An occassional sight of cruise-liners at South African ports during this Covid-19 lockdown period – a most trying time during which national regulations currently disallow domestic ports call – should not surprise anyone.
According to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in a statement this week, far from offering the usual jolly rides across the oceans to thousands of leisure and entertainment seeking passengers, the cruiseliners calling at the country’s ports are returning home crew members.
SAMSA in its statement on Tuesday, reported no less than eight such cruise-liners calling on the country’s ports all to disembark dozens of their South African crew members, as they do to their crew members of other countries across the world.
Among these vessels were the Crown Princess and Island Princess which, according to SAMSA, called at the port of Cape Town on 16 May 2020 with close on 4 000 crew members on board between them, and about 100 of which were South Africans.
“The Crown Princess arrived in South Africa with 2 139 crew members, of which 30 are South African. The Crown Princess is used by the owners to repatriate crews stranded aboard their vessels and is due to proceed to other international ports in order to disembark other crew members.
“The vessel disembarked SA crew and SA medical team while in Cape Town, who have been on-board the vessel for some time and required to be relieved by a fresh crew.
All South African Crew has disembarked and special permission was granted for a fresh medical team to embark to allow for the vessel to meet safe manning requirements before it can proceed to another port. The disembarked crew was subjected to the local Covid-19 regulations and will quarantine for 14 days before they can proceed to join their families. The vessel also took bunkers and supplies, before it sailed on 16 May 2020.
“The Island Princess also arrived in Cape Town on the 16 May 2020 with 1 416 crew, of which 62 are South African. The vessel will disembark the South African crew before leaving Cape Town,” reported SAMSA.
Other vessels reporting at the country’s ports during this period were confirmed as follows:
ROTTERDAM: 800 crew members; 12 South Africans. ETA port of Cape Town, 18 May 2020.
MS Le Bougainville: Purpose; to replenish stores and take bunkers. ETA port of Richards Bay; 19 May 2020.
ZUIDERDAM: Crew numbers TBC. ETA port of Cape Town, 20th May 2020.
VEENDAM: 626 crew members; 49 South Africans. ETA port of Cape Town; 23 May 2020
CARNIVAL DREAM: Crew members TBC. ETA port of Port Elizabeth; 25 May 2020.
CARNIVAL LIBERTY: 1601 crew mbembers, 4 south African. ETA port of Port Elizabeth; 25 May 2020.
CARNIVAL ECSTACY: Crew members TBC. ETA port of Port Elizabeth; 25 May 2020..
CARNIVAL CONQUEST: Cew members TBC. ETA port of Port Elizabeth; 25 May 2020.
CARNIVAL FASCINATION: Crew members tBC. ETA port of Durban; 27 May 2020.
The organisation said: “SAMSA continues to work with the department of Transport, other government departments and government agencies to ensure that all regulations relating Covid-19 are enforced and followed by the maritime industry.
“These regulations, among others prohibit cruise liner calls into any of the South African Ports, any crew changes, any disembarkations apart from returning South African citizens or permanent residents.”
South Africa moved to take its rightful place in the global cruise tourism industry and increase its share of the cruise market by beefing up its presence at the Seatrade Cruise Global conference currently underway in Miami, Florida, USA this week.
The conference held at Miami Beach Convention Center over three days, and viewed as the world’s foremost cruise industry event, began on Monday and ends on Wednesday this week.
Significantly for South Africa, the South African Safety Maritime Authority (SAMSA) is leading a delegation of 10 organisations exhibiting at the conference, in a bid to attract more cruise ships and liners to South Africa.
The South Africa delegation is accommodated in a 140m2 ‘South African Pavilion’ at Seatrade, where it showcases the offerings of the KZN Cruise Terminal, the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town Cruise Terminal and Durban Tourism. The Eastern Cape Provincial Government and the Department of Trade and Industry are also participating.
According to SAMSA, Seatrade is the largest global gathering of the cruise industry and and the agency believes that an improved showing at the event – South Africa has one of the biggest stands – will lead to more cruise tourism.
According to SAMSA, South Africa’s share of the global cruise market is estimated at less than 1 per cent. Notably, South Africa has exhibited at the global gathering before, but not as aggressively and not as a combined package.
SAMSA acting CEO, Mr Sobantu Tilayi says this year’s increased investment in Seatrade is intended to showcase the full range of South Africa’s offering as a cruise destination.
“The cruise tourism industry is the only growth area in the broader maritime shipping sector. It is envisaged to double in size over the next eight to 10 years with all the order books of the shipping yards full until 2027. But while the global cruise industry is growing exponentially, South Africa is not reaping its full share of the benefits.
“Our share of the market is miniscule and this is mainly due to lack of infrastructure and lack of action. South Africa has rectified the infrastructure issue through the development of two world class terminals in Cape Town and Durban. Now SAMSA is tackling the issue by proactively marketing South Africa as a cruise destination.”
According to Mr Tilayi, SAMSA had opted to take the lead and manage South Africa’s presence at Seatrade because it was determined to fulfill its mandate to promote South Africa’s maritime interests.
In addition to lending a hand in attracting more global cruise liners onto South African shores, SAMSA since 2016 launched a jobs focused initiative called the Maritime Youth Development Programme and through which South African youth is recruited and placed on cruise vessels across the world.
Mr Phumulo Masualle. Eastern Cape Premier
Some of the 130 youths from the Eastern Cape selected for training in a set of marine tourism skills related to cruise ships under the SAMSA driven Maritime Youth Development Programme during launch of the project in East London on Friday
Mr Sobantu Tilayi. Chief Operations Officer: South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) addressing youths at the launch of the Maritime Youth Development Programme for the Eastern Cape in East London on Friday
Working in partnerships with interested parties as the Gauteng and Eastern Cape Premiers’ Offices, Harambee and others, SAMSA is continuing with the programme which is hoped will create no less than 1000 job opportunities on global cruise liners annually.
Mr Tilayi says: “There is a lot of opportunity to create jobs and to grow the maritime economy. Unfortunately, South Africa has not fully exploited these opportunities. SAMSA is determined to accelerate the process by, among other things, ensuring South Africa is prominent at all the necessary global gatherings, such as Seatrade, and by building on our Ships Register, which we have also been actively doing,” he says.
He describes SAMSA as confident that SA’s presence at Seatrade will entrench the message that South Africa is open for business as a cruising destination.
“South Africa has a world-class cruise offering, but we have not communicated that effectively in the past. We are rectifying that oversight with our presence at Seatrade. We are saying to the world, Come to South Africa; it really is a world in one country. And it is your loss if you never visit.” he says.
Below are two video interviews of South African youth, one with Miss Asisipho Nombityana who is now on her second year working, and another with Miss Aviwe Makhaba who was due to start work earlier in 2019.
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.
However, 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.
Among 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.
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.
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.
At 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
“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.
“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.
A joint initiative between government, private sector companies and non-governmental organizations to not only skill but create job opportunities in the maritime economic sector will pay off for 97 Eastern Cape youths this week, when they are officially sent off to join tourism cruise vessels sailing across the world.
A ceremony to wish them well in their new venture into the maritime world is to be held on Wednesday in Port St Johns, an Eastern Cape town on the spectacular Wild Coast region of the Indian Ocean, midway between East London and Durban.
The joint partners in the MYDP Eastern Cape initiative include the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the Eastern Cape Provincial Government, and Harambee.
More than half the youths due for send-off on Wednesday – some for their first jobs ever – are from the O.R Tambo District Municipality, and precisely Port St Johns; an area that is targeted this current year for a series of maritime sector related projects, primarily by SAMSA, for both maritime awareness and associated youth skills development and local community social upliftment.
But perhaps crucially, the SAMSA inspired and driven MYDP’s impact in the O.R Tambo District Municipality occurs against the backdrop of a Government announcement last week that Port St Johns has been declared one of six nodes in the country to be targeted for an Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) marine and coastal development programme over the next five years.
In a statement last week, Department of Tourism Minister, Ms Tokozile Xasa said following to Cabinet approval earlier this month, the Coastal and Marine Tourism Plan would be implemented in a nodal or cluster approach that would prioritize destinations rather than individual tourism projects or products.
She said the identified nodes/clusters in the first phase of up to five (5) years) would involve five geographic areas encompassing (Node 1) Durban and surrounds and (Node 2) Umkhanyakude District including Umhlabuyalingana and surrounds – all in the KwaZulu-Natal province; (Node 3) Port St Johns to Coffee Bay and (Node 4) East London, Port Elizabeth and surrounds – in the Eastern Cape province; (Node 5) Cape Town and surrounds in the Western Cape province and finally, (Node 6) West Coast and surrounds in the Northern Cape province.
Meanwhile, regarding Wednesday’s event in Port St Johns, according to SAMSA on Tuesday, the successful placement of the 97 youths on cruise vessels worldwide beginning September 2017, is a major achievement as it exceeds an original target of 50 youths originally planned for the first send-off.
“We are pleased that the EC project has been a resounding success. We completed the entire preparation process at the end of last week with MSC interviewing the final 128 candidates that successfully completed the training program.
“MSC Cruises has agreed to place 97 candidates in this year’s intake that starts from 1 September. This number far exceeds he initially agreed target of 50, which was our SLA with the client, Office of the Premier of the Eastern Cape. This means we exceeded our target by 80% or we had an 180% achievement,” said SAMSA Programme Manager for Operation Phakisa initiatives (Marine Transport and Manufacturing Delivery Unit), Mr Sizwe Nkukwana.
Mr Nkukwana along with some senior SAMSA management headed by Chief Operating Officer (COO), Mr Sobantu Tilayi will join Eastern Cape Premier, Hon. Phumulo Masaulle – MPL, Eastern Cape provincial government officials, local traditional leadership, officials of the O.R Tambo District Municipality at the send-off ceremony tomorrow, which will characterized by a colourful display of AmaMpondo cultural activities including dance.
‘’The time to work with young people, to alter positively their future prospects and fortunes is now. As an entry point it is good that these young people are getting this kind of exposure and opportunity, to actually work on cruise liners to gain that international outlook and experience.
“It is also important that we do not position to only take up the lower layers level jobs in the sector, but we must move to empower these young people to go on to captain these ships, to be the engineers and ports officials and so, in essence, we must strive to penetrate all sectors including scarce skills in the maritime space’’, says Premier Masualle.
The event to be held at Port St Johns 2nd Beach – notorious for some spectacular shark attacks these last few years – will be beamed live on SABC radio and television (MorningLive as well as on Umhlobo Wenene, Trufm and local radio stations).
The ceremony in three stages; a media session, a maritime exhibition and formal send-off, begins at 7am in the morning through to 2pm in the afternoon.
Marine tourism but precisely the cruise ships tourism subsector is set for a major boost in South Africa with the setting up of a sea cruise business partnership involving shipping group, Vukani Marine and an international operator, in Port Elizabeth.
An immediate positive impact would be the creation of much needed jobs on cruise ships for local youth, revealed Mr Sobantu Tilayi, chief operating officer at the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in East London on Friday.
Mr Tilayi was speaking during the formal launch of a Maritime Youth Development Programme (MYDP) for the province – a joint youth empowerment initiative between the Office of the Premier of the Eastern Cape, national multi-stakeholder youth empowerment outfit, Harambee; and SAMSA.
At its official launch at the port of East London on Friday, the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) linked project involved about 130 youths from the province who will undergo training in maritime related skills for possible deployment initially on cruise liners around the world.
This is the first marine tourism related initiative of its kind focused on the Eastern Cape Province, with the first batch of about 50 youths likely to be deployed as early as September this year.
Shipping group Vuka Marine is a joint venture between Via Maritime Holdings of South Africa and K-Line of Japan. It is the first shipping group to have its cargo vessels registered under the South African flag – the first of these, the Cape Orchid, flagged in September 2015.
Addressing the group of youths ahead of the start of their training programme in the next few weeks, Mr Tilayi, in the company of Eastern Cape Premier, Mr Phumulo Masaulle and some provincial senior government officials, Mayors and councilors of the Buffalo City and Port St Johns municipalities and others, said Vuka Marine in partnership with a Hong Kong based cruise ships operator, were planning the establishment of a training and jobs placement operation in Port Elizabeth.
The unnamed Vukani Marine partner according to Mr Tilayi, operates about 720 cruise liners mostly in the Caribbean, with a total crew of about 44 000 people.
“They are setting up in Port Elizabeth so that we (South Africa) can have a slice of those job opportunities,” said Mr Tilayi, adding that one of the attractions that were drawing the initiative to South Africa was the country people’s versatility borne of the diversity of the domestic population.
He said South Africans generally spoke English which was the universal maritime language, and that South Africans generally interacted and therefore were more familiar with people of different ethnic groups – a characteristic also deemed as highly important in the maritime transport sector.
“That is the reason why the world is looking at South Africa producing the kind of people needed in that sector, “ he said.
He urged the youths to grab the opportunities emerging with both hands and work hard to profit from them not only for themselves but for the rest of the country.
For Mr Tilayi’s full remarks on the matter, Click Here.
Never should the Eastern Cape remain the backyard of South Africa’s economy
Meanwhile, the Eastern Cape provincial government applauded both SAMSA, Harambee and others involved in the Maritime Youth Development Programme initiative for the province.
In welcoming the initiative, Premier Masaulle described it as an anomaly that the Eastern Cape province endowed with the second longest coastline in the country along the Indian Ocean – about 800km in total – yet benefited far less from its exposure to a maritime economy.
With emerging opportunities he said, it would be consistent with the province’s historical role of supplying labour to industries that its people should again emerge dominant in the further development of the country’s maritime economic sector.
Mr Masaulle urged the youth to set their aims high with a view to filling up and occupying any and all ranks available in the sector.
For his full remarks on the aspect, Click on the video above.
For more audio-visual coverage of the event, go to the Multi-Media page and click either on Photos, or Audio & Video, or otherwise, Click Here.