‘South Africa is open for business’: Vuka Marine – owner of now three SA registered cargo ships

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Pretoria: 22 June 2019

South Africa’s ship registry has been given a boost with the registration of yet another vessel operated by Vuka Marine, bringing to close on half a dozen the number of operational ships now carrying the South African flag in world oceans.

The Vuka Marine cargo vessel known as the Windsor Adventure: Port Elizabeth, was formally welcomed into the country’s ship registry at a ceremony held in the city of its registry and home, the port of Port Elizabeth this past week.

DSC_0837.JPGGuests attending included representatives of the Department of Transport (DoT), the Ports Regular of South Africa, the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), the Eastern Cape provincial government, the Nelson Mandela University (NUM), the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and other business and institutions representatives.

DSC_0764.JPGVuka Marine is a joint venture between Via Maritime of South Africa and K-Line of Japan.  The company is currently moving about 2.5-metric tons of ore per annum, mainly on the first two capesize bulk carriers that it flagged in South Africa in 2015.

The latest addition is the third cargo ship operated by Vuka Marine to be registered under the South African flag and the fifth so far in the registry since launch of the SAMSA driven campaign to revitalise the commercial ship stock registered in South Africa about a decade or so ago – an apparently painstaking venture it has proved to be to date.

At the port of Port Elizabeth on Tuesday, both senior national and provincial government officials attending, including the Eastern Cape’s MEC for Transport, Ms Weziwe Tikana, expressed delight at the growth of ships now coming carrying the South Africa flag, however slow, and also acknowledged the need for speed in adding more into fold of the registry in far higher numbers if the country was to realise its ambitions of developing the country’s maritime economy transport sub-sector, develop skills and create employment.

DSC_0804.JPGIn the videos below, all six speakers – Captain Brynn Adamson (Harbor Master: Port of Port Elizabeth; Mr  Mahesh Fakir (CEO: Ports Regulator SA), Mr Metse Ralephenya (Marine Transport: DoT), Mr Andrew Millard (CEO: Vuka Marine), Mr Sobantu Tilayi (acting CEO: SAMSA) and Ms Weziwe Tikana (MEC for Transport: Eastern Cape) were unanimous in praise of the joint effort and close collaboration being achieved in delivering on the ship registry campaign. They also expressed determination in ensuring that hiccups currently being experienced, especially with taxation and related business costs of ship registration under the South African flag must be resolved.

In their order of appearance, Capt: Adamson said the port of Elizabeth was proud to be the home of no less than four operating vessels registered calling the port their home.

The four include the three operated by Vuka Marine and one other operated by bunking services company, Aegian. For his full remarks, click on the video below.

Ports Regulator, Mr Mahesh Fakir elaborated on financial incentives now approved in preference of vessels coming under the South African flag, as well as necessary operational conditions expected of ships registered in South Africa which he said were consistent with the country’s maritime sector developmental goals.

This was coming against the backdrop that South Africa relies on about 12 000 foreign vessels to carry 96 per cent of its exports to the rest of the world each year, leaving it strategically vulnerable.

On incentives, Mr Fakir said South Africa currently offers up to 30 per cent discount on port dues by ships locally registered. On operational conditions, among other things, he said it was important that vessels carrying trade goods outbound and inbound, as well as personnel manning the vessels, should increasingly be South African.

For more on his remarks, Click on the video below:

“South Africa is open for business….” were the closing remarks of Vuka Marine CEO, Mr Andrew Millard in summation of both his company’s experience and achievements in its quest for registration of its cargo vessels dating as far back as 2009 and one of which only got registered in 2014.

Among notable achievements being increasingly realised was the placement to date of some 50 young South African cadets on its vessels, the absorption of about dozen of these into full-time employment, and a current recruitment campaign for more young trainees known in the sub-sector as ‘ratings’.

He said Vuka Marine was also keen to assist the country’s ship registry through sharing experiences with ship operators keen on carrying the South African flag.

Mr Millard’s views were earlier echoed by the company’s chairman, Mr Andrew Mthembu, who remarked: “We are thrilled to welcome the Windsor Adventure into Vuka Marine’s fleet. This acquisition demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the development of the South Africa’s maritime industry, the national registry, and our seafarer population.”

For Mr Millard full remarks, Click on the video below:

For SAMSA, the campaign to enrol more commercial cargo vessels in the country’s ship registry had proved tedious, unnecessarily at times due to lack of co-operation by some important institutions.

“We are 95% towards setting up everything in place to ensure a smooth operation in  drawing ships into the country’s registry, but that five per cent that’s outstanding is the difference between success and failure'” said SAMSA acting CEO, Mr Sobantu Tilayi.

Issues involving taxation were among the impediments, but so was more closer co-operation and collaboration necessary from particular the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), he said. For his full remarks Click on the video below.

Ms Weziwe Tikana, MEC for Transport in the Eastern Cape described it as befitting that newly registered vessels under the SA flag had their home in the province. She said the province had the privilege of having the second longest coastline in the country after the Western Cape but had little to show for it so far. However, she said, since launch of Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) by government in 2014, the province had resolve to increase its economic contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product based on maritime economic sector growth,

This, she said, was necessary not just for economic growth but also for social transformation and higher participation by all South Africans.

For her full remarks, Click on he video below:

DoT’s Marine Transport directorate official, Mr Metse Ralephenya was full of praise that ‘pressure’ from the department on SOE CEOs involved in maritime transport was truly beginning to pay off handsomely, and vowed on behalf of DoT to ensure that necessary support by government was given.

For his full remarks, Click on the video below.

While being celebrated, the 56 000dwt Windsor Adventure was busy taking on board yet another load of locally mined minerals destined for overseas markets.

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Seafarers’ world due for a significant shakeup in South Africa: Department of Transport

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Some of South Africa’s growing cadre of seafarers, young and old, gathered on board the country’s dedicated cadet training vessel, the SA Agulhas in Cape Town on Monday to observe the international Day of the Seafarer – one three venues in the country where the event was held in three cities simultaneously for the first time. The other venues were Durban and Port Elizabeth. In Cape Town, the event was marked by two distinct activities; while officials from government, industry, education representatives and related held a dialogue behind closed doors, the seafarers took time to have a cake as well as a braai.

Cape Town: 26 June 2018

The seafarers career in South Africa is bound for a major shakeup in the coming months involving three major aspects: a re-look at the status of their qualifications for proper positioning, an overhaul of the process of their intake into the career path, as well as expansion of employment opportunities – the latter expected to involve the establishment of a South African fleet of vessels to do port to port shipments.

The policy shifts by government, driven by the Department of Transport in collaboration with the maritime sector and various others, emerged during observation of the international Day of the Seafarer held in Cape Town on Monday – one of three similar events held also in Port Elizabeth and Durban.

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In dialogue: (From Left) Mr Leon Mouton of the Sea Safety Training Group, Mr Rob Whitehead
President – The Society of Master Mariners South Africa, Ms Leone Louw, a lecturer at Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s Department of Maritime Studies and Mr Dumisani Ntuli, acting Chief Director General: Maritime at the Department of Transport during discussions of seafarers well-being related issues during observation of the international Day of the Seafarers in Cape Town on Monday.

It was the first time for South Africa to observe the annual seafarers’ event at three locations simultaneously on the same day at three venues – the other two being Durban and Port Elizabeth.

Participants at all three events included government and its agencies including the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), higher education and training institutions, industry representatives as well as seafarers, among others.

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Mr Dumisani Ntuli. Acting Chief Director General: Maritime; Department of Transport

In Cape Town, Department of Transport acting Chief Director General for Maritime, Mr Dumisani Ntuli said a policy revision was currently underway to shakeup the country’s maritime sector but specifically shipping, with a view to facilitating the establishment of a domestic fleet of vessels to take over port-to-port shipping transport.

Primarily, this was to ensure greater participation of South Africa in the shipping sector involving its own people, but equally important, to create a stable and expanded opportunity for ongoing,  sustainable development of a professional cadre of South African seafarers immersed in an own culture.

However, Mr Ntuli also acknowledged an urgent need currently to both address the issue of already qualified seafarers and whose qualifications as well as related experience do not enjoy recognition by the country’s education system in terms of the South African Qualifications Authority.

He said a task team involving appropriate representations from relevant stakeholders would be set up to fast-track the process.

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Mr Dumisani Ntuli with some of the seafarers that attended South Africa’s observation of the Day of the Seafarers 2018 in Cape Town on Monday.

In tandem, the quality of young people entering the profession would also require a re-evaluation as it was being established that some, if not a significant number of people pursuing seafaring for a career were either ill-prepared or simply not suitable for the type of work.

Currently, it emerged, there was a high drop out rate of maritime sector education students by especially cadets, once they get employed fully at sea.

According to Mr Ntuli, the main goal of all the initiatives was to ensure a stable career path for seafarers and that they are absorbed into the shipping transport industry and remain employed for their working lifetime.

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Having fun: Some of the aspirant seafarers currently undergoing the first ratings training of its kind on board the SA Agulhas at the Cape Sun hotel in Cape Town on Monday for the observation of the international Day of the Seafarer 201 event – one of three held in the South Africa’s major coastal cities for the first time this year since inception of the Day of the Seafarer by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) eight years ago.

With regards the observation of the Day of the Seafarer annually, he said the new format involving the staging of the event in cities across the country’s coastline would remain the feature, primarily to ensure engagement of all stakeholders for a continuous dialogue on matters affecting the sector.

For a detailed presentation of Mr Ntuli’s remarks on this and related matters, Click on the video below.

A full round up of the various participants’ contributions to the discussion at the Cape Town event on Monday will follow soon.

Among the key participants were Ms Leone Louw, a lecturer in maritime studies at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Mr Rob Whitehead, president of the Society of Master Mariners South Africa, Mr Leon Mouton of the Safety Training Group, Captain Ravi Naicker of the South African Maritime Safety Authority, as well industry and seafarer representatives.

 

Meanwhile, dozens of young and aspirant seafarers attending the event were all enthusiastic about the prospects of their careers given the increasing attention that was now being given to their well-being going into the future.

Among these were Ms Lelethu Ntuzula and Mr Sanele Hlongwane, both in their 20’s – one a deck cadet and the other currently undergoing the first ratings training of its kind on board the SA Agulhas – an initiative of the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) together with the TETA, that began three weeks ago in Port Elizabeth.

To hear their views, click on the video below.

Still in Cape Town, about two kilometers or so from the Cape Sun venue of the Cape Town leg of the Day of the Seafarers observation, at the Cape Town harbour, dozens of seafarers, young and old, on board the country’s dedicated cadet training vessel, the St Agulhas, had a cake and a braai, to mark the day, and fun was had by all.

In the other two coastal cities where the event was held, similar sentiment and merriment emerged.

Mr Sobantu Tilayi, Chief Operating Officer for SAMSA reiterated the authority’s openness to seafarers and informed those gathered that the overall wellbeing of seafarers was their priority.

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Mr Sobantu Tilayi. COO: SAMSA

Seafarers had to prepare themselves for the challenges associated with working in a diverse and multi-cultural environment, he said.

Some seafarers gathered in Durban asserted that one of the challenges they faced at sea was being perceived as ill-disciplined when they raised labour-related issues with their superiors on-board.

Mr Tilayi said: “It is important for our seafarers to understand that it is the Merchant Shipping Act, rather than the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, which governs the labour rights of seafarers.”

He encouraged seafarers to view the maritime industry in its global context, and consider the norms and standards established in the companies in which they worked.

“We encourage all our seafarers to understand the complexities of the industry they serve,” Mr Tilayi said.

In summary the DoT and SAMSA said the maritime industry had the potential to address the high unemployment rate, and a plan of action was necessary to include the following interventions:

  • Adopt South African models and knowledge to solve the country’s unemployment rate.
  • Develop and own a South African shipping fleet for economic growth.
  • Develop a seafarers’ culture and create employment opportunities for qualified South African seafarers.
  • Develop a career path plan.
  • Build the fishing industry to accommodate SA seafarers.
  • Strengthen the capacity of the SA Agulhas to use it as a training vessel for South African seafarers.
  • Integrate technological advancements in the industry.

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Spruced up SA Agulhas ready for its 2018 scheduled journeys

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Pretoria: 22 May 2018

A newly spruced up SA Agulhas, the country’s only dedicated national cadet training vessel, is back in the Indian Ocean waters alongside the East London dock, ready for its next major operations at sea this year – one beginning at the end of May 2018 and the other, later in the year.

The second major ocean journey for the vessel, scheduled for about late November, will be its third research and training trip along the Indian and Southern Oceans as far as the Antarctica region, carrying on board a group of Indian scientists as well as new cadets from South Africa.

 

In preparation for the two operations, the vessel, owned and operated by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), went into dry dock in East London for about a week in late April 2018, after which some major paint work and refurbishment continued once back on water again at the river port in the last couple of weeks.

According to Roland Shortt, Operations Manager: SAMSA’s Maritime Special Projects, from East London, the SA Agulhas will sail to Port Elizabeth on Thursday  (24 May 2018) where it will then bunker on Monday prior to commencing with its first operation involving deployment of  scientific research equipment to the east coast of South Africa.

The deployment operation will set off  from Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth) on the 31 May 2018 and finish up in Cape Town on the 16th June 2018.

To catch a glimpse of thework, this blog (The 10th Province) tagged along to see what was actually going on. We also spoke to the vessel’s commander, Captain Daniel Postman, and its all packaged in this 5 minute video below.

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SA Agulhas, South Africa’s dedicated cadet training vessel enthralls crowds at EL port festival

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Fireworks exploding in the backdrop of the SA Agulhas at the port of East London this past weekend to mark the end of a highly successful port festival hosted by the Transnet National Ports Authority together with partners including the Buffalo City local authority

Pretoria: 29 June 2017

The SA Agulhas, South Africa’s only dedicated cadet training vessel, yet again became one of the star attractions at this year’s East London port festival, this barely three months after it had become a major drawcard in another of Transnet’s 2017 Eastern Cape ports festivals held in Port Elizabeth.

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In Port Elizabeth at the end of March, the vessel had just returned from a three months research and training expedition with a group of Indian scientists who’d taken it, along with about 30 South African cadets, to Antarctica.

So it had been in international news headlines leading up to the first of the two port festivals, with thousands of local people in the Port Elizabeth region keen to get on board and view it.

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The SA Agulhas, South Africa’s dedicated cadet training vessel docked at the port of East London this past weekend while partaking in the Transnet National Ports Authority East London port festival

In East London this past weekend, as it turned out, the public curiosity seemed to not have waned at all as thousands of revelers – estimated at about 23 000 – thronged the vessel during the three day event.

The SA Agulhas, owned by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and now utilised by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) based at the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, is the country’s only dedicated vessel for the development of seafarers since about six years ago.

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Port festival goers at the port of East London milling around on board the SA Agulhas over two days this past weekend.

It was brought into the service to address in part, the shortage of berths highly necessary for students at universities keen on completing their seafarer training through practical work on vessels at sea.

Since coming into service for the purpose, the vessel has since seen hundreds of young people, male and female, from South Africa and other African countries being taken through the processes that has seen many acquire the practical and work experience necessary to enhance their skills as seafarers.

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For East London last weekend, the port festival was returning to the Eastern Cape’s second biggest port city for the first time in five years and according to organizers, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and partners, the intention was to give public exposure and enhance greater interaction between the public and the country’s ports infrastructure and facilities.

Phyllis Difeto, TNPA Chief Operating Officer, said the festival had an underlying strategic focus involving maritime sector related programmes such as the national Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) initiative that seeks to drive economic development, job creation and skills development

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Festival goers at the past weekend’s port of East London port festival being taken briefed in small groups on the nature and function of the SA Agulhas as a dedicated cadet training vessel.

“We want to promote awareness of the ports, recreational opportunities, and career and business opportunities offered by the maritime industry. We want our communities to experience the unique operations in the port, and its exciting people-centred vision,” she said.

Other attractions of the port festival over two days included an SA Navy frigate – the SAS Spioenkop, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ (DAFF) rnvironmental offshore patrol vessel, the Victoria Mxege,  an arts & crafts market and  a wide variety of food stalls, a maritime exhibition including career opportunities, tug rides and family ferry rides, extreme bungee (50m freefall) thrills, helicopter flips  and beer garden with live bands.

For more on the TNPA’s port of East London festival, Click Here

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Research and cadet training vessel, SA Agulhas back on home soil after successful Antarctica expedition

Port Elizabeth: 09 March 2017

With 30 cadets on board who scored no less than three months of continuous sailing both across the Indian Ocean and to the southern seas, the SA Agulhas, the country’s only research and seafarers’ dedicated training vessel dropped anchor on home sail again in Port Elizabeth on Thursday where it is scheduled to be welcomed with much fanfare.

The stopover at the port of Elizabeth this week to be marked by a formal “welcome back” event early on Friday morning scheduled to be beamed live on national television, will mark the end of a three month research and training expedition involving a group of Indian scientists and about 30 South African cadets that began shortly before Christmas in 2016 and took the group as far as the Antarctica.

The expedition involved the SA Agulhas departing from Cape Town headed for Port Louis in Mauritius where she took on board the group of Indian scientists prior to setting sail on the Indian Oceans towards the Antarctica.

It was the research and dedicated training vessel’s first long journey on otherwise familiar territory around the Antarctica in more than two years – an intervening period she’d been devoted strictly to cadet training and skills development by SAMSA while occasionally anchoring at Quay 500 at the port of Cape Town.

The cadet programme she is still engaged in is now managed by newly established South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) based at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, situated in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, and funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training through the National Skills Fund.

Early Friday morning, the crew of the vessel and their seafarer trainees (23 deck and 7 engine cadets) who were part of the expedition  are scheduled to be met and greeted by a number of senior officials of the respective institutions conjoined in the cadet training programme inclusive of SAMSA, SAIMI, the South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) and Marine Crew Services (MSC) as well as Transnet and other government officials.

The “welcome back” event is scheduled to start at about 6am and last until about 10am at the port of Port Elizabeth

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Maritime economy education and job opportunities spread to Johannesburg

Collaboration between the South Africa Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and the City of Johannesburg begin to pay dividends for the unemployed!

BREAKING GROUND: Senior SAMSA officials Collins Makhado (Left) and Benard Bobison-Opoku (Right) with Mayor of Johannesburg City, Parks Tau at the conclusion of a ceremony on Tuesday to dispatch a number of youths for maritime economic sector jobs training. The youth selected youth group will be trained as cadets on international vessels over a period of time.
BREAKING GROUND: Senior SAMSA officials Collins Makhado (Left) and Benard Bobison-Opoku (Right) with Mayor of Johannesburg City, Parks Tau; at the conclusion of a ceremony on Tuesday to dispatch a number of youths from Gauteng for maritime economic sector jobs training. The youth selected youth group will be trained as cadets on international vessels over a period of time.

Pretoria: 07 April 2016

The formal dispatch of a batch of youths from Johannesburg on Tuesday (04 April 2016) for specialized training in the country’s maritime economic sector with the backing of a local government for the first time has clearly signaled the increasing recognition and appreciation by the country of the critical role the maritime economic sector can play in South Africa’s overall socio-economic development.

The event Tuesday, under the banner of a programme known as “Vulindlel’eJozi” was a culmination of collaboration and co-operation that has developed between the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the Johannesburg local government, Transnet, Harambee Youth Employment Creator, MSC Cruisers and others on the importance of spreading awareness and opportunity for the country’s youth also in the country’s maritime economic sector.

Orange Farm youths.jpgThe Vulindlel’eJozi programme launched in June 2015, in partnership with SAMSA and others inclusive of the presidential programme – Operation Phakisa,  is designed to empower the youth with entry-level job training and placement in various sectors, online further education and entrepreneurship skills development.

According to Mayor Tau, so far a total 15 124 young people have directly benefited from various opportunities created through the Vulindlel’eJozi programme. include 2 895 candidates who have been placed into opportunities in various sectors of the economy such as early childhood development, hospitality, information technology, retail, financial services and business process outsourcing.

As of this week,  the programme also opened doors to maritime career opportunities for 10 Orange Farm youths who will pursue career skills development enabling them to function profitably in any of a number of maritime economic sector jobs – be it fishing, ship building, marine conservation, cargo handling or the leisure sector.

The 10 youths had reached the final stages of training in swimming and hospitality under the Vulindlel’eJozi programme and had already been through comprehensive medical examinations and a series of interviews with MSC Cruises – one of the most prestigious operators in the world.

Mayor Tau said that there were several South African companies currently being negotiated with as partners of the programme. These include Unilever, Nando’s, Mindworx consulting, Woolworths, Pick n Pay, Standard Bank, FNB, Nedbank, Imperial, Scaw Metals and Burger King.

The aim was to expand opportunities to as many as 200 00o youths.

A linked story: “Cruise ship job opportunities for Joburg youth”