Indian Ocean rim countries wrap up conference in South Africa on a high note: IOMOU

DSC_304126 August 2019

Delegates to a five day conference of the Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding (IOMOU) Port State Control Committee in Cape Town wrapped up their deliberations on Friday with renewed firm commitments to strengthening co-operation among them in the implementation and maintenance of measures to tighten safety and security of the ocean they share in the region.

The IOMOU which began with only six member States back in 1998 and now boasts no less than 20 members of the countries in the Indian Ocean rim, with more – the latest being Qatar- due to join in, has become a force to be reckoned with in maritime safety and security, according to chairperson, Ms Beatrice Nyamoita.

Countries now already in the fold of the IOMOU include the host of this year’s 22nd meeting of PSC, South Africa,  Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, Eritrea, France (La Reunion), India, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, Oman, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania and Yemen.

The IOMOU on Port State Control has its main function the establishment and maintenance of a harmonised system of port State Controls as envisaged in various instruments under the directive of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and similar such institutions.

The port State control system, according to the IOMOU ‘aims to verify whether foreign flagged vessels calling at a port of a State comply with applicable international maritime conventions.’

DSC_2913Key issues discussed at this year’s annual meeting in Cape Town included the organisation’s new inspection and detention regime, this against the backdrop of challenges particularly with regards human and financial resources.

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Mr Dilip Mehrotra, outgoing Secretary of the Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding (IOMOU) in Cape Town, South Africa between 19-23 August 2019

This blog charted to outgoing IOMOU Secretary, Mr Dilip Mohretra, both about his pending retirement after 20 years of service to the maritime sector and eight years as secretary to the organisation, as well as the successes and challenges facing the India Ocean rim countries.

He expressed appreciation for the trust vested in him and confidence in the resolve of the IOMOU to pursue with vigour its programmes to promote and ensure safety of shipping and ocean’s environmental integrity in its region. There were challenges still to be confronted but particularly in terms of increasing the number of skilled port State control officers across the region, as had been tremendous success particularly with ensuring more countries commit to work together.

Although due to retire officially as secretary of the IOMOU, he felt, he said, energetic enough still to transfer back all the skills he’d acquired and continue to share his knowledge and experience.

For the 20 minutes chat, please click on the video below.

In closing remarks on Friday, South Africa’s Department of Transport expressed appreciation for the IOMOU’s choice of South Africa for the week long meeting as well as a venue for its celebration of its 20th anniversary.

‘In South Africa’s pursuit of a safer and cleaner shipping, the Acting Deputy Director General of the Maritime branch of the Department of Transport wishes to thank all attending committee members for their patronage and successful deliberations during the 22nd IOMOU meeting held from 19-23 Auogust 2019 in Cape Town South Africa

“Members can be assured of South Africa and its Department of Transport’s continued support and commitment in compliance to international commitments in ensuring our collective efforts in the jurisdiction of our ocean’s governance, port State control and safety and security,’ said the department in a statement.

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Captain Thobela Gqabu, a South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA Principal Officer for the Southern Region (East London) and South Africa’s representative to the Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding (IMOU”) Port State Control Committee

It further reiterated the country’s support of Captain Thobela Gqabu (a South African Maritime Safety Authority [SAMSA] principal officer for the Southern Region based in East London), on his role as IOMOU vice chairman.

“May we also convey our best wishes to the outgoing secretary, Mr Dilip Mehrotra and welcome the incoming secretary,’ said DoT.

Meanwhile, this blog also took time out to chat with Captain Gqabu to gain insight into how South Africa’s involvement with both the IOMOU its Atlantic Ocean counterpart in the west, the Abuja Memorandum of Understanding, contribute to South Africa’s maritime interests.

He expressed the view that South Africa’s involvement and contribution is both in its own interest as well as the global community. For the 11 minutes chat, please click on the video below:

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South Africa called upon to increase support for Indian Ocean rim countries’ port State controls.

DSC_2913Cape Town: 21 August 2019

South Africa has been called upon to step up and increase its regional support of Indian Ocean rim countries in order to improve the general standard and level of control measures in place to maintain safety and security of the regions’ oceans.

The call has been issued by the chairperson of the 20-member States Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding (IOMOU), Ms Beatrice Nyamoita in an interview on the sidelines of the organisation’s Port State Control Committee meeting currently taking place in Cape Town over five days since Monday this week.

DSC_3041IOMOU member States represented include Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, Eritrea, France (La Reunion), India, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, Oman, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania and Yemen.

Also present are delegates from other observer States and organisation with similar status as the IOMOU.

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Ms Beatrice Nyamoita, Chairperson of the Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding (IOMOU)

The IOMOU on Port State Control has its main function the establishment and maintenance of a harmonised system of port State Controls as envisaged in various instruments under the directive of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and similar such institutions. 

The port State control system, according to the IOMOU ‘aims to verify whether foreign flagged vessels calling at a port of a State comply with applicable international maritime conventions.’

There are no less than 12 of such IMO and related institutions’ conventions and protocols that inform the IOMOU’s port State control activities across the region.

In Cape Town on Tuesday, Ms Nyamoita said while the IOMOU block had made several achievements over the past two decades to both enrol as many Indian Ocean countries into the fold of the IOMOU, and to harmonise adoption of instruments for group of countries activities in promoting and maintaining safety and security of the region’s ocean area by preventing entry of substandard vessels into the region’s sea waters, sufficient capacity remained the major challenge.

She said because of the nature of the training programme required for inspection officers in member States, particularly the long duration and costs involved, many of the countries were unable to develop an adequate number of personnel sufficiently skilled to carry out necessary vessel inspections and surveys.

‘We have managed to ensure the development of standard procedures across the region intended to harmonise and establish uniformity of activity aimed at enhancing safety and securing of people and ships in our our respective ocean spaces. However, the greatest challenge currently facing IOMOU member States with regards port State control is capacity,” she said.

“Most of the member States cannot afford to train enough people. The training takes too long and governments budgets do not give priority to training people for port State control.

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She said currently, the IOMOU relied on support from other MOU organisations across the world, but this was just not enough for development of a cadre of skilled officials required by countries in the region in order to meet their obligations.

Ms Nyamoita said South Africa on the other hand, however, had certain advantages that would be beneficial to the organisation, such as vast experience in maritime matters, as well possessing infrastructure in terms of its relatively higher number of ports in which to conduct vessel inspection. The vast ports infrastructure could be beneficial to IOMOU country’s skills development, she said.

“I’d like to encourage the government of South Africa to endeavour to train the port State control officers and to effectively take control of port State control activities in the region.

“We request that South Africa actually support… because we know that the country has more experience in the region…to undertake the training of port State control officers for countries in the region that are unable to do so themselves. In so doing, this will greatly assist in harmonising the training and activities in the region,” she said.

For Ms Nyamoita’s full interview (9.18 minutes) click on the video below:

Meanwhile, IOMOU Secretary, Mr Dilip Mehrotra presented his organisational report to the meeting on Monday. His presentation (about 20 minutes) is captured in the video below.

The IOMOU five-days meeting’s agenda this week is looking at a whole range of issues among which is an analysis of CIC on MARPOL Annex VI as well as development of guidelines for MARPOL Annex IV and Annex V for inclusion into the region’s port State control manual; port state inspections carried out by the maritime authorities, short term training programmes and a lot more other issues including the organisation’s online information management system.

This blog will carry more news information about some of these issues as and when such information is shared. Also lined up are two interviews with the IOMOU Secretary, Mr Dilip Mehrotra who is due to retire, as well as Captain Thobile Gqapu of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA). 

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Indian Ocean rim countries strengthen ring of security in their seas; IOMOU – Cape Town

DSC_3041.JPGCape Town: 20 August 2019

Indian Ocean rim countries, among them being South Africa, are maintaining their resolve to collaborate even closer in strengthening oceans safety and security in the areas of their jurisdiction, it emerged in Cape Town on Monday.

Just over two dozen delegates from about 20 countries of the Indian Ocean rim region are gathered in the city for the 22nd Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding (IOMOU) Port State Control Committee five-day meeting that began on Monday and ends on Friday.

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Some of the more than two dozen delegates representing the 20 countries that are member States to the Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding whose Port State Control Committee meeting is currently on in Cape Town from 19-23 August 2019

Represented countries include Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, Eritrea, France (La Reunion), India, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, Oman, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Susan, Tanzania, Yemen and South Africa.

Also in the delegation are observers the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) as well as officials from countries with similar memorandum of understanding on oceans governance and safety and security.

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Led by its chairperson, Ms Beatrice Nyamoita and secretary, Mr Dilip Mehrotra, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) hosted IOMOU Port State Control Committee gathering in Cape Town is also an occasion to mark its 20th founding anniversary, and whose inauguration meeting was also held in South Africa in 1998.

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LEADING THE IOMOU: (From Left) Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding (IOMOU) Secretary, Mr Dilp Mehrotra with IOMOU Chairperson, Ms Beatrice Nyamoita at the start of the organisation’s five day annual Port State Control meeting in Cape Town on Monday

In welcoming the delegates to the country on Monday, SAMSA acting CEO, Mr Sobantu Tilayi said South Africa was highly honoured to have been selected as the host of the IOMOU on its 20th anniversary, describing the gesture as indicative of the trust and greater cooperation that had been the hallmark of the strong relationship that’s developed among countries of the Indian Ocean rim.

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Mr Sobantu Tilayi. SAMSA Acting CEO.

Mr Tilayi noted that the IOMOU had not only begun with only a handful of members who have now risen to 20, but also that it had shown firm leadership in ensuring the safe and secure utilisation of the Indian Ocean region ocean waters by vessels fit for the purpose, thereby also enhancing the safety of seafarers globally.

For Mr Tilayi’s full remarks (about 10 minutes) click on the video below.

Meanwhile, in a separate interview (7 minutes), Mr Tilayi explained the role of the IOMOU relative to South Africa’s interests and necessary global collaboration for effective ocean’s governance. For his views, click on the video below.

In her opening remarks, IOMOU chairperson, Ms Nyamoita expressed both delight at the progress being achieved by the organisation in terms of its efforts in ensuring safety of the region’s oceans to both ship owners and operators, seafarers, as well as the safeguarding of the ocean’s environmental integrity.

DSC_2902.JPGHowever, according to Ms Nyamoita, a lot more work still needed to be done especially in terms of placement of officers by member States who were fully skilled and trained in the monitoring of the region’s ocean space. She also urged for more countries to cooperate in the implementation of instruments contributing to both collaboration and effective oceans governance in the region.

For her full remarks, Click on video below.

The IOMOU Port State Control Committee meeting this week will also see the delegates visiting places of attraction in the city of Cape Town, including Robben Island.

Ongoing coverage of the proceedings of the meeting will be made on this blog through to Friday.