‘Time for talking about the importance of South Africa’s maritime economy is over. Let’s work on it!’ urges Transport Minister, Joe Masangwanyi

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Celebrating World Maritime Day 2017. Transport Minister Mr Joe Masangwanyi (Right) chatting with South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) officials, Ms Mapitso Dlepu (Left) and Mr Sobantu Tilayi (second left) and Port St Johns mayor, Ms Lindelwa Rolobile. during a lifesaving demonstration that was part of the day’s activities in the town of Port St Johns. Eastern Cape.

Port St Johns: 28 September 2017

The development of South Africa’s maritime sector is now formally in full swing under the banner of the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative, with billions of rand of State funds currently being invested in particularly ports and related infrastructure.

DSC_1335.JPGHowever, now absolutely crucial is a need to ensure that all South Africans are on board and involved, and central to strategy is a need to both broaden and entrench fully education and skills development of especially the young, Minister of Transport, Mr Joe Masangwanyi told hundreds of people – among them 400 high school children – attending this year’s World Maritime Day celebrations held in Port St Johns, Eastern Cape.

Port St Johns, a little town settled in a picturesque area of South Africa’s Wild Coast along the Indian Ocean, midway between East London and Durban, was chosen by the Department of Transport for this year’s observation of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) driven World Maritime Day on September 28 for a number of reasons.

IMG_6162Among these is that the town symbolizes one of the most under-developed areas of South Africa settled along the country’s 3200 km long coastline. It used to fall under the jurisdiction of the former Transkei homeland or Bantustan whose development was simply ignored by the apartheid government.

The town is now among coastal areas of the country earmarked earlier this year as part of a coastal and marine tourism initiative for a rapid development plan over five years beginning in 2017.

Port St Johns also falls under the O.R Tambo District Municipality which is home to former African National Congress president, Mr Oliver Reginald Tambo whose contribution to the country’s liberation struggle is being celebrated in 2017.

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Transport Minister Mr Joe Masangwanyi (centre in yellow jacket) and his deputy, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga (in floral dress)  posing for a photograph with State officials and youths recently trained as lifeguards through a SAMSA driven marine skills development programme for youths of Port St Johns and the O.R Tambo District Municipality. The youths were awarded their certificates during the celebration of World Maritime Day 2017 held in the town on Thursday.

The World Maritime Day event held in the town on Thursday (28 September) was the second of its kind with an international maritime theme to be held in the region, the first having been the international Seafarers’ Day held in Mbizana in June.

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Some of the high school children from the O.R Tambo District Municipality region that attended Thursday’s celebration of the international World Maritime Day in Port St Johns on Thursday

Also preceding the event were a number of marine skills and related project targeting close on 300 youths from the region since June this year.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) driven initiatives included a Maritime Youth Development Programme (MYDP) for youths keen on working on cruise vessels; a Corporate Social Investment Youth Skills project for youths keen on sea diving, life-guarding and related), a Coastal and Marine Tourism initiative aimed at facilitating infrastructure development and enhancement, job creation and entrepreneurship.

DSC_1280.JPGAt Thursday’s event, Mr Masangwanyi said these maritime sector related initiatives were a clear indication of Government’s expressed commitment to driving new investment into areas that are both underdeveloped and with great potential to contribute to the country’s economy through business investment and job creation.

According to Mr Masangwanyi, there is no longer a reason why populations of people living in the country’s coastal provinces (Northern Cape, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal) should not be in the lead in the development of the country’s maritime economic sector.

Infrastructure development, education and skills development would be the key drivers for investment; he said.

 “Government has identified the maritime sector as an important sector of the country’s economy

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Some of the 400 high school youths who received maritime education and training guide brochures during this year’s World Maritime Day celebrations held in Port St Johns on Thursday (28 September 2017).

“Various ports across the country are receiving billions of rand in investment to enhance their capacity – facts of which will be fully revealed when President Jacob Zuma reports to the nation about the progress of Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) in Durban next month.

“We are not going to leave behind Port St Johns. Among highlights of projects in the area is the expansion of the N2 and which will formally link the town of Port St Johns to increased road traffic between the major cities of East London and Durban. As much as R8-billion is being invested in the Wild Coast road construction project.

“The cabinet has approved the comprehensive maritime transport policy, it provides further opportunity for investment in the country’s maritime transport sector.

“This welcome development indicates that as a country, we cannot remain consumers of maritime services of other countries while we have such coastal heritage.

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Transport Minister Mr Joe Masangwanyi and deputy, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga preparing to handover certificates to newly trained Port St Johns youths equipped with life guarding and deep sea diving skills.

“Gone are the days when our people are consumers. Now is the time that our people should also contribute to productions of services. Gone are the days when our oceans are dominated by big shipping companies from Europe, America and Asia. Now is the time that vessels should be owned and operated by South Africans and in the main, Africans.

“Through the maritime transport and manufacturing projects we will create between 40-56 000 job opportunities, whereby our people will be involved in maritime construction, telecommunication technologies and equipment manufacturing. These will contribute between R21-25-billion to the economy of South Africa. In order achieve these goals within the set timeframes, it cannot be business as usual,” he said.

To listen to his full speech (about 20 minutes) Click on the video below.

Eastern Cape may need review of its coastal land use practices for maritime sector development success: SAMSA

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Port St Johns: 27 August 2017

Land use practices along South Africa’s 3200 km coastline, but particularly the 800km coastline of the Eastern Cape Province and precisely the Wild Coast on the Indian Ocean, may have to be revisited if currently declared marine tourism plans will achieve the desired effect, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) urged this past week.

The call came from SAMSA Chief Operations Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi during a celebratory send-off event of some 97 youths due to be deployed on cruise tourism vessels worldwide from September 1, 2017.

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The 97 Eastern Cape youths selected for this year’s first intake of the Maritime Youth Development Programme (Eastern Cape) due to for deployment in permanent employment with MSC Cruise tourism vessels worldwide during their send-off celebratory event at Port St Johns on the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape on Wednesday, 23 August 2017. They board their vessels from 01 September 2017.

The event on Wednesday (August 23) was held in Port St Johns on the Wild Coast, this year’s chosen venue for the World Maritime Day event in South Africa on September 28, 2017.

The send-off event of the 97 youths – almost double the original number of 50 targeted – was the culmination of a joint initiative- the Maritime Youth Development Programme (MYDP) – driven by SAMSA together with the Eastern Cape government and Johannesburg based non-governmental organization Harambee, to not only equip local youth with maritime skills, but to also help them find  employment.

 

The Eastern Cape ranks high on unemployment especially among youth, with the rate for particularly the Port St Johns area of the O.R Tambo District Municipality estimated at as much as 89%.

The group of 97, the first intake this year, will be taken on board cruise tourism vessels operated by MSC Cruises worldwide. It will be the first group under the MYDP programme in the Eastern Cape, but second nationally since launch of the initiative a year ago, with Gauteng Province.

Incidentally, the event in Port St Johns on Wednesday took place only days after national Parliament announced the formal approval of the Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) Marine and Tourism Implementation Plan and among whose initial targets over the next five years will be the tourism area of Port St Johns, along with East London and Port Elizabeth.

The announcement was made on Friday, August 18 by Tourism Minister, Ms Tokozile Xasa.

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Part of the Eastern Cape’s 800km long coastline, with Port St Johns on the Wild Coast showing a the top.

The Eastern Cape has the second longest coastline – some 800km of the country’s 3200km coastline – after the Western Cape, followed by KwaZulu-Natal and in fourth place, the Northern Cape.

In her announcement, Ms Xasa described the Marine and Coastal Tourism Implementation Plan’s vision as encompassing an envisaged development and growth of “a world class and sustainable coastal and marine tourism destination that leverages South Africa’s competitive advantage in nature, culture, and heritage.”

 

This according to Ms Xasa was against the backdrop of projections that the coastal and marine tourism sector will contribute about R21.4-billion to the GDP and create about 116 000 direct jobs by 2026, in the process, helping alleviate poverty, inequality and unemployment, while contributing to sustainable livelihoods and development.

“These estimates,” she said: “are conservative as they are growing off a low 2015 base of R 11.9-billion direct contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 64 400 direct jobs.”

Ms Xasa said the Coastal and Marine Tourism Plan would be implemented in a nodal or cluster approach that would “prioritise destinations rather than individual tourism projects or products.”

The identified nodes/clusters in the first phase of five (5) years) would focus primarily on the country’s four coastal provinces, she said.

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Mr Sobantu Tilayi. COO: South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)

In Port St Johns on Wednesday, Mr Tilayi described the development as a major boost for areas such as those on the Wild Coast, inclusive of Port St Johns.

However, this had implications for land use practices in the areas, Mr Tilayi told both the Eastern Cape Premier, Mr Phumulo Masaulle and AmaMpondo King, His Royal Highness; Ndamase Ndamase both of whom graced the send-off event with their presence.

According to Mr Tilayi, the initiatives would go a long way in helping development of maritime sector related socio-economic activities in the areas identified and would require direct participation by local communities.

He pointed out, however, that land use practices along particularly the Wild Coast area would need focus and possible review, in order to enable wholesome and mutual benefit for all inhabitants.

 

Mr Tilayi did not enumerate particular problematic land use practices, save to indicate that SAMSA would soon engage with the local traditional leadership as well as the provincial government on the issues.

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Ms Lindelwa Kolobile. Port St Johns mayor

However, Port St Johns mayor, Ms Lindelwa Kolobile laid bare some of the challenges facing land use practices in the area. In her brief speech, Ms Kolobile said there was an increasing trend of unauthorized land occupation by residents and made an impassioned plea to both the Eastern Cape government as well as King Ndamase to intervene. To listen to her remarks, Click Here

About the departing local youth due for employment on MSC Cruise ships worldwide from September 2017, Mr Tilayi urged them and their parents to fully support the efforts being made in the area to alleviate both unemployment and associated high poverty levels.

To the youths – about 50 of the 97 from Port St Johns – he said their responsibility was not only to themselves but also their country which they had to represent well.

The youth also needed to recognize, he said; that their performance at work in the months and years ahead would reflect on the caliber of South African youth and where positive, increase the chances of more youths being employed on cruise ships and related opportunities in the maritime sector.

IMG_7051“You have to bear in mind that you, South Africans, are not only competing for work on cruise liners among yourselves, but are competing with several countries all over the world. If you conduct yourselves badly you will be fired, that is guaranteed.

“But remember this that, should you misbehave and lose the jobs due to poor behavior, you will have not only wasted your own opportunity, but will have also jeopardized chances for your fellow South Africans as well.

“So go out there, and makes us all proud,” he said, congratulating them for having secured jobs in the maritime sector.

For Mr Tilayi’s full address on video, Click Here.

For more coverage of the event in videos, please visit the Features Page