Pretoria: 20 December 2018
It is not unusual for people working for the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) – spread across the length and breadth of the country’s waterways – to be mistaken for workers of the popular Asian smartphone maker, Samsung; an apparent ‘mistake’ followed almost immediately by curious, yet polite requests for phone repairs or news of models planned for the future.
In fact, this is barely out of place considering that even the mention of the marine or maritime sector, for some people – a large number – conjures up thoughts and feelings related to marriage! ‘It’s marrying time?’
In a country that’s practically and literally maritime in its geographic makeup at the southern tip of Africa, surrounded by no less than three oceans (the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Southern Ocean to the south and the Indian Ocean to the east) with a coastline of some 3200 kilometers, covering at least four of the country’s nine provinces (Northern Cape, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal), and central if not crucial to it a 1.5-million square kilometers of an exclusive economic zone, it should come as a surprise the apparent low level of public knowledge about and engagement with the marine and maritime economic sector.
Reasons for this clear anomaly are varied yet not hard to fathom. Summarily, past political and economic activities generally exclusive for many, are to blame.
For this reason, in addition to statutory and necessary activities it conducts consistent with its mandate, inclusive of furthering South Africa’s maritime economic interests, SAMSA regularly and consistently shares as much information as is necessary and possible about its role as well as the general maritime economic sector to as many constituencies as can be reached.
It was for partly this reason also that earlier in 2018, SAMSA’s Chief Operations Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi took time to sit down with a couple of international journalists from the Oil & Gas Journal to explain what SAMSA’s role is in the country’s maritime economic sector and how this sector is shaped to contribute to the South African economy within context of the “New Dawn” concept now espoused by new leadership of the ruling party, the ANC.
In the hour long interview, which this blog was allowed to record, Mr Tilayi covers a whole range of issues involving the role of SAMSA – ranging from protecting the oceans’ environment, lives of seafarers as well as ships at sea, to initiatives on taxation and other legislative reforms, education, training and skills development, job creation and engagement with similar and relevant regional and international institutions including the International Maritime Organization (IMO) – all in the interest of promoting the maritime economic sector.
The video interview presented here is split into four sections of a 15 minutes duration per section.