An investigation into how millions of nurdles came to envelope the Cape coast, from south of Port Elizabeth through George and nearby towns is currently still underway, while an effort is made to clean the coastline of the small plastic pellets.
This is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in a statement in Pretoria on Tuesday. This was a further reaction to reports last month of the discovery of nurdles across the southern Cape coastline – from Fish Hoek in False Bay to Plettenberg Bay and lately, along the Eastern Cape coastline.
According to SAMSA on Tuesday, the source of the nurdles is still unknown but the agency confirmed that this latest incident is not related to the spillage that occured in KwaZulu-Natal in 2017.
“Authorities are working hard to address the nurdles recently washing up along certain regions of the south Western Cape coastline from Fish Hoek in False Bay to Goukamma Marine Protected Area and Plettenberg Bay.
“The nurdles are also reported to be washing up along the Eastern Cape coastline, the exact locations are still to be confirmed.
“The authorities, including, the Departments of Transport, Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, local authorities, NGOs and volunteer groups have all been working consistently to clean up nurdles washing up on beaches,” said SAMSA
The organisation described nurdles as “… small plastic pellets used in the manufacture of plastic products. In the raw stage (pre-moulded and packaged) they are not toxic to touch, but probably shouldn’t be chewed given the unknown synthetics that make up the pellets.
“However, once released into the marine environment they have a high attraction to harmful substances such as land-based pesticides, herbicides, other organic pollutants as well as heavy metals that end up in the ocean. At this stage they are very harmful to life, especially to wildlife when mistaken for food.”
SAMSA said: “The source of the nurdles is not yet confirmed but an investigation is currently ongoing and being led by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA). These nurdles are not related to the spillage that took place in Kwazulu-Natal in 2017.
“While the investigation into the source of the nurdles is being undertaken, SpillTech has been appointed to assist and conduct clean-up efforts along the affected sections of coastline. Spilltech will also be storing the nurdles collected through clean-up efforts and are working with authorities, NGOs and volunteer groups to identify collection points and arrange the pick-up of nurdles.
“The extent of the clean-up operation is significant and is anticipated that the removal of nurdles from the affected coastline will continue for some time to come. The authorities and NGOs look forward to working with SpillTech as the lead agent for the duration of cleanup-operations.
“Spilltech can be contacted on 063 404 2128 for information on collection points and pick up of collected nurdles,” said SAMSA
Announces poverty alleviation initiative for marginalised rural coastal subsistence fishermen.
Pretoria: 13 October 2020
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has confirmed plans to launch a corporate social investment and sustainability initiative in October aimed at alleviating reportedly increasing poverty among some marginalised communities within the country’s maritime sector.
Funded to a tune of R3-million co-sponsored jointly by one of South Africa’s biggest commercial banks, Absa, and supported by skills development services provider, the Moses Kotane Institute; the SAMSA CSI&S conceived and driven initiative will, according to the authority, target largely marginalised subsistence fishermen in three coastal provinces; KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape.
“The collaboration which will be delivered in two phases will see both SAMSA and Absa committing R3- million to the project,” said SAMSA in a statement.
“The first phase which will be launching today and will comprise of the provision of immediate to near-term essential food support to communities in Mbizana and Coffee Bay in the Eastern Cape and communities of Kwa-Xolo, Gamalahle, Ndizimakwhe, Umzumbe and Umdoni in the province of Kwazulu-Natal. Communities in the Northern Cape will be announced as soon as the interactions with the identified municipality are concluded.
“The second phase of the collaboration will see unemployed or retrenched local small-scale fishers and other fishing workersreceiving pre-sea training, skippers training and entrepreneurship training,” the statement read.
Absa, a Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) listed financial institution, is one of Africa’s largest diversified financial services groups with a presence in 12 countries across the continent, also with representative offices in Namibia and Nigeria, as well as insurance operations in Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia, employing approximately 42 000 people.
Moses Kotane Institute on the other hand, is a KwaZulu-Natal (La Mercy, Durban) based higher education institution founded in 2007 and owned by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, with evolving focus now precisely on research and development, innovation and technology, as well as maritime and economics.
The poverty alleviation initiative jointly pursued by the parties, says SAMSA, is a much needed and sort-after intervention in the maritime economic sector.
According to SAMSA: “The spectre of the novel coronavirus (Covid-10) pandemic both in South Africa and globally continues to hog the news media headlines worldwide for its unprecedented devastating effect socially and economically.
“So far in South Africa, about 693 000 people have been infected and close on 17 000 have died since the outbreak of the virus in China in December 2019 and its spread to South Africa since March 2020. But equally devastating has been the effect the rapid spread of the virus has had on the economy, with scores of businesses all across the board having had to close down or drastically down-scale operations, leading to more than 2-million people now left without jobs in the second quarter of this financial year.
“At the same time, within the maritime economic sector, at the periphery of this ongoing economic devastation are subsistence fishermen across South African provinces, who irked a living through daily toil of fishing for home consumption and negligible sales, and whose lives have since turned for the worst, as are now facing dire poverty largely due in part to the necessary yet unfortunate interruption in economic activity brought by the declaration of a State of Disaster that saw a national Lockdown at five (5) levels imposed by Government since March 2020.”
SAMSA said with South Africa faced by the dire situation, national Government appealed to all able and willing South Africans to contribute towards alleviation of this big poverty challenge.
“Against the backdrop, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has responded by putting together a Corporate Social Investment (CSI) and Sustainability driven project to directly alleviate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly on rural subsistence fishermen in the three provinces of the Eastern Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal and Northern Cape with basic necessities, including capacitating them with requisite tools to sustain themselves and their communities going into the future.
“The project, undertaken in collaboration with ABSA and Moses Kotane Institute (MKA) rolls out from 19 October 2020 and should conclude in the first week of December 2020.”
Of the collaboration with Absa and MKI: “SAMSA and Absa are also pleased to have the Moses Kotane Institute (MKI) this collaboration. The MKI comes on board as a delivery partner, particularly on the training side of the intervention. MKI is an internationally recognised research, innovation and maritime institution driving economic development in KwaZulu-Natal.
Tracking down a set of stimulus packages earlier announced by government, and the revival of an inter-ministerial committee focused on South Africa’s maritime economic sector are among key issues to be pursued in the short term, according to Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Ms Thembi Siweya.
This, she pronounced on at the end of a whistle-stop visit to the Eastern Cape this past week along with Public Enterprises Deputy Minister, Mr Phumulo Masualle, to make an assessment of impacts as well as identify gaps in economic and investment programmes under the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative launched in the area.
In their company were senior officials of the Eastern Cape government, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) the Coega Development Corporation (CDC), the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), Nelson Mandela Bay local government officials, leaders of business, and others.
The projects visited included the fledgling bunkering services recently established off-shore in the precinct of the port of Port Elizabeth, the planned relocation of a fuel tank farm and a manganese ore dump currently settled at the port of Port Elizabeth, as well as energy generation investment projects currently underway at the Coega Industrial Development adjacent the Ngqurha deep water, also near Port Elizabeth,
The Deputy Ministers also utilised the opportunity of their visit to meet leaders of business in the maritime economic sector with direct and indirect interest in the operations, as well as aspiring and established small businessmen.
The visit took place amid varied concerns involving, on the one hand, groups of environmentalists in the area worried about the possible highly negative impacts of the new bunkering services to the environment, while on the other hand, small business fears of being overlooked for business opportunities now arising from the bunkering services.
Reporting on their observations after visiting the projects on Wednesday morning, Ms Siweya described the developments as showing good progress while acknowledging the challenges faced by some both in terms of concerns of possible environmental threats as well as difficulties faced by investors and business in general in the sector.
Matters of express concern raised, she said, revolved around poverty of legislation governing the new bunkering services, but also shipping especially terms of tax legislation, and the apparent absence of financial support and incentives to encourage investment in the sector. In addition, constant interaction between government, business and civil society to ensure proper alignment was crucial to success, she said.
Ms Siweya said the country’s maritime economic was among sectors identified under the National Development Plan (2030) as key to economic development and expansion and deliberate focus on it was necessary.
To this end, an inter-ministerial committee established in 2015 and which had since become dysfunctional would be revived, In addition, she said, it had become clear that there was a need for financial support of businesses in the sector in the form of a maritime fund.
In this regard, she said: “In 2018, the President spoke about a stimulus package, and there were departments that received stimulus packages. We are going to follow up on that to establish how far they are… what has been done with the funding.”
For Ms Siweya’s full remarks on this and various other matters, click on the video below.
Meanwhile, at the imbizo attended by no less 150 people at a venue located adjacent the Coega Development Zone, leaders of business in the maritime sector as well as aspirant business people wasted little time expressing their displeasure on numerous challenges which they face and towards which they felt government was failing them.
For a full perspective on the proceedings, invest time on the following video. It is about an hour long but goes a long way in depicting the exchanges as they happened.
Key highlights include the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA acting CEO, Mr Sobantu Tilayi (video: 55th minute) revealing for the first time in public, the enmvisaged establishment of a dedicated fund in the Nelson Mandela Bay to both fund expenses towards environmental preservation (in the case of an oil spill from bunkering services) as well as support small and medium businesses operating in the sector.
South Africa, geographically located at the southern tip of the African continent bordering on three vast oceans to the east, south and west; is on course to become one of the world’s maritime centres of excellence by 2030, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).
Key drivers towards this goal, according to the agency’s acting CEO, Mr Sobantu Tilayi, include an entrenched and sustained good governance of the oceans, development and growth of the maritime economic sector, the latter which in turn requires extensive education and skills development.
Mr Tilayi said this while addressing about two thousand high school pupils during a one day Maritime Education Expo held at the King Sabata Dalindyebo Technical and Vocational Education and Training (KSD TVET) College in Coffee bay last Thursday.
The event, jointly organised by SAMSA’s Corporate Social Investment unit, the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and the KSD College was held to mark the launch of the celebration of the TVET Month (August) – an annual event now in its sixth year aimed at raising greater public awareness technical and vocational education and training as a viable, if important, alternative to academic university education.
Maritime education and skills development has yet to fully impact the country’s 50 TVET college network, however, and SAMSA took the opportunity to also raise awareness among high schools pupils about South Africa’s maritime status, the country’s maritime and marine sector generally and the opportunities that lie therein for both business investment, education and training, and economic development in general.
The event – the second of its kind in two weeks in the Eastern Cape – attended by also by the Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, Mr Buti Manamela; had also found fit with SAMSAs rural maritime programme.
The programme is focused currently on rural coastal areas which, although with total access to the 3 200 kilometers coastline of the country’s three oceans, and attaching to which is a 2.5-million squares kilometers of an exclusive economic zone at sea, lack the wherewithal to make use of it for economic and social benefit.
The SAMSA rural programme pursued in strategic partnerships with issue relevant stakeholders both in government and the private sector,involves awareness promotion, industry and basic skills development and jobs creation particularly in the marine tourism sub-sectors.
Mr Tilayi said South Africa’s Vision 2030 envisaged the country becoming one of the world’s maritime centres of excellence based both on its strategic geographical location as well as its vast knowledge and expertise on maritime issues. However, he said, good governance was a key tool towards the goal, as would be mass education and skills development.
Towards this goal, and as a means to incentive young school pupils, he offered the eight schools that released its pupils to attend the expo on Thursday, one bursary each, which would be fully funded by SAMSA
For his full remarks, click on the video below.
Meanwhile, in the main address of the event, Mr Manamela emphasised the importance the country now attaches to technical and vocational education and training as both a viable and crucial alternative route to the development of young people with skills they use almost immediately to gain meaningful employment.
According to DHET, he said, one of the success stories of the department of the training section of the department’s portfolio was the expansion of the number of TVET colleges and the restoration of their reputation as institutions of education and training excellence.
Mr Manamela said for SA young people keen on education and skills development, distinct advantages of TVET colleges included they did require Grade 12 for admission, tuition was offered for free and skills acquired could be immediately applied either through industry employment or entrepreneurship.
For his full remarks, click on the video below:
The day was split into two parts – one third to the formal speeches and two-thirds to the expo, together lasting about five hours.
South Africa’s elderly population is not without longer a purpose nor a significant continued contribution to the country’s socio-political and economic contribution, and it is only correct that it remains accommodated in programmes to develop the country.
This is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) which, in partnership with the King Sabata Dalindyebo Municipality in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, hosted some 250 elderly people during a function to mark the international Mandela Day at the Mthatha dam on Thursday.
The choice of the massive dam (or lake, by some accounts) for the function was consistent with SAMSA’s expanded mandate to promote the environmental and economic potential value of the country’s inland waterways within context of the development of the country’s maritime and marine economic sector as espoused through the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) programme.
The partnership for the event with the KSD Municipality, and to an extent, the KSD Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) was part of a larger SAMSA Corporate Social Investment (CSI) campaign in the part of the Eastern Cape that is part the agency’s rural development programme in coastal areas of the country involving mainly youth skills development and job creation.
As it were, Thursday’s Mandela Day celebration with the area’s elderly, had been preceded by a day long SAMSA initiated and driven youth awareness programme involving more than 2000 high school children who were introduced formally for the first time to maritime sector careers.
In marking Nelson Mandela Day annually, SAMSA has over the last few years not only encouraged its own employees to donate 67 minutes of their own time to worthy causes, but also consistently focused on and donated material goods, mainly warm winter blankets to the elderly countrywide.
The activity also consistently involved the staging of a main function to entertain and dine the elderly our the country’s population.
In Mthatha on Thursday, SAMSA Head of CSI, Ms Mapitso Dlepu said the focus on the elderly was both in appreciation of their massive contribution to growth and development of families and communities, as well continued involved in support of those communities.
Many grandparents particularly in the previously marginalised and poor communities, still continued to play an active role in the rearing of children and in support of their own grown children many of whom face unemployment. Government grants are shared with whole families just to ensure that life remained bearable for many.
However in addition, according to Ms Dlepu, it remained sensible that the elderly were not only recognised and acknowledged for their significant continued contribution, but were also kept informed of developments around them.
She said SAMSA’s statutory mandate to promote South Africa’s maritime interest both domestically and abroad essentially involved continuous engagement with communities through information sharing for greater public awareness of maritime sector issues.
Currently in the Eastern Cape, SAMSA is engaged jointly with the provincial government through the Office of the Eastern Cape Premier in an ongoing Maritime Youth Development Programme (MYDP) the both provides basic maritime skills as well secure them jobs on cruise vessels worldwide. Since launch in 2017, no less than 1000 youths from the province have since been assisted this way.
She said it made sense that parents including the elderly were also occasionally appraised of these developments in order to broaden their awareness and solicit support.
For Ms Dlepu’s remarks click on the video below.
Meanwhile, KSD Municipality Executive Mayor, Mr D.N Nelani told the audience that plans for the transformation and development of the Mthatha Dam into a marine tourism attraction were underway. He said the plans have long been established but little had been achieved to date. This he said, would need to change soon as job creation was among key objectives of both the local and provincial governments.
He said the introduction of cruise vessel services at the massive dam would be instrumental in achieving the goal. For Mr Nelani’s full remarks, click on the video below
Spoken to as they dispersed in late afternoon on Thursday, many of the elderly had high praise for the effort and expressed appreciation that Government and its agencies was consistent in acknowledging their continued existence and contribution.
This blog spoke to a few of them in the following video:
For more pictures and videos of the Mandela Day 2019 function for the elderly in Mthatha, see below
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is not apologetic about the approach of its contribution to economic development in the Eastern Cape insofar as it is consistent with its legislated mandate to, among other things; promote South Africa’s maritime economic interests.
This is according to the agency’s acting CEO, Mr Sobantu Tilayi in response to mounting criticism levelled against the agency with regards to its role in the attraction of investment into bunkering services now operational in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth in Nelson Mandela Bay, Eastern Cape, as well as its rural maritime economic development projects involving the basic skilling and recruitment of rural coastal youths into cruise tourism globally.
The latter initiative which has seen more than 300 youths trained and found employment in MSC cruise vessels across the world was launched in the province in 2017 with the financial backing of the Office of the Premier, Eastern Cape, and technical and administrative support by Harambe.
It was initiated in Gauteng in 2016 with the support of Gauteng provincial government and is open to all provinces keen on it.
The bunkering services – essentially an international fuel services station established in the port of Port Elizabeth ocean precinct at the initiation of SAMSA – also began operations in 2016.
Recently, certain groupings, involving mainly environmentalists, have mounted opposition to the venture – now involving three services providers inclusive of a black owned all women company – on fears of possible environmental degradation due to possible oil spillages.
In response during a formal function to mark the registration of a fifth vessel under the South African flag in the port of Port Elizabeth a week ago, Mr Tilayi said the introduction of the bunkering services in the city had been undertaken following careful assessment of its suitability for the international service to trade cargo vessels passing along the southern oceans of Africa.
In addition, he said SAMSA was the country’s agency tasked with prevention of pollution by ships along the country’s three oceans, and also responsible for ensuring the safety of people and property at sea. Therefore, it was incumbent upon SAMSA to make sure there was no environmental threat of the seas by the bunkering services.
Working jointly and closely with the Department of Environmental Affairs, SAMSA had ensured that no danger would be posed by the bunkering services in the Port Elizabeth coastal region beyond pure accidents and which, if experienced, would be managed according to approved safeguard processes already in place.
However, consistent with both SAMSA’s mandate as well as objectives of the Operations Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative launched in 2014, crucially, a major consideration was that the investment into the bunkering services was a necessary economic intervention for especially the region of the Eastern Cape province that had historically been ignored by previous government policies and initiatives.
He said contrary to claims by critics, the bunkering services had yielded positive results as it had to date generated sizeable financial income for the Nelson Mandela Bay region running into millions of rand and created employment for about 300-500 people directly and in downstream businesses.
But in addition, broadly, SAMSA had directed its efforts towards rural coastal areas in the Eastern Cape province to contribute to both skills development as well as jobs creation for youth. This was undertaken through two projects, the SAMSA Rural Maritime Development Programme as well as the Maritime Youth Development Programme.
The RMDP involves three broad areas, basic maritime skills development, fishing and marine tourism. The MYDP is focused on basic skills development and placement of youths on cruise vessels.
According to Mr Tilayi, the targeting of rural coastal areas of the Eastern Cape for these services as opposite to hinterland areas, was deliberate and informed by a defined need to ensure direct participation and beneficiation of the communities closest to the oceans on oceans economy development that was right at their own doorstep.
“It is a great pity, and regrettable that some in the Eastern Cape are finding reasons to look down on and denounce our efforts. But we are not apologetic about our approach to contribution to development of the region and frankly, we would prefer partnerships and collaboration to ensure that people of this region participate and benefit.
“But we are grateful and encouraged that many others in this region, including especially the Eastern Cape provincial government, are giving full support to our endeavours”
For Mr Tilayi’s full remarks on the issues, click on the video below.
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has extended its deepest condolences to the families and friends of two Maritime Youth Development Programme (MYPD) candidates who tragically lost their lives in a car crash this past long weekend.
According to SAMSA in a statement in Pretoria on Wednesday, the two candidates, Musawenkosi Qayiso and Fika Sibatoboto died on Friday (14 June 2019) while a third MYPD candidate survived without injury.
SAMSA said the survivor was receiving trauma counselling from a psychologist. According to SAMSA, exact details of the accident would be known once an investigation was completed by authorities
Meanwhile, SAMSA confirmed that the funeral services for the two youths would take place in Mthatha and King William’s Town – both in the Eastern Cape – on Saturday, 22 June 2019.
Reacting to the tragic news, SAMSA Acting CEO Sobantu Tilayi said: “It is with great sadness that we learned of the untimely and tragic passing of Musawenkosi and Fika. Our thoughts are with their families and friends in this dark time. They were promising mariners of whom a lot was expected and promised, and their loss is deeply felt.”
SAMSA established the MYPD in 2017 to provide opportunities in the maritime industry for young South Africans from disadvantaged backgrounds, living in informal settlements and marginalised communities.
After receiving training, successful MYPD candidates are placed on various cruise liners sailing across the world, as well as in other related industry jobs.
The staging of this year’s World Maritime Day celebrations at the Wild Coast town of Port St Johns in the O.R Tambo District Municipality of the Eastern Cape province, by some accounts, arguably proved its worth beyond the simple recognition of the region as among South Africa’s undeserving highly underdeveloped areas, yet with direct access to 800 km of ocean space.
By design, the event on Wednesday (27 September), the first of two days of celebration, provided an opportunity for the AmaMpondo clan to also formally commemorate the 100th year of the sinking of the S.S Mendi – a 4000 ton British steamship that perished off the English Channel in 1917 along with just over 600 black South Africans soldiers, and dozens of whom were from the O.R Tambo District Municipality.
According to historical record, among those who perished during the sinking of SS Mendi were AmaMpondo chiefs Hendry Bokleni, Dokoda, Richard Ndamase, Mxonywa Bangani and Mongameli, and the Reverend Isaac Wauchope Dyobha.
The O.R Tambo district municipality settled along the Eastern Cape’s coastline is named after one of South Africa’s most famous liberation struggle icons and former president of the African National Congress, the late Mr Oliver Reginald Tambo who – along with Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the former wife of Nelson Mandela – was born in Mbizana and whose political contribution to the country’s liberation is also being celebrated in the country throughout 2017.
At last Wednesday’s World Maritime Day event staged at Port St Johns’ golf course, in a uniquely refreshing, educational and entertainingly fun way, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) through its Maritime Heritage project, brought to life the tragic sinking of the S.S Mendi a century ago this year via a docu-drama film – Troopship Tragedy – that was presented by its creator, researcher and narrator; Mr Mzwanele ‘Zwai’ Mgijima of Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape.
The almost hour long movie’s production in 2015 was directed by Marion Edmunds.
For his very presence at the event, Mr Mgijima, a stage actor and storyteller who, during production of the film, traveled from the rural O. R Tambo District Municipality area to England to find the sunken S.S Mendi and bring back to South Africa the spirits of the SA Native Labour Contingent’s members who perished therein, was as much a source of amazement and delight for the approximately 500 school learners and teachers at the event as was the film presentation itself.
The World Maritime Day event, an annual celebration driven by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) was staged in Port St Johns this year through a collaborative effort involving government departments including Transport, Tourism, Basic Education, the Eastern Cape Provincial Government and SAMSA; to also observe the centenaries of the sinking of the S.S Mendi, and O.R Tambo’s birth (were he alive this year).
The inclusion of a maritime heritage aspect followed to last year’s very successful inauguration of the SAMSA Maritime Heritage Project during the 38th World Maritime Day celebrations held at the Xhariep Dam in the Free State, in collaboration with the South African National Heritage Council.
Remarking during last Thursday’s event, Mr Mgijima said: “I hastened to say yes to the invitation because I was going to interact with learners from local schools when watching the film, the SS Mendi Troopship Tragedy”.
“To me”, he said, “this was knowledge dissemination in real time as the film was researched and shot in Pondoland. That, for me, was like going back to the source!
“What humbled me most,” said Mr Mgijima, “was the fact that a group of learners and their teachers came back with their lunch packs to watch the film: they never touched their food while watching it!”
“’I teach them about the Mendi – their forgotten history’ a voice from their teacher.
“It was all silent during the viewing of the film. A dream realized by me that the history has been told through water and land,” concluded Mr Mgijima.
*The South African Maritime Safety Authority has a copy of the movie for its archives.
The development of South Africa’s maritime sector is now formally in full swing under the banner of the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative, with billions of rand of State funds currently being invested in particularly ports and related infrastructure.
However, now absolutely crucial is a need to ensure that all South Africans are on board and involved, and central to strategy is a need to both broaden and entrench fully education and skills development of especially the young, Minister of Transport, Mr Joe Masangwanyi told hundreds of people – among them 400 high school children – attending this year’s World Maritime Day celebrations held in Port St Johns, Eastern Cape.
Port St Johns, a little town settled in a picturesque area of South Africa’s Wild Coast along the Indian Ocean, midway between East London and Durban, was chosen by the Department of Transport for this year’s observation of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) driven World Maritime Day on September 28 for a number of reasons.
Among these is that the town symbolizes one of the most under-developed areas of South Africa settled along the country’s 3200 km long coastline. It used to fall under the jurisdiction of the former Transkei homeland or Bantustan whose development was simply ignored by the apartheid government.
The town is now among coastal areas of the country earmarked earlier this year as part of a coastal and marine tourism initiative for a rapid development plan over five years beginning in 2017.
Port St Johns also falls under the O.R Tambo District Municipality which is home to former African National Congress president, Mr Oliver Reginald Tambo whose contribution to the country’s liberation struggle is being celebrated in 2017.
The World Maritime Day event held in the town on Thursday (28 September) was the second of its kind with an international maritime theme to be held in the region, the first having been the international Seafarers’ Day held in Mbizana in June.
Also preceding the event were a number of marine skills and related project targeting close on 300 youths from the region since June this year.
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) driven initiatives included a Maritime Youth Development Programme (MYDP) for youths keen on working on cruise vessels; a Corporate Social Investment Youth Skills project for youths keen on sea diving, life-guarding and related), a Coastal and Marine Tourism initiative aimed at facilitating infrastructure development and enhancement, job creation and entrepreneurship.
At Thursday’s event, Mr Masangwanyi said these maritime sector related initiatives were a clear indication of Government’s expressed commitment to driving new investment into areas that are both underdeveloped and with great potential to contribute to the country’s economy through business investment and job creation.
According to Mr Masangwanyi, there is no longer a reason why populations of people living in the country’s coastal provinces (Northern Cape, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal) should not be in the lead in the development of the country’s maritime economic sector.
Infrastructure development, education and skills development would be the key drivers for investment; he said.
“Government has identified the maritime sector as an important sector of the country’s economy
“Various ports across the country are receiving billions of rand in investment to enhance their capacity – facts of which will be fully revealed when President Jacob Zuma reports to the nation about the progress of Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) in Durban next month.
“We are not going to leave behind Port St Johns. Among highlights of projects in the area is the expansion of the N2 and which will formally link the town of Port St Johns to increased road traffic between the major cities of East London and Durban. As much as R8-billion is being invested in the Wild Coast road construction project.
“The cabinet has approved the comprehensive maritime transport policy, it provides further opportunity for investment in the country’s maritime transport sector.
“This welcome development indicates that as a country, we cannot remain consumers of maritime services of other countries while we have such coastal heritage.
“Gone are the days when our people are consumers. Now is the time that our people should also contribute to productions of services. Gone are the days when our oceans are dominated by big shipping companies from Europe, America and Asia. Now is the time that vessels should be owned and operated by South Africans and in the main, Africans.
“Through the maritime transport and manufacturing projects we will create between 40-56 000 job opportunities, whereby our people will be involved in maritime construction, telecommunication technologies and equipment manufacturing. These will contribute between R21-25-billion to the economy of South Africa. In order achieve these goals within the set timeframes, it cannot be business as usual,” he said.
To listen to his full speech (about 20 minutes) Click on the video below.
Marine tourism but precisely the cruise ships tourism subsector is set for a major boost in South Africa with the setting up of a sea cruise business partnership involving shipping group, Vukani Marine and an international operator, in Port Elizabeth.
An immediate positive impact would be the creation of much needed jobs on cruise ships for local youth, revealed Mr Sobantu Tilayi, chief operating officer at the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in East London on Friday.
Mr Tilayi was speaking during the formal launch of a Maritime Youth Development Programme (MYDP) for the province – a joint youth empowerment initiative between the Office of the Premier of the Eastern Cape, national multi-stakeholder youth empowerment outfit, Harambee; and SAMSA.
At its official launch at the port of East London on Friday, the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) linked project involved about 130 youths from the province who will undergo training in maritime related skills for possible deployment initially on cruise liners around the world.
This is the first marine tourism related initiative of its kind focused on the Eastern Cape Province, with the first batch of about 50 youths likely to be deployed as early as September this year.
Shipping group Vuka Marine is a joint venture between Via Maritime Holdings of South Africa and K-Line of Japan. It is the first shipping group to have its cargo vessels registered under the South African flag – the first of these, the Cape Orchid, flagged in September 2015.
Addressing the group of youths ahead of the start of their training programme in the next few weeks, Mr Tilayi, in the company of Eastern Cape Premier, Mr Phumulo Masaulle and some provincial senior government officials, Mayors and councilors of the Buffalo City and Port St Johns municipalities and others, said Vuka Marine in partnership with a Hong Kong based cruise ships operator, were planning the establishment of a training and jobs placement operation in Port Elizabeth.
The unnamed Vukani Marine partner according to Mr Tilayi, operates about 720 cruise liners mostly in the Caribbean, with a total crew of about 44 000 people.
“They are setting up in Port Elizabeth so that we (South Africa) can have a slice of those job opportunities,” said Mr Tilayi, adding that one of the attractions that were drawing the initiative to South Africa was the country people’s versatility borne of the diversity of the domestic population.
He said South Africans generally spoke English which was the universal maritime language, and that South Africans generally interacted and therefore were more familiar with people of different ethnic groups – a characteristic also deemed as highly important in the maritime transport sector.
“That is the reason why the world is looking at South Africa producing the kind of people needed in that sector, “ he said.
He urged the youths to grab the opportunities emerging with both hands and work hard to profit from them not only for themselves but for the rest of the country.
For Mr Tilayi’s full remarks on the matter, Click Here.
Never should the Eastern Cape remain the backyard of South Africa’s economy
Meanwhile, the Eastern Cape provincial government applauded both SAMSA, Harambee and others involved in the Maritime Youth Development Programme initiative for the province.
In welcoming the initiative, Premier Masaulle described it as an anomaly that the Eastern Cape province endowed with the second longest coastline in the country along the Indian Ocean – about 800km in total – yet benefited far less from its exposure to a maritime economy.
With emerging opportunities he said, it would be consistent with the province’s historical role of supplying labour to industries that its people should again emerge dominant in the further development of the country’s maritime economic sector.
Mr Masaulle urged the youth to set their aims high with a view to filling up and occupying any and all ranks available in the sector.
For his full remarks on the aspect, Click on the video above.
For more audio-visual coverage of the event, go to the Multi-Media page and click either on Photos, or Audio & Video, or otherwise, Click Here.