SA seafarers’ increased visibility crucial for public awareness and policy interventions: Prof Shaun Ruggunan. UKZN

(SAMSA File Photo)

Pretoria: 20 April 2021

Millions of seafarers worldwide continue to form the backbone of the global economy and yet their apparent invisibility as critical or essential workers remains a major challenge for especially South Africa – a situation lavishly laid bare by the outbreak and spread of the Covid-19 pandemic since about a year ago.

According to KwaZulu-Natal University professor, Shaun Ruggunan more than a quarter of the approximately 4 500 South African seafarers working on ships abroad found themselves stranded at ports across the world after most countries, including South Africa, imposed variable regional lockdowns as part of the fight against the spread of the pandemic.

He was chatting to this blog on Monday this week about the launch of a South African seafarers’ survey last week aimed collecting as much information as is possible about their experiences in the aftermath of the outbreak of the pandemic.

The main purpose of the survey, said Prof Ruggunan, was to understand the impact of Covid-19 on South African seafarers’ mental and physical well-being, with the survey’s findings planned to be shared generally with both maritime sector stakeholders, specifically employers and related, but also with the public.

Other beneficiaries include the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) – which has given its full support to the initiatives – other seafarer involved institutions as well as crewing companies.

“The survey will run for a month in order to allow for as many South African seafarers – a majority of The first purpose of the survey is to make seafarers visible by bringing to the public’s attention the role seafarers and the conditions under which they have fared during outbreak of the pandemic, so that people  get to understand how important the sector workers are to all of us,” said Prof Ruggunan

He added that in addition to general public awareness, employers will also gain insight from the experience of the country’s seafarers while the survey’s findings may also contribute to necessary policy interventions that are evidence-based.

For the full chat, please click on the video below.

University of KwaZulu-Natal professor Shaun Rugguman talking about the South African seafarers survey launched recently to determine impacts of Covid-19 pandemic outbreak

Meanwhile, the UKZN survey is one of two currently running, the other launched by SAMSA last Friday with a view to determining the training needs of seafarers and seafarer training institutions during this period of the Covid-19 pandemic

The SAMSA survey is the second step 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 SAMSA survey, according to Chief Examiner, Mr Azwimmbavhi Nelwamondo will run until 23 April 2021.

Seafarers keen to participate in both surveys can follow these links below in order access the forms, both which take no more than 10 minutes to fill.

UKNZ SA Seafarers Survey

SAMSA Seafarers Training Survey

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