Climate change, future of sea transportation come under focus at Southern Africa Transport Conference 2022 in Pretoria next week

Pretoria: 30 June 2022

Southern Africa’s transport sector across all modes – on land, sea and the air – will have its eye turned onto this year’s Southern Africa Transport Conference (SATC) scheduled for the CSIR International Convention Centre (CSIR ICC) in Pretoria over four days, from Monday to Thursday next week.

Arranged as a hybrid event to facilitate greater participation, the SATC’s 40th event for 2022, under the theme ‘addressing the new normal and the future of transport’ is billed as providing an “excellent platform” for the transport industry to exchange ideas and insights, as well as engage in discussions on a wide range of topics that are of immediate and direct interest, or with impact to the transportation sector in general.

South Africa Transport Minister, Mr Fikile Mbalula

For the maritime sector, however, focus on sea transportation contemporary trends onshore and offshore is slotted for the third day of the SACT, Wednesday (06 July 2022) wherein the session will provide for a mix of domestic and international presenters, sharing ideas and guidelines on the future of maritime transport.

According to a preliminary programme shared by the organisers, among the contributors during this session will be Mr Moses Ramakulukusha Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE) who will be sharing notes on developments in the Marine Spatial Planning for South Africa, which has been developed through the Operations Phakisa ‘Oceans Economy’.

With climate change being a global topical issue, and with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) having adopted the Initial Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Strategy, focus will also be on shipping and ports stakeholders on account of their responsibility to ensure that they contribute to mitigating and decarbonising shipping.

Further insights on the subject of sea transportation will be shared by Ms Katrina Abhold, from the Global Maritime Forum.  Ms Abhold, the lead author of the recently published paper “Shipping’s Energy Transition: Strategic Opportunities in South Africa”, is expected to highlight the opportunities for decarbonising shipping in Southern Africa.

More on the topic is expected also from Ms Lydia Ngugi, the Africa Head of the Region’s Maritime Technology Co-operation Centres headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya; and whose specific focus will be on greenhouse gas emissions and the role played by MTCCs in helping countries transition to a decarbonised future.

On the specific topic of GHG emissions, a case study with focus on Madagascar is expected to feature in a presentation by Miora Rabemiafara of the Agence Portuaire Maritime et Fluviale, who will look at how maritime sectors in least developing island states can be addressed.

It will be within that slot also that Dr Leticia Grimmet of the Moses Kotane Institute will also share her views on whether the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is positioned to transition into smart ports. Specific focus is expected to be on freight forwarders’ role in enabling efficient ports systems, with Ms Sibongile Mokoena and Ms Cashandra Mara  of the University of Johannesburg weighing in onto the subject.

Sea transport security and related contingency measures will also feature, with Captain Ravi Naicker of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Centre for Sea Watch and Response billed to share insights on the Incident Management System (IMS) with precise focus on how it prepares countries on how to respond to maritime incidents.

Captain Ravi Naicker. Senior Manager, Navigation, Security and Environment. SAMSA

Capt. Naicker’s insights will also reflect on the country’s recent staging of its IMS training as well as a live mock oil spill incident management exercise held at sea near Cape Town, with participation of Angola and Namibia, which along with South Africa, are member states of the Benguela Current Convention.

Also contributing to the maritime sector transport session on Wednesday will be Mr Omar Eriksson of the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) whose presentation will feature insights on future trends or the ‘new normal’ for Coastal States.

Other sessions billed over the 4 days include amongst others, freight logistics, aviation, disruptive women forging a new normal in the transport sector, and public private partnerships.

South Africa’s Department of Transport, led by Minister Fikile Mbalula and deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga, is also expected to feature prominently on all sessions of SATC 2022, with the event billed to be formally opened by Mr Mbalula on Monday, 04 July 2022.

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Maritime world’s eyes on seafarers globally this weekend for celebration in recognition of their immense role in oceans transportation!

Pretoria: 24 June 2022

Once more, the world’s maritime sector will have its eyes squarely on seafarers globally this weekend to celebrate them in recognition of their incredible role in sea trade transport and related 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

June 25 is the officially appointed Day of the Seafarer celebrated annually each year since its establishment just over a decade ago by a resolution of a Conference of Parties to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978, held in Manila, Philippines, in June 2010.

It has since been followed by the establishment of the International Day for Women in Maritime, celebrated on 18 May for the first time this year.

Twelve years on, the Day of the Seafarers however, remains the most important annual calendar event to date for many maritime countries that are Member States of International Maritime Organisation (IMO) which leads it by coordinating and deciding the theme for each of the June 25 annual events.

According to the IMO, “The Day of the Seafarer provides an opportunity to pay tribute to the world’s 1.5 million seafarers (risen to 1,89-million by 2015 in 74 000 merchant vessels) for the unique and all-too-often overlooked contribution to the well-being of the general public, and we would like to do it using as many social media networks as possible.

“The Day of the Seafarer is also an opportunity to educate the public about issues facing the modern-day seafarer – issues such as piracy. But, most importantly, it is the occasion for us, the world, to say ‘Thank you, seafarers.’

This year’s theme picked by the IMO is: “Your voyage – then and now, share your journey” with its choice and significance explained thus: “Every seafarer’s journey is different, but they all face similar challenges.

“For 2022, the campaign of the Day of the Seafarers, with the theme ‘Your voyage – then and now share your journey’, look at seafarer voyages, what it includes and how has it evolved over time and what remains at the heart of seafarers’ reality. This campaign gives seafarers a chance to share what resonates with them currently, whether it’s the crew change crisis being unresolved or the future of technology.”

With June 25 falling on a Saturday this year, South Africa, one 175 Member States of the IMO; will celebrate the day on Monday, 27 June 2022 with the ceremony marked simultaneously at the same time in three coastal cities; Cape Town, Gqeberha (a.k.a Port Elizabeth) and Durban, the latter city being where the Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula or his deputy, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga is currently earmarked to deliver the main address.

The live staging of the event next Monday will mark the first time in two years that the Day of Seafarers is celebrated in the traditional ‘town hall’ setting since being disrupted and forced to online platforms by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020.

This passing week, the country’s maritime sector joined the pre-event activity attaching to this year’s theme, with several companies and entities calling on South Africa’s seafarers to share their career journey stories, notable among these being SAMSA, the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), Amsol and others and using their social media platforms to publicly share the stories.

While no official word had come forth from either the DoT or SAMSA about Monday’s event prior to publication of this article, nevertheless this blog understands that the Durban leg of it will feature a discussion session involving Government, its agencies as well representatives of the maritime sector inclusive of educational institutions as well as seafarers, all focusing precisely on seafarers’ experiences and anticipations.

A preliminary draft list of likely participants in the session includes Dr Langa Dlamini, Executive Manager: Economics and Statistical Services at the Durban based Moses Kotane Institute, Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe, Manager: OHS & Maritime Welfare at SAMSA; Mr Nkosinathi Manqele, HoD for Maritime Studies Department, Durban University of Technology; Mr Ross Volk, Managing Director of MSC Cruises, South Africa; Mr Durand Naidoo,  Chief Executive Officer: Linsen Nambi; Ms Pinky Zungu, Deputy Harbour Master, Durban (TNPA), Captain Thobela Gqabu, SAMSA Regional Manager: Eastern Region, and a set of yet to be confirmed seafarers’ representative.

Anticipated topics for exploration through discussion include; Government’s role and commitment to South African seafarers, and individual institutional perspectives one the subject from the Maritime Regulator (SAMSA – the Registrar of Seafarers and Custodian of Seafarer Welfare), Maritime Education, Training and Research, Employers of Seafarers and perspectives of Seafarers themselves inclusive of their gender-specific related experiences and future expectations.

Also in the preliminary list of speakers on the day, in addition to the Minister or his Deputy, are KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Ms Peggy Nkonyeni or DoT Chief Director: Maritime Policy and Legislation Mr Dumisani Ntuli, Mr Bheka Zulu who is both a SAMSA and Moses Kotane Institute Board Member, Ms Zamachonco Chonco, SAMSA Acting CEO; Dr Thandeka Ellenson CEO of the Moses Kotane Institute and Mr William Azuh Head: Africa Section, Subdivision for Maritime Development, Technical Cooperation Division, IMO.

As per tradition, a recorded video message about this year’s event theme by IMO Secretary General Mr Kitack Lim will also be shared.

Monday’s event in all three cities is currently scheduled to begin at 9am through to 2pm

As usual, this blog will attempt to capture such visuals of any of the events as shall be possible during the day.

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South Africa’s state of readiness for oil and related spills disasters in its oceans environment up to scratch; Govt, industry, NGOs agree.

Pretoria 23 May 2022

More than 100 participants and observers in South Africa and two neighbouring maritime countries, Namibia and Angola; at this year’s Interim Incident Management Organisation (IMOrg) training and live deployment exercise in Cape Town a week ago, left with unanimity in their view that the country’s state of readiness for oil and related pollution disasters is on the ready, notwithstanding notable gaps in terms of some necessary additional resources and equipment.

The Interim IMOrg arranged training in Cape Town, involving about 50 delegates on the IMS 100, 200 and 300 modules over three days, followed by two days live off and onshore mock oil spill incident management exercise involving an additional 50 people manning sea vessels, aircraft and onshore equipment; took place in Cape Town from Monday, (09 May 2022) to Friday, (13 May 2022).

It was the first exercise of its kind, in grand scale, since before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic two years ago, and drew the direct contribution of the Benguela Current Convention (BCC) and active participation of delegates from the two other members to the convention, Namibia and Angola.

The Interim IMOrg, under the Department of Transport, is South Africa’s joint Government and Industry preparedness forum for oil spills launched in 2017. Its membership is drawn broadly from across various sectors of society inclusive of State departments, private sector industries as well as non-governmental institutions. The current focus of the Interim IMOrg is on oil spills but in the future it will ramp up to an all hazard approach.

According to Captain Ravi Naicker, SAMSA Senior Manager and co-chair of the Interim IMOrg; the structure identifies primary roles of Government and industry contributing towards preparedness of the country with effective and efficient management of maritime incidents such as oil spills offshore.

Its specific objective involves the staging of joint emergency response drills to prepare the country for a variety of incidents and uses the Incident Management System (IMS) as its preferred response model “for effective and efficient use and deployment of the available resources, both human and equipment, for all types of incidents including marine pollution

In Cape Town a week ago, this blog spoke to some of the government, business and nongovernmental institutions represented at the event to establish their views during the IMS training as well on the last day of the live mock oil spillage management exercise to solicit their views on the real state of South Africa’s readiness for off shore oil spill disasters and related.

Among these were an official of Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE), the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)  incorporating the Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC), the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), South African Police Services (SAPS), Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), African Marine Solutions (AMSOL), Resolve Marine Group, SMIT Salvage, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), as well a representative  from the Angolan government.

Notable among the views was tacit agreement on the usefulness of the exercise and the general enthusiasm and keen interest shown by all stakeholders, the advantages to be derived from a unified  command, the enhanced greater understanding derived by each of the key role players, the usefulness of expansion of the training as well as exercise to include neighbouring countries, the need for regular periodic exercises as well as an evident lack of adequate resources to provide protection for the country’s entire 3200 kilometre coastline

For their full responses (averaging three (3) to six (6) minutes each), click on the videos below.

Remarks by Ms Feroza Albertus-Stanley (Department of Foresty, Fisheries & Environment)
Remarks by Mr Estanislav Gaspar (Department of Mineral Resources, Oil & Gas.Angola)
Remarks by Captain Pretty Molefe (SAMSA Centre for Sea Watch & Response)
Remarks by Mr Richard Robertson (SMIT-Salvage)
Remarks by Ms Nickie Stander (SANCCOB)
Remarks by Mr Odwa Mtati (SAIMI)
Remarks by Mr Musa Mbakaza (AMSOL)
Remarks by Colonel Alan Strydom (South African Police Services)
Remarks by Captain Naresh Sewnath (Transnet National Ports Authority)

The Benguela Current Convention (BCC), contributors and financial sponsors of the IMOrg exercise also shared its viewpoint about the significance of both its direct involvement for the first time as well as its own objectives. In the video below, BCC Compliance Officer, Mr Xolela Wellem, gives an extensive background and programs of the BCC which make the case for the Atlantic Ocean coastline convention’s direct interest in the work of the IMOrg.

To listen to interview click on the video below.

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Live ocean ‘accidental oil spill’ incident management exercise off the port of Cape Town, Thurs & Friday: IMOrg

Cape Town: 11 May 2022

Capetonians in particular, and South Africans in general will be in for a spectacular live staging of an ocean ‘accidental’ oil spillage exercise off and near the port of Cape Town on Thursday and Friday this week.

The unusual exercise to involve aircraft, ocean going vessels, onshore vehicles and more than 100 personnel is, according to South Africa’s Interim Incident Management Organisation (IMOrg) part of an intensive multi-nationl exercise in ocean oil spillage incidents management training currently underway in the city of Cape Town since Monday, involving about 50 delegates from government, non government and private sector institutions in South Africa, Namibia and Angola.

According to IMOrg Project Manager, Captain Ravi Naicker, the sea exercise over the next two days, Thursday and Friday will be the final stage of the weeklong incident management training that began on Monday in Durbanville, with a desk-top classroom type engagement of the delegates on the globally acclaimed and International Maritime Organisation (IMO) approved Incident Management System (IMS) consisting of three modules; IMS 100, 200 and 300.

From a South African perspective, according to the IMOrg, the logic behind the initiative is fairly simple. Increased activity on the South African coastline of over 3900km (including the coastline around the Prince Edwards Islands) demands the country to be ready to attend to any emergency that might occur along its pristine coast.

Current estimates of shipping traffic in the three oceans around South Africa are that as many as 30 000 vessels sail through here annually, with many of the vessels laden with an excess of 30-million Dead-Weight-Tonnage of crude oil. 

“A large-scale oil spill could potentially have catastrophic consequences on the marine environment. There is also offshore Oil and Gas exploration and Bunkering activities, therefore South Africa needs to ensure that while it seeks economic stability and prosperity it also ensures the protection of its natural biodiversity.

“To this end South Africa has adopted international best practice in incident management and is proactively and continuously preparing to manage marine pollution incidents effectively, ensuring that the appropriate resources and stakeholders are mobilised quickly – and important and timeous decisions made,” said Capt. Naicker.

Among the IMOrg guiding tools with the exercise is the country’s National Oil Spill Contingency Plan (NOSCP),

In Cape Town on Thursday and Friday however, for training participants as well as spectators, the weather may play ball for clear visibility of the full-scale oil spill response deployment exercise scheduled for the stretch pieces of waterspace in the sea corridor between Robben Island to the north and the port of Cape Town.

Captain Naresh Sewnath, Senior Manager Pilotage & VTS at Transnet’s Chief Harbour Masters Office

However, according to Captain Naresh Sewnath, Senior Manager Pilotage & VTS at Transnet’s Chief Harbour Masters Office in Cape Town, the ‘Cape Doctor’ – a nickname for periodic gusty winds that batter this part of the world – would be just as welcome, if only to present truly testing weather conditions for the IMOrg multinational training exercise at sea over the next two days.

Capt. Sewnath gave assurance that not only was the port of Cape Town fully supportive of the incident management exercise in the area for its worth, but also that it would seek to ensure that normal shipping in and near the always busy port would not be negatively affected.

In the video below, Capt. Sewnath briefly chatted to this blog about the IMOrg training exercise and his institution’s take of it, while on a brief visit to the training venue in Durbanville a day ago.

Meanwhile, the Benguela Current Convention (BCC) first time sponsors of the IMOrg’s periodic IMS training exercise, has described its involvement in the exercise as not only strategic in terms of its own objectives, but also essential to the extent that pollution of the oceans environment in its area of operation remains a constant serious threat to the the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME). In fact, according BCC South Africa National Projects Officer, Ms Tembisa Sineke, pollution is one of eight thematic areas in the BCC’s SAP.  

“The reason for this is that marine pollution in the BCLME is increasing due to, among others, coastal zone urbanization, expanding shipping and offshore drilling and mining activities,” she said, adding that the three countries – South Africa, Namibia and Angola “are all involved in offshore petroleum exploration and production activities, whilst they also experience extensive maritime transport activities along their coasts.  Furthermore, Namibia and South Africa are involved in offshore mining with vessels carrying significant quantities of oil.

Ms Tembisa Sineke. Benguela Current Convention (BCC) South Africa National Projects Officer

“This ever-increasing use of the ocean space leads to increased risk of accidents that could result in marine pollution, especially from oil spills,” said.

For more on BCC’s viewpoint on the IMOrg training exercise and the necessity for its support, click on the video below:

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South Africa’s Interim IMOrg on a week-long multi-national incident management training exercise in Cape Town

Cape Town: 09 May 2022

South Africa’s active state of readiness for incidents management on especially its maritime environment remains critical to its ability to react positively, effectively and efficiently to both natural and man-made disasters, inclusive of oil spillages at sea according Captain Vernon Keller, deputy Chief Operations Officer at the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

Capt. Keller shared the view while addressing just over 50 delegates and officials at the start of a five days, in-person Incident Management System (IMS) training in Durbanville near Cape Town on Monday morning.

Captain Vernon Keller. Deputy Chief Operations Officer: SAMSA

The Interim IMOrg is a joint industry-government and nongovenrmental institutions’ emergency response national structure established to contribute towards preparedness of the country with effective and efficience management of maritime incidents such as oil spills offshore.

Its specific objective involves the staging of joint emergency response drills to prepare the country for a variety of incidents and uses the Incident Management System (IMS) as its preferred response model “for effective and efficient use and deployment of the available resources, both human and equipment, for all types of incidents including marine pollution.”

Code-named: Operation Bank Cormorant, – after a now rare, endangered species of a bird endemic in Namibia and the western coast of South Africa – the training underway in Cape Town this week, sponsored by the Benguela Current Convention (BCC) and conducted by Vulcin Training with support from various specialist companies in incident management, began on Monday and will run until Friday (13 May 2022).

The first three days comprises a desktop training of delegates covering the IMS 100, 200 and 300 modules, to be followed over two days (Thursday and Friday) by a live full scale oil response deployment exercise scheduled to take place a few kilometers offshore, off the port of Cape Town.

The training and full scale real time exercise will be the first of its kind since before the global outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2019.

In his remarks marking the official start of the five days training, Capt. Keller thanked delegates on behalf of the Interim IMOrg, for “taking interest and participating in the training and deployment exercise, as it provides an opportunity for South Africa to build capacity necessary to effectively respond in cases of incidents and disasters and the IMOrg’s efforts to institutionalise the IMS response model.

He said: “To have an effective response, it is critical that the responders are fully trained and certified competent on the Incident Management System. Additionally, it becomes important that the country mobilise resources and conduct exercises to assess its response in terms of efficiency and effectiveness.”

For his full remarks, Click on the video below (duration: +-5mnts)

Described as equally significant about this year’s Interim IMOrg IMS training and exercise is the involvement of the Benguela Current Convention (BCC) – a multi-national and multi-sectoral organisation established by South Africa, Angola, and Namibia for the promotion of a coordinated approach to long-term conservation, protection, rehabilitation, enhancement, as well as sustainable use of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem.

Ms Tembisa Sineke. Benguela Current Convention (BCC) South Africa National Projects Officer

BCC’s South Africa National Project Officer, Ms Tembisa Sineke described the multi-national structure’s direct involvement in the IMS training and exercise in Cape Town this week as highly significant to the extent it provided opportunity also for direct involvement and participation of incident management officials also from Namibia and Angola.

According to Ms Sineke, in her address of the delegates, it was necessary and appropriate that the three countries who are partners in the BCC should expand their areas of cooperation and collaboration to include especially training on incidents management, as such incidents on occurrence, generally impact all of them in varying degrees.

For her full remarks, click on the video below.

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South Africa’s regularly updated sea and air search capabilities receive a thumbs up from international partners

Pretoria: 28 April 2022

South Africa’s regular testing of its maritime and aviation search and rescue (SAR) tools and equipment, along with deployment in Gauteng recently of the latest MEOSAR system, has been met with approval and appreciation by its international partners in the COSPAS SARSAT Programme, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), and Department of Transport (DoT).

The country’s positive assessments came during a three day South West Pacific Data Distribution Regional (SWPDDR) meeting, to which South Africa is a member State, hosted by the DoT and SAMSA earlier this month (11-14 April) – this after a delay of almost two years due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in late 2019.

The SWPDDR whose Mission Control Centre (MCC) sits with Australia, is one of six across the globe under the COSPAS SARSAT Programme. MCCs – totalling 32 under the COSPAS-SARSAT Programme – are described as centres that take information from a Local User Terminal (LUC) or another MCC and routes it to the proper desistation.

Reflecting on the outcomes of the SWPDDR meeting were Mr Jared Blows, Chief of the Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) located at the SAMSA Centre for Seawatch & Response in Cape Town; and Mr Zakhele Twala, DoT’s Deputy Director General: Aviation.

Mr Zakhele Twala. Deputy Director-Gneral: Aviation Department of Transport

Mr Twala said the country was proud of its successful hosting of the event, even as a virtual event due to the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, but also particularly pleased with its outcomes that reflected on the importance of close cooperation and collaboration among participating countries.

In the video below (duration: 3.10minutes), he elaborates on key aspects of the gathering.

At SAMSA, Mr Blows described the meeting “…deemed as very fruitful deliberations.” With regards the country, lauded by SWPDDR members were two significant developments regarding maritime and aviation search and rescue services as managed by South Africa that included the adoption of the S&R MEOSAR system and installation of ground equipment in Gauteng.

Advantages of the MEOSAR system are listed as including,

  • near instantaneous worldwide detection and independent location determination (independent of beacon-reported navigation data) of 406-MHz beacons,
  • significantly reduced effect of terrain/wreckage obstructions,
  • extensive reduncancy/reliability in space and ground segments,
  • improved location accuracy,
  • improved beacons and features including
    • a Return Link Service (RLS) and
    • redudant localisation of ELT-DTS (validating or back-up of locations through the reported navigation and independent calculations, even at high speeds.

The other development was South Africa’s continuous testing of its system’s communications via various platforms that significantly improved the country’s response rate from a low 50% to above 85% currently

Mr Jared Blows. Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC Chief: SAMSA Centre for Seawatch & Response

Mr Blows said: “With the ongoing evolution of the COSPAS SARSAT system it  is vital for South Africa, as a ground segment provider to the larger COSPAS SARSAT programme, to remain at the fore front of all developments within the system.

“To this end South Africa has committed to move to the MEOSAR system from the current LEOSAR system and installation of the ground equipment has already taken place and is located in Gauteng whereas the older LEOSAR is based in the Western Cape.

“The meeting specifically looked at the processes and time frames for the full commissioning of the new system which will be necessary to ensure the entire COSPAS SARSAT MEOSAR programme moves closer to becoming a fully operational system which will improve the capability and reduce the time between potential satellite detections of distress beacons carried on vessels and aircraft and even some beacons used by hikers etc.

“All these beacon would need to be compliant with the COSPAS SARSAT requirements and must transmit on the 406 Mhz  frequency,” he said.

Further, according to Mr Blows, the meeting to which guests included representatives of the United States of America and the United Kingdom, discussions were held also in terms of additional advancement to specifically EPIRBs – maritime beacons; such as the inclusion of Automated Identification System( AIS) and also the Return Link Service (RLS).

On this score, he said it was held that participating countries need to assess their readiness for the use of such beacons within their areas of responsibility. To this end, said Mr Blows, in certain instances legislation would need to be amended and operational procedures amended to accommodate such advancements.

On the critical role the country plays in the COSPAS SARSAT Programme block, Mr Blows said: “With South Africa serving 14 countries within our Data Region, we are required to test communications with these countries on a regular basis.

“However, for many years several of our regional partners often did not respond to these tests of which the results are communicated to the COSPAS SARSAT programme, resulting in the region seeming like a very poorly covered area. To change the perception and because of new technologies such as WhatsApp messaging etc becoming very common, South Africa tested the communications via various platforms and as result our response rate now sits at above 85% compared to previous years lows of 50%.

“The critical importance to note here is that, if and when we are alerted of any distress situations related to beacon activation with the countries we support we now have a far better chance of actually being able to pass along the information to the authorities with those countries for them to render assistance as necessary.

“This initiative by South Africa has been commended by the COSPAS SARSAT programme and was even mentioned and thought to be an excellent use of technology when discussed at a previous meeting of the IMO NCSR meeting.

“These matters will be discussed at length within the South African Search and Rescue forum over the coming weeks and a final position will be communicated via the relevant means. As things develop with our MEOSAR system and any new system and beacon development we will try and keep the users in the air and maritime environments informed,” said Mr Blows.

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COSPAS SARSAT search and rescue system most reliable: South Africa

Pretoria: 13 April 2022

South Africa’s continued and sustained role as a direct global contributor to development and deployment of advanced ground and space-based technologies and related services for search and rescue particularly across the southern hemisphere remains one of the country’s most serious responsibilities, according to Department of Transport Deputy Director-General, Mr Zakhele Twala.

Mr Twala shared the view while formally delivering a welcome address to delegates from several countries in Africa and abroad to this year’s COSPAS SARSAT Programme South West Pacific Data Distribution Region (SWPDDR) South Africa-hosted virtual conference currently underway since Monday this week.

The conference, the 8th in the series for the SWPDDR – one of six regions globally under the COSPAS SARSAT Programme – is two years behind its schedule in Australia in 2018 for South Africa in 2020 due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic worldwide towards the end of 2019.

Mr Zakhele Twala. Department of Transpport Deputy Director-General: Civil Aviation

In his address to country representatives during an opening address on Monday, Mr Twala said South Africa regarded it as highly significant its role and a huge responsibility the fact that it was the only country in southern Africa subscribing to and extending ground level search and rescue services of the COSPAS SARSAT Programme to more than a dozen countries in the region.

Thus, South Africa is the Search and Rescue Point of Contact (SPOC) to countries including Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Lesotho, Democratic Republic of Congo, St Helena, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Rwanda, Swaziland and a few others.

In terms of the COSPAS SARSAT Programme, “the primary purpose of the Cospas-Sarsat System is the provision of distress alert and location data for search and rescue (SAR), using spacecraft and ground facilities to detect and locate the signals of Cospas-Sarsat distress radio beacons operating on 406 MHz.”

In South Africa, according to the Department of Transport, as a Member State of the International Civil Aviation ICS) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and a signatory particularly to the  Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention, 1974, the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue, 1979 and Annex 12 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, 1944, the country is obligated to provide aeronautical and maritime search and rescue coordination and services within her search and rescue region.

South Africa’s search and rescue regions under the SA Search & Rescue Organisation (SASAR) correspond with what is prescribed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The area is divided into two Search and Rescue Regions (SRR), comprising aeronautical and maritime search and rescue over a total area of approximately 28,5 million square kilometres stretching down to the South Pole.

The aeronautical search and rescue region cover the continental area of the sovereign territory of South Africa, Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho and associated flight information regions.

On the other hand, the maritime search and rescue region over three oceans comprises; on the western side, the ocean area to approximately halfway between South Africa and South America, on the Eastern side, the ocean area to approximately halfway between South Africa and Australia and on the northern side,  the oceans areas bordering Namibia, Angola, South Africa and Mozambique as well as the oceans region to the South Pole.

On Monday, Mr Twala described the COSPAS SARSAT system as the most reliable to date and the country was proud to further contribute to its enhancement through deployment of a 6th antenna system in Gauteng this year.

Globally, further advances anticipated to greatly improve search and rescue services across both aeronautical and maritime sectors, include the anticipated introduction of Return Link Service (RLS) providing notification to a 406 MHz beacon that an alert transmitted by the beacon has been detected and distributed via the Cospas-Sarsat MCC network to the MCC whose service area covers the beacon confirmed position. The service is described as “intended to provide acknowledgement of the reception of the alert message to persons in distress”.

For his full remarks, click on the video below (+-7 minutes).

The virtual SWPDDR conference over three days, conducted from the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Head Office in Hillcrest, Pretoria, will end on Thursday.

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SAMSA CFO takes charge of agency as interim CEO: SAMSA Board announces

Pretoria: 02 April 2022

South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Chief Financial Officer, Ms Zamachonco Chonco has been appointed the agency’s interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO), pending the finalisation of the process for appointment of a permanent CEO, SAMSA’s Board of Directors announced in Pretoria on Friday.

In a statement, SAMSA said Ms Chonco would take over with immediate effect from outgoing acting CEO, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane, a chief director in the maritime directorate at the Department of Transport, who had been at the helm for just over a year.

SAMSA said: “The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Ms Zamachonco Chonco as its interim Chief Executive Officer. She replaces Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashilaone who has been in the position for the past 13 months.

“Ms. Chonco is currently SAMSA’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO). She will lead the organisation while the process of appointing a permanent CEO is being finalised. Ms. Chonco is a qualified Chartered Accountant with vast experience in both private and public sectors within the finance, investment, risk management and audit areas.

“She has served with distinction as the Acting CFO at the South African Postbank before joining SAMSA. She has also held various senior positions in finance at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and the Auditor General of South Africa.

“Since joining SAMSA, Ms. Chonco has been pivotal in supporting the agency achieve its first unqualified audit for the 2020/2021 financial year in more than four years,” said SAMSA

The agency further pointed out that Ms Taoana-Mashiloane will return to her position as the Department of Transport’s Chief Director for Maritime Industry Development.

“The SAMSA board thanked Ms. Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane for her valuable contribution in turning around SAMSA’s audit record and deepening the relationship between the Board and executive team while in the role as Acting CEO,” said SAMSA in the statement.

End.

Problematic toxic cargo headed for the bottom of the sea, announces SAMSA

Photo courtesy of Dr Holling

UPDATE:

Pretoria: 17 January 2022

The story below has elicited huge interest from a broad range of people across several sectors. Top most has been concern about the decision to dump the cargo of the vessel at sea, as annouced in the article. In response, SAMSA’s Deputy Chief Operations Officer, and acting Chief Operations Officer, Captain Vernon Keller has since provided more detail about the development during a radio interview with Cape Talk Radio last week.

Click on the following link for the interview (+- 6 minutes).

Pretoria: 13 January 2022

A problematic water reactive cargo approximating 1500 tonnes laden on a vessel in St Helena Bay on the west coast of South Africa will be formally, finally dumped at sea; the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) announced in Pretoria on Thursday.

According to SAMSA, this will be just over two months of the country working tirelessly around the clock to safely manage the unstable chemical cargo since the encounter with its bearer vessel, the NS Qingdao, in Durban last October.

Since then, the vessel was shepherded under a watchful eye to a safe containment terminal in St Helena Bay on the Atlantic Ocean seaboard.

In subsequent updates about the management of the vessel, SAMSA described its cargo as consisting of “a mixture of Sodium Metabisulphite, Magnesium Nitrate Hexahydrate, Caustic Calcined Magnesite, Electrode Paste, Monoammonium Phosphate, Ferrous Sulphate Monohydrate, Zinc Sulphate Monohydrate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Sodium Sulphite Anhydrous and Calcium Chloride.”

On Thursday, in the statement in Pretoria announcing the latest development; SAMSA said: “SAMSA and its partners are continuing with the salvage work on the NS Qingdao. The NS Qingdao was evacuated from the port of Durban on 23 October last year after her cargo suffered a chemical reaction and released toxic fumes into the atmosphere.

“The vessel is currently anchored off St Helena Bay and an emergency dumping permit has been obtained from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment to dump the reacting cargo at sea.

“Approximately 1500 tonnes of cargo will be dumped 250km from the closest point to land and in excess of 3000m of water. The dumping operation is expected to be concluded on 25 March 2022.

“To date more than 1000 tonnes of the cargo has been taken out of the vessel and it is expected that the remaining hotspots will be removed and dumped by 15 March 2022.

“The vessel has no obvious structural damage, and she will return to the closest port after the dumping operation is complete and her cargo is stabilised. An investigation will also be conducted to determine the reason for the cargo reaction .

“Structural specialists will also conduct an assessment to ensure that the integrity of the vessel is intact before allowing her to sail onward to her destination.

“The tug Umkhuseli continues to act as a safety stand by vessel. The operation is weather dependent to ensure that the highest levels of safety standards are maintained throughout the operation.

“The owners, insurance and salvors continue to work with the South African authorities on this matter,” said SAMSA

End

IMO Council seat loss disappoints South Africa: SAMSA

South Africa’s representative at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) General Assembly’s 32nd Regular Seassion that began on December 06 in London,, Mr Sipho Mbata, casting a vote during elections of the IMO’s 40-member Council on Friday (10 December). South Africa lost its seat during the elections.

Pretoria: 15 December 2021

South Africa’s failure to retain its seat in the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Council last Friday, coupled with Nigeria’s failed effort to gain a seat, has come as a significant disappointment for the country.

That is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) following the country’s loss of its seat during elections of the IMO’s 40-member Council for the 2022-2023 biennium in London last week.

South Africa, along with Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, and Morocco were the five African IMO Member States and candidates vying for a seat in the IMO 40-member council. Egypt, Morocco, and Kenya retained their seats.

Reacting to the development at the weekend, SAMSA said it was disappointed for South Africa following Friday’s IMO Council elections. SAMSA, a State agency operating under the Department of Transport, works closely with the department and relevant others in terms of IMO related matters. SAMSA and DOT officials often travel to the IMO in London where they serve of different IMO committees and South Africa also has a permanent representative at the organisation.

However, both DoT and SAMSA officials could not make it to London this time around for this year’s IMO 32nd Regular Session of the Assembly where the IMO Council was elected, due to strict travel conditions related to the recent and currently ongoing resurgence of Covid-19 pandemic infections across the world.

The United Kingdom immediately placed South Africa on its travel ‘red list’ shortly after the announcement by South Africa health scientists of the discovery in South Africa of the Omicron variant of the Covid-19.

Thus, on Friday, senior DoT officials inclusive of the Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga; Acting Director-General, Mr Mthunzi Madiya supported by staff from Maritime Branch as well as SAMSA Acting CEO, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane and Head of SAMSA Corporate Affairs, Mr Vusi September; gathered at a Pretoria venue to participate virtually during the IMO Assembly session from Monday last week.

Leading to Friday’s IMO Council elections, South Africa was cautiously optimistic it would retain its seat on the Council. However, when the vote outcome was eventually announced in London late afternoon, there was visible disappointment among all the officials gathered in Pretoria for the event.

For limited highlights of Friday’s event in London and Pretoria, click on the video below.

A brief overview of last week Friday’s IMO Council (Category C Candidates) vote and the reaction from South Africa

In the aftermath, with a formal country reaction statement expected from Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula; SAMSA’s acting CEO, Ms Tsepiso Mashiloane expressed disappointment insofar as SAMSA was concerned.

“For SAMSA, it is just to say that we are deeply disappointed by the outcome of the IMO Council vote, but even so, we will continue supporting the IMO work and ensure that we continue with our concerted efforts in respective committees to advance the African approach with respect to implementation of IMO Conventions we have acceded to. So, emphasis will be enhancing our work in Legal, Technical Committes, MSC and MEPC,” she said.

After the conclusion of the elections, the IMO congratulated the 40 Member States that were voted to constitute the Council for 2022-2023 biennium as follows:

  1. Category (a): 10 States with the largest interest in providing international shipping services (listed in alphabetical order)

China, Greece, Italy, Japan, Norway, Panama, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States

  • Category (b): 10 States with the largest interest in international seaborne trade:

Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates

  • Category (c): 20 States not elected under (a) or (b) above, which have special interests in maritime transport or navigation and whose election to the Council will ensure the representation of all major geographic areas of the world:

Bahamas, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, the Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, and Vanuatu.

The IMO statement further said: “The newly elected Council will meet, following the conclusion of the 32nd Assembly, for its 126th session (on 15 December) and will elect its Chair and Vice-Chair for the next biennium.”

End