The marking of the United Nations endorsed international Nelson Mandela Day often involves the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), through its Corporate Social Investment and Sustainability (CSI&S) fund, identifying causes and communities in the country towards which to lend a helping hand and this year’s event was no different.
Working jointly with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), recipients of SAMSA’s poverty alleviation intervention in 2021 comprised a group of disadvantaged residents of two informal settlements in the Northern Cape’s Siyancuma Local Municipality – Campbell and Grikwastad – who, despite being nestled within a stone’s throw of the confluence point of the Vaal River and the Orange River, yet battle daily with access to adequate water.
This year, the Nelson Mandela Day on 18 July, fell on a Sunday. SAMSA and SALGA thus chose Tuesday morning, 20 July 2021 for the online symbolic handover event. During the event participating officials described the targeted communities as mostly poor and lacking in basic social services infrastructure.
On the one hand, Campbell – originally known as Knovel Valley and then Groote Fontein, and later named after the Reverend John Campbell – was described as a small town situated on the edge of the Ghaap Plateau, some 48 km east of Griquatown. It’s twin sister, situated some 168 kilometres west of Kimberley was in no different position.
The target group in the two settlements comprised the aged, child-headed homes as well as the physical challenged. SAMSA and SALGA working jointly with the Siyancuma Local Municipality, said they were providing them with 200 specialised water drawing vessels known as Hippo Rollers and the bulk of which are scheduled to be delivered in person during the month of September 2021 – Covid-19 pandemic conditions allowing.
For a glimpse of the informal settlement areas in two towns, click on the video below.
Addressing invited guests to the online event on Tuesday morning, SAMSA Acting CEO, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane described the agency’s concerns as well as sustained passion to assist disadvantaged communities across South Africa’s nine provinces as consistent with and in keeping with former statesman and South Africa’s first president of the democratic era, the late Nelson Mandela’s generous spirit and advocacy for ubuntu (humaneness).
Quoting Nelson Mandela, she said: ““We can build a society grounded on friendship and our common humanity – a society founded on tolerance. That is the only road open to us.”
She added: “The plight of rural people in South Africa has been highlighted by many policy studies, and significant public awareness has been created via the media. Broadly, while about 50 percent of the South African population is rural, rural areas contain approximately 72 percent of those members of the total population who are classified as poor.
She described the identified communities of Campbell and Griekwastad as falling within this category. “The area has a population of about 37 000 people encased in approximately 10 000 households, with 37 percent of these households headed by females. The main economic activity in the area is agriculture and mining. Only about 42 percent of the households have piped water inside their dwellings, while about 90 percent have electricity for lighting.
“Given this context, the SAMSA intervention delivered through our CSI and Sustainability programme, is designed and intended to contribute to the Siyancuma Local Municipality’s efforts of bringing basic services to the community in the area,” said Ms Taoana-Mashiloane.
On the partnership with SALGA for the second successive year, she said: “We pride ourselves with forging effective partnerships that will have a positive and sustainable impact on identified communities.” For her full remarks, click on the video below.
Representing SALGA were the body’s senior advisor in the Northern Cape province, Mr Johann Ruiters and SALGA provincial operations manager, Ms Madeleine Brandt; and representing the Siyancuma Local Municipality was Mayor, Councillor Patrick McKlein and Councillor Johannes Musike.
All were appreciative of the SAMSA corporate social responsibility intervention for both its immediate direct positive impact to people in the targeted areas of the municipality but also for its example to other State and private sector institutions.
For Mr McKlein and Ruiters remarks, respectively; click on the videos below.
Development of southern Africa’s maritime economic sector has no room for selfish, self-centred independent actors, and instead demands of all involved a sustained close collaboration in order to ensure not only the success of collective effort but also equity in shared benefits
This was the dominant theme of speakers in the maritime transport section of this year’s Southern Africa Transport Conference (SATC) inaugural virtual conference and exhibition that began on Monday (05 July) and ends at about lunchtime on Wednesday (07 July).
With South Africa’s Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula having officially marked the start of the conference with an address, among keynote speakers on the maritime transport theme during Monday’s session were South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) acting Chief Executive Officer, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane, Mr Kholisile Mlambo of Mzansi Scuba Diving Academy, Mr Andrew Pike of Bownmans, Ms S Smith-Godfrey of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Dr Michael Ekow Manuel of the World Maritime University and Mr C Mlambo.
With a presentation titled: Partners in building a maritime nation Ms Taoana-Mashiloane outlined SAMSA’s critical role as the country’s State agency mandated with among other things, advancing South Africa’s maritime interests and the centrality of meaningful partnerships between the agency and other role players in the public and private sectors but also crucially, establishing and sustaininng links with others in the sub-region, continent as well as international institutions.
In a prerecorded presentation lasting about 17 minutes, Ms Taoana-Mashiloane said while the world might currently be faced with socio-economic woes largely brought about by the outbreak of the Covid-19 against which many countries continue to battle, current global economic studies also continue to project the African region positively as among those with prospects of high economic performance, and central to which is oceans transport, and by extension the maritime ecoomic sector.
Poised to play a critical role, she said; was the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (ACFTA) which commits countries in the region to remove tariffs on 90 per cent of goods and to progressively liberalise trade in services as well as address a host of other non-tariff barriers.
‘UNCTAD expects the Global maritime trade growth to return to positive trajectory in 2021 by expanding by 4.8%. Sustainable shipping, decarbonisation and ship pollution control remain priorities in 2021 (and) it is forecasted that the Sub-Saharan Africa area intra trade will double by 2030 and this will elevate the huge significance of a maritime transport system
“Britain, China, United States, France and the European Union have all launched initiatives to strengthen bilateral trade and investment relationships with Africa,” she indicated. However, for any of these developments to yield meaningful outcomes, maritime sector stakeholders and roleplayers needed to forge close relations and sustainable partnerships., she said.
Pointing to SAMSA’s own initiatives in this regard among which is its representative role for the country at International Maritime Organisation (IMO) as well as involvement and collaboration with similar institutions both on the Atlantic and Indian seaboards, the African Union and related institutions, she said: “The ability to leverage partner resources, subject matter expertise and innovation is a competitive advantage of a great partnership. Otherwise, trying to go it alone and strive to outshine others and to get all credit is not anyone’s interest.
“The 2050 African Maritime Integrated Strategy (AIMS) seeks to provide a broad framework for the protection and sustainable exploitation of the African maritime domain for wealth creation. Alongside, the African Maritime Charter (AMC) declares, articulates and advocates the implementation of harmonised maritime transport policies capable of promoting sustained growth and development of African Merchant Fleets as well as promote bilateral and multilateral cooperation among the maritime administrations of States Parties and their respective operational organizations in the field of maritime and inland waterways transport and port activities.
“In addition it seeks to also promote the funding, undertaking of research studies by national institutions that encourage the promotion and development of cooperation in maritime and inland waterways transport and port operations among States Parties and regions.
Domestically, according to Ms Toana-Mashiloane, South Africa’s positive response had included the launch of the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) followed by the promulgation of the Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy both to widen the scope for partnerships across sectors of the economy inclusive of identification of business investment opportunities, she added.
“As part of development efforts, we continue to engage and explore strategic partnership with the different industry players including local municipalities with the purpose of creating economic opportunities for local communities,”she said.
For her full presentation at the SATC Conference and Exhibition 2021, click on the video below.
Ubuntu – we are human only through the humanity of others
The theme was taken further by Sweden based World Maritime University representative, Dr Michael Ekow Manuel who described the subject of necessary partnership and collaborations in the sector as among the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Talking to a presentation themed: Fostering a partnership mindset; Governance and education; Dr Manuel said among targets of the UNSDGs was the enhancement of Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, “complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in all countries, in particular developing countries. Further, the target encompassed efforts to “encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnership.
From a governance perspective, optimising key factors, he said; included “ethical behaviour, a problem-centric approach, stakeholder equity and voice, leadership with partnership skills, evaluation criteria, learning procress and ageements.” With regards education, Dr Manuel said it had to play a transformative role “in which people are engaged in a new way of seeing, thinking, learning and working….a new set of skils such as envisioning, critical thinking and reflection, dialogue and negotiation, collaboration and building partnerships.”
Quoting former South African President, the late Mr Nelson Mandela; Dr Manuel reflected that: “In Africa there is a concept known as ubuntu – the profound sense that we are human only through the humanity of others, that if we are to accomplish anything in this world it will in equal measure be due to the work and achievements of others.”
South Africa no longer the only sheriff in town
That notwithstanding, according to Bowmans’ head of ports, transport and logistics Mr Andrew Pike, it helped little in fostering strong partnerships and collaborations if some of the players in the southern African region failed to pull their weight, indicating further that South Africa, despite its numerous maritime related advantages, was nevertherless on the verge of fairing poorly compared with its oceans bordered peers and flanking countries both to the east, namely Mozambique, as well as to the west, notably Namibia.
South Africa’s competitiveness with its ports infrastructure and performance was noticeably waning, he said, citing a World Bank’s recent report that ranked the country lowest at 347 out of 351 countries world wide – and in fact, the lowest ranking of all African countries.
Closest home, Mr Pike said even with the outbreak of Covid-19 which hugely affected sea transport negatively right across the board, statistics indicated that Mozambique outperformed South Africa in terms of trade ships port calls, even increasing its tally from 1 927 in 2018 and 2 145 in 2019 to 2 019 in 2020. This was in contrast to South Africa suffering a drop in trade ships port calls from 8 510 in 2018 and 8 856 in 2019 to 7 836 in 2020.
A similar picture was gradually emerging on the Atlantic seaboard where Namibia was making strides both in terms of infrastruture investment as well as competitive performance to the benefit of the southern African region previously almost entirely dependent on South African ports.
According to Mr Pike, partnerships and collaboration were all good but all involved had to pull their weight. He intimated that South Africa would do herself a lot of good, and humble herself by realising that the country was “not the only sheriff in town.”
For no less than three hours early on Friday, June 25, South Africa’s role and contribution in the shaping of a fair future for seafarers locally and globally will come under the microscope as some of the country’s stakeholders and interested parties in the general wellbeing of these highly skilled yet generally overlooked oceans-based workers gather to mark the International Day of the Seafarer 2021, under the guidance and leadership of the Department of Transport.
The marking of Day of the Seafarer 2021 takes the shape of an online event – for the second year running, owing to the ongoing rampant spread of the Covid-19 pandemic – hosted by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) from its Pretoria-based Head Ofice on Friday morning.
Starting from 9am and scheduled to last until 12 noon, high profile participants on the programme, according to SAMSA, include Transport Minister Mr Fikile Mbalula and his deputy, Ms Dikeledi Magadzi, the department’s Acting Director for Maritime Branch Mr Mthunzi Madiya, Ms Soraya Artman of the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), Mr Musa Mbakaza of AMSOL, Ms Silindokuhle Nyoka of Transnet, and Captain Mike Kelly representing The Mission of Seafarers Association, as well as SAMSA acting CEO Ms Tsepiso Taoana Mashiloane and Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe
Also participating and sharing an international perspective will be Mr Cheah Aun Aun from the Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore.
The theme of the 2021 instalment of the Day of the Seafarer as decided by the International Maritime Organisation is a “Fair Future for Seafarers” – the idea behind it being a continued effort to rally individual maritime country as well as international support for measures to improve and enhance the working conditions as well as the general welfare of seafarers globally.
In invitations circulated to maritime sector stakeholders earlier this month, SAMSA said: “In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, seafarers found themselves both on the front line of the global response and subject to difficult working conditions. Last year the Day of the Seafarer campaign focused its message around urging Governments to recognize seafarers as key workers and ease travel restrictions for them to facilitate crew changes.
“The 2021 Day of the Seafarer campaign will continue to encourage Governments to support seafarers amid the pandemic but will expand its message, calling for a fair future for seafarers. You are therefore urged to join the virtual event where various speakers and seafarers will highlight the plight of our seafarers and the plans that the Government and its partners have to ensure that seafarers are treated fairly,”
At Friday’s event, with just 100 confirmed attendees, expected to dominate the marking of the Day of the Seafarer 2021 are activities and related measures being undertaken by particularly the Department of Transport, its agency SAMSA, as well as industry to advance this cause, this especially against unique challenges by seafarers due to the onset and continued international havoc wreaked by the Covid-19 pandemic since its outbreak in China in late 2019
According to SAMSA, the online event will again be livestreamed on the SAMSA Facebook in order to allow the public access. To connect, please click on the link following link: https://fb.me/e/1UMv7h5fr
This blog will also follow proceedings of the event.
A ‘fair future’ for seafarers globally should be a shared responsibility between seafarers and the rest of other relevant stakeholders – and that is the view of seafarers themselves according to a current poll being conducted by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)
This global seafarers’ view is emerging solidly a few weeks ahead of this year’s international marking of the Day of the Seafarer on June 25 (a Friday) as driven and directed by the IMO along with its Member States, including South Africa.
In the poll currently being conducted by the IMO on its social media pages, among seafarers who responded to a question: “Who should be responsible for a fair future for seafarers”; an overwhelming majority (54%) call it a “shared responsibility”.
Against the backdrop, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) working jointly with the Department of Transport has confirmed that its marking of the Day of the Seafarer this year would be closely aligned to the issue, consistent with the IMO’s theme for the celebrations on June 25.
In invitations circulated to maritime sector stakeholders this week, SAMSA states that: “In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, seafarers found themselves both on the front line of the global response and subject to difficult working conditions. Last year the Day of the Seafarer campaign focused its message around urging Governments to recognize seafarers as key workers and ease travel restrictions for them to facilitate crew changes.
“The 2021 Day of the Seafarer campaign will continue to encourage Governments to support seafarers amid the pandemic but will expand its message, calling for a fair future for seafarers. You are therefore urged to join the virtual event where various speakers and seafarers will highlight the plight of our seafarers and the plans that the Government and its partners have to ensure that seafarers are treated fairly,” says SAMSA.
Among issues likely to feature prominently at the event on June 25 may be the outcomes and insights of a recent South African seafarers survey conducted by University of KwaZulu-Natal academic and author, Dr Shaun Ruggunan focused on their personal experiences of the impacts of Covid-19 over the last year.
Dr Ruggunan’s survey supported by SAMSA was conducted from March to end of May this year and its results are currently being collated and studied.
From a Government perspective, notably the UKZN survey took place shortly after South Africa in February 2021 joined other IMO Member States in declaring seafarers as ‘essential workers’ – a recurrent theme in the industry globally in 2020 since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in China in 2019, and which campaign gained huge support from many organisations worldwide, among them the United Nations.
However, the declaration of seafarers as essential workers earlier this year, even as singularly highly significant, was but one aspect of a basket of sought industry reforms with regards seafarers’ general welfare and work conditions, and some of which continue to be highlighted in a series of regional webinars driven by IMO, its Members States and affiliated organisations.
The first of the IMO regional webinars focused specifically on the question of “Challenges faced by seafarers and identification of best practices during Covid-19 pandemic” was held virtually online for the Eastern and Southern Africa on 21 October 2020, with the lineup of speakers includingIMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim and representatives of UN-OSAA, Stella Maris, ICS as well as Member States: Kenya, South Africa and the Seychelles.
The webinars have since covered Eastern and West Africa, East Asia, Western Asia and Eastern Europe as well as the Arab States and Mediterranean regions and Latin America
Now, in the lead up to this year’s Day of the Seafarer, the IMO also embarked on the social media poll, where it is asking seafarers across the world to respond and share their views on a number of issues affecting their work and general welfare.
On Covid-19 impacts and about which an IMO asks in one of the question: ‘what is most important for you for your future as a seafarer’, most seafarer respondents (41%) believe it be to be “quarantined access to repatriation and crew change”, followed by “priority vaccinations” (24%), “safe working conditions” (19%) and “enforcement” (16%).
On another question about whether seafarers believe that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the future of seafaring and in what direction, the majority seafarers’ view (73%) is that the pandemic has, and for the “worse” while only 15% believe it has done their trade a world of good, and 13% saying it has made no difference.
On the question of the IMO’s campaign in 2021 for a “fair future for seafarers”; 54% of participants feel it has to be a “shared responsibility” with only three (03) percent saying seafarers should be directly and solely in charge, while the rest are split unevenly between a view that it should be “IMO/ILO/Governments” (31%) and that it should be “shipping companies” (12%).
Among the seven questions posed to seafarers by the IMO so far is also one about “what area most needs improvement to ensure a fair future for seafarers” and to which the majority view (46%) suggests it to be “the workplace”, followed by “salaries” (30%), “training” (13%0 and “safety on board” (12%).
On the gradual encroachment of autonomous ships, according to their responses, most seafarers are either “excited” (25%), “unconcerned” (22%) or “accepting” (14%), with only 36% expressing the view that they are “worried”.
On climate change; most (59%) say they are onboard with mitigation efforts while seven (7%) and five (5) say they either could not be bothered (“not my personal responsibility”) or regard it as “unimportant”.
In explaining the seafarers view poll on its social media platforms, the IMO says: “In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, seafarers found themselves both on the front line of the global response and subject to difficult working conditions surrounding uncertainties and difficulties around port access, re-supply, crew changeovers, repatriation, etc.
“In light of this, the 2020 Day of the Seafarer campaign focused its message around urging governments to recognize seafarers as key workers and ease travel restrictions for them to facilitate crew changes. The 2021 Day of the Seafarer campaign will continue to encourage governments to support seafarers amid the pandemic but will expand its message, calling for a fair future for seafarers. The campaign will discuss issues that will still be relevant to seafarers after the pandemic, such as fair treatment of seafarers, fair working conditions (in line with ILO’s Maritime Labour Convention), fair training, fair safety, etc.”
For more on this, please on click on the IMO General Secretary, Mr. Kitack Lim ‘s official message for Day of the Seafarer 2021 below.
Meanwhile in Pretoria, according to SAMSA, South Africa’s marking of the Day of the Seafarer 2021 on Friday, June 25; will be conducted in similar fashion as last year, virtually online, from 9am and ending at 12 noon.
A computer virus found to have infected computer systems at the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) will lead to delays of up to six weeks in the issuance of seafarers’ certificates, the country’s maritime agency under the Department of Transport announced in Pretoria on Tuesday.
The announcement in the form of a Marine Notice (MIN 05-21), published in SAMSA’s website on Tuesday morning revealed that: “SAMSA was exposed to a computer virus in April 2021, necessitating SAMSA to implement precautionary measures by disconnecting its network servers to prevent the virus from infecting all systems. SAMSA’s ICT department is conducting a full health assessment on all servers, operating software and hardware.
“At this point, no personal data was compromised, and SAMSA is continuing to investigate the incident in collaboration with law enforcement agencies.
According to SAMSA in the statement, while some services rendered by the agency to the country’s maritime economic sector were not affected bythe computer virus infection incident, such as vessels surveys; the agency’s Seafarer Certification Software System (SIOMS 2.) “was affected by the database restore(ation) which caused some unexpected technical difficulties. SAMSA is working towards resolving this technical failure as soon as possible.”
Due to the challenge related to systems restoration, SAMSA said: “Seafarers should expect delays in the issuing of any seafarer verifications, documentation and certificates of competence while the system is being repaired. Once the system is fully operational, seafarers (will) continue to experience delays with all certification related services for approximately 4-6 weeks while SAMSA implements extra-ordinary measures to clear the backlog and implement measures to improve services.
This notwithstanding, SAMSA urged seafarers and or affected people to continue engaging with it through its offices along the South African coastline in order to ensure that services and assistance needed are provided where possible.
“Seafarers intending to revalidate their certificates may continue to apply to do so at their local SAMSA office. Seafarers may continue to apply for Level 3 assessments (orals) leading to a higher qualification. Any interim certificatesfor Small Vessel Skippers Certificates of Competence that have expired in the last 3 months or any Small Vessel Certificate of Competence expiring within the next 4 weeks, may be extended up and until 31 August 2021 while SAMSA’s certification unit clears the backlog.
“In the event of certification related issues, seafarers currently serving on foreign going vessels should provide full details of the assistance needed and should submit a request to email@example.com and in the event of any seafarer welfare challenges resulting from this delay, seafarers can contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
SAMSA extended an apology for the disruption to services: “SAMSA apologizes for this temporary inconvenience and assures all stakeholders that the technical issues are being addressed with utmost urgency.”
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has given notice that it will revise regulations relating to the utilisation of small vessels such as ski-boats to facilitate implementation of more safety measures to secure the lives of users and the general environment.
The notice published as Marine Alert MA 01-21, according to SAMSA, comes in the wake of an incident in East London earlier this year during which two young people lost control of a ski-boat and one of the youths was injured after being struck by the out of control vessel, resulting in him suffering lacerations to the face and other injuries.
The incident, according to SAMSA, occurred at about 11am on 13 January 2021 on the Nahoon River near East London. An investigation established that; “Two teenagers were operating a small (regulation 37) ski-boat on the Nahoon river when they both fell overboard into the river whilst making a sharp turn. The boat then did circles on the river and witnesses called the NSRI to assist. Whilst in the water, the boat hit one of the two teenagers who sustained lacerations to the face and injuries to the body,” reads the notice.
It further states that: “The vessel was found to have had a kill-switch which had not been in operation. There had been no SVCC (small vessel certificate of competency) aboard. The operation of a kill-switch had not occurred as intended by the manufacturer, because operation of a kill-switch on Regulation 37 vessels is not mandatory, and thus perceived as not required. There had been no adult supervision or competent skipper to oversee the vessel operation.”
According to SAMSA; “The incident had a potential loss of one fatality/permanent injury, along with damage to local jetties and other small craft that were operating in the area, and minor pollution in Marine reserve.”
SAMSA says the incident reflected on a few issues of concern including that:
Certain Regulation 37 vessels (≤15HP) are powerful enough to tow a skier at speed and should thus be used with caution, especially if used by underaged/unqualified persons; and then only under supervision of a qualified skipper or an adult.
When a vessel is fitted with a kill-switch, the owner/operator should operate the vessel as intended.
Any safety device/equipment that is onboard a vessel when in operation, should be used appropriately, even if that vessel is not required by regulation to have it onboard.
In efforts to prevent potentially deadly incidents of the nature in the future, the agency states that:
“SAMSA strongly recommends that the owner/operator of any Regulation 37 vessel fitted with an operational kill-switch, should operate the kill-switch as intended. SAMSA will also revise regulations and consider the inclusion of appropriate Regulation 37 vessels in the requirements for kill-switches.”
Meanwhile, in a related Marine Alert (MA 02 21) also published this week, SAMSA reported on findings of shipping related accidents that occurred at both the port of Durban between 28 April 2020 and 26 October 2020, as well as the anchorage in Algoa Bay, and during which ropes and ladders were a common cause of slippages, resulting in injuries.
“In all four cases,” notes SAMSA; “….a fall from a height occurred. Two (2) of the four (4) incidents resulted in people being hospitalised.”
The agency restated the critical regulations governing the use of ropes and ladders on vessels at sea.
SAMSA said: “IMO Res A1045 (27) paragraph 2 lists the following requirements for ropes used in the construction of pilot ladders. Paragraph 5 lists the following requirements for hand rails at the pilot boarding area:
The side ropes of the pilot ladder should consist of two uncovered ropes not less than18 mm in diameter on each side and should be continuous, with no joints, and have a breaking strain of at least 24 Kilo Newtons per side rope.
Side ropes should be made of Manila or other material of equivalent strength, durability, elongation characteristics and grip which has been protected against actinic degradation and is to the satisfaction of the Administration.
Adequate handholds should be provided at the point of embarking or disembarking from the ship via pilot ladder. These hand holds should not be spaced less than 700mm and not more than 800mm apart.”
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has confirmed the appointment of four management members to fill up temporarily three executive positions left vacant early last week following to the suspension of three top officials.
The three suspended senior managers consisted of Chief Operating Officer (COO) and former Acting Chief Executive, Mr Sobantu Tilayi; Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO), Ms Lesego Mashishi and Company Secretary, Mr Moyahabo Raphadu. The three top managers were suspended on full pay effective on Monday, 26 April 2021.
In Pretoria at the weekend, SAMSA Acting CEO Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane announced the names of Mr Vusi September, current Head of Corporate Affairs, Government, and International Relations as acting Chief Human Capital Officer. Ms Shelorne Muller, currently the assistant Company Secretary will take over temporarily as Company Secretary.
The position of COO meanwhile will be managed consecutively by Captain Vernon Keller, currently the Deputy COO, and Mr Ian Calvert, current Executive Manager: Marine Special Projects. The shared responsibility for the COO post sees Capt. Keller taking over with effect from 01 May to 30 June 2021 and thereafter passing the baton to Mr Calvert through to end of August 2021.
The four managers will remain in the positions for the duration of the suspension of the three executives.
In announcing the action taken against the three executives on Monday last week, the SAMSA Board said the suspensions were precautionary and that the decision to suspend them was based on “whistle-blowing and reports of alleged misconduct received from external and internal stakeholders.”
The Board’s action came barely two months after the secondment of a senior Department of Transport official, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane as SAMSA’s new acting Chief Executive Officer, replacing Mr Tilayi who had been in that acting position since 2016.
Her appointment in turn had followed a few months after the appointment of a new Board at SAMSA by Department of Transport Minister, Mr Fikile Mbalula in the second half of 2020.
Leading the SAMSA Board is Ms Nthato Minyuku.
In its statement announcing the three top managers’ suspension on Tuesday a week ago, the Board said: “A through forensic investigation will be undertaken on the range of serious allegations related to the three (3) executives. The precautionary suspensions will provide an opportunity for the Board to undertake an independent forensic investigation.
“These suspensions are necessary to ensure that the Board investigations are efficient and free of any potential interference in order to be completed within a reasonable time frame.
“The Board will be guided by the findings and recommendations of the forensic investigation on which appropriate steps will be taken with the 3 executives.
“In the interim, the Board has mandated the SAMSA Acting Chief Executive Officer to appoint suitable officials to act in all three (3) positions for the duration of precautionary suspensions in order to ensure business continuity,’ said the Board in a statement.
National survey launched on Wednesday to determine both training needs and availability of berths
Pretoria: 16 April 2021
The resumption of formal training of South African seafarers which was and continue to be severely negatively impacted largely by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic since a year ago, is set to go full steam ahead this year, subject to further determination of both training needs as well as berths available.
That is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) which on Wednesday launched a national survey targeting South African seafarers across the board including the fishing subsector, training institutions, seafarer recruitment agencies and employers.
The step is the second of its nature this year following to the announcement recently of a further seafarers’ certificates validity extension given South African seafarers whose time limited qualifications might have expired, in order to renew them.
The four months certificate validity extension through to 31 July 2021, was given to the maritime industry in the form of a Marine Notice No.10 of 2021 published on the SAMSA website on 31 March 2021.
The further extension granted was, according to the Marine Notice, in consideration that Certificates of Competency (COC) and/or Certificates of Proficiency (COP) issued in accordance with the International Convention of the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978, were generally valid for a period of five (5) years from the date of issue.
However, with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic having disrupted virtually all aspects of life, SAMSA said in consideration of the predicament many seafarers and their employers were finding themselves in, it had decided to again grant an extension until 31 July 2021 to any certificate that might expire during the national lockdown and/or shortly thereafter.
In Pretoria on Wednesday, SAMSA announced the launch of the follow-up survey. SAMSA Chief Examiner, Mr Azwimmbavhi Nelwamondo said it would run until 23 April 2021, with its intention being to gather as much information as possible about the training and associated conditions currently affecting the targeted groups.
Mr Nelwamondo explained: “Since the pandemic hit South Africa, the government enforced a national lockdown which affected training of seafarers. SAMSA has tried to find the balance between safety of seafarers on all vessels and their safety whilst undergoing training.
“Further to balancing the safety aspects onboard ships and during training, a further balance must be found to ensure continuity of the training which has direct impact on the safety of individuals, ships, property and the marine environment,” he said.
Mr Nelwamondo further indicated that one of the challenges already acknowledged as an impediment to continued training of the country’s seafarers was an apparent scarcity of training berths.
“SAMSA has received information that there are not sufficient training berths for all seafarers with certain sub-sectors of the industry and they were therefore requesting an extension further than the dates set in the Marine Notice.
“With this survey, SAMSA thus wishes to establish, from the training providers – considering the pandemic – the status of availability of training berths ever since training resumed in the second half of 2020.
For his full remarks, click on audio below.
The SAMSA survey on South African training of seafarers is the second such seafarer survey currently underway – the other, conducted by University of KwaZulu-Natal and backed by SAMSA focused on the general welfare of seafarers particularly since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in December 2019.
With more than 133-million people globally infected by the Covid-19 pandemic and close on 3-million of these having succumbed to the virus as of Wednesday this week, the true full impacts of the virus on human society – a full year after its outbreak in Wuhan, China in late 2019 – have yet to be determined.
This notwithstanding, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the suffering by those already affected has been intense and among the victims already reeling from the impacts of the pandemic are millions of seafarers worldwide, thousands of them being South Africans.
It was for that reason that the agency, under the supervision of the Department of Transport, has thrown its full weight behind a survey undertaken by the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) to collect information directly from South African seafarers that will assist indicate the nature and extent of the Covid-19 pandemic impacts on them.
The survey led by UKZN Professor Shaun Ruggunan, seeks to; “….investigate the impact of Covid on South African seafarers. This survey specifically focuses on how Covid has impacted South African seafarer’s in terms of their work-life balance and the impact of Covid on their mental, emotional and physical well-being,” says the university in a statement.
Said Prof Ruggunan: “We hope that the survey will allow us to show how important seafarers are to the national and global economy and bring greater attention to their work and challenges during the pandemic. The results will be shared and potentially drive or inform policies of employee well-being for SA seafarers. The survey will benefit both employers, seafarers, agencies and seafarer labour market institutions.”
Unregistered seafarers far more at risk of negative Covid-19 pandemic impacts
For SAMSA, the initiative was of critical importance and value in more than one respect with regards the country’s seafarers, according to Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe. Generally, he says, seafarers can be described as operating virtually under the radar – that is, taking up employment with various companies domestically and globally yet without formal registration, and therefore now currently suffering the impacts of Covid-19 without being noticed for assistance.
“The impact of Covid-19 has been felt worldwide. Seafarers have not been spared. Seafarers have been working throughout, as maritime transport is responsible for carrying 90% of world cargo by volume. It was essential that shipping continued to operate through various lockdown regimes implemented by different countries. This ensured that critical movement of supplies of food, medicine, including medical equipment remained unhindered during lockdown,” says Mr Rantsoabe.
However, several countries across the world inclusive of many that are South Africa’s trading partners in Asia, Western Europe and the American continent embarking on variable states of national lockdown to this day, seafarers struggled and continue to, with millions finding themselves unable to sign off in various ports around the world due to travel restrictions.
“Some seafarers including South Africans found themselves stuck in vessels for much longer periods than they signed for. This led to the situation being termed ‘the humanitarian crisis at seas’,” said Mr Rantsoabe, pointing to the intervention that soon ensued in the global maritime sector led by both the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and other interested and affected parties, calling for seafarers to be declared “key workers”.
With the full backing of the United Nations, the intervention soon succeeded as the IMO, in a Circular letter No.4204/Add.35/Rev.4 issued on 05 February 2021 advised that 55 of its Member States, including South Africa had signed a resolution to declare seafarers “key workers”.
“This has not stopped seafarers suffering due to stringent travel restrictions still in place in various jurisdictions,” said Mr Rantsoabe, adding that because of this very fact, SAMSA – through its welfare section – continues to seek ways to ensure that the country’s seafarers are not left alone to battle with Covid-19 pandemic induced conditions at work.
“Hundreds of South African seafarers found themselves stranded in various parts of the world. SAMSA through its welfare programme managed to assist hundreds of seafarers reach home through various direct and indirect interventions which included advising shipping companies on the processes involved in travelling back to South Africa via repatriation flights and best routes for flying South Africans home. The interventions included direct contact with seafarers, employers of South African seafarers and NPO’s with interest in seafarer welfare.
“There are still many seafarers that SAMSA could not reach especially cruise staff. Since these seafarers’ occupations do not fall under the SAMSA qualification framework, it was and remains impossible for SAMSA to understand the numbers involved. In addition, cruise staff generally leave the country through recruitment agencies that are not accredited by SAMSA. As such SAMSA is unable to account for them. It is important to note that ‘generally, SAMSA does not get to know when any seafarer leaves the country to take up employment overseas. This has proved to be a major problem as SAMSA struggled to quantify the problem and help required,” he said.
On the UKZN survey, Mr Rantsoabe said: “SAMSA was approached by UKZN for support on the study on impact of covid-19 on seafarer welfare. SAMSA having considered the aim and content of the study fully supports this study. UKZN committed to sharing the results with SAMSA which will provide the Authority with much needed information.
“It is very important that SAMSA gets a full picture of what is/was faced by seafarers during this difficult period. The results will assist SAMSA as we continue to advance the interest of seafarers in various forums within government. The study will also provide information that will help shape the Authority’s welfare offering. All seafarers are encouraged to complete the survey as it will help SAMSA better understand the impact of Covid-19 on seafarers,” said Mr Rantsoabe.
Meanwhile, Prof Ruggunan stated that: “Participation is voluntary, anonymous and confidential and no survey can be traced back to any individual. The survey takes approximately 6 to 7 minutes only and can be accessed on a phone or computer via the link provided (see headline pic above) or by clicking on the photo placed on the landing page of this blog platform, or one placed on the landing page of the SAMSA website.
For further information, alternatively queries; these may be directed to Prof Ruggunan either by email or mobile phone as follows: email@example.com, cell: 079 1970 743. Also, for all seafarer welfare issues, seafarers both South African and international can correspond with SAMSA through the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
However, even with 38 of 49 metric tons of the plastic pellets recovered, monitoring will continue for four more years.
Pretoria: 29 March 2021
With about 38 metric tons of the approximately 49 MT of nurdles that accidentally fell off a cargo ship and into seawaters off the coast of Durban in 2017 now recovered, the three years clean-up operation of approximately 290 kilometres of coastline since launched has officially been brought to an end, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has announced.
According to SAMSA, the decision to end the three year clean-up operation – taken in consultation with various other interested and involved parties including the Department of Environment, Fisheries and Forestry (DEFF) KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) – was made on the basis that the residue of nurdles lately observed through monitoring of affected areas, had become negligible and therefore no longer justified continued recovery.
In addition, crucially, the high- and low-density polyethylene pellets were not only found to be non-hazardous, but it had also been established that they had not caused any known or reported damage or harm either to the ecology of the heavily affected area nor to living mammals both inland and at sea.
However, according to SAMSA, monitoring of the South African coastline along the KwaZulu-Natal province will continue for four more years and in the event of a resurfacing of enough quantities of the plastic nurdles, if necessary, another recovery operation will be instituted.
The formal official cessation of the clean-up operation, according to SAMSA – the coordinator of the operation – comes after more than 160 bags of the nurdles, measuring some 38.8MT in weight, were successfully recovered over the three-year period since the accidental spillage occurred in the second half of 2017.
The spillage into sea of the millions of small nurdles in 25-kilogram bags drew domestic and global attention after they were ripped off their transportation containers into the Durban harbour during a massive wind that wreaked havoc on ships in the Durban harbour on 10 October 2017.
Two of the lost containers, off the MSC Susana vessel, were loaded with the nurdles cargo. The nurdles involved, regarded as non-biodegradable, were described as small plastic pellets of about five (5) millimetres in diameter, with a flotation density of 0.91-0.97 grams per cubic centimetre (g/cmᵌ).
Shortly after the incident, SAMSA together with the DEFF, the KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), Transnet, environmental groups including Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, vessel owners, MSC, London based International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Ltd (ITOPF), salvage and emergency group, Resolve Marine; as well as various other parties, launched an extensive and intensive recovery project of the plastic nurdles all along the KwaZulu-Natal coastline, but with specific focus on a 290km area of the coast where the pellets found concentration.
The aim of the clean-up operation according to SAMSA, was three-fold (a) to reduce impact on human life, (b) to recover the pellets as quickly as possible (c) and to minimize impact on the environment.
The clean-up operation reliant partly on a scientific modelling to hopefully accurately predict movement of the pellets, would therefore essentially also involve an inspection of almost the entire South African oceans coastline, from Richards Bay through to the Western Cape.
According to SAMSA, the coastline inspection found evidence of nurdles presence in some of the areas, particularly in the Western Cape and some areas of the Eastern Cape. However, the nurdles found here were established to have come mainly from industrial waste discharges rather that from the Durban port ship incident in question. In other areas such as Port St Johns on the Wild Coast, concentrations were very low.
SAMSA says that with concerns also related to ocean currents movements along the Indian Ocean, the pellets might end up polluting the seas along other countries as far as Australia, enquiries were made. But these elicited no clear evidence of such widespread dispersion or leakage over the last three years.
Instead, after both aerial and land inspections, the greatest concentration of the nurdles deposition was found to have occurred largely just north of the Durban port city in an area of coastal high dune concentrations, inshore reefs and beaches as well as river mouths incorporating Addington, Port Dunford, Dokodweni, the Tugela River through to uMhlathuze towards Richards Bay.
SAMSA said final reports of monitoring and recovery by some of its participating partners, the DEFF, the KZZ EDTEA and ITOPF late last year, indicated that “the affected areas have received relatively low levels of recharge of SABIC plastic nurdles and, applying the ‘law of diminishing returns’, all recovery operations on all affected areas to be ceased.”
SAMSA and its partners in the operation would continue to “keep an ear and eye on the ground” for any possibility of nurdles resurfacing, and where deemed necessary, action will be taken to recover them.
Asked what has been done with the recovered 38,8MT of nurdles; SAMSA said these were recycled and used to make park benches dedicated to the late Ms Caroline Reid formerly a secretary of KwaZulu-Natal’s Marine Waste Network. Ms Reid reportedly passed away in July 2018 after being involved a vehicle accident in Durban. She was 41 years old at the time.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that following to the Durban port nurdles spillage incident, the South African government through the Department of Transport, SAMSA and DEFF is being urged by shipping transport industry players to support a call on the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to review shipping containers stowage such as that of plastic nurdles, and where possible, require that such cargo be relocated to the underdeck of cargo spaces of ships.
Parties to the call in South Africa include Resolve Marine whose executive, Mr Nicholas Sloane confirmed his company’s approach to the IMO about the matter.
According to Mr Sloane, prevention of loss at sea of material such as nurdles from ship’s cargo due to sea conditions and related accidents can be achieved with proper, purposeful stowage aboard vessels. This, he says, is necessary also because generally, seafarers manning cargo vessels are not always aware of contents of containers being transhipped.
“With over 3 000 containers lost in the oceans every so often, nurdles are the worst cargo to be lost.” says Mr Sloane.