incomes. Unemployment across industries skyrocketed, resulting in a deep slump in the economy. Key sectors of the Oceans Economy were not left unscathed by the COVID-19 lockdown measures. With the evidence that the coronavirus is receding, and the country moving to Level 2 of the Risk-adjusted Strategy for Economic Activity, there’s an urgent need to jumpstart economic recovery of the critical sectors of the Oceans Economy in the Eastern Cape.
“The province has a compelling value proposition for investors in the Oceans Economy, and it is the opportune moment to act to leverage on this proposition. Towards this end, the Eastern Cape Operations Phakisa: Oceans Economy Secretariat is convening a one-day session to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the Oceans Economy, and to map a path towards Oceans Economy recovery. Key stakeholders are convening for a conversation to map a way forward for the Eastern Cape Oceans Economy Agenda during a period characterised as the “New Normal”.”
Areas of primary interest and focus for the Eastern Cape’s allotment of some 800km of a coastline in an ocean space incorporating a 1,5-million km2 of South Africa’s exclusive economic development zone, included marine transport and manufacturing, offshore oil and gas, aquaculture, marine tourism, small harbours and coastline development, research, technology, innovation; skills development and ocean governance.
In his contribution, Mr Tilayi (SAMSA) described the ship bunkering services development in Algoa Bay as one ideal opportunity for business investment, skills development and other socio-economic value exploitation.
Launched in 2016 as a ship refuelling station taking advantage of both the suitability of the Algoa Bay region, and the steadily increasing volumes of especially trade vessels traversing the country’s oceans waters, from Western Europe, the Americas through to Asia, according to Mr Tilayi, the service was already proving to be a potential key contributor to the country’s economy, even if still at a low base.
A critical economic aspect to its potential success were global geo political and economic driven issues affecting the East and Western countries whereby, from a trade costs management point of view, the southern African seas corridor was gaining preference from shipping companies ahead of the oft congested Suez Canal.
Currently operated by three (3) bunkering service providers, he said; “the subsector had already created as many as 260 jobs – more than double the number recorded at launch (117) in 2016, with various business opportunities developing subsidiary to the core services”.
In addition to oil-based fuels, with ship technology advancements gaining pace alongside alternative fuels development, the international vessels refuelling location in Algoa Bay could further expand its services to liquified natural gases thereby expanding diversity of services.
In addition, consistent with the country’s economic development imperatives, alongside jobs creation in general, it provided a critical platform to advance transformation of the country’s maritime economy through skilling of previously disadvantaged communities as well as development of small black businesses.
Linked to this would be development of a range of maritime skills, particularly those relevant to marine and maritime tourism, environmental protection and oceans governance.
To aid this process, Mr Tilayi said SAMSA had among steps taken so far, facilitated the establishment of a Maritime Industry LED Fund whose objectives include the strengthening of sea space environment protection through development of enhanced capacity to manage pollution incidents, support research and related matters, as well as funding maritime industry development, but particularly the entry and development of small black business as well as rural economy development.
This was taking place alongside initiatives to assist the development of rural coastal areas wherein four projects had been launched, involving a maritime youth development programme undertaken jointly with the Eastern Cape government, to equip rural youths with basic maritime skills as well as find them jobs. Mr Tilayi said the MYDP had to date placed in excess of 600 of these youth on international cruise ships around the world.
The other projects involved a coastal and marine tourism initiative undertaken jointly with the Eastern Cape Tourism Board and identified local authorities; a youth skills development initiative focus on boat building and refurbishing undertaken jointly with the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board (now with the Moses Kotane Institute) and various others, as a well as a maritime heritage initiative undertaken jointly with the South African National Heritage Council and others.
According to Mr Tilayi, shipping companies in South Africa, among them Vuka Marine, were in the process of contributing to the initiatives with a training and crewing venture focussing on ratings and hospitality.
Meanwhile, according to the Eastern Cape Rural Development Agency (ECRDA), one other major opportunity for immediate pursuit by the province was the development of its fishing and aquaculture industry.
The aim, according to ECRDA Chief Executive, Mr Ntlanganiso Dladla, was to take advantage of the increasing gap in global seafood demand and supply, wherein current projections indicated a supply-demand gap of between 29-40 tonnes per annum in South Africa and as much as 249-322 tonnes per annum in southern Africa which in global terms, he said, represents 2.53 metric tons or nine (9) percent of global demand stripping supply.
He outlined progress with development of a marine tilapia five phases project over 12 years in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal aimed at producing as much as 100 000 tonnes of fish species per annum by 2032.
According to Mr Dladla, the five phases development is projected to yield about 4736 direct jobs at fish farm and processing clusters – a thousand of these in its planned launch area of Mbhashe along the Eastern Cape ‘Wild Coast’ – and as many as 150 000 jobs for small scale farmers in the value chain across the region, with gross annual income of R3,4-billion against operations expenditure estimated at R1,24-billion.
Associated would be development of small-scale crop farmers producing soya, sunflower and maize, operating on half-hector plots totalling about 172000 with a potential crop value of between R134,7-million and R193,4-million per crop type by phase five of the project development.
Significantly, ownership of tilapia fish farms in the projects was being designed to assign up to 70% of ownership to workers, 30% of ownership in hatcheries and feed plants, and 38% share in fishing processing plants, thereby ensuring effective economic empowerment of affected rural coastal communities in both the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, and possibly Mozambique.
Vital allies who voiced commitment in terms of various skills development for these and related projects, were the the Port Elizabeth based Nelson Mandela University and SAIMI along with other identified tertiary institutions in the region, the webinar was told.
Saturday, 25 July 2020 marks the 6th year since African countries, both maritime and inland, agreed to declaration of the day as an occasion to focus the continent’s attention at its endowment with and legacy of millions of acres of ocean space and on the basis of which its general global economic activity depends.
It was at the 22nd Summit of the African Union in 2015, that the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, declared the period of 2015 to 2025 as the “Decade of African Seas and Oceans”, and specifically highlighted that each year on 25 July. the continent shall celebrate the day as the African Day of Seas and Oceans.”‘
This, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in Pretoria this week, was done “in order to foster wealth creation from Africa’s seas and oceans by urging African States to develop a sustainable thriving blue economy in a secure and environmentally sustainable manner.
Facts to the logic of the reasoning include a recognition and acknowledgement that, with growth in global trade involving African countries, around 80 percent of international goods are transported on ocean going vessels and over ninety percent of Africa’s imports and exports are conducted by sea.
“In the past four decades the volume of global seaborne trade has increased more than four times over. Ninety percent of the world’s trade and two-thirds of energy supplies are carried by sea- demonstrating the deep sense of how the oceans and seas are interlinked and how action in one sea may have direct or indirect consequences to other seas. Protecting the ocean thus becomes everyone’s business and a joint and concerted effort by the African continent to ensure the protection of her seas and oceans becomes paramount.
Crucially for Africa however, is the need for ease of access to the oceans by all of the continent’s countries, this to ensure free flow of inter regional and international trade. According to SAMSA, the 2050 AIM-Strategy, all African Union (AU) Member States are “landly connected” to the seas and oceans.
SAMSA states: “The celebration of the African Day of the Seas and Oceans is one of the recommendations found in the African Integrated Maritime Strategy, commonly known as The AIMS 2050 Strategy. The AIMS 2050 strategy broadly provides a framework for the protection and sustainable exploitation of Seas and Oceans in the African continent.
“The implementation of the strategy will also assist with:
Establishing a Combined Exclusive Maritime Zone for Africa (CEMZA);
Enhancing wealth creation through building our countries’ maritime-centric capacity and capability;
Ensuring security and safety in the African Maritime Domain;
Minimizing environmental damage;
Preventing hostile and criminal acts at sea, and prosecute offenders if necessary;
Protecting the populations, Africa’s Maritime Domain (AMD) heritage and infrastructure in the African Maritime Domain;
Promoting and protecting the interests of African shippers;
Enhancing Africa’s competitiveness in international trade;
Improving and facilitating intra-African trade as well as transit transport in landly connected countries;
The building blocks of Africa’s maritime sector development however, come against the backdrop, and are cognizant of a number of challenges currently facing the continent’s oceans spaces in the Mediterranean Sea up north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Southern Seas and the Indian Ocean to the east.
The identified challenges broadly include that; with 46 percent of Africans living below the poverty line, fish makes a vital contribution to the food and nutritional security of over 200 million African and provides income for over 10 million people.
In addition, marine and coastal ecosystems play a significant role in mitigating the impact of climate change. Yet in Africa, the marine and coastal systems are the most vulnerable areas to the impacts of climate change in the world, – this attributed to a low adaptive capacity of the continent.
Added to the pressure facing Africa’s oceans are the negative effects of marine pollution due to human wastefulness as reflecting in the massive dumping of large volumes of plastics in the continent’s ocean waters, leading to irreparable and devastating damage to marine life.
In equal measure, maritime security is cited as posing a multidimensional threat to global security in general, and has major effects on issues of food, energy and economic security.
According to SAMSA, in the past decade, Africa has found itself as the epicentre of international maritime insecurity, with such issues as piracy and armed robbery at sea off the east and west coast of Africa alike, causing major human and financial damage.
In parallel, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, toxic waste dumping and human, weapons and narcotics trafficking are an additional burden to Africa’s maritime security.
“Thus for Africa,” says SAMSA: “the sustainable management of coastal and marine environments and resources is of utmost priority. The promotion of sustainable use of marine and coastal resources in Africa will significantly enhance food security, ensure constant economic growth and improve the quality of lives of the people in the coastal communities.”
On the marking Saturday of the Africa Day of the Seas and Oceans, the agency said: “South Africa will observe the 6th African Day of the Seas and Oceans along with other maritime nations and administrations around Africa on the 25th July 2020.
“On this special day SAMSA as the regulating authority of maritime affairs in South Africa encourages South African’s to support the nation’s Blue Economy Agenda which highlights the impact of oceans on our country and the various ways in which the ocean contributes to the country and its economy.
“The nation is encouraged to also note the developments in the maritime sector and take advantage of the opportunities unveiled in the maritime sector such research activities, Maritime Education Training (MET), maritime careers, investment opportunities, commercial shipping business, technology and port development to name but a few.
“Through active participation in such a continental activity South Africa will continue to grow its maritime sector through the Blue Economy agenda and continue to boost opportunities for wealth creation and generation in the country,” says SAMSA.
An MSC container vessel caught up in foul weather in Algoa Bay, leading to loss of some cargo overboard in the process, about a week ago, has been released from the city to continue on its sea journey.
This is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in a statement late on Wednesday confirming the release of the MSC Palak from the Indian Ocean port of Ngqurha, the same day, exactly a week after it was detained following to the loss of a reported 22 containers overboard at sea while battling a stormy and wet weather in Algoa Bay.
According to SAMSA, a salvage operation that soon took place shortly after the incident last week also involving the vessel owners, MSC, had been successful so far in relocating some debris to facilitate safe passage of ships in the area.
In the statement, SAMSA reported: “The South African Maritime Safety Authority has been involved in coordinating the salvage of containers and debris drifting off the coast as a result of the incident on the MSC Palak on the 14th July 2020. The vessel lost various containers overboard as a result of heavy weather experienced in the bay on the same day.
“The salvage operation currently in progress involves SAMSA, the vessel’s Insurance, Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), the vessel owners, MSC and local clean-up services providers. They have been working tirelessly to salvage what is left of the containers that came adrift during the incident.
“Aerial surveillances have been carried out to spot the drifting debris along the coast and salvage crews using boats have towed the spotted debris to a safe place such that it poses minimal risk to ships navigating along the coast and to avoid the environment.
“MSC has given full support to the salvaging operations to recover any floating debris and assist with making the shipping lanes and the general area safe for navigation.
MSC further committed their organization to be financially responsible for any clean up that may be required in the bay and areas in the vicinity for the next five years, if deemed to be linked with the incident.
“The MSC Palak has since been released from detention by the South African Maritime Safety Authority on 21st July 2020 and she has been allowed to sail to her next port.”
An investigation is underway into the loss of as many as 23 containers from a cargo vessel after the shipment apparently fell overboard during a stormy weather in Algoa Bay near the city of Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, earlier this week.
According to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the containers were onboard the MSC Palak, a four year old Portugal flagged container vessel with a TEU capacity of approximately 9411 containers that got caught up in heavy weather and swell seas while sailing in the Algoa Bay region of the Indian Ocean on Monday.
In a statement on Thursday, SAMSA said: “The container vessel “MSC Palak” sailed out Port of Ngqura at 12:00 on the 13th of July 2020 due to high winds and anchored in Number 2 anchorage to ride out the heavy weather. On the 13th and 14th of July 2020 a severe storm passed the South African coast, causing heavy weather in Algoa Bay. The swell height measured in Algoa Bay was approximately 3.5m.
“At 23:37 on the 14th of July 2020 of a report was received from Port Control that the MSC Palak had lost containers overboard while at anchor.
“An initial assessment was that six (6) containers had fallen over board and that they had sunk, however at first light on the 15th, the vessel confirmed that in fact 23 containers were lost overboard.
“A fishing vessel reported at 08:00 on the 15th of July 2020, that they found containers drifting approximately seven (7) nautical miles south of where the containers were lost. SAMSA was informed that no dangerous cargo was lost overboard.
“The Port of Ngqura was closed for vessel traffic due to risk that some containers may have sunk in the approach channel, becoming a danger to navigation. SAMSA is working with the vessel owner to ensure that all containers are salvaged.
“An aerial surveillance flight was arranged by the owners to locate any drifting containers that may pose a hazard to shipping. SAMSA requests the public to remain vigilant and report any containers sighted to SAMSA.”
A cargo vessel whose anchor ‘fouled’ while at anchorage off the port of Cape Town will remain under close watch for any potential difficulties it may encounter as strong winds accompanying yet another blistering south Atlantic Ocean deriving cold front continue to batter the area.
In a statement in Pretoria on Monday, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) confirmed that it was currently monitoring the container ship, MV JPO Libra, in Table Bay, Cape Town.
According to SAMSA, the 41,000-ton Liberia registered carrier arrived in Cape Town from West Africa late June 2020.
“The JPOLibra is a container ship built in 2005 (15 years old) and currently sailing under the flag of Liberia. The vessel‘s anchor fouled and cannot be safely unfouled until the weather subsides. The Cape is currently being battered by a severe storm.
“The vessel is not in any danger and is not dragging anchor and its engines are on immediate standby, ready for use. SAMSA will continue to monitor the situation and will dispatch the SA Amandla tug should the need arise,” said SAMSA.
An appeal by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)on Member States to find ways to facilitate greater ease of operation for global shipping amid the strife to effectively manage the spectre of the Covid-19 pandemic has found a kind ear in South Africa.
Among such steps taken by South Africa is the immediate extension of the expiration of seafarers certificates by no less than six months from June 2020 to 31 December 2020, or such other period as may be necessary and allowed, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).
The arrangement is similarly applicable to vessels whose certificates are due to expire during to the lockdown, granted an extension of up to three (months) provided an application is made well in advance.
According to SAMSA, the concessions are contained in a correspondence submitted by Government to the IMO a week ago, outling the measures South Africa is taking to ease the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown regulations implemented since March 2020 in the country, and varinglyper time period worldwide, with major negative impacts on global shipping operations.
The newly introduced measures, outlined in even greater detail in circulars including an accompanying Marine Notice 34 of 2020 published last Thursday, 02 July 2020 are, according to SAMSA, in response to a recent call by the IMO on Member States to ease up on lockdown regulations to enable less interruption on global shipping.
The IMO call, with the full backing of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), found even greater expression during the global marking of the international Day of the Seafarer 2020, in South Africa and across the world on 25 June 2020.
“Shipping is truly a global industry and we need Governments to provide a global solution,” the ITF was qouted as saying.
According Mr Stephen Cotton, ITF General Secretary, as reported by the IMO, the workers organisation received emails from hundreds of seafarers daily, expressing their concern about contracts being extended under duress, amid fears that this would impact their ability to perform safe operations, thereby putting themselves at risk as well as the global supply chain and potentially the environment.
In also calling for ‘leadership and action’, the ICS reportedly said ‘during the COVID-19 pandemic, ships, which fundamentally depend on seafarers, have continued to carry essential goods across the globe.’
Mr Guy Platten, Secretary-General of ICS reportedly said that ‘the number of stranded seafarers [was] currently 400,000, with 200,000 needing to leave ships and a similar number needing to replace them.’
In response to the IMO call, South Africa last week acknowledged and submitted that: “The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the maritime value chain, including the ability of Maritime Administrations and the recognised organisations to deliver services necessary for statutory certification of seafarers and vessels. Furthermore, the issues about manning of ships, crew changes and search and rescue services are receiving necessary attention.
Immediate new measures South Africa confirmed to have introduced relate both to seafarers certification with respect to validity of seafarers certificates, medical and eyesight certificates and safe manning of ships; as well as ships certificates and surveys.
With respect to seafarers certification, the country states: “SAMSA has considered the predicament many seafarers and their employers are finding themselves in and have (sic) granted an extension until 31 December 2020 to any certificate that expires during the national lockdown and/or shortly thereafter.
“The masters, seafarers and employers must produce a letter for extension of their Certificates – http://www.samsa.org.za/Pages/Marine-Notices.aspx Where appropriate, seafarers and/or employers may apply to SAMSA for the issuance with a specific letter to each seafarers in accordance with the applicable Marine Notice.”
On medical and eyesight certificates SAMSA grants that: “Medical Certificates for seafarers shall remain valid as issued. Under the measurers in place to combat COVID-19, medical practitioners will still be operating and seafarers will be allowed to visit the medical practitioner (doctor) for medical examination.
“Seafarers whose medical certificates expires whilst onboard a ship may continue to serve on that ship for three (3) months from the expiration date in accordance with STCW Regulation I/9.”
In respect of safe manning of ships SAMSA instructs that: “Ship operators must inform SAMSA regarding any challenges with seafarers holding foreign CoC with regards to revalidation and obtaining an endorsement to their CoC.
“SAMSA will not issue an endorsement to a foreign COC unless such certificate is still valid, except where there is a policy from that administration regarding the same.”
Regarding vessels certificates and surveys, SAMSA advises that: “Vessels which are subject to International Conventions (and) whose statutory certification are due for renewal, and there is difficulty with the attendance by a surveyor, may apply for extension of certificates by up to three (3) months. Such application shall be made within reasonable time to ensure continued compliance with all statutory requirements.”
The global maritime sector’s focus turn to celebrate the world’s estimated 1.6-million seafarers on Thursday, 25 June 2020 – a day declared an International Day of the Seafarer and marked annually- in acknowledgement and appreciation of the role of the labour sector for its contribution both to world trade over the oceans and associated activities at sea.
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) along with its Member States, including South Africa, celebrate the day this year with a key theme message; #Seafarers Are Key Workers, conceptualised to advance a growing realisation that the world’s seafarers are essential workers.
In South Africa on Thursday, according to the Department of Transport (DoT) and the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the country will mark the event Thursday with a virtual session involving invited guests and a panel of about 30 people, and which will be livestreamed to the public between 10am and 12 noon. (For more on this, click on the blog’s Seafarers Day dedicated page Here)
In a statement, the entities said: “The Day of the Seafarer is observed every year on the 25th of June by all IMO member states to pay tribute to millions of seafarers from across the globe, for their unique contribution to international seaborne trade, the world economy and civil society as a whole.
“Each year, the Day of the Seafarer adopts a campaign theme and the theme for 2020 is “Seafarers are Key Workers”. The 2020 campaign seeks to raise awareness of the work of seafarers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to thank them for their contribution. Seafarers are on the frontline of the COVID-19 response, playing an essential role in maintaining the flow of vital goods, such as food, medicines and medical supplies.
Thursday’s virtual session, involving a panel of about six (6) members and up to 30 participants from stakeholders and roleplayers in the country’s maritime economic sector, will be led by Transport Minister, Mr Fikile Mbalula.
Other participants scheduled include Master Mariner, Ms Constance Nengohvela, maritime studies educationist, Ms Theresa Williams, marine engineer Mr Khomotso Makgae, Amsol human resource executive, Mr Nceba Mfini, international Transport Workers Federation (ITF) official Mr Steve Yandell, Mr Odwa Mtati, Chief Executive Officer of the South African International Maritime Institute, Mr Sobantu Tilayi, SAMSA acting CEO and others.
In the statement ahead of the event, Mbalula said: “We acknowledge the sacrifices of the seafarers and the adverse effects of the Corona Virus on their personal and professional wellbeing. The outbreak of COVID-19 has exacerbated seafarers’ already difficult working conditions, as it has led to the restriction of port access, crew changeovers and repatriations, in an attempt to flatten the curve.
“Many seafarers have been away from home for months and are uncertain about when they will be able to return home or go back to their international posts, due to global travel restrictions. The South African Government is mindful of this dire situation and is doing all it can to ensure that seafarers are prioritised as the economy gradually reopens”, said the Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula.
In South Africa SAMSA, the DOT and other maritime institutions will host a virtual discussion to mark the Day of the Seafarer. The virtual discussion will be held on 25 June 2020, from 10h00 until 12h00, and attended by key stakeholders in the maritime industry. Seafarers will use the opportunity to highlight issues affecting them during the prevalence of COVID-19,” he said.
For more on the programme for Thursday’ event, Click Here
The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in China some six months ago has without doubt brought about the greatest health risk globally and, in its wake, by some accounts, the biggest economic threat and devastation in more than 100 years.
Yet as the old adage has it: ‘every dark cloud has a silver lining,’ so it turns out that the outbreak of the pandemic that’s forced many countries to close their borders, would also lead to new business opportunities for others that were not readily available before, and in the process, giving rise to creative thinking and innovation.
Heron Marine, a black woman owned bunkering services company based in Port Elizabeth is one such business operator to be presented with an opportunity that would call for its creativeness in delivering services to four huge international cruise vessels it has never serviced before.
According to Kgomotso Selokane, Chief Executive Officer of Heron Marine, four international cruise liners from Carnival, namely, the Carnival Dream, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Conquest and Carnival Ecstasy, came calling into the port of Ngqura in May.
The call into South African ports by these four cruise liners – among several similar – was to disembark the country’s seafarers who – along with the entire cruise line industry– have become economic victims of the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.
Enroute to disembarking crew at Durban and other ports outside of South Africa the Carnival cruise ships required replenishments, among which was fuel for the journey to return home their thousands of seafarers rendered stranded due to closure of the industry worldwide.
Unlike its three sisters, the Carnival Dream – at 130,000gt and 305.47 meters long, with a guest capacity of some 3646 people as well as 1367 crew members – was to be refuelled seat anchorage. That presented some interesting challenges.
According to Ms Selokane, due to the configuration of the vessel and barge, the actual refuelling operation at anchorage required for the first time, the utilisation of a spacer barge with two Yokahama fenders on either side to serve as a bulwark between the company’s bunker barge and the cruise ship. In turn, this required not only tugs to shove and hold vessels in place, but also the utilisation of a mooring boat to layout oil booms to cover stern of the vessel.
Once arrangements had been finalised, and with a keen eye constantly on the weather conditions as the refuelling had to be conducted in open anchorage , Heron Marine called on, among others, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) for assistance with tugs and consulted with the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) to ensure compliance with the strictest safety standards during the bunkering operation.
The final alignment of all parties and equipment and calm weather conditions allowed for a successful refuelling of the Carnival Dream by one of Heron Marine’s bunkering barges, the Bonaire Trader.
She added: “SAMSA and TNPA’s approvals… demonstrated South Africa’s commitment to implementing the Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy’s (CMTP) in making the country an international maritime centre, but more so our contribution to the global maritime economy during these trying times.”
Part of the economic contribution involved the deliberate utilisation of all local based services suppliers for support infrastructure, she said
“In our commitment to our license requirements, we use local suppliers as much as possible. In this operation specifically we procured the services of a drone operator to take footage of the entire operation.
“However, the pinnacle of our excitement was how we committed ourselves, as an entity, to SAMSA’s SMME Development requirement, as our mooring boat was provided by a local 100% Black Owned SMME.
“We would really like to thank SAMSA and the TNPA team for allowing this operation to take place and supporting its precedence as a first of its kind offshore ALGOA BAY or maybe even South Africa. “Working together like this is a true indication of our South African Spirit – not matter what we endeavour,” said Ms Selokane.
The rebuilding of a South Africa ship register and development of a greater population awareness about, and a viable channel of education and training through to meaningful engagement of people through careers remain pivotal to redevelopment and expansion of the country’s maritime sector, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).
This view was among several articulated by SAMSA’s acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi during a live national radio interview on Tuesday this week.
According to Mr Tilayi, the rallying call for special focus on redeveloping the country’s ship register – currently with no more than half a dozen vessels under the country’s flag – was based on empirical evidence based on the massive economic contribution that shipping makes, inclusive of education and training as well as significant jobs creation.
In the 20 minutes radio interview, he briefly unpacked the country’s maritime economic sector’s Government led initiative, Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) launched in 2014 aimed at not only repositioning the sector into the country’s main economic development agenda, but also to facilitate redevelopment as well as expansion of the maritime sector inclusive of all the country’s people.
Mr Tilayi also explained briefly the rationale behind the recent set up of a major ship bunkering service along the country’s south-eastern sea, the Indian Ocean near Port Elizabeth. He described it as exemplifying the numerous business and economic opportunities the country is able to explore for further growth.
For the full interview, click below:
The radio interview is reproduced here in full, courtersy of PowerFM.