‘Time for talking about the importance of South Africa’s maritime economy is over. Let’s work on it!’ urges Transport Minister, Joe Masangwanyi

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Celebrating World Maritime Day 2017. Transport Minister Mr Joe Masangwanyi (Right) chatting with South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) officials, Ms Mapitso Dlepu (Left) and Mr Sobantu Tilayi (second left) and Port St Johns mayor, Ms Lindelwa Rolobile. during a lifesaving demonstration that was part of the day’s activities in the town of Port St Johns. Eastern Cape.

Port St Johns: 28 September 2017

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.

DSC_1335.JPGHowever, 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.

IMG_6162Among 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.

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Transport Minister Mr Joe Masangwanyi (centre in yellow jacket) and his deputy, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga (in floral dress)  posing for a photograph with State officials and youths recently trained as lifeguards through a SAMSA driven marine skills development programme for youths of Port St Johns and the O.R Tambo District Municipality. The youths were awarded their certificates during the celebration of World Maritime Day 2017 held in the town on Thursday.

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.

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Some of the high school children from the O.R Tambo District Municipality region that attended Thursday’s celebration of the international World Maritime Day in Port St Johns on Thursday

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.

DSC_1280.JPGAt 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

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Some of the 400 high school youths who received maritime education and training guide brochures during this year’s World Maritime Day celebrations held in Port St Johns on Thursday (28 September 2017).

“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.

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Transport Minister Mr Joe Masangwanyi and deputy, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga preparing to handover certificates to newly trained Port St Johns youths equipped with life guarding and deep sea diving skills.

“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.

Port St Johns thrilled by SAMSA driven maritime youth development programme

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Pretoria: 24 July 2017

Port St Johns, a small coastal town along the Indian Ocean in the Eastern Cape, almost midway between the port cities of Durban and East London, is beyond itself with excitement over a series of programmes intended to equip local youth with maritime related skills and possible creation of badly needed jobs.

The multi-stream maritime related skills development programme also involving a degree of corporate social investment, is driven by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) along with partners including the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board Harambee, as well as the Eastern Cape provincial and local municipalities.

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Port St Johns Tourism office block

The basic maritime skills development initiatives relate to coastal marine tourism in two streams; cruise tourism under a Maritime Youth Development Programme, and a Coastal and Marine Tourism and Youth Leadership path involving youth training in sea diving, life guarding, and related skills.

Training under the programmes began in early July involving an initial group of 50 youths in the cruise tourism stream, and about 35 youths in the Coastal and Marine and Youth Leadership stream.

The cruise tourism youth skills development stream, formally launched by SAMSA together with the Eastern Cape Government and Harambee in East London on 14 July, anticipates the placement of the youths on cruise vessels around the world by as early as September 2017, after which a second and third batches of youths will also undergo training.

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A group of Port St Johns youths sitting for an initial written exam as part of an assessment for inclusion in the basic maritime skills development programme

The other stream involving the 35 youths and involving the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board, is also already underway with training, with completion also earmarked for August 2017.

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Some of the 35 Port St Johns youths who passed their first written exam to qualify for inclusion in the initial phase of the training programme

Alongside these youths skills development initiatives in marine and maritime related basic skills, is an assessment process of various tourism facilities in the area, inclusive of accommodation and hiking trails for possible assistance in promotion in tourism markets.

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Officials of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the Port St Johns Tourism and the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board during a meeting in the town ahead of the start of the youth training initiative

The initiatives come also against the backdrop of Port St Johns, located in an area of some 1,291 km²  that falls under the O.R Tambo district municipalities, having been earmarked as the host for this year’s country celebrations of the World Maritime Day in the last week of September.

IMG_6188When once formally confirmed as host, this little town along the Eastern Cape’s 800km coastline – the second longest of the country’s four provinces bordering the oceans – and known more for its picturesque landscape through which the Umzimvubu River meets the sea, as well as pristine beaches and hiking trails that are a constant hit with domestic and foreign tourists alike, it will be the first time that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) driven annual event is held at a coastal town outside of South Africa’s major commercial port cities.

The staging of the World Maritime Day in Port St Johns in September according to the town’s mayor Ms Lindelwa Rolobile, may also just be the catalyst needed to draw more attention to the area’s potential for bigger contribution to the country’s maritime economic development currently pursued under the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative.  

IMG_6655The town quietly harbours hope for development of a small fishing industry launchpad. There are claims that it had been promised.

However, Ms Rolobile believes that in addition to tourism – in a coastal area also known worldwide for some spectacular shipwrecks over the years, including the sea cruise vessel; the Oceanos – Port St Johns can also be a hub for small to medium sea craft manufacturing.

An elated Ms Rolobile has described the much needed focus in the area by SAMSA as exciting and a long needed intervention particularly with regards youths skilling and possible creation of much needed jobs in an area of the country where youth unemployment is extremely high.

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Ms Lindelwa Rolobile. Mayor of Port St Johns

Speaking during the launch of the MYDP strand of the programme in East London recently, Ms Rolobile praised SAMSA for living up to a ‘promise’ it had made to the town back in 2012.

She also applauded the partnerships the organization has established with various other players in pursuit of realization of the socio-economic enhancement initiatives.

To listen to her remarks, Click Here.

Meanwhile, one of the youths from Port St Johns involved in the marine and maritime basic skills development programme, Mr Siphamandla Masikode, committed to making the best of the opportunities that were emerging for youths in his hometown.

Involved in the cruise tourism skills development stream under the Maritime Youth Development Programme, Mr Masikode said he considered himself lucky to have made it into the first group of 150 youths and hoped he would make it also in the first 50 who started formal training a week ago.

To listen to his remarks, Click Here.

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