Boating safety campaign underway nationally on Transport Month: SAMSA

Two of several passenger water vessels inspected by SAMSA surveyors during launch of the Gauteng leg of the National Small Vessels Concentrated Inspection Campaign by SAMSA at the Vaal River on Saturday 01 October 2022

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.

SAMSA Acting CEO, Ms Zamachonco Chonc (front, second from Right) with SAMSA contingent of ship and small vessels surveyors, headed by deputy Chief Operations Officer, Capt. Vernon Keller (backrow, Right) SAMSA regional manager Capt. Thobela Gqabu (backrow, second from Right) and SAMSA Boating Centre manager, Ms Debbie James (backrow, third from Left).

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 Acting CEO, Ms Zamacchonco Chonco explaining the rationale for the nationwide small vessels concentrated inspection campaign at the Vaa;l River of Saturday, 01 October 2022
A brief outline by SAMSA deputy Chief Operations Officer: Capt. Vernon Keller
An overview by SAMSA’s Regional Manager (Eastern and Inland Region) Capt. Thobela Gqabu
A perspective on SAMSA boating seafety camapign by small vessels owner and operator, Ms Rosemary Anderson of Stonehaven-On-Vaal

“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.

External collaboration

“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.

SAMSA Inland Region small vessels surveyor, Mr Vusimuzi Dube
SAMSA Inland Region small vessels Surveyor, Mr Neeresh Sinath

Cooperation and collaboration key to successful implementation of SA’s Inland Water Strategy

Pretoria: 27 October 2021

The launch of the South African Inland Water Strategy by the Department of Transport on Friday (22 October 2021) might have marked a critical turning point in the effective and efficient management of the country’s inland waters – from rivers to dams and similar – but its successful implementation will depend largely on collaborative governance among all the parties involved.

At least that was the shared view of virtually all attendees to the event held on the banks of the Vaal River, at the luxurious Lake Deneys Yacht Club, some +-30 kilometers south of Vereeniging. Among them were senior officials representative of the South African Police Services (SAPS), the Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Environment (DEFF), the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), boating and sailing organisations including SA Sailing, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the Free State provincial and local govenrments, and related.

Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga

Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga delivered the main address during launch of the Inland Water Strategy and about which she said it represented a major positive turning point as well as a clear framework for the effective and efficient management of the country’s inland waters, inclusive of clear regulations on the utilization of the facilities for the benefit of all citizens. The benefits, she said; included leisure, business investment as well as generation of much needed job opportunities and employment.

In terms of the Inland Water Strategy and whose launch this month formed part of the DoT’s National Transport Month, inland waters are made up of dams, lagoons, lakes, rivers and wetlands but exclude tidal lagoons and tidal rivers.On these, over 1,2-million small vessels of all shapes and sizes, operate – mostly for sport, recreation, tourism as well as fishing largely by local subsistence and recreational fishers.

According to Ms Chikunga, the launch of the Inland Water Strategy by the DoT on Friday came against the backdrop that legislatively, the Department of Transport is tasked with the responsibility to ensure that South Africa‚Äôs inland waterways are safe for public use. The strategy’s four major goals include: “safe and secure lives and property for all users and marine environment protection, standardised procedures and processes on all inland waters, improved maritime domain awareness on all inland waters as well as contribution towards alleviation of poverty of inland waters communities”.

Challenges however, in the absence of a formal Resource Management Plan, were noted to include unregulated boating activities that were resulting in accidents – some fatal – as was demonstrated recently by an incident in Jozini, KwaZulu-Natal and which is still under investigation. In addition, environmental pollution from such boating activities had also triggered the spread of invasive aquatic hyacinth plants now clogging some of the dams.

To counter some of the challenges, but specifically those relating to effective management of boating use, the Inland Water Strategy incorporated the implementation of the Merchant Shipping (National Small Vessel Safety) Regulations 2007, with focus on basic safety requirements related to commercial operations, approval of commercial and passenger vessels, the reporting of incidents as well as pollution prevention.

It was in this specific area, said Ms Chikunga; that SAMSA – the country’s dedicated agency for maritime safety now including inland water spaces – would play a critical role, working in tandem with all interested and affected parties both in the public and private sectors.

“We believe that this stratregy could and will greatly assist in promoting a culture of safe and responsible boating when implemented in the spirit of cooperative governance among all three spheres of government and in partnership with the maritime industry, she said.

Ms Chikunga further said that in addition to the anticipated high safety and pollution free conditions generally in inland waters as envisaged in the strategy, a similarly crucial aspect was a need for the optimal utilisation of the country’s inland waters productively in terms of its general economic contribution through both investment and jobs creation.

For her full remarks (duration: 18 minutes), click on the video below

Inland Water Strategy launch address by Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga

The South African Navy Hydrographic Office (part of the country’s national Defence Force) took advantage of the event to handover a set of dams navigational charts to the DoT, while the depatment and SA Sailing also used the opportunity of the event to ratify a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)

Meanwhile, SAMSA which has already been working on the implementation of the Merchant Shipping (National Small Vessel Safety) Regulations 2007 for a few years now – warmly welcomed the formal launch of the overall strategy especially with regards the extent of its formal inclusion of various other players critical to inland water safety controls, both in the public and private sectors.

Captain Vernon Keller. Deputy Choef Operations Officer: SAMSA

SAMSA deputy Chief Operations Officer, Capt. Vernon Keller who attended the event along with several senior SAMSA officials, among them the Acting Chief Executive Officer, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane and SAMSA Boating Centre manager, Ms Debbie James; said: “The launch of the Inland Water Strategy today (Friday) is the result of a collaboration of all the stakeholders to make boating safer on inland waters. It’s about cooperative governance among parties that include the South African Police Services, Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Environment, as well local municipalities and other agencies to all work together to make it safer.

“And so, from a SAMSA perspective, we are excited because it is now putting a spotlight on boating, and boating is normally one of those areas that is overlooked because people always focus on the big ships. There are also a lot of opportunities out there to develop youth and generate careers for them in small boating, like delivering yachts, or (getting) in the boat building or fishing industries, said Capt. Keller.

Ms Debbie James.Centre for Boating manager

For Ms James, however, the greatest opportunity and challenge for SAMSA was in ensuring the development and placement of measurements to ensure effective implementation of boating regulations for sound management of boating activities on inland waters evenly across the country, anchored on ongoing co-operation and collaboration among the various authorities and communicaties.

For its part, she said; SAMSA has since about two years ago started rolling out training workshops for both internal and external boat surveyors and boat safety officials in terms of the National Small Vessels Safety Regulations. Following to the launch of the Inland Water Strategy, this work would now be intensified, she said. For both Capt. Keller and Ms James remarks, click on the respective videos below (average duration +-3.11 minutes)

Remark of Capt. Vernon Keller. Deputy Chief Operations Officer: SAMSA
Remarks by Ms Debbie James. SAMSA Centre for Boating manager

Several other attendees to the launch event of the Inland Water Strategy also shared their views about the event relative to their assigned roles. In the list are SA Sailing deputy President, Mr Vernon Brown, SAPS Emergency Services Unit, Brigadier M. de Meillon; Depatment of Fisheries, Forestry and Environmental Affairs national coordinator, Environmental Projects, Ms Debbie Muir, as well as representatives of the Metsimahulu local municipality as well as the Free State provincial government.

For their respective full remarks, please click on the video below: (duration: +-35 minutes)

Remarks by officials representative of various institutions and organisations with interest or affected by the launch of South Africa’s Inland Water Strategy

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