The marking of the United Nations endorsed international Nelson Mandela Day often involves the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), through its Corporate Social Investment and Sustainability (CSI&S) fund, identifying causes and communities in the country towards which to lend a helping hand and this year’s event was no different.
Working jointly with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), recipients of SAMSA’s poverty alleviation intervention in 2021 comprised a group of disadvantaged residents of two informal settlements in the Northern Cape’s Siyancuma Local Municipality – Campbell and Grikwastad – who, despite being nestled within a stone’s throw of the confluence point of the Vaal River and the Orange River, yet battle daily with access to adequate water.
This year, the Nelson Mandela Day on 18 July, fell on a Sunday. SAMSA and SALGA thus chose Tuesday morning, 20 July 2021 for the online symbolic handover event. During the event participating officials described the targeted communities as mostly poor and lacking in basic social services infrastructure.
On the one hand, Campbell – originally known as Knovel Valley and then Groote Fontein, and later named after the Reverend John Campbell – was described as a small town situated on the edge of the Ghaap Plateau, some 48 km east of Griquatown. It’s twin sister, situated some 168 kilometres west of Kimberley was in no different position.
The target group in the two settlements comprised the aged, child-headed homes as well as the physical challenged. SAMSA and SALGA working jointly with the Siyancuma Local Municipality, said they were providing them with 200 specialised water drawing vessels known as Hippo Rollers and the bulk of which are scheduled to be delivered in person during the month of September 2021 – Covid-19 pandemic conditions allowing.
For a glimpse of the informal settlement areas in two towns, click on the video below.
Addressing invited guests to the online event on Tuesday morning, SAMSA Acting CEO, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane described the agency’s concerns as well as sustained passion to assist disadvantaged communities across South Africa’s nine provinces as consistent with and in keeping with former statesman and South Africa’s first president of the democratic era, the late Nelson Mandela’s generous spirit and advocacy for ubuntu (humaneness).
Quoting Nelson Mandela, she said: ““We can build a society grounded on friendship and our common humanity – a society founded on tolerance. That is the only road open to us.”
She added: “The plight of rural people in South Africa has been highlighted by many policy studies, and significant public awareness has been created via the media. Broadly, while about 50 percent of the South African population is rural, rural areas contain approximately 72 percent of those members of the total population who are classified as poor.
She described the identified communities of Campbell and Griekwastad as falling within this category. “The area has a population of about 37 000 people encased in approximately 10 000 households, with 37 percent of these households headed by females. The main economic activity in the area is agriculture and mining. Only about 42 percent of the households have piped water inside their dwellings, while about 90 percent have electricity for lighting.
“Given this context, the SAMSA intervention delivered through our CSI and Sustainability programme, is designed and intended to contribute to the Siyancuma Local Municipality’s efforts of bringing basic services to the community in the area,” said Ms Taoana-Mashiloane.
On the partnership with SALGA for the second successive year, she said: “We pride ourselves with forging effective partnerships that will have a positive and sustainable impact on identified communities.” For her full remarks, click on the video below.
Representing SALGA were the body’s senior advisor in the Northern Cape province, Mr Johann Ruiters and SALGA provincial operations manager, Ms Madeleine Brandt; and representing the Siyancuma Local Municipality was Mayor, Councillor Patrick McKlein and Councillor Johannes Musike.
All were appreciative of the SAMSA corporate social responsibility intervention for both its immediate direct positive impact to people in the targeted areas of the municipality but also for its example to other State and private sector institutions.
For Mr McKlein and Ruiters remarks, respectively; click on the videos below.
Development of southern Africa’s maritime economic sector has no room for selfish, self-centred independent actors, and instead demands of all involved a sustained close collaboration in order to ensure not only the success of collective effort but also equity in shared benefits
This was the dominant theme of speakers in the maritime transport section of this year’s Southern Africa Transport Conference (SATC) inaugural virtual conference and exhibition that began on Monday (05 July) and ends at about lunchtime on Wednesday (07 July).
With South Africa’s Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula having officially marked the start of the conference with an address, among keynote speakers on the maritime transport theme during Monday’s session were South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) acting Chief Executive Officer, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane, Mr Kholisile Mlambo of Mzansi Scuba Diving Academy, Mr Andrew Pike of Bownmans, Ms S Smith-Godfrey of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Dr Michael Ekow Manuel of the World Maritime University and Mr C Mlambo.
With a presentation titled: Partners in building a maritime nation Ms Taoana-Mashiloane outlined SAMSA’s critical role as the country’s State agency mandated with among other things, advancing South Africa’s maritime interests and the centrality of meaningful partnerships between the agency and other role players in the public and private sectors but also crucially, establishing and sustaininng links with others in the sub-region, continent as well as international institutions.
In a prerecorded presentation lasting about 17 minutes, Ms Taoana-Mashiloane said while the world might currently be faced with socio-economic woes largely brought about by the outbreak of the Covid-19 against which many countries continue to battle, current global economic studies also continue to project the African region positively as among those with prospects of high economic performance, and central to which is oceans transport, and by extension the maritime ecoomic sector.
Poised to play a critical role, she said; was the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (ACFTA) which commits countries in the region to remove tariffs on 90 per cent of goods and to progressively liberalise trade in services as well as address a host of other non-tariff barriers.
‘UNCTAD expects the Global maritime trade growth to return to positive trajectory in 2021 by expanding by 4.8%. Sustainable shipping, decarbonisation and ship pollution control remain priorities in 2021 (and) it is forecasted that the Sub-Saharan Africa area intra trade will double by 2030 and this will elevate the huge significance of a maritime transport system
“Britain, China, United States, France and the European Union have all launched initiatives to strengthen bilateral trade and investment relationships with Africa,” she indicated. However, for any of these developments to yield meaningful outcomes, maritime sector stakeholders and roleplayers needed to forge close relations and sustainable partnerships., she said.
Pointing to SAMSA’s own initiatives in this regard among which is its representative role for the country at International Maritime Organisation (IMO) as well as involvement and collaboration with similar institutions both on the Atlantic and Indian seaboards, the African Union and related institutions, she said: “The ability to leverage partner resources, subject matter expertise and innovation is a competitive advantage of a great partnership. Otherwise, trying to go it alone and strive to outshine others and to get all credit is not anyone’s interest.
“The 2050 African Maritime Integrated Strategy (AIMS) seeks to provide a broad framework for the protection and sustainable exploitation of the African maritime domain for wealth creation. Alongside, the African Maritime Charter (AMC) declares, articulates and advocates the implementation of harmonised maritime transport policies capable of promoting sustained growth and development of African Merchant Fleets as well as promote bilateral and multilateral cooperation among the maritime administrations of States Parties and their respective operational organizations in the field of maritime and inland waterways transport and port activities.
“In addition it seeks to also promote the funding, undertaking of research studies by national institutions that encourage the promotion and development of cooperation in maritime and inland waterways transport and port operations among States Parties and regions.
Domestically, according to Ms Toana-Mashiloane, South Africa’s positive response had included the launch of the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) followed by the promulgation of the Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy both to widen the scope for partnerships across sectors of the economy inclusive of identification of business investment opportunities, she added.
“As part of development efforts, we continue to engage and explore strategic partnership with the different industry players including local municipalities with the purpose of creating economic opportunities for local communities,”she said.
For her full presentation at the SATC Conference and Exhibition 2021, click on the video below.
Ubuntu – we are human only through the humanity of others
The theme was taken further by Sweden based World Maritime University representative, Dr Michael Ekow Manuel who described the subject of necessary partnership and collaborations in the sector as among the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Talking to a presentation themed: Fostering a partnership mindset; Governance and education; Dr Manuel said among targets of the UNSDGs was the enhancement of Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, “complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in all countries, in particular developing countries. Further, the target encompassed efforts to “encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnership.
From a governance perspective, optimising key factors, he said; included “ethical behaviour, a problem-centric approach, stakeholder equity and voice, leadership with partnership skills, evaluation criteria, learning procress and ageements.” With regards education, Dr Manuel said it had to play a transformative role “in which people are engaged in a new way of seeing, thinking, learning and working….a new set of skils such as envisioning, critical thinking and reflection, dialogue and negotiation, collaboration and building partnerships.”
Quoting former South African President, the late Mr Nelson Mandela; Dr Manuel reflected that: “In Africa there is a concept known as ubuntu – the profound sense that we are human only through the humanity of others, that if we are to accomplish anything in this world it will in equal measure be due to the work and achievements of others.”
South Africa no longer the only sheriff in town
That notwithstanding, according to Bowmans’ head of ports, transport and logistics Mr Andrew Pike, it helped little in fostering strong partnerships and collaborations if some of the players in the southern African region failed to pull their weight, indicating further that South Africa, despite its numerous maritime related advantages, was nevertherless on the verge of fairing poorly compared with its oceans bordered peers and flanking countries both to the east, namely Mozambique, as well as to the west, notably Namibia.
South Africa’s competitiveness with its ports infrastructure and performance was noticeably waning, he said, citing a World Bank’s recent report that ranked the country lowest at 347 out of 351 countries world wide – and in fact, the lowest ranking of all African countries.
Closest home, Mr Pike said even with the outbreak of Covid-19 which hugely affected sea transport negatively right across the board, statistics indicated that Mozambique outperformed South Africa in terms of trade ships port calls, even increasing its tally from 1 927 in 2018 and 2 145 in 2019 to 2 019 in 2020. This was in contrast to South Africa suffering a drop in trade ships port calls from 8 510 in 2018 and 8 856 in 2019 to 7 836 in 2020.
A similar picture was gradually emerging on the Atlantic seaboard where Namibia was making strides both in terms of infrastruture investment as well as competitive performance to the benefit of the southern African region previously almost entirely dependent on South African ports.
According to Mr Pike, partnerships and collaboration were all good but all involved had to pull their weight. He intimated that South Africa would do herself a lot of good, and humble herself by realising that the country was “not the only sheriff in town.”
For no less than three hours early on Friday, June 25, South Africa’s role and contribution in the shaping of a fair future for seafarers locally and globally will come under the microscope as some of the country’s stakeholders and interested parties in the general wellbeing of these highly skilled yet generally overlooked oceans-based workers gather to mark the International Day of the Seafarer 2021, under the guidance and leadership of the Department of Transport.
The marking of Day of the Seafarer 2021 takes the shape of an online event – for the second year running, owing to the ongoing rampant spread of the Covid-19 pandemic – hosted by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) from its Pretoria-based Head Ofice on Friday morning.
Starting from 9am and scheduled to last until 12 noon, high profile participants on the programme, according to SAMSA, include Transport Minister Mr Fikile Mbalula and his deputy, Ms Dikeledi Magadzi, the department’s Acting Director for Maritime Branch Mr Mthunzi Madiya, Ms Soraya Artman of the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), Mr Musa Mbakaza of AMSOL, Ms Silindokuhle Nyoka of Transnet, and Captain Mike Kelly representing The Mission of Seafarers Association, as well as SAMSA acting CEO Ms Tsepiso Taoana Mashiloane and Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe
Also participating and sharing an international perspective will be Mr Cheah Aun Aun from the Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore.
The theme of the 2021 instalment of the Day of the Seafarer as decided by the International Maritime Organisation is a “Fair Future for Seafarers” – the idea behind it being a continued effort to rally individual maritime country as well as international support for measures to improve and enhance the working conditions as well as the general welfare of seafarers globally.
In invitations circulated to maritime sector stakeholders earlier this month, SAMSA said: “In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, seafarers found themselves both on the front line of the global response and subject to difficult working conditions. Last year the Day of the Seafarer campaign focused its message around urging Governments to recognize seafarers as key workers and ease travel restrictions for them to facilitate crew changes.
“The 2021 Day of the Seafarer campaign will continue to encourage Governments to support seafarers amid the pandemic but will expand its message, calling for a fair future for seafarers. You are therefore urged to join the virtual event where various speakers and seafarers will highlight the plight of our seafarers and the plans that the Government and its partners have to ensure that seafarers are treated fairly,”
At Friday’s event, with just 100 confirmed attendees, expected to dominate the marking of the Day of the Seafarer 2021 are activities and related measures being undertaken by particularly the Department of Transport, its agency SAMSA, as well as industry to advance this cause, this especially against unique challenges by seafarers due to the onset and continued international havoc wreaked by the Covid-19 pandemic since its outbreak in China in late 2019
According to SAMSA, the online event will again be livestreamed on the SAMSA Facebook in order to allow the public access. To connect, please click on the link following link: https://fb.me/e/1UMv7h5fr
This blog will also follow proceedings of the event.
A ‘fair future’ for seafarers globally should be a shared responsibility between seafarers and the rest of other relevant stakeholders – and that is the view of seafarers themselves according to a current poll being conducted by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)
This global seafarers’ view is emerging solidly a few weeks ahead of this year’s international marking of the Day of the Seafarer on June 25 (a Friday) as driven and directed by the IMO along with its Member States, including South Africa.
In the poll currently being conducted by the IMO on its social media pages, among seafarers who responded to a question: “Who should be responsible for a fair future for seafarers”; an overwhelming majority (54%) call it a “shared responsibility”.
Against the backdrop, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) working jointly with the Department of Transport has confirmed that its marking of the Day of the Seafarer this year would be closely aligned to the issue, consistent with the IMO’s theme for the celebrations on June 25.
In invitations circulated to maritime sector stakeholders this week, SAMSA states that: “In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, seafarers found themselves both on the front line of the global response and subject to difficult working conditions. Last year the Day of the Seafarer campaign focused its message around urging Governments to recognize seafarers as key workers and ease travel restrictions for them to facilitate crew changes.
“The 2021 Day of the Seafarer campaign will continue to encourage Governments to support seafarers amid the pandemic but will expand its message, calling for a fair future for seafarers. You are therefore urged to join the virtual event where various speakers and seafarers will highlight the plight of our seafarers and the plans that the Government and its partners have to ensure that seafarers are treated fairly,” says SAMSA.
Among issues likely to feature prominently at the event on June 25 may be the outcomes and insights of a recent South African seafarers survey conducted by University of KwaZulu-Natal academic and author, Dr Shaun Ruggunan focused on their personal experiences of the impacts of Covid-19 over the last year.
Dr Ruggunan’s survey supported by SAMSA was conducted from March to end of May this year and its results are currently being collated and studied.
From a Government perspective, notably the UKZN survey took place shortly after South Africa in February 2021 joined other IMO Member States in declaring seafarers as ‘essential workers’ – a recurrent theme in the industry globally in 2020 since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in China in 2019, and which campaign gained huge support from many organisations worldwide, among them the United Nations.
However, the declaration of seafarers as essential workers earlier this year, even as singularly highly significant, was but one aspect of a basket of sought industry reforms with regards seafarers’ general welfare and work conditions, and some of which continue to be highlighted in a series of regional webinars driven by IMO, its Members States and affiliated organisations.
The first of the IMO regional webinars focused specifically on the question of “Challenges faced by seafarers and identification of best practices during Covid-19 pandemic” was held virtually online for the Eastern and Southern Africa on 21 October 2020, with the lineup of speakers includingIMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim and representatives of UN-OSAA, Stella Maris, ICS as well as Member States: Kenya, South Africa and the Seychelles.
The webinars have since covered Eastern and West Africa, East Asia, Western Asia and Eastern Europe as well as the Arab States and Mediterranean regions and Latin America
Now, in the lead up to this year’s Day of the Seafarer, the IMO also embarked on the social media poll, where it is asking seafarers across the world to respond and share their views on a number of issues affecting their work and general welfare.
On Covid-19 impacts and about which an IMO asks in one of the question: ‘what is most important for you for your future as a seafarer’, most seafarer respondents (41%) believe it be to be “quarantined access to repatriation and crew change”, followed by “priority vaccinations” (24%), “safe working conditions” (19%) and “enforcement” (16%).
On another question about whether seafarers believe that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the future of seafaring and in what direction, the majority seafarers’ view (73%) is that the pandemic has, and for the “worse” while only 15% believe it has done their trade a world of good, and 13% saying it has made no difference.
On the question of the IMO’s campaign in 2021 for a “fair future for seafarers”; 54% of participants feel it has to be a “shared responsibility” with only three (03) percent saying seafarers should be directly and solely in charge, while the rest are split unevenly between a view that it should be “IMO/ILO/Governments” (31%) and that it should be “shipping companies” (12%).
Among the seven questions posed to seafarers by the IMO so far is also one about “what area most needs improvement to ensure a fair future for seafarers” and to which the majority view (46%) suggests it to be “the workplace”, followed by “salaries” (30%), “training” (13%0 and “safety on board” (12%).
On the gradual encroachment of autonomous ships, according to their responses, most seafarers are either “excited” (25%), “unconcerned” (22%) or “accepting” (14%), with only 36% expressing the view that they are “worried”.
On climate change; most (59%) say they are onboard with mitigation efforts while seven (7%) and five (5) say they either could not be bothered (“not my personal responsibility”) or regard it as “unimportant”.
In explaining the seafarers view poll on its social media platforms, the IMO says: “In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, seafarers found themselves both on the front line of the global response and subject to difficult working conditions surrounding uncertainties and difficulties around port access, re-supply, crew changeovers, repatriation, etc.
“In light of this, the 2020 Day of the Seafarer campaign focused its message around urging governments to recognize seafarers as key workers and ease travel restrictions for them to facilitate crew changes. The 2021 Day of the Seafarer campaign will continue to encourage governments to support seafarers amid the pandemic but will expand its message, calling for a fair future for seafarers. The campaign will discuss issues that will still be relevant to seafarers after the pandemic, such as fair treatment of seafarers, fair working conditions (in line with ILO’s Maritime Labour Convention), fair training, fair safety, etc.”
For more on this, please on click on the IMO General Secretary, Mr. Kitack Lim ‘s official message for Day of the Seafarer 2021 below.
Meanwhile in Pretoria, according to SAMSA, South Africa’s marking of the Day of the Seafarer 2021 on Friday, June 25; will be conducted in similar fashion as last year, virtually online, from 9am and ending at 12 noon.
A computer virus found to have infected computer systems at the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) will lead to delays of up to six weeks in the issuance of seafarers’ certificates, the country’s maritime agency under the Department of Transport announced in Pretoria on Tuesday.
The announcement in the form of a Marine Notice (MIN 05-21), published in SAMSA’s website on Tuesday morning revealed that: “SAMSA was exposed to a computer virus in April 2021, necessitating SAMSA to implement precautionary measures by disconnecting its network servers to prevent the virus from infecting all systems. SAMSA’s ICT department is conducting a full health assessment on all servers, operating software and hardware.
“At this point, no personal data was compromised, and SAMSA is continuing to investigate the incident in collaboration with law enforcement agencies.
According to SAMSA in the statement, while some services rendered by the agency to the country’s maritime economic sector were not affected bythe computer virus infection incident, such as vessels surveys; the agency’s Seafarer Certification Software System (SIOMS 2.) “was affected by the database restore(ation) which caused some unexpected technical difficulties. SAMSA is working towards resolving this technical failure as soon as possible.”
Due to the challenge related to systems restoration, SAMSA said: “Seafarers should expect delays in the issuing of any seafarer verifications, documentation and certificates of competence while the system is being repaired. Once the system is fully operational, seafarers (will) continue to experience delays with all certification related services for approximately 4-6 weeks while SAMSA implements extra-ordinary measures to clear the backlog and implement measures to improve services.
This notwithstanding, SAMSA urged seafarers and or affected people to continue engaging with it through its offices along the South African coastline in order to ensure that services and assistance needed are provided where possible.
“Seafarers intending to revalidate their certificates may continue to apply to do so at their local SAMSA office. Seafarers may continue to apply for Level 3 assessments (orals) leading to a higher qualification. Any interim certificatesfor Small Vessel Skippers Certificates of Competence that have expired in the last 3 months or any Small Vessel Certificate of Competence expiring within the next 4 weeks, may be extended up and until 31 August 2021 while SAMSA’s certification unit clears the backlog.
“In the event of certification related issues, seafarers currently serving on foreign going vessels should provide full details of the assistance needed and should submit a request to email@example.com and in the event of any seafarer welfare challenges resulting from this delay, seafarers can contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
SAMSA extended an apology for the disruption to services: “SAMSA apologizes for this temporary inconvenience and assures all stakeholders that the technical issues are being addressed with utmost urgency.”
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has confirmed the appointment of four management members to fill up temporarily three executive positions left vacant early last week following to the suspension of three top officials.
The three suspended senior managers consisted of Chief Operating Officer (COO) and former Acting Chief Executive, Mr Sobantu Tilayi; Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO), Ms Lesego Mashishi and Company Secretary, Mr Moyahabo Raphadu. The three top managers were suspended on full pay effective on Monday, 26 April 2021.
In Pretoria at the weekend, SAMSA Acting CEO Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane announced the names of Mr Vusi September, current Head of Corporate Affairs, Government, and International Relations as acting Chief Human Capital Officer. Ms Shelorne Muller, currently the assistant Company Secretary will take over temporarily as Company Secretary.
The position of COO meanwhile will be managed consecutively by Captain Vernon Keller, currently the Deputy COO, and Mr Ian Calvert, current Executive Manager: Marine Special Projects. The shared responsibility for the COO post sees Capt. Keller taking over with effect from 01 May to 30 June 2021 and thereafter passing the baton to Mr Calvert through to end of August 2021.
The four managers will remain in the positions for the duration of the suspension of the three executives.
In announcing the action taken against the three executives on Monday last week, the SAMSA Board said the suspensions were precautionary and that the decision to suspend them was based on “whistle-blowing and reports of alleged misconduct received from external and internal stakeholders.”
The Board’s action came barely two months after the secondment of a senior Department of Transport official, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane as SAMSA’s new acting Chief Executive Officer, replacing Mr Tilayi who had been in that acting position since 2016.
Her appointment in turn had followed a few months after the appointment of a new Board at SAMSA by Department of Transport Minister, Mr Fikile Mbalula in the second half of 2020.
Leading the SAMSA Board is Ms Nthato Minyuku.
In its statement announcing the three top managers’ suspension on Tuesday a week ago, the Board said: “A through forensic investigation will be undertaken on the range of serious allegations related to the three (3) executives. The precautionary suspensions will provide an opportunity for the Board to undertake an independent forensic investigation.
“These suspensions are necessary to ensure that the Board investigations are efficient and free of any potential interference in order to be completed within a reasonable time frame.
“The Board will be guided by the findings and recommendations of the forensic investigation on which appropriate steps will be taken with the 3 executives.
“In the interim, the Board has mandated the SAMSA Acting Chief Executive Officer to appoint suitable officials to act in all three (3) positions for the duration of precautionary suspensions in order to ensure business continuity,’ said the Board in a statement.
With more than 133-million people globally infected by the Covid-19 pandemic and close on 3-million of these having succumbed to the virus as of Wednesday this week, the true full impacts of the virus on human society – a full year after its outbreak in Wuhan, China in late 2019 – have yet to be determined.
This notwithstanding, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the suffering by those already affected has been intense and among the victims already reeling from the impacts of the pandemic are millions of seafarers worldwide, thousands of them being South Africans.
It was for that reason that the agency, under the supervision of the Department of Transport, has thrown its full weight behind a survey undertaken by the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) to collect information directly from South African seafarers that will assist indicate the nature and extent of the Covid-19 pandemic impacts on them.
The survey led by UKZN Professor Shaun Ruggunan, seeks to; “….investigate the impact of Covid on South African seafarers. This survey specifically focuses on how Covid has impacted South African seafarer’s in terms of their work-life balance and the impact of Covid on their mental, emotional and physical well-being,” says the university in a statement.
Said Prof Ruggunan: “We hope that the survey will allow us to show how important seafarers are to the national and global economy and bring greater attention to their work and challenges during the pandemic. The results will be shared and potentially drive or inform policies of employee well-being for SA seafarers. The survey will benefit both employers, seafarers, agencies and seafarer labour market institutions.”
Unregistered seafarers far more at risk of negative Covid-19 pandemic impacts
For SAMSA, the initiative was of critical importance and value in more than one respect with regards the country’s seafarers, according to Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe. Generally, he says, seafarers can be described as operating virtually under the radar – that is, taking up employment with various companies domestically and globally yet without formal registration, and therefore now currently suffering the impacts of Covid-19 without being noticed for assistance.
“The impact of Covid-19 has been felt worldwide. Seafarers have not been spared. Seafarers have been working throughout, as maritime transport is responsible for carrying 90% of world cargo by volume. It was essential that shipping continued to operate through various lockdown regimes implemented by different countries. This ensured that critical movement of supplies of food, medicine, including medical equipment remained unhindered during lockdown,” says Mr Rantsoabe.
However, several countries across the world inclusive of many that are South Africa’s trading partners in Asia, Western Europe and the American continent embarking on variable states of national lockdown to this day, seafarers struggled and continue to, with millions finding themselves unable to sign off in various ports around the world due to travel restrictions.
“Some seafarers including South Africans found themselves stuck in vessels for much longer periods than they signed for. This led to the situation being termed ‘the humanitarian crisis at seas’,” said Mr Rantsoabe, pointing to the intervention that soon ensued in the global maritime sector led by both the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and other interested and affected parties, calling for seafarers to be declared “key workers”.
With the full backing of the United Nations, the intervention soon succeeded as the IMO, in a Circular letter No.4204/Add.35/Rev.4 issued on 05 February 2021 advised that 55 of its Member States, including South Africa had signed a resolution to declare seafarers “key workers”.
“This has not stopped seafarers suffering due to stringent travel restrictions still in place in various jurisdictions,” said Mr Rantsoabe, adding that because of this very fact, SAMSA – through its welfare section – continues to seek ways to ensure that the country’s seafarers are not left alone to battle with Covid-19 pandemic induced conditions at work.
“Hundreds of South African seafarers found themselves stranded in various parts of the world. SAMSA through its welfare programme managed to assist hundreds of seafarers reach home through various direct and indirect interventions which included advising shipping companies on the processes involved in travelling back to South Africa via repatriation flights and best routes for flying South Africans home. The interventions included direct contact with seafarers, employers of South African seafarers and NPO’s with interest in seafarer welfare.
“There are still many seafarers that SAMSA could not reach especially cruise staff. Since these seafarers’ occupations do not fall under the SAMSA qualification framework, it was and remains impossible for SAMSA to understand the numbers involved. In addition, cruise staff generally leave the country through recruitment agencies that are not accredited by SAMSA. As such SAMSA is unable to account for them. It is important to note that ‘generally, SAMSA does not get to know when any seafarer leaves the country to take up employment overseas. This has proved to be a major problem as SAMSA struggled to quantify the problem and help required,” he said.
On the UKZN survey, Mr Rantsoabe said: “SAMSA was approached by UKZN for support on the study on impact of covid-19 on seafarer welfare. SAMSA having considered the aim and content of the study fully supports this study. UKZN committed to sharing the results with SAMSA which will provide the Authority with much needed information.
“It is very important that SAMSA gets a full picture of what is/was faced by seafarers during this difficult period. The results will assist SAMSA as we continue to advance the interest of seafarers in various forums within government. The study will also provide information that will help shape the Authority’s welfare offering. All seafarers are encouraged to complete the survey as it will help SAMSA better understand the impact of Covid-19 on seafarers,” said Mr Rantsoabe.
Meanwhile, Prof Ruggunan stated that: “Participation is voluntary, anonymous and confidential and no survey can be traced back to any individual. The survey takes approximately 6 to 7 minutes only and can be accessed on a phone or computer via the link provided (see headline pic above) or by clicking on the photo placed on the landing page of this blog platform, or one placed on the landing page of the SAMSA website.
For further information, alternatively queries; these may be directed to Prof Ruggunan either by email or mobile phone as follows: email@example.com, cell: 079 1970 743. Also, for all seafarer welfare issues, seafarers both South African and international can correspond with SAMSA through the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
The South African government’s ambitious plans to facilitate for and nurture the redevelopment of a domestically registered national fleet of trade vessels, as outlined in the Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy (CMTP), has the full backing of the private sector, with actual money on the table.
This was again amply expressed as well as demonstrated during the past weekend when one of the country’s trade ships owning company, Vuka Marine, added one more cargo ship – the largest of its class – to the South African Ship Register, this with the full backing of its mining client, Anglo American.
Saldanha Bay, the country’s main port for iron ore exports, was the venue on Saturday (20 March 2021) for the ceremonial hosting of the South African flag aboard stern of the newly acquired Vuka Marine ship, named the Cape Acacia. The vessel, a 206,000dwt Newcastlemax, built in 2005, was the 4th by Vuka Marine to be registered under the South Africa flag, bringing into the country’s ship register a cumulative deadweight capacity of 630 000 tonnes since 2015.
It was at the same port venue on the west coast of the Northern Cape Province in 2015 that Vuka Marine also formaly introduced its first ship that year, the Cape Orchid – now retired – and in the process, helping reintroduce large cargo vessels under the South African ship register since the collapse of a domestic fleet of such vessels type in the late 80’s.
All four of the Vuka Marine vessels – including the Cape Enterprise; and the ultramax Windsor Adventure – have Port Elizabeth (a.k.a Gqeberha) in the Eastern Cape Province as their home port – a matter itself described as having a particular significance for that region as well as the country.
At the port of Saldanha on Saturday, where the newly registered Cape Acacia berthed for its first load of iron ore export shipment to China, Vuka Marine senior officials, flanked by their Anglo American counterparts, representatives of the Department of Transport (DoT), the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), spelt out their investment vision.
“We view ships as a catalyst for a broader social impact (particularly job creation) and advancement of national interests – priorities that lie at the heart of National Policy. To this end, Via Maritime Holdings, majority shareholder of VUKA Marine, has been proactive in creating seafarer sourcing channels that apply international standards, best employment practices and are consistent with demand-side requirements. This is work in progress, but we are starting to see successes in the careers of young South Africans who have worked on Vuka Marine ships,” said Mr Andrew Millard, CEO of Vuka Marine.
Vuka Marine, said Mr Millard, was proud to have pioneered the domestication of cargo ships in the country and that his organisation was keen to share its own experiences with the rest of the sector.
The theme was further broken down into minute detail by the shipping company’s chairman, Mr Andrew Mthembu. In a 25 minute speech (captured in the video below), Mr Mthembu described it simply as “logical in every concievable way” that South Africa should strive to rebuild its own fleet of trade vessels if its geographical positioning as a maritime country is to be of benefit to all citizens as well as the global community.
For his full views, click on the video below.
Mr Pranill Ramchander, Executive Head of Corporate Affairs at Anglo American concurred with the Vuka Marine officials on the express need for supporting the South African economy through direct investment in shipping and associated infrastructure. Anglo, he said, had over the years demonstrated its commitment to the country and the partnership with Vuka Marine, through business support, was a typical example of such attitude and goal.
He said: “We highy comment Vuka Marine’s persistance and tenacity in developing and growing the maritime landscape in South Africa over the last few years. Anglo American is very proud to have been part of the journey which for us started in 2014. During that time Anglo transported approximately 15-milllons tons of cargo and contracts, most of it iron ore.
“Vuka Marine deserves credit from all in this room for taking a leading role in championing the agenda for growth of the South African maritime economy,” he said, adding that a strong and effective shipping infrastructure in South Africa would be an asset to a whole range of stakeholders, including job creation and skills development.
For his full remarks, click on the video below
South Africa’s Transport Minister, Mr Fikile Mbalula, billed to also grace the event but withdrawing at the last moment due to other pressing commitments, had his ministry’s views shared. In remarks shared on his behalf by DoT Marine branch deputy Director-General, Mr Mthunzi Madiya, he said: “Today is one of the most significant days for Maritime South Africa. When we developed this term, we envisaged a unifying entity that incorporates government and industry, enjoining them through their common interest in the success of the maritime sector. For us this means jobs, employment, influence and meaningful contribution to the economy.
“I am sure Vuka Marine has similar indicators, perhaps an added few that nay includes profits. Equally Anglo would have their own scorecard that is well served by today’s event if not milestone.”
Mr Madiya said the redevelopment of the country’s shipping fleet was a critical building block to enabling South Africa achieve its goals of becoming a significant international maritime centre, characterised chiefly by an effective maritime sector administration able to facilitate economic growth of the industry.
“We are enjoined into ensuring a South African maritime sector that supports South Africa’s economic development. We have a stated objective, as contained in our Maritime Transport policy, that South Africa WILL be an International Maritime Centre. We have defined the characteristics of this International Maritime Centre as only two elements, a vibrant maritime economy that is supported by a model maritime administration,”he said.
To this end, he announced plans for further continued close engagement with the shipping industry for discussions on a range of issues including enhancement of investments incentives, contribution to greenhouse gas emissions control, skills development and training and related. Further details on the various subsector engagements would be shared with stakeholders soon, he said.
For the full remarks, click on the video below.
For SAMSA, the country’s agency responsible for promoting growth of the local ship register in accordance with its legislated broad mandate to, among other things, ‘promote South Africa’s maritime interests’; the additional cargo vessel into the country’s ship register was a welcome work in progress – occurring amid a whole range of challenges facing both the local and global economies, now compounded by the outbreak and rapid spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Now with a team of female leaders for the first time since establishment 21 years ago – Board chairperson, Ms Nthato V. Minyuku, and newly appointed acting Chief Executive Officer, Ms Tsepiso Taoana Mashiloane; SAMSA described the private sector’s efforts – as demonstrated by both Vuka Marine and Anglo American as both humbling, commendable and encouraging under current global economic and consequent social crisis, particularly with regards jobs creation.
Among other issues, SAMSA noted as particularly highly significant that Vuka Marine, with its further acquisition of another cargo vessel, made a point of ensuring places for skills development of South African seafarers. With its inaugural iron ore cargo shipment out of South Africa this week, the Cape Acacia is taking with eight (8) cadets for skills development in seafaring over a period of between 6-9 months.
The cadets on board including one 3rd Officer; two able seamen, one deck and two engine cadets as well as two ABs are Loyiso Jantjies, Jethro Kekai, Ludfie Kemp, Sibusiso Khawula, Siphesihle Sibaya, Lunga Dlamini, Aside Shaun Maqubela and Nduduzo Mahaye. According to Vuka Marine, they may be joined by a further two South African seafarers, probably in Asia.
For SAMSA, redeveloping a South African fleet of cargo vessels was necessary partly to address the challenges facing seafarer education and training.
For both Ms Taoana-Mashiloane and Ms Minyuku’s full remarks, click on the videos below.
In the midst of challenging conditions at the port of Saldanha including restrictions related to Covid-19 regulations and compouded by poor weather conditions, this blog sought and managed to secure interviews with at least two of the eight (8) cadets taken on board the Cape Acacia for stints of between 6-9 months honing their seafarers skills.
The two, Loyiso Sydney Jantjies, an Able Seaman; and Lunga Dlamini, a deck cadet; were beyond themselves with joy at the opportunity to sail and gain valuable skills in their chosen careers in the process.
The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic worldwide – and in its wake, the devastation both of economies as well as social development as the world knew it until December 2019 – should not be used as another excuse to dampen or delay the critical advancement of women both in the workplace as well as in society generally.
According to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in Pretoria this week, this is particularly true of especially the maritime economic sector globally and domestically – a sector in which only about two (2) percent of the global workforce is constituted by women.
The viewpoint surfaced strongly on International Women’s Day as the State agency under the Department of Transport, joined the global community for the first time in marking the event on Monday, 08 March 2021.
Leading the charge was newly appointed SAMSA acting Chief Executive Officer, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane on a secondment basis until month-end or such other time as a new CEO is appointed. Significantly, on her secondment recently from the Department of Transport, Ms Taoana-Mashiloane became the first woman ever appointed to lead SAMSA in its 21 years of existence.
Noteworthy also, SAMSA’s new Board of Directors appointed in 2020 is also chaired by a woman, Ms Nthato Minyuku.
This year’s IWD21 theme was #ChooseToChallenge and its overall message stated: “A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change. So let’s all choose to challenge. How will you help forge a gender equal world?”
Celebrate women’s achievement.
Raise awareness against bias.
Take action for equality.
In SAMSA’s inaugural marking of International Women’s Day 2021 this week at her urging, Ms Taoana-Mashiloane along with three of her colleagues; Captain Pretty Molefe, a principal officer for SAMSA’s Richards Bay office, Captain Antoinette Keller, also a principal officer for SAMSA Cape Town office, and Ms Zamachonco Chonco-Tladi, a chief financial officer for SAMSA since late last year, set aside time to reflect on the significance of the event on Monday to themselves personally and collectively as women both at SAMSA, as well as the general maritime economic sector in South Africa and globally.
Summarily, in the 20-minute video below, Ms Taoana-Mashiloane says while her recent appointment to lead temporarily the organisation is highly significant for women advancement generally, she is currently simply not impressed either by SAMSA or the country that women advancement and empowerment through gender equity centred policies and practices is being taken as seriously and meaningfully as it should, and for this, she says, there is absolutely no excuse.
Twenty-seven years since the dawn of democracy in South Africa and against the backdrop of a plethora of legislative reforms inclusive of a National Policy Framework for Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality, women advancement through gender equity still lags very much behind, she says.
As for the maritime sector and role-players therein including SAMSA, she says; South Africa as a Member State of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and related institutions, has a vast wealth of support to draw from in efforts towards purposeful women advancement.
It is a strongly held view she first shared with SAMSA staff in an internal memo on Monday, wherein she stated: ““I join the IWD 2021 #ChooseToChallenge by expressing my sentiments as a woman in maritime transport. I am an empowered woman and I strive to always empower other women.
“We are SAMSAítes women and we are changing to rise to the challenge by celebrating all women in maritime/shipping. The gender split in SAMSA Executive level stills shows an organization stuck to the old saying that this is a ‘man’s world’.
“Women Can! And with the right skills set, education and empowerment, now is the time for SAMSA to embrace gender diversity, harness our energy and creativity to make a contribution to SDG#5 Gender Equality,” said Ms Taoana-Mashiloane.
In the video, Ms Taoana-Mashiloane strongly suggests that women, in fact, should be in the leadership of women advancement themselves.
In marking IWD21 internally, SAMSA developed a set of posters featuring some of the agency’s women. In addition, video interviews were arranged for some of the employees in order for them to also freely express their views on the subject. Two of these additional video interviews are shared below, here along with Ms Taoana-Mashiloane’s.
Crucially, the two SAMSA female employees interviewed, Captain Keller and Ms Chonco-Tladi – both holding senior ranking positions at SAMSA in administration and operations, shared much in common with the agency’s acting chief executive officer.
I don’t like to be placed in “a box”. I don’t like stereotyping, for example; the stereotype of women as the carer. Through hard work and determination women are just as capable as men to excel in the workplace.
Captain Antoinette Keller. Master Mariner and Principal Officer at South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)
Both Captain Keller and Ms Chonco-Tladi felt there was far more expressed intent – alternatively, “too much chit-chat about it’- than actual meaningful action in advancing women within both at SAMSA and the country in general.
In the video below, Captain Keller – South Africa’s first female Master Mariner as well as the first female Principal Officer for SAMSA – states: “It was through hard work and determination that I was able to work through the ranks and I believe that I opened the door for many other women pursuing a maritime career.”
Captain Keller, also the 2020 SAMSA’s CEO Excellence Award overall winner in recognition of her work contribution beyond the call of duty, states; “I do support gender equity strategies. However, I think it is sad that strategies such as these are required to be established in the first place. I don’t like to be placed in “a box”. I don’t like stereotyping, for example; the stereotype of women as the carer. Through hard work and determination women are just as capable as men to excel in the workplace.
“South Africa is a diverse nation and we should embrace the diversity by allowing fresh and dynamic perspectives based on who is most capable for the job. I do support gender equity. However, the tools must be given to allow success. There should be confidence in the person fulfilling the role otherwise it can open ways for one to be undermined in the workplace.
“Both genders bring strengths to the table. In the maritime industry, it is not that women are not given opportunities, however there is scope for a lot more that can be done. More focus and awareness should be placed on possible career opportunities in the maritime sector and we need a big behavioural change. Not many people are aware of what the maritime industry can offer or who SAMSA is and the role we play in the maritime sector,” says Capt. Keller.
For more on this, click on the video below.
Meanwhile, Ms Chonco-Tladi, a Chartered Accountant with a relatively long professional service history, yet virtually a beginner in the maritime sector after having joined SAMSA in the second half of 2020, concurred with both views that the subject of women advancement was getting tired for being talked about for years, with little action to advance it; but also pregnant with opportunity for all members of society to work together to bring about transformation and justice for women.
She said she was among those prepared to roll up their sleeves and get into action for women empowerment and advancement. A mentor of note, quite keen to readily share her knowledge and experience, Ms Chonco-Tladi said more awareness through focused campaigns was crucial. Click on the video for her full views.
In Richards Bay, Captain Pretty Molefe, yet another pioneer in her own right for also being among the first batch of black females to qualify as Master Mariners in South Africa, as well as being the first black female Principal Officer, in acting capacity for SAMSA, shared her views in writing this week.
People always expect men in certain positions and often get surprised when a female pitch up. In general, it is a job that is predominantly perceived as a male job and one has to work extra hard than a male counterpart
Captain Pretty Molefe. Acting Principal Officer at SAMSA (Richards Bay)
She also remarked on the significance of marking IWD21 relative to the poor and painfully slow progress being made in the country and precisely the maritime sector towards women advancement through gender equity centred policies, several of which have long been in existence in a variety of forms.
“I generally love what I do. The ship and shore aspect of it. I like being part of a team and learning new things all the time. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I have only had male mentors in my career path as there are not many females that come before me. Some of those that came before me, I, unfortunately have had to admire from a distance; but one or two have made an indirect impact in my career path.”
“Many people often ask about challenges that one has faced in this career as a female. There are a lot, both at sea and on the shore side. People always expect men in certain positions and often get surprised when a female pitch up. In general, it is a job that is predominantly perceived as a male job and one has to work extra hard than a male counterpart,” says Captain Molefe.
According to Ms Taoana Mashiloane, SAMSA will continue to be among progressive State organisations to scale up efforts towards meaningful women advancement in the country’s maritime sector, at least if she has anything to do with it. She lists a set of initiatives she envisages should receive priority towards this end, among which is the formal re launch of a women in maritime structure whose rebirth last year was hampered by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Awareness campaigns conducted jointly with other organisations in the sector, including the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), Transnet and others are also in the planning, she sad.
By this time next year, said Ms Taoana-Mashiloane, there should be a comprehensive report in place reflecting on progress being made towards women advancement in the country’s maritime economic sector
Continued engagement and close collaboration remain the key ingredient to redevelopment and growth of the South African maritime economic sector, according to industry players.
This was restated by virtually all invited guests to this year’s SAMSA Annual Stakeholder Event held on the eve of the Government’s State of the Nation Address that marks the opening of the country’s Parliament on Thursday last week.
With South Africa still bogged down under the hard grip of the Covid-19 pandemic, SAMSA’s event last Wednesday evening was held virtually online and for the reason, attracted more people than ever before, as it was also streamed live on social media platforms.
In this report, packaged with video remarks of all the speakers that participated, we aim to present the full version of South Africa’s industry players’s views and responses on a whole range of issues concerning, affecting and impacting the country’s maritime economic sector. and central to whose key message was the need for continued close engagement and collaboration in the sector.
Among the issues, predictably, the outbreak and impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic in December 2019, and first experienced in the country from about February 2020, was top most. According to all speakers, the disruptive effect of the pandemic was felt by everyone but especially seafarers and whose struggle with it continues. Emerging strongly in this regard was the high level of cooperation experienced between industry and SAMSA in seeking to ensure alleviation of some of the pressing challenges that faced and continue to face seafarers.
Maritime industry participants, allocated per subsector, featured on topics that ranged from maritime law and regulations review – or poor lack thereof -; maritime education, training and skills development; shipping trends inclusive of South Africa’s plan for rescucitation of a domestic shipping fleet, to current and future ports regulations and plans, seafarers development and challenges, as well as oil and gas industry perspectives and matters affecting fishing.
Also outlined were SAMSA’s strategic objectives over the next five to 15 years within both the context of the country’s Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy under the Department of Transport as well as the agency’s legislated mandate of ensuring safety of life and property at sea, prevention and combating of pollution from ships and promotion of the country’s maritime interests.
The Department of Transport rounded up the presentations.
The video clips – and whose quality is disappointingly poor largely due to an online video feed that suffered low grade relay – are arranged in the order of 13 of the 14 speakers participating on the day – led by introductory remarks by (now former) SAMSA Acting CEO Mr Sobantu Tilayi. The duration ranges between 4m 30 sec to 15 minutes, with the biggest number averaging under 5 minutes.
Industry responses and remarks
Legal Fraternity: Mr Andre Pike. Head: Ports, Transport and Logistics. Bowmans
Ports RegulatorSA: Ms Johanna Mulaudzi. CEO
Shipping: Mr Andrew Millard, Director, Vuka Marine
Shipping: Mr Ross Volk, Managing Director, MSC Cruises SA