When is a sailor on a ‘high’ at sea – SA seafarers’ ask!

DOTS Logo ENG HOR_UN Blue invertedPretoria 01 July 2019

As South Africa joined the rest of the maritime world to mark and celebrate the international Day of the Seafarer as guided by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and organised locally by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) jointly with the Department of Transport (DoT), seafarer’s general welfare was on the menu and there were few surprises about the issues raised or discussed.

Day of the Seafarer 2019_poster_blue landscapeAfter all, the IMO suggested theme for 2019 was #IamOnBoard with Gender Equality.

South Africa’s marking of the annual event this year took the same format as in 2018, with three of the country’s coastal cities, Cape Town (Western Cape), Port Elizabeth (Eastern Cape) and Durban (KwaZulu-Natal) hosting simultaneously the event. The idea according to the Department of Transport, is to ensure that as many of South Africa’s seafarers – some based in these cities – participate in the celebrations as well as ensuing discussions.

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The line up of speakers for the marking and celebration of the 2019 Day of the Seafarer in Cape Town on Tuesday, 25 June were (From far left), Ms Faye Kula (indepent professional), Ms Emma Dzinic (naval architect: SAMSA) , Ms Thembela Taboshe (standing: SHEQ Executive Oceana), Ms Leonie Louw (lecturer Cape Peninsula University of Technology) and Ms Yolisa Tshangela (Transnet National Ports Authority). With them (Far right) is Mr Dumisani Ntuli, acting Deputy Director General for Maritime Transport at the Department of Transport

Indeed, speakers lined up to lead discussions totaled about five people in each of the venues – all selected according to either or both their involvement as well as experience in seafaring or such other field of engagement directly related to or impacts seafaring. Emphasis was placed active seafarers – seagoing or not – employers, as well as education and training providers or professionals.

This blog covered the Cape Town leg of the event and this is where, among a range of issues raised for discussion concerning gender equality and empowerment of particularly women, the question about drug use by seafarers – and precisely the adequacy and appropriateness of rules and regulations governing its management arose.

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Ms Thembela Taboshe

Ms Thembela Taboshe, one of the first three of South Africa’s black African women seafarers to obtain a Master Mariner qualification in the past fives years and now currently serving as a SHEQ Executive for Blue Continental Products at fishing group Oceana, wanted to know what the allowable limit of narcotic drugs could a sailor have on his or her system to be deemed safe or unsafe at work.

She said the question was arising against the backdrop of law reform developments in the country concerning the use of especially dagga or “weed” and which now deemed it no longer illegal for people to use the narcotic drug in the privacy of their own homes.

The law reform was well and good, she said, but it raised a few questions regarding implications of the free, legal use of the narcotic drug.

“This is a matter I’d like to raise and speak with SAMSA and DoT about. We need to actually come up with legislation about how people find out…..what is the allowable limit….what is not. How do we know that a person who is on the 10th day after having taken weed  is actually capable of doing the job?” said Ms Taboshe.

DSC_1179She contextualized the matter as one concerning and with implications for seafarers in general and therefore relevant in terms of gender equality, but also women empowerment.  (Ms Taboshe’s full remarks – average 6 minutes – along with those of the other participants are shared on the Day of the Seafarers page)

The issue climbed quickly into the DoT and SAMSA list of issues requiring address over the next while and  a report back to sailors prior to, or on Wednesday, 25 June 2020 and perhaps soon thereafter.

The DoT’s representative at the Cape Town event, Acting Deputy Director-General, Maritime Transport, Mr Dumisani Ntuli committed the department to do exactly that.

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Mr Dumisani Ntuli

As indicated the drug usage issue by seafarers was among several that led to a robust debate in Cape Town. For a comprehensive multimedia report on these discussions, click here or on this blog’s main menu, click on the Day of the Seafarer‘s page at the top left of the bar.

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Mpumalanga to host South Africa’s 2018 celebration of the World Maritime Day

PrintPretoria: 14 July 2018

South Africa’s claim to being a maritime country and upon whose 3200km long shoreline rests only four of its nine provinces – the Northern Cape, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal – does not imply exclusion of the internal provinces from the country’s broad maritime sector activities.

For this and related reasons, this year’s celebration of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) driven World Maritime Day on 27 September 2018 has been officially confirmed as scheduled for Mpumalanga – one of South Africa’s five internal provinces, this one bordering two neighboring countries; Swaziland and Mozambique.

Formal confirmation of Mpumalanga’s official host status for this year’s World Maritime Day celebrations was made by Transport Minister, Dr Bonginkosi Nzimande in Britain recently.

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Dr Bonginkosi Nzimande. Minister of Transport

Addressing the IMO Council’s 120th Session in London held from the 02-06 July, Dr Nzimande said observation annually of the World Maritime Day by South Africa was consistent with the country’s full commitment to and unwavering support for the IMO’s activities in the promotion of maritime economies development across the world.

“We are very proud to be members of this organization and we are honoured to have served the IMO Council in the role of Vice Chair for an extended period. Our service to Council is well documented.

“My presence here represents a statement of renewal of our commitment to the IMO and I can assure you that my country and my people are highly impressed and honour many women and men who have contributed to the 70 years’ history of the IMO,” he said.

Consistent with this, Dr Nzimande noted that the IMO’s theme for this year’s celebration would be focused on the United Nations (UN) agency’s 70 year annivessary and committed that South Africa would follow suite.

“As part of South Africa’s commitment with the IMO, South Africa will host World Maritime Day 27-28 September 2018 in Mpumalanga Province.  The event will be held for two days under the theme; “IMO 70: Our Heritage – Better Shipping for a Better Future.

“During the celebration South Africa will make a career exhibition to showcase careers in the maritime sector to the young South Africans with the aim to introduce more leaners to the careers available in the maritime sector and also to showcase the milestone of the maritime sector to the rest of the local communities,” he confirmed.

Meanwhile, Dr Nzimande also outlined South Africa’s progress with revision of some of its maritime sector legislation, but precisely the Merchant Shipping Act of 1951.

He said: “Mr Chair, my country has recently adopted its Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy (CMTP). Following the adoption of the CMTP, we are now in the process of realigning our domestic legislation in line with the CMTP and in this regard, we have made great progress in reviewing the Merchant Shipping Act of 1951.

“The Maritime Transport Strategy (MTS) is being finalised.”

Dr Nzimande said further that: “Mr Chair I am reporting on these matters firstly as a way of sharing information on the progress we have made in addressing some of the fundamentals of being a maritime nation but secondly to say that we are open to sharing our experiences through the technical cooperation programme of the organization (IMO).

Dr Nzimande also confirmed South Africa’s new approach to observing the international Day of the Seafarer as had occurred last month, where the event was staged in three of South Africa’s  major coastal cities simultaneously for the first time in the eight year history of the event.

He said: “Mr Chair like many other Member States of the IMO, South Africa celebrated on 25 June 2018, the Day of the Seafarer. This year we launched Seafarer Dialogue Platforms (SDPs) in three cities, i.e. Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. I have declared that Seafarers’ Dialogue Platforms will become the feature of the future celebrations of the Day of the Seafarer.”

During the address of the IMO Council session, Dr Nzimande also formally confirmed South Africa’s deposit of the instrument of accession to (formal ratification of) the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel, 1995 (STCW-F 1995) with the Secretary-General of the IMO.

Summarily, the STCW-F 1995 is an agreement binding on IMO Member States to “undertake to promulgate all laws, decrees, orders and regulations and to take all other steps which may be necessary to give the Convention full and complete effect, so as to ensure that, from the point of view of safety of life and property at sea and the protection of the marine environment, seagoing fishing vessel personnel are qualified and fit for their duties.”

Dr Nzimande described South Africa’s submission of its ratification of the convention as signifying the country’s “commitment to bettering the lives of fishing folks.”

Following to this in Cape Town on Wednesday this past week, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) that is responsible for ensuring implementation of the convention held a 6th session of a Fishing Indaba to share the development with domestic stakeholders.

In London, with the formal announcement, Dr Nzimande also urged IMO Member States who had not yet ratified the Cape Town Agreement on the implementation of the Torremolinos Convention to “do the right thing as immediate as possible.”

“In conclusion, permit me Mr Chair to thank the IMO for putting its trust on South Africa by allowing us to host the 2020 IMO World Maritime Day Parallel Event. We are exactly 791 days from today to October 2020 when we will welcome many of you to witness the progress we would have made by that time.

“This being the Centenary of two of our liberation heroes, Mr Nelson Mandela and Mrs Albertina Sisulu, let us lead by the example they left for us by being steadfast in our search for solutions to challenges facing shipping today,” he said

See also: Maritime World University post graduate qualifications get South Africa’s nod: Dr Nzimande confirms.  

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