Pretoria: 06 October 2022
Efforts by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and partners to spread countrywide the promotion of small vessels safety on all South Africa’s water spaces, at sea and inland, continues at pace this month, with focus on Gauteng’s major dams, including the Vaal and Haartebeespoort.
According to SAMSA, the Concentrated Inspections Campaign for small vessels safety promotion in the region, scheduled to coincide with the country’s Transport Month – an initiative of the Department of Transport (Dot) – kicked off this past weeked, beginning at the Vaal Dam area adjacent Vanderbylpark in Gauteng.
As an indication of the importance and seriousness of the campaign, at the Stonehaven-On-Vaal in Vereeniging where the campaign kicked off for Gauteng on Saturday, accompaning the contigent of SAMSA’s ship and small vessels surveyors from across the country were the top brass of the entity.
It included the Acting CEO, Ms Zamachonco Chonco; Acting Chief Operations Officer, Mr Vusi September; deputy Chief Operations Officer, Capt. Vernon Keller; SAMSA Boating Centre manager, Ms Debbie James; Regional Manager (Eastern Region), Capt. Thobela Gqabu and Principal Officer for Inland (northern) Region, Mr Imraan Davis.
The Stonehaven-on-Vaal, owned by Ms Rosemary Anderson, is one of major tourism attraction facilities in the area, with several small to medium size passenger water vessels offering cruises on the Vaal River. Incidentally, the chosen venue for the launch of the Gauteng leg of the Concentrated Inspection Campaign is only a stone’s throw way from Lake Deneys Yacht Club – the venue of the launch of the country’s Inland Water Strategy by SAMSA and the Department of Transport this time a year ago.
In a statement on Saturday, SAMSA explained: “In this specific campaign, SAMSA’s focus is to promote maritime safety and maritime interest through engagement with the public, particularly maritime community members such as vessel skippers and owners operating passenger vessels.
“SAMSA’s mandate has been extended to cover inland waters, which are composed of freshwater. Therefore, SAMSA has an enormous task to ensure that small boats operating in inland waters are safe and operate efficiently as a large percentage of SAMSA’s clientele are small boats.
“Some of the inland passenger vessels can carry as much as 200 Passengers, therefore it is absolutely essential that SAMSA maintains a watchful eye on these vessels to ensure that they are operated to the highest standards.”
On the significance of the SAMSA small vessels safety promotion campaign relative to the Inland Water Strategy, and the critical need for greater cooperation and collaboration with other State as well as private sectors entities in the sector; SAMSA said: “Our organisation s delighted that the strategy was approved, implemented, and launched last year.
“To date, SAMSA has appointed at least 45 enforcement officers nationally in cooperation with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE), municipal officials, and law enforcement agencies. SAMSA appoints these appointees to monitor and enforce compliance on waterways or slips throughout the country.
“SAMSA is also glad to report that we are continually training external safety officers and external SAMSA small vessel surveyors to ensure compliance of the SAMSA Regulations. SAMSA has recently initiated a compulsory refresher built in buoyancy, passenger boat, pontoon boat and small vessel surveying training course for all surveyors and safety officers to attend.
“With less than 40 SAMSA full time SAMSA surveyors employed, and inland waters being one of the largest areas to cover with the limited resources and capacity, it is essential that the entity ropes in private organisations and other government entities to assist SAMSA to give full and complete effect to the regulations to ensure the safety of people and boats on our inland and coastal waters.
“It was also for that reason the Department of Transport also stated that the only practical way to control boating would be to share responsibility with local authorities and authorized agencies since they are given jurisdiction over specific demarcated section of inland waters
Next up; Free State, Mpumalanga, and Limpopo
“It is a continuous process to train and appoint enforcement officers. As there are quite a lot of small boat activities taking place in the inland region, SAMSA will soon roll out training and appointment for enforcement officers in Gauteng, Free State, Mpumalanga, and Limpopo,” said SAMSA.
This blog also caught up briefly with two of the small vessels surveyors, Mr Vusimuzi Dube and Mr Neerish Sinath; for their views on the campaign in the two videos below.