Seafarers are essential workers at all times, global maritime industry advocates: DoT-SAMSA

Pretoria: 24 June 2020

The global maritime sector’s focus turn to celebrate the world’s estimated 1.6-million seafarers on Thursday, 25 June 2020 – a day declared an International Day of the Seafarer and marked annually- in acknowledgement and appreciation of the role of the labour sector for its contribution both to world trade over the oceans and associated activities at sea.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) along with its Member States, including South Africa, celebrate the day this year with a key theme message; #Seafarers Are Key Workers, conceptualised to advance a growing realisation that the world’s seafarers are essential workers.

In South Africa on Thursday, according to the Department of Transport (DoT) and the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the country will mark the event Thursday with a virtual session involving invited guests and a panel of about 30 people, and which will be livestreamed to the public between 10am and 12 noon. (For more on this, click on the blog’s Seafarers Day dedicated page Here)

In a statement, the entities said: “The Day of the Seafarer is observed every year on the 25th of June by all IMO member states to pay tribute to millions of seafarers from across the globe, for their unique contribution to international seaborne trade, the world economy and civil society as a whole.

“Each year, the Day of the Seafarer adopts a campaign theme and the theme for 2020 is “Seafarers are Key Workers”. The 2020 campaign seeks to raise awareness of the work of seafarers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to thank them for their contribution. Seafarers are on the frontline of the COVID-19 response, playing an essential role in maintaining the flow of vital goods, such as food, medicines and medical supplies.

Thursday’s virtual session, involving a panel of about six (6) members and up to 30 participants from stakeholders and roleplayers in the country’s maritime economic sector, will be led by Transport Minister, Mr Fikile Mbalula.

Other participants scheduled include Master Mariner, Ms Constance Nengohvela, maritime studies educationist, Ms Theresa Williams, marine engineer Mr Khomotso Makgae, Amsol human resource executive, Mr Nceba Mfini, international Transport Workers Federation (ITF) official Mr Steve Yandell, Mr Odwa Mtati, Chief Executive Officer of the South African International Maritime Institute, Mr Sobantu Tilayi, SAMSA acting CEO and others.

South Africa Transport Minister, Mr Fikile Mbalula

In the statement ahead of the event, Mbalula said: “We acknowledge the sacrifices of the seafarers and the adverse effects of the Corona Virus on their personal and professional wellbeing. The outbreak of COVID-19 has exacerbated seafarers’ already difficult working conditions, as it has led to the restriction of port access, crew changeovers and repatriations, in an attempt to flatten the curve.  

“Many seafarers have been away from home for months and are uncertain about when they will be able to return home or go back to their international posts, due to global travel restrictions. The South African Government is mindful of this dire situation and is doing all it can to ensure that seafarers are prioritised as the economy gradually reopens”, said the Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula. 

In South Africa SAMSA, the DOT and other maritime institutions will host a virtual discussion to mark the Day of the Seafarer. The virtual discussion will be held on 25 June 2020, from 10h00 until 12h00, and attended by key stakeholders in the maritime industry. Seafarers will use the opportunity to highlight issues affecting them during the prevalence of COVID-19,” he said.

For more on the programme for Thursday’ event, Click Here

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South Africa endorses IMO compensation treaty on ship transportation of hazardous and noxious substances.

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Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula (Right) with IMO Secretary-General, Mr Kitack Lim at IMO Headquarters in London on Sunday

Pretoria: 17 July 2019

South Africa on Sunday joined about half a dozen countries in the world to formally ratify and become part of a key International Maritime Organisation compensation treaty covering the transport of hazardous and noxious substances (HNS) by ship.

The country’s accession to the treaty was delivered by newly appointed Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula to the IMO during a meeting between him and his delegation with IMO Secretary-General, Mr Kitack Lim at IMO Headquarters in London.

The South African delegation led by Mr Mbalula is attending the 122nd session of Council for the IMO that started on Sunday and continues until Friday this week.

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South Africa’s delegation to the IMO, London on 15-19 July 2019: (From Left) Mr Rufus Lekala -(TNPA) and Themba Nkontwane (DoT) Sipho Mbatha (SAMSA) Minister of Transport Mr Fikile Mbalula, Spokesperson for the Minister of Transport Ayanda Paine, SAMSA acting CEO Sobantu Tilayi and SAMSA Company Secretary Moyahabo Raphadu

Included in Mr Mbalula’s delegation is Mr Sobantu Tilayi, acting Chief Executive Officer of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) – an agency of government under the Department of Transport responsible for application and enforcement of maritime sector related conventions, treaties and related international oceans’ administration and governance instruments.

South Africa is a Member State to the United Nations’ specialised agency, the IMO as well as a member of the IMO Council. The objectives of the IMO, among other things, are to adopt international standards for maritime security and safety, ensuring the protection of pollution from ships, and to facilitate seaborne trade.

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South Africa’s Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula (centre) at his first attendance as Transport Minister ,an IMO Council meeting in London this week.

According to the IMO on Sunday, the 2010 Protocol to the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea, 1996 (2010 HNS Convention) is a treaty which, when in force, “will provide a regime of liability and compensation for damage caused by HNS cargoes transported by sea, including oil and chemicals, and covers not only pollution damage, but also the risks of fire and explosion, including loss of life or personal injury as well as loss of or damage to property.

“An HNS Fund will be established, to pay compensation once shipowner’s liability is exhausted. This Fund will be financed through contributions paid post incident by receivers of HNS cargoes,” said the IMO.

In embracing the treaty, South Africa become the fifth country in the world – or IMO Member State) to join, after Canada, Denmark, Norway and Turkey

Said the IMO: “As required by the treaty, South Africa provided data on the total quantities of liable contributing cargo. Entry into force of the treaty requires accession by at least 12 States, meeting certain criteria in relation to tonnage and reporting annually the quantity of HNS cargo received in a State.

“The treaty requires a total quantity of at least 40 million tonnes of cargo contributing to the general account to have been received in the preceding calendar year. The total quantity of contributing cargo has reached 9.8 million tonnes.

For Mr Mbalula’s remarks during the deposit of the SA’s accession to the IMO treaty, please Click below.

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