Maritime sector Covid-19 restrictions under constant review as South Africa settles with 21 day lockdown

Pretoria: 28 March 2019

Certain tough restrictions imposed on every aspect of life in South Africa on the basis of the country’s recent declaration of a state of National Disaster, as well as a three weeks population lockdown that began on midnight Thursday (March 26), as a response to the global outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, are constantly receiving reviewal, according to the Department of Transport.

For the maritime sector, one such strict restriction is that related to the entry and exit of seafarers and associated personnel at any of the country’s ports, which are virtually closed to all international trade cargo except that deemed to be essential supplies.

In terms of the new special rules, vessels dropping anchor at or near any of the country’s ports are not allowed disembarkment of seafarers and therefore not permitted to change crews, even if the seafarers are South African.

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South Africa Transport Minister, Mr Fikile Mbalula

However, in a statement in Pretoria on Friday, Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula said that specific restriction was urgently being reviewed, this coming in the wake of an incident in Durban, where  a crew of  six (6) South African seafarers on a cruise ship, the Queen Mary 2 (erroneously named as the Queen Elizabeth 2), were disallowed disembarkment, according to the lockdown rules.

“These South Africans want to disembark and return home.  However, our regulations do not allow crew changes at any of our ports, even if these are South Africans. The Queen Mary 2 is waiting for clearance to enter the port in order to refuel and take provisions.  This is a matter we are urgently considering,’ said Mr Mbalula in Pretoria on Friday.

The confirmation of the reviewal came as South Africa ended its first of 21 days of a national lockdown in terms of a declared State of Natonal Disaster in line with a global scramble to ward off or limit the grossly negative impacts of the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic now in its fourth month since its outbreak in China in December 2019.

As of Friday, the start of the national lockdown, South Africa recorded a rising figure of just over 1000 people found infected by the virus as well as confirmation of the death of the first person due to the pandemic.

The Health Ministry in a report on Friday gave a breakdown of the nature and extent of infection, stating that of the total 1170 people so far found to be positive of the Covid-19 virus, those hospitalised (both public and private) included 55 patients in intensive care units and three (3) in ventilations while 31 had recovered.

Of those infected, a total 4407 of those with whom they had been in contact had been identified and of these, 3465 successfully traced for their locations. The ministry also raised alarm that: “There is an increase in the rate of internal transmissions. Patients without a history of travelling abroad have been detected in many provinces.” – a situation giving justification to a clampdown n the movement of people between provinces and districts during the 21 day nationwide lockdown in order to prevent further infections.

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The SA Agulhas, South Africa’s dedicated cadet training vessel owned and operated by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)

Meanwhile, with regards the fate of seafarers, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), announced a raft of measures aimed at assisting the country’s seafarers.

The statement said:

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Republic of South Africa announced measures to combat the spread of the disease by declaring a State of Disaster and putting the country on lockdown effective midnight on 26 March 2020.

“The results of such lockdown is that all businesses are required to close doors except for those offering essential services. The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and its stakeholders have been affected by the lockdown as a result only with essential services being rendered. As such, the services for seafarers which are rendered directly by SAMSA and/or its clients/stakeholders may not be delivered during the lockdown, viz:

  1. No training of seafarers for short courses over the period, academic programmes may continue through ‘e-learning’ platforms
  2. No assessments for seafarer certification will be undertaken during this period.
  3. No eye sights test will be undertaken during the period.

The results of this is that seafarers whose certificates expire during this period are not able to attend re-fresher training whilst some are unable to sign-off their vessels. SAMSA has granted a general extension to all certificates expiring during the National State of Disaster as set out in the Marine Notice.

For this purpose, the production of the said Marine Notice shall be sufficient for Seafarers working on vessels trading within the South African Ports.

Seafarers working on foreign vessels may be required to produce specific individual documents expressing the extension of the certificate. To this end, seafarers and the employers may obtain such extension by completing the application forms below.

All extension requests shall be made using the form below;

Certificate extension Application Form – FOP-524.8 – Extension of Certificate.pdf

 We have also provided guidance below;

Completing Extension Form Guide – Completing Extension Form guide.docx

Users are requested to download the form from the link above and not to share with other persons to prevent missing out on changes that will produce negative results or return incorrect information. The system requires that all fields be completed correctly to ensure that the correct information is distributed.

Enquiries should be directed to the Registrar of Seafarers at seafarers@samsa.org.za  or the Chief Examiner at exams@samsa.org.za

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SAMSA outlines measures to curb spread of Covid 19 by ships and crew at South Africa seas

Pretoria: 17 March 2020

The South African Maritime Authority (SAMSA) has set out guidelines on how management of sea going vessels falling within its scope of activities shall be dealt with, following the outbreak of the coronavirus (Covid19), and which partly suspends some of its activities, such as ship surveys for a limited period of time.

The publication of two Marine Notices due for release this week, follows fresh on the pronouncement by the Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula on Monday this week on steps the maritime safety agency will embark upon. That in turn came in the wake of South Africa President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa announcing on Sunday a National Disaster declaration aimed at curbing the spread of the Covid19 virus now rampant in just about every country in the world, from its outbreak in China last December.

The first of the new Marine Notices announces the temporal suspension of ship surveys, audits or inspection from this week until 30 March 2020. “As of 16 March 2020, all statutory surveys, audits and inspections will be suspended for a period of 14 days.”

The second notice; “serves to inform vessels, Masters, crew, passengers, ship agents, Stevedores, surveyors, Ship managers, Ship owners and all other stakeholders with additional information in order to manage any suspected outbreak of Covid-19 onboard a vessel in the best possible way.”

In the former notice (temporal suspension of certain services) SAMSA states in part that: “Recognizing that, due to the outbreak of the COvid-19, the industry is facing challenges in meeting statutory requirements stipulated in the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC 2006) and other relevant IMO Conventions, SAMSA has decided to provide guidance for dealing with the circumstances for example, extending seafarer periods of service onboard vessels, delaying periods for surveys, inspections and audits in a pragmatic and harmonized approach.

The agency then urges affected parties to read carefully the Marine Notice in order to ensure a clear understanding of its contents and how to enlist help when necessary.

DSC_4428In justification of the termporary suspection of services, SAMSA states: “SAMSA surveyors frequently travel to smaller fishing communities where there are no proper medical facilities in the area, other than a local clinic. SAMSA surveyors may therefore inadvertently spread the coronavirus to a local fishing community when visiting.

“Vessels operating from these communities, whose safety certificates expire before 15 April 2020, may request an extension on their safety certificates for up to 60 days, subject to change.

“In cases where Local General Safety Certificates (LGSC) are already expired, a re-issue of an LGSC will be considered on a case by case basis provided that the previous LGSC has not been expired for more than 60 days. To this end, payment for re-issue will need to be made.”

The Marine Notice then expands on the set of other services affected and provides guidance on how affected parties shall solicit and receive medical and related services under given sets of conditions and circumstances.

In the other Marine Notice, SAMSA provides extensive detail of measures currently being undertaken in South Africa to prevent the spread of the killer CoVid19 and arrangements, inclusive of contact details, to be utilised by affected parties in the maritime sector.

These also include recommended preventive measures against the spread of the virus within South African borders.

Key contact numbers being offered to affected stakeholders are follows:

  1. CORONAVIRUS PUBLIC HOTLINE: Tel. 08 000 29999
  2. MARITIME RESCUE COORDINATION CONTACT DETAILS (24 / 7 / 365): Tel: +27 (0) 21 938 3300 or mrcc.ct@samsa.org.za
  3. TRANSNET NATIONAL PORT AUTHORITY: Tel: +27 (0) 83 378 8877 or Tel: +27 (0) 83 306 1228
  4. SOUTH AFRICAN DESIGNATED COASTAL HOSPITALS

Western Cape          Tygerberg Hospital  Cape Town   +27(0) 21 938 4911

KwaZulu-Natal         Grey’s Hospital         Pietermaritzburg       +27(0) 33 897 3000

Eastern Cape           Livingstone Hospital   Port  Elizabeth       +27(0) 41 405 9111

Northern Cape          Kimberley Hospital  Kimberley      +27(0) 53 802 9111

Designated hospitals for managing Coronavirus –

https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1u86kN7ZVxPBG-s5pzHc93b29fkpKGC16&usp=sharing

On publication, the two marine notices can be accessed from the SAMSA website by following this link:

http://www.samsa.org.za/Pages/default.aspx

 

Meanwhile, the outbreak of the Covid19 virus and its ferocious, insatiable and unstoppable appetite to infect large numbers of people globally at an alarming rate has put paid to South Africa maritime sector’s celebration of the return of the country’s sole cadet training and research vessel, the SA Agulhas, from its historic sojourn through the Indian and Southern Oceans, including Antarctic this week.

Make history of the SA Agulhas’ journey to the ocean region this time around, and which began on its departure on 27 December 2019 from Cape Town, was part of its all female crew of 22 cadets and two female training officers – the first of its kind ever to undertake the journey, along with a group of Indian scientists periodical studying that part of the world.

Cadets muster during safety drill onboard SAAGThe SA Agulhas’ historic all female cadet crew and training officers was scheduled to be celebrated during a now cancelled event scheduled for East London, one of South Africa’s major coastal cities on the Indian Ocean, on Friday 20 March 2020.

Now with strict restrictions on people’s gatherings and precisely their close contact in groups, as well as other considerations related to current efforts aimed at prevention of the spread of the Covid19 virus, the reception will no longer take place, confirmed SAMSA in Pretoria this week.

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Marpol Convention Anex VI enabling legislation on course for Jan 2020 in SA: Transport Minister

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Durban: 16 October 2019

Enabling legislation in South Africa for the implementation of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Marpol Convention Annexture VI that will enforce even lower sulphur content for ships fuel from 01 January 2020, should be ready by year end, Transport Minister Mr Fikile Mbalula has confirmed.

The assurance from the Ministry is significant in that an enabling legislation was among key issues raised as concerning by both industry and government during a recent two-day consultative workshop held in Cape Town and in which the IMO was represented.

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Precisely, in terms of the IMO, the global implementation of the new 0.50% sulphur limit in ships fuel comes into effect on 01 January 2020.

The new regulations are in terms of the IMO’s MARPOL Convention (Annexture VI) whose goal, according to the IMO is to further reduce air pollution by ships through emission. The revised regulations for the prevention of air pollution from ships under the MARPOL (Annex VI) were adopted in October 2008 and ratified by more than 65 countries including South Africa.

In terms of this, all sizes of ships sailing on the world’s oceans will need to use fuel oil that meets the 0.50% limit from 1 January 2020. The 0.50% sulphur limit extends to carriage of bunker fuel with sulphur content of more than 0.50% for vessels not fitted with Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGSC). The carriage ban will come into effect on 1 March 2020.

At a two day conference held in Cape Town in July attended by more than 100 industry representatives from various sectors including cargo owners, ship owners and related, concerns were raised about the prospect of enabling legislation being ready on time for the deadline,

In Durban on Tuesday this week, Mr Mbalula finally allayed the fears, stating categorically that the necessary legislation will be in place by year end 2019. Mr Mbalula made the confirmation during a brief interaction with the media while visiting the Transnet offices at the port of Durban where he was scheduled to go on a port tour but which had to be cancelled after strong winds swelled the waters, putting paid to any such venture on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr Mbalula said: “It (the legislation) will be in place. We’ve taken the matter up to Cabinet and from Cabinet it will undergo the processes of public participation and before the end of the year we should be able to make those deadlines.”

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South Africa Transport Minister, Mr Fikile Mbalula

Mr Mbalula also remarked about other maritime sector related issues inclusive of current moves to prioritise the setting up of coastal shipping in South Africa as a key development and broader participation tool to bolster sectoral economic growth.

He also touched on the country’s choice of the city of Durban as next year’s host venue for the country’s inaugural staging of the IMO’s annual World Maritime Day Parallel Event – the biggest gathering of its kind for the global maritime sector involving no less than 170 countries.

In an earlier speech delivered at the 8th Annual Ports & Rail Evolution Forum that started on Tuesday and ends on Wednesday at the Durban International Convention Centre, Mr Mbalula had described the IMO event in the country next year as an ideal opportunity that will allow South Africa to showcase its maritime capabilities to both Africa and the rest of the maritime world.

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In that speech which is captured fully here in the next two videos, Mr Mbalula decried Africa’s apparent propensity to take its own time getting to bedding down ideas and setting its economy on track to both attract investment as well as deliver on socio economic benefits for its people.

Mr Mbalula said the adage that “there is no hurry in Africa…” simply had to make way for a hurried pace in not only generating ideas but ensuring that they are followed up and implemented in a sustainable way. The key issue for integrated development and trade in the continent was ports and rail infrastructure which he described as reputably poorly maintained leading to gross inefficiencies.

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For Mr Mbalula’s confirmation of the passage of legislation enabling the implementation of the IMO Marpol Convention Annex VI, click on the video below.

For Mr Mbalula’s full speech at the Ports & Rail Evolution Forum, click on the video below.

SAMSA, SA Govt take advantage of IMO annual General Council event to cement ties with Colombia.

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BUILDING BRIDGES: South Africa’s Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula (second from Left) on stage with several official representatives from about 127 Member States that gathered in the of Catargena de Indias in Colombo from the weekend through to Tuesday this week for the 2019 International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Parallel Event.

Pretoria: 18 September 2019

Discussions between South Africa and Colombia to strengthen relationships between the southern hemisphere countries but especially to strengthen co-operation and collaboration on safety and security of their seafarers will continue from this week to next week, the two governments announced in Colombia on Tuesday evening (South African time).

Confirmation of the engagement between the countries on the sidelines of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) annual General Council Parallel Event held in Cartagena de Indias since Sunday, involving more than 120 IMO member States, came in the form of a joint communique crafted by the two countries’s ministers of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula for South Africa, and Ms Ángela María Orozco for Colombia.

In the statement, the two ministers indicated that central to their continued discussions this week, through to next week in Montreal, Canada, was the formalization through formal ratification of two cooperation instruments; a Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) and an Agreement for Mutual Recognition of Seafarers Certificates between South Africa and Colombia.

18_12_11_IMO_WMD_WomenMaritime_Logo_Languages-English 2019Montreal, Canada is the host of this year’s 40th Triennial Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization from 24 September to the 4th October 2019.

In the joint communique’, Mr Mbalula and Ms Orozco confirmed that:

“The Ministers of Transport of Colombia and South Africa, met on September 17, 2019 on the sidelines of the Parallel Event to World Maritime Day, under the theme “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community”, in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia.

“As part of the United Nations family, the Ministers welcomed all efforts made by the International Maritime Organization to strengthen coordination, build consensus, enhance cooperation and promote world peace, stability and development.

“The Ministers underlined the need to further strengthen South-South cooperation and advance our partnership to ensure the synergies to preserve the safety of life at sea and the marine environment protection through international mechanisms and instruments.

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MAKING FRIENDS:  Members of a South African delegation to the IMO’s General Assembly Parallel Event in Colombia included South Africa’s Port Regular Mr Mahesk Fakir (Left) and Ms Selma Clausen-Schwartz of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (Third from Right).

“The Ministers reiterated their commitment to work together to further the bilateral relation and cooperation on important issues discussed at the Parallel Event to a new level. To this end, the Ministers agreed to stand ready to expand mutual consultations for the conclusion of the current negotiations of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA). The Ministers also agreed that a BASA will enhance trade and cultural exchanges between the two countries.

“The Ministers also welcomed the interest expressed by both countries to negotiate an “Agreement for Mutual Recognition of Seafarers Certificates for Negotiation between South Africa and Colombia”.

“The Ministers agreed to continue these consultations at the upcoming 40th Triennial Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization that will take place in Montreal, Canada from the 24th September to the 4th October 2019.

“The Minister of Transport of the Republic of South Africa thanked the Republic of Colombia for hosting and making excellent arrangements for the meeting.

“The Minister of Transport of the Republic of Colombia wished all the best to the Republic of South Africa for being the next host country of the World Maritime Day Parallel Event in 2020.” Durban, on the eastern seaboard of South Africa side of the Indian Ocean, has been confirmed as the venue for the IMO inaugural event in South Africa in a year’s time.

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Mr Sobantu Tilayi. Acting CEO: SAMSA

Meanwhile, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) whose officials attended the IMO Parallel Event, also confirmed entering into an agreement with its Colombian counterpart, the Directorate of the Maritime (DIMAR),  over a declaration of intent “to establish a framework for institutional cooperation on matters of mutual interest between the two Maritime Authorities.”

According to SAMSA, representing Colombia’s DIMAR at the talks were Mr Juan Manuel Soltau Ospina and for SAMSA, the agency’s Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi.

The draft of the declaration of intent between SAMSA and DIMAR indicates that the two organisations “within the scope of competence of the respective Parties, and in recognition of international instruments in which South Africa and Colombia are parties to and the international organizations of which they are members, the main areas and forms of cooperation that the framework would include are the following:

  • Safety of life and property at sea
  • Safety of Navigation
  • Capacity building
  • Maritime transport
  • Environmental Protection and Prevention
  • Technical cooperation
  • Compliance and implementation of international instruments

 

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With only months to go, South Africa steps up its prep for its host debut of the IMO’s General Council conference 2020.

DSC_3914.jpg12 September 2019

Transport Minister, Mr Fikile Mbalula is among a host of senior government, parastatals and maritime sector officials due to descend in Colombia this weekend for this year’s International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) General Council parallel event – the biggest gathering of the United Nations’ agency’s Member States on an annual basis.

The World Maritime Day Parallel Event 2019 will be held in Cartagena, Colombia, from Sunday to Wednesday (15-17 September 2019).

18_12_11_imo_wmd_womenmaritime_logo_languages-english-2019.jpgAccording to the IMO, the World Maritime Day Parallel Event is hosted in a different country each year, providing “a platform that brings together important actors and stakeholders in the maritime community to discuss matters of mutual concern.”

The IMO says the event’s theme for this year is “Empowering Women” with focus on issues affecting maritime women that are relevant to the wider maritime community.

In South Africa, part of the reason for the country’s delegation’s attendance of the IMO event is because next year, South Africa will for the first time be the host of the conference – a development this blog wrote extensively about when the IMO made the decision fours year ago. Click on the link below for that story

https://blog.samsa.org.za/2015/12/08/south-africa-to-host-imo-assembly-in-2020/

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DONE DEAL!: South Africa’s Minister of Transport (Left) shaking hands with Angolan Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Mr Rui J. Carneiro Mangueira, during Angola’s signing of a Multilateral Search and Rescue Agreement with South Africa in London recently

Meanwhile, according to Mr Mbalula’s office on Wednesday, the Minister met with Colombia’s Ambassador to South Africa, Mr Carlos Andres Barahona Nino on Tuesday as part preparation of his visit to the south American country in a few day’s time.

According to a statement, during the meeting with Mr Nino, Mr Mbalula “highlighted the endless possibilities for job creation in the country’s maritime sector.”

The statement quoted him as saying: “As a country we can not ignore the plethora of prospects in maritime. We must strive to transform this industry and unlock the economic opportunities which lie dormant in the sector. Working with the over 170 IMO Member States, our goals will be attained.

The statement also noted that recently Mr Mbalula led a delegation to the IMO where South Africa deposited an instrument of accession to the Hazardous and Noxious Substances Protocol of 2010, and during which visit the Minister also facilitated the signing of the Multilateral Search and Rescue Agreement by Angola.

SAMSA Master LogoAmong officials accompanying Mr Mbalula will be senior officials of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) who, the agency confirmed on Thursday, will use the opportunity to discuss and on agreement, sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the Mutual Recognition of Seafarers with their Columbian counterparts.

Where possible, this blog will strive to carry and share whatever news information flows from the event.

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Angola finally in the fold for Africa agreement on sea search and rescue cooperation: SAMSA

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Angola’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Mr. Rui J. Carneiro Mangueira, formally signing a Multilateral Search and Rescue Agreement with South Africa in London during a meeting with South Africa’s Transport Minister, Mr Fikile Mbalula in July 2019

Pretoria: 03 August 2019

Angola’s formal ratification of a Multilateral Search and Rescue Agreement (MSRA) with South Africa recently has finally brought into fruition a 12 years old effort to establish formal cooperation on sea search and rescue operations in Southern Africa among six countries considered vital to the success of the operations in the sub region.

Angola, represented by its ambassador to the United Kingdom, Mr. Rui J. Carneiro Mangueira, formally signed the agreement in London during a meeting with South Africa’s Transport Minister, Mr Fikile Mbalula while attending to an International Maritime Organization (IMO) Council gathering on 22 July.

Also attending was the Acting Chief Executive officer of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), Mr Sobantu Tilayi.

The objectives of the Agreement are to ensure co-operation between signatories (South Africa, Comoros, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia and Angola) by pulling together resource and infrastructure in improving maritime search and rescue in the region.

South Africa signed the Agreement in 2007 in Cape Town, and Angola was the last outstanding of the five other required signatories since then.

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Angola’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Mr. Rui J. Carneiro Mangueira, shaking hands with South Africa’s Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula after Angola’s formal ratification of a Multilateral Search and Rescue cooperation agreement in London recently.

The sub regional agreement arrangement among these countries stemmed from a 2000 IMO Florence Conference on Search and Rescue and Global Maritime Distress and Safety System that sought to establish regional maritime SAR arrangements in Africa and invited all African coastal States to agree to the establishment of sub-regional RCCs.

The Africa region would be arranged into five sub regional areas with Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centres (MRCCs).

At that conference, South Africa was identified as one of the five countries to host a regional Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) and in 2007, the IMO formally assigned South Africa’s MRCC in Cape Town under the control of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) as the sub region’s centre with six sub centres cooperating on the basis of multilateral agreements located in the Comoros, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia and now Angola. 

The Africa region’s other MRCCs with a total 26 sub-centres, are located in Mombasa (Kenya: 2006), Lagos (Nigeria: 2008), Monrovia (Liberia: 2009) and Buoznika (Morocco: 2011), covering  all African countries bordering the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, from Morocco to Somalia, anti-clockwise, as well as the nearby Atlantic and Indian Ocean Island States.

According to the IMO, the centres are intended to work co-operatively to provide search and rescue coverage in what had previously been identified as one of the world’s oceans region suffering most from a lack of adequate SAR and GMDSS infrastructure.

The centres’ sharing of information would also play an important role in the fight against piracy, kidnapping and ransom demands on the high seas – something, which IMO and the whole maritime community, had pledged to tackle with renewed vigour over the past decade.

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