- 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.
Once on the page, seafarers, employers, recruitment agencies as well as seafarer training institutions can click on the survey links provided on the page.