Pretoria: 24 June 2022
Once more, the world’s maritime sector will have its eyes squarely on seafarers globally this weekend to celebrate them in recognition of their incredible role in sea trade transport and related 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
June 25 is the officially appointed Day of the Seafarer celebrated annually each year since its establishment just over a decade ago by a resolution of a Conference of Parties to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978, held in Manila, Philippines, in June 2010.
It has since been followed by the establishment of the International Day for Women in Maritime, celebrated on 18 May for the first time this year.
Twelve years on, the Day of the Seafarers however, remains the most important annual calendar event to date for many maritime countries that are Member States of International Maritime Organisation (IMO) which leads it by coordinating and deciding the theme for each of the June 25 annual events.
According to the IMO, “The Day of the Seafarer provides an opportunity to pay tribute to the world’s 1.5 million seafarers (risen to 1,89-million by 2015 in 74 000 merchant vessels) for the unique and all-too-often overlooked contribution to the well-being of the general public, and we would like to do it using as many social media networks as possible.
“The Day of the Seafarer is also an opportunity to educate the public about issues facing the modern-day seafarer – issues such as piracy. But, most importantly, it is the occasion for us, the world, to say ‘Thank you, seafarers.’
This year’s theme picked by the IMO is: “Your voyage – then and now, share your journey” with its choice and significance explained thus: “Every seafarer’s journey is different, but they all face similar challenges.
“For 2022, the campaign of the Day of the Seafarers, with the theme ‘Your voyage – then and now share your journey’, look at seafarer voyages, what it includes and how has it evolved over time and what remains at the heart of seafarers’ reality. This campaign gives seafarers a chance to share what resonates with them currently, whether it’s the crew change crisis being unresolved or the future of technology.”
With June 25 falling on a Saturday this year, South Africa, one 175 Member States of the IMO; will celebrate the day on Monday, 27 June 2022 with the ceremony marked simultaneously at the same time in three coastal cities; Cape Town, Gqeberha (a.k.a Port Elizabeth) and Durban, the latter city being where the Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula or his deputy, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga is currently earmarked to deliver the main address.
The live staging of the event next Monday will mark the first time in two years that the Day of Seafarers is celebrated in the traditional ‘town hall’ setting since being disrupted and forced to online platforms by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020.
This passing week, the country’s maritime sector joined the pre-event activity attaching to this year’s theme, with several companies and entities calling on South Africa’s seafarers to share their career journey stories, notable among these being SAMSA, the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), Amsol and others and using their social media platforms to publicly share the stories.
While no official word had come forth from either the DoT or SAMSA about Monday’s event prior to publication of this article, nevertheless this blog understands that the Durban leg of it will feature a discussion session involving Government, its agencies as well representatives of the maritime sector inclusive of educational institutions as well as seafarers, all focusing precisely on seafarers’ experiences and anticipations.
A preliminary draft list of likely participants in the session includes Dr Langa Dlamini, Executive Manager: Economics and Statistical Services at the Durban based Moses Kotane Institute, Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe, Manager: OHS & Maritime Welfare at SAMSA; Mr Nkosinathi Manqele, HoD for Maritime Studies Department, Durban University of Technology; Mr Ross Volk, Managing Director of MSC Cruises, South Africa; Mr Durand Naidoo, Chief Executive Officer: Linsen Nambi; Ms Pinky Zungu, Deputy Harbour Master, Durban (TNPA), Captain Thobela Gqabu, SAMSA Regional Manager: Eastern Region, and a set of yet to be confirmed seafarers’ representative.
Anticipated topics for exploration through discussion include; Government’s role and commitment to South African seafarers, and individual institutional perspectives one the subject from the Maritime Regulator (SAMSA – the Registrar of Seafarers and Custodian of Seafarer Welfare), Maritime Education, Training and Research, Employers of Seafarers and perspectives of Seafarers themselves inclusive of their gender-specific related experiences and future expectations.
Also in the preliminary list of speakers on the day, in addition to the Minister or his Deputy, are KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Ms Peggy Nkonyeni or DoT Chief Director: Maritime Policy and Legislation Mr Dumisani Ntuli, Mr Bheka Zulu who is both a SAMSA and Moses Kotane Institute Board Member, Ms Zamachonco Chonco, SAMSA Acting CEO; Dr Thandeka Ellenson CEO of the Moses Kotane Institute and Mr William Azuh Head: Africa Section, Subdivision for Maritime Development, Technical Cooperation Division, IMO.
As per tradition, a recorded video message about this year’s event theme by IMO Secretary General Mr Kitack Lim will also be shared.
Monday’s event in all three cities is currently scheduled to begin at 9am through to 2pm
As usual, this blog will attempt to capture such visuals of any of the events as shall be possible during the day.