Maritime transport sector in for a shake-up and shape-up phase: Transport Ministry

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Durban: 02 March 2019

South Africa’s maritime transport sector is poised for a significant shake-up and shape-up phase over the next few years including the possible corporatization of the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), establishment of innovation hubs, reconfiguration of maritime education and training as well as a push towards domestication of local shipping trade transport occurring along the country’s and southern region coastal areas.

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Minister of Transport; Dr Blade Nzimande

That is according to South Africa’s Minister of Transport, Dr Blade Nzimande in an address to delegates to the country’s inaugural maritime transport sector dialogue held in Durban on Thursday and Friday this week.

The gathering at the Southern Sun Elangeni Hotel on the Durban beachfront and with its focus on the maritime transport sector, was the first in a series planned for the country’s transport industry over the next few months and years.

Guiding focus of the maritime transport sector dialogue was the recently promulgated Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy (CMTP), a product of the National Transport Masterplan (NATMAP) 2050, aimed at facilitating collective pursuit and achievement of maritime sector economic development targets some set under the country’s Operation Phakisa: Ocean’s Economy programme for the next decade.

Among other things, the CMTP requires the Department of Transport to ‘initiate programmes to holistically and coherently grow and develop the South African maritime transport sector.’

On Thursday in Durban, Dr Nzimande who celebrated his first full year as Minister of Transport in February, said several proposals towards fulfillment of the goal were on the table for consideration. Among these was the setting up soon of a Maritime Transport Sector Development Council (MTSD), a development delegates to the dialogue have since endorsed.

Dr Nzimande said the council may be up and running by June 2019, even if on an interim basis pending finalization of its member composition and related matters.

Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) corporatisation

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However, also on the cards was a contemplated corporatisation of the country’s ports management entity, the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), with a view to unlocking vast economic opportunities identified within the country’s ports area of contribution and influence.

Dr Nzimande said “The present policy and legislation of government requires that we corporatize the Transnet National Ports Authority. I will be tasking the National Ports Consultative Committee to advise me on the steps to be undertaken to implement this crucial piece of legislation.

“I know that there is a debate (about this) because there are some people who are not wild about this idea. But a debate is good.”

He said this would take place against the backdrop of recognition that the country’s ports regulator was already doing a sterling job in creating a conducive and investor friendly environment at the ports, and also helping to reduce costs of doing business in the economic zones.

For Dr Nzimande’s remarks on the topic, Click on the 3 minutes video below

Transport innovation hubs

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Dr Nzimande said another crucial intervention would be the establishment of transport innovation hubs to facilitate the harnessing of talent and skills in the development of solutions to the country’s transport sector, inclusive of the maritime sector.

Describing this as something ‘very close to my heart’, Dr Nzimande said: “I am really committed into investing in having transport innovation hubs. We are not going to transform the transport sector generally, or any mode of transport, without investment into science, technology and innovation.”

Illustrating the particular importance of this aspect of development, Dr Nzimande drew an example about the country’s rail transport and said it was inconceivable that in modern times, trains in South Africa were still colliding randomly on railways when transport mobility technology had so advanced such that such collisions should be history.

He said the innovations hubs would facilitate the promotion and harnessing of science, technology and innovation ideas for deployment in areas of transport to help improve both functionality as well as efficient services. He said he would set up a task team to explore and pursue the idea towards implementation.

For Dr Nzimande’s remarks on the topic, Click on the 3 minutes video below

Focused education, training and skills transfer

On education and training, Dr Nzimande said empowerment and transformation in the sector was proving futile in the absence of proper and relevant education, training and skills transfer.

He said black economic empowerment was meaningless if it was limited only to shareholding while those sought to be empowered knew next to nothing about managing and understanding businesses in the maritime economic sector.

Towards addressing the situation, Dr Nzimande said his department would engage with various role-players inclusive of the Department of Higher Education and Training, with a view to establishing a dedicated education, training and skills development focus for the sector.

For his remarks on this aspect, Click on the video below:

Domestication of shipping and localization of content

Dr Nzimande also reflected on a number of issues inclusive of the need for a South Africa owned fleet of shipping vessels, as well as an increase in local content in the boat and ships repair and manufacturing subsectors.

On development of locally owned or registered ships, Dr Nzimande said coastal shipping could be supported in various ways inclusive of local mining output, but also the shifting some of the road transported goods onto ships that would service the southern African region.

With regards utilization of local content in ship repair and manufacturing, he said empowerment through shareholding by South Africans in operations that were importing goods that could be manufactured locally actually amounted to dis-empowerment as such schemes derived no meaningful and sustainable benefits for the local economy.

For his full remarks on this topic, Click Here:

For Dr Nzimande’s full unedited full speech, click here

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Day of the Seafarer, Monday June 25. Giving recognition where it’s due, seafarers: DoT

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Cape Town: 24 June 2018

The eyes of the maritime sector globally turn their focus on Monday onto the role of one of the most critical key role players in the field, seafarers – upon whose shoulders the movement of ships of all sizes as well as safety of global goods trade rests.

It is observance internationally of the Day of the Seafarer (DosT) in South Africa for the first time, the event led by the Department of Transport (DoT), with assistance by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) will be marked simultaneously in the three coastal cities of  Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, beginning from about 9am.

Participants are expected to include several role players in the country’s maritime sector inclusive of government agencies, shipping and related company representatives,  higher education and related institutions, seafarers and others.

And central to the events, in addition to messages both by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the Department of Transport, will be a round-table session (Duban) and panel discussions (Port Elizabeth and Cape Town) on matters affecting seafarers.

(For a preview of the Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga’s full message for DosT pre-recorded earlier, and for that of the IMO, Click on the videos below)

According to the DoT, for this reason, the South African Day of the Seafarer event will have as its supportive domestic theme: “A Dialogue with the South African Seafarer on the Day of the Seafarer.”

Reflecting on how the annual observation of the seafarers day came about eight years ago, the department says the IMO designated 25 June as the international Day of the Seafarer “as a way to recognize that almost everything that we use in our daily lives has been directly or indirectly affected by sea transport.

“International shipping transports more than 90 percent of global trade to peoples and communities all over the world and about 20 million containers are traveling across the oceans every day.

“Driven by the IMO together with partner countries including South Africa, this year’s Seafarers Day celebration theme is “seafarers’ well-being”. IMO asserts that the year 2017 and 2018 have seen strong momentum in the industry to address seafarer’s well-being, particularly their mental health.” says the DoT

Also noting that “South Africa, as a member of IMO has traditionally supported and participated in the Seafarers Day celebration,” the department says the country’s approach this year to include a stakeholder dialogue as part of the observation is intended to ensure that seafarers are not just celebrated, but also given opportunity to share their owns views about matters that impact their profession.

“The Department of Transport wants to create a platform to engage with seafarers in order to better understand the challenges they are facing and together to develop responses to the identified challenges. The purpose of participation is to create awareness about the role of seafarers and to inculcate the seafaring culture and excellence in South Africa.

“The IMO encourages governments, shipping organizations, companies, ship owners and all other parties concerned to duly and appropriately promote the Day of the Seafarer and take action to celebrate it meaningfully,” it says.

Monday’s observation of the Day of the Seafarer in South Africa in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban will then have its main goals; the initiation of a dialogue with the country’s seafarers, with the intention to find possible solutions on how to tackle challenges they may be faced with, but also provide ideas and projects to improve seafarers prospects for placement on ships worldwide and related opportunities, says the DoT.

Notably, the DoT says it also wants to focus attention on the role of especially female seafarers and about whom it says, remain under represented in the shipping subsector.

“The Department of Transport will use the Seafarers Day to launch an annual platform of engagement on issues affecting  seafarers including promotion of female seafarers. Shipping is one such wherein women constitute a very miniscule part of the shipboard workforce.

“The Seafarers day is a great opportunity for seafarers and maritime professionals in general from all sectors to promote and raise awareness of the value of seafaring culture and practice including training and development. The industry still foresees a shortfall of skilled, licensed officers and engineers in future years.

In keeping with modern communication trends, two hashtags are being used to highlight the event: #SupportSeafarersWellbeing through dialogue and  #GoodDayatSea

According to the DoT, The first hashtag can be used by shipping companies and others within the industry, “to show how they create opportunities and decent working environment for seafarers and how they address mental health issues among their seagoing staff.

“The second hashtag can be used to engage the general public, to wish them a good day at sea and encourage seafarers to share photos of themselves in a positive work environment.”

Meanwhile, in support of the ‘dialogue’ aspect of the observation, a couple of weeks ago SAMSA launched an initiative involving video interviews with local and international seafarers currently in South Africa, but also a social media initiative encouraging seafarers anywhere else to share their stories.

In the video interview series dubbed: “In Conversation with Seafarers – In celebration of Seafarers’ Day 2018′ 10 seafarers ( five female and five male including three international) shared their joys as well as frustrations that they experience in the profession, yet with most stating that seafaring is remains their first love and so it shall remain for a while yet.

To view the interviews (averaging 15 minutes each) go to the “Day of the Seafarer 2018” page or Click Here.

Of Monday’s Day of the Seafarer observation event nationally, in addition to traditional media coverage, SAMSA’s news information online platforms, inclusive of social media, will share news and information flowing from the events on a regular basis throughout the day. In addition, this blog will provide a comprehensive multi media report, inclusive of interviews with some of the participants, from late afternoon on Monday through to Tuesday.

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