The general socio-political and economic mood might not have been the greatest in South Africa during the passing year, with good reason. But it is also just as true that – in the words of SA Ports Regulator, Mr Mahesh Fakir – there had also been ‘pockets of excellence’ the country simply can’t afford to ignore.
One such area of positive development, at least according to some of the country’s leading women in the maritime sector, has been noticeable progress achieved in the advancement of women in the sector.
It has been, according to them, a notable progressive achievement in South Africa capped late in 2019 by the appointment for the first time of a South African, and a woman, as President of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) General Assembly during its last sitting in London.
South Africa’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Ms Nomatemba Tambo became the latest symbol of maritime sector gender representation transformation success after she was elected the IMO General Assembly’s President during its 31st session held in London from 25 November to 04 December.
It was also during that session in London that the 174 Member States of the IMO also adopted a resolution on “Preserving the Legacy of the World Maritime Theme for 2019 and achieving a Barrier-Free Working Environment for Women in the Maritime Sector”.
That stance encapsulated and reflected on a year during which the advancement of women in the maritime sector worldwide received the highest attention from both the international and regional bodies as well as individual countries, as the 2019 theme for World Maritime Day also directed focus on deliberate gender parity in the sector.
In Durban on Thursday evening (12 December 2019), the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) joined by the Department of Transport, hosted a stakeholders’ briefing function attended by various officials across the industry.
During the session, this blog took time to speak specifically to women present and who are leaders in the maritime sector in varied ways. They were, in no particular order; Ms Londiwe Ngcobo, Africa’s first black female Dredge Master; Ms Siyamthanda Maya, Managing Director of SA Marine Fuels; Ms Innocentia Motau, Director at Mediterranean Shipping Company and member of Women In Maritime South Africa; and Ms Kgomoto Selokane, Chief Executive Officer of COLT Marine.
Below are their views on business in general as well transformation in the maritime sector in South Africa.
Incidentally, it also emerged that one of the companies, MSC is aiming at creating no less than five (5) thousand jobs in the cruiserliner subsector over the next five years, working jointly with SAMSA.
Take a listen:
Ms Ngcobo: “South African has been so intentional to ensure success of women empowerment..”
Ms Maya: “We’ve seem the emergence of credible black companies….”
Ms Motau: “We launched Women In Maritime SA and we look forward to 2020 with anticipation and excitment…”
Ms Selokane: “Competing with well established companies not child’s play, but rewarding…”
A massive, painstaking and possibly long term clean up of the coastline for miles north and south of Durban to rid it of very tiny pellets that have polluted the area since the blistering rainstorm of 10 October 2017 and which left the port city with a repair bill worth an estimated R600-million, is now fully underway.
This is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) a State agency charged with among other things, the environmental sound integrity of the country’s oceans.
As of Monday 30 October 2017, teams of workers have been hard at work since about a week ago retrieving the tiny pellets from the coastline sand in Durban with hope to reduce as much as is possible the float of the nurdles.
This followed a SAMSA directive to shipping group, the Mediterranean Shipping Company – operators of a shipping vessel from which the damaged containers carrying the cargo were lost and apparently deposited at sea – to conduct an assessment of the scale of pollution caused following the loss of cargo into the water in Durban harbour during the torrential natural disaster rainstorm that took place in earlier October .
On October 10, the day of the rainstorm, SAMSA and the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) had to prioritize the refloating and remooring of five drifting vessels and three of which had grounded in the port due to the extraordinary weather conditions characterized by very strong winds and rain.From the day onward, SAMSA supported by TNPA had been actively involved in containing and minimizing the impact of the damage caused in the Durban harbour.
On the day, two damaged shipping containers that had fallen into the harbour waters were secured and retrieved as soon as available resources had been successfully deployed on the five storm affected vessels.
Containment measures were implemented as soon as it was discovered that at least one of the fallen containers had held bags of plastic pellets. A while later, several bags were retrieved within the port waters and a clean-up operation was implemented by the Port Pollution Control department.
Later, sounding surveys were conducted by TNPA’s Dredging Services division supported by divers and drones, and which found no further obstructions or obstacles on the seabed within the port limits The port was declared safe for navigation on 13 October.
The port authority’s ongoing clean-up operations within port limits had also been targeting a significant inflow of waste that had discharged into the port from Umbilo, Amanzimnyama and Umhlatuzana Rivers, as well as the municipal stormwater system.
However, in the next few days a mixture of high and low density plastic cargo has been found in some parts of the ocean.
SAMSA Chief Operating Officer Sobantu Tilayi said MSC cooperated with the authorities for the clean-up operation which started a week ago, conducted surveillance and assessment of the extent of pollution in Durban harbour and the affected coastal areas.
Later SAMSA also met with the Durban Harbour Master and Pollution Control department, the Department of Environmental Affairs, and KZN Provincial Government, and KZN Wildlife.
From these meetings, Mr Tilayi indicated that SAMSA would undertake the monitoring and oversight role of the process while MSC would consult with the cargo owners for the technical details of the pollutant plastics.
He said area surveys of beaches up to Umhlanga on North Coast and Umkomas on the South Coast beaches was conducted by a service provider accompanied by SAMSA.
Mr Tilayi said: “A team to assess the extent of damage has traveled northwards and south wards. Local municipalities will be kept informed to enable surveillance team to access beaches.”
In the meantime on the direction of SAMSA, Drizit Environmental, was appointed and is leading the clean-up operation. On the weekend of 28 October 2017 strong winds interrupted the operation. However, favorable weather conditions prevailed on the Monday, 30 October 2017, and teams were back at work, cleaning the Durban beaches.
On Monday, Captain Hopewell Mkhize, a Principal Officer in the Durban SAMSA office said the clean up might take a while yet, hopefully with no severe interruptions by windy conditions. According to Capt Mkhize, windy conditions, such as was experienced on Sunday, 29 October 2017 were not useful as the tiny pellets simply blew away along with the sand.
For more comment from Capt Mkhize, click on the video.
Meanwhile, the SAMSA appointed environmental cleanup company, Drizit, has established a central collection point for the nurdles at Durban Ski Boat Club (79 Browns Rd, Point, Durban) where the pellets may be dropped off.
Drizit can be contacted on their 24- hour toll free line 0800 202 202.
South Africa is well positioned to play a pioneering role in the African continent’s drive for expansive growth of its ocean’s economy sector, but especially if stakeholders and key role players both in the public and private sector continue to strengthen co-operation and collaboration towards the goal.
That is according to South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) acting chief executive officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi in the wake of yet another highly successful collaborative effort that saw a group of Indian scientists along with 30 South African cadets complete on schedule a three-months long research and training expedition both along the Indian Ocean and the Antarctic region.
Crucially, according to Mr Sobantu, the expedition was successfully undertaken aboard the country’s only dedicated cadet training vessel, the SA Agulhas, this past week.
After dropping off the Indian scientists in Mauritius a few days earlier, the vessel – under the command of SAMSA – docked in Port Elizabeth on Friday, to a warm welcome by senior officials of several institutions in both the public and private sector. These included SAMSA, the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), the Transnet National Ports Authority(TNPA), the National Skills Fund under the Department of Higher Education and Training, recently established bunker services group, Aegean; the South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA, the Maritime Crew Services (MSC) and a few others.
The SA Agulhas was acquired by SAMSA in 2011 for training in support of the National Cadet Programme, which is being managed by the Port Elizabeth-based SAIMI.
The training is being funded by the National Skills Fund.
The vessel sailed on 14 December 2016 from Cape Town with 30 cadets under the guide of SAMTRA and MCS.
The group of seven (7) engineering and 23 deck cadets along with two training officers joined the South African crew on a research voyage chartered by India’s National Centre for Antarctic Research.
Her first port of call was Port Louis in Mauritius on Christmas Eve where she took on board the team of Indian scientists and five container loads of equipment. The ship sailed south from Mauritius before heading West of Kerguelen Island and on to Antarctica and back to Mauritius carrying out operations at various scientific stations along the way.
On completion of the expedition Friday, Mr Sobantu said the event was just one to possibly vindicate the brave stance taken by the maritime safety authority a few years ago to acquire the vessel with the sole intention of providing a viable yet necessary intervention in the development of a local cadre of seafarers.
More than 350 cadets have been trained aboard the SA Agulhas since 2012 after SAMSA acquired the vessel from the Department of Environmental Affairs and re-purposed the former Antarctic research and supply vessel as a training vessel to support the National Cadet Programme.
The cadet programme enables aspiring sea-farers to obtain the practical sea-time experience required to attain a Certificate of Competency (COC) as either a Deck Officer or Marine Engineering Officer. The COC is an internationally recognised qualification, issued by SAMSA in accordance with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Convention on the Standards, Training and Certification of Watch-keepers (STCW), and opens up a global sea-faring career for these young South Africans.
The programme is a skills development initiative linked to Operation Phakisa which aims to grow South Africa’s participation in the maritime economy. The initiative is managed by SAIMI and financed by the National Skills Fund.
On Friday Mr Tilayi noted that: “The three-month cruise took the vessel and the cadets all the way down to 68 degrees south where they encountered severe weather. Both the vessel and the cadets passed with flying colours.”
Key to the success, he said, was ongoing cooperation and collaboration among a group of stakeholders, interested parties and the investment community. For Mr Tilayi’s full remarks (video), Click Here
Meanwhile, SAIMI chief executive officer, Dr Malek Pourzanjani was also full of praise of the success of the SA Agulhas’ latest venture into a research and training expedition.
“The fact that the Indian government was willing to entrust leading scientists and important multi-disciplinary scientific research to a South African training vessel crewed by South Africans is a tribute to the quality of our mariners and the training offered in South Africa,” Dr Pourzanjani. For his full remarks,Click Here
Ms Phyllis Difeto, chief operations officer of TNPA was in agreement with her counterparts at SAMSA and SAIMI: “South Africa needs more world class maritime expertise at all levels,” she said, also stressing the need for
ongoing collaboration between TNPA, SAMSA, SAIMI and the private sector to ensure that South African mariners received world class training that would position them well for seafarer work around the globe.
Meanwhile, the cadets on the expedition were full excitement, sharing their experiences as well as hopes for the future as seafarers. Two of the cadets, Afrika Masuku and Sandisiwe Ngcobo spoke briefly before their welcoming audience on Friday, thanking both their trainers and training sponsors for the opportunity. In separate interviews, five other cadets opened up about their experiences as did one of their trainers. For these interviews Click Here.