South Africa maritime sector development; the game is on for the country’s inland provinces: SAMSA

INLAND PROVINCES INVITED: The sun rising above the Xhariep Dam on the Orange River on Thursday, as the country joined global observation of World Maritime Day 2016
INLAND PROVINCES INVITED: The sun rising above the Xhariep Dam on the Orange River on Thursday, as the country joined global observation of World Maritime Day 2016

Bloemfontein: 30 September 2016

Exploration and responsible exploitation of maritime sector opportunities are not the preserve of only South Africa’s coastal provinces but are a multi-billion rand worth golden opportunity all people in the country should equally pursue and enjoy, speakers at this year’s World Maritime Day celebration on Thursday, 29 September 2016 emphasised.

Leading the charge at the function held this year on the west end of the Gariep Dam – South Africa’s biggest by far – situated at the Orange River, some 200km south of Bloemfontein, Free State Province – was South African Maritime Safety Authority’s (SAMSA) acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi, along with his counterparts in Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) CE, Mr Richard Vallihu and National Ports Regulator, Mr Mahesh Fakir

GAME'S ON! South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA acting CEO at this year's World Maritime Day 2016 event at the Gariep Dam in the Free State.
GAME’S ON! South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA acting CEO at this year’s World Maritime Day 2016 event at the Gariep Dam in the Free State.

Addressing an audience of about 600 people, just about half of whom were high school pupils deliberately bussed in from surrounding rural schools for a career exposition, Mr Tilayi said the country’s maritime economic sector, long in the periphery of economic activity for particularly the black majority, was now an open canvass upon which talent is being be drawn from across all sectors of society for the greater benefit of all.

With South Africa’s maritime economic sector, through the Operation Phakisa initiative, projected to contribute as much as R177-billion to the country’s Gross Domestic Product and in the process creating as many as 800 000 to 1-million direct jobs by 2033, according to Mr Tilayi, it was incumbent upon leadership of inland provinces to quickly but carefully figure out how communities located here could benefit.

Part of the audience during the  World Maritime Day 2016 event observed in South Africa at the Gariep Dam in the Free State on Thursday, 29 September 2016
Part of the audience during the World Maritime Day 2016 event observed in South Africa at the Gariep Dam in the Free State on Thursday, 29 September 2016

Under Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy), key focus areas comprised marine transport and manufacturing, offshore oil and gas exploration, aquaculture, marine protection services and governance, small harbours, maritime heritage, coastal and marine tourism involving also inland waters, skills and capacity building and research technology and innovation.

These are backed up by Government’s port and onshore infrastructure development – some with private sector investors – involving about R500-billion over the next decade spread across and in between the country’s eight major ports from Saldanha Bay in the west through to Richards Bay in the east.

Saldanha Oil & Gas 1In part, this was to take advantage of the business and job creation opportunities presented by the approximately 30 000 vessels (about 60% of total global fleet) passing South Africa each year, and about 13 000 of which dock at the country’s ports for a whole range of reasons – a global sea trade scenario Mr Tilayi described as positioning South Africa as the “corner café” of the global shipping industry given its equidistant location at the southern tip of the African continent between western and eastern countries.

Through this steadily increasing opportunity, previously neglected coastal cities such as Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape – now with the country’s deepest port, the port of Ngqurha – were benefitting by as much as R150-million per month due to recently introduced bunkering services.

IMG_2344Mr Tilayi, however, dismissed it as ignorance and a misconception that people in the country’s four coastal provinces stretching some 3000km from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean  – Northern Cape, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal – for close proximity only, were necessarily better advantaged or entitled to exploration and exploitation of maritime sector economic opportunities.

Indeed, from a maritime sector skills development perspective, he said, Limpopo – the most inland and furthest province from the oceans by more than a thousand kilometers in any direction – was proving the notion a myth as it competed equally, progressively with coastal provinces, ranking second to KwaZulu-Natal in the production of seafarers now numbering close on 12 000.

TRAILBLAZER: South Africa maritime transport subsector pioneer, Captain Tshepo Motloutsi, the first of three black women in the country to qualify as a ship captain, or Master Marine in 2016
A TRAILBLAZER: South Africa maritime transport subsector pioneer, Captain Tshepo Motloutsi of Limpopo the first of three black women in the country to qualify as a ship captain, or Master Marine in 2016

In addition to an increasing number of cadets from Limpopo at the country’s maritime sector education focused institutions, Mr Tilayi said the province made maritime sector history recently as a home to one of the first ever three young black women to qualify as Master Mariners qualified to handle any type or size of commercial vessel anywhere in the world.

Stressing an importance of recognition that skills and business opportunities in the country’s maritime sector were by no means limited at all by ocean-going, but rather involving occupations also as basic as farming, manufacturing or services with no direct connection with seafaring, he said the Free State province, the most central of the country’s five inland provinces, had every reason to figure out urgently how to take advantage of its location in order to position itself as a meaningful player also in the maritime economic sector.

FOCUSED: Arzebaijan Ambassador to South Africa, Dr Eikhan Polukhov among senior officials attending the World Maritime Day 2016 at the Gariep Dam in the Free State
FOCUSED: Arzebaijan Ambassador to South Africa, Dr Eikhan Polukhov among senior officials attending the World Maritime Day 2016 at the Gariep Dam in the Free State

Mr Tilayi also urged Government and the private sector to increasingly work much closer together. He said while it was Government’s role to facilitate business investment opportunities, it was private sector investors’ responsibility to actively show appetite through direct engagement and involvement.

For Mr Tilayi’s full remarks on the subject; (Audio only:  Click Here ) or for (Video; Click Here

Transnet's National Ports Authority (TNPA) CEO, Mr Richard Vallihu giving assurances to the meeting about NPA's commitment to stick to deadlines for earmarked oil and gas infrastructure development at the port of Saldanha during Monday/s first of week long Presidential Imbizos
Transnet’s National Ports Authority (TNPA) CEO, Mr Richard Vallihu

Meanwhile, Mr Vallihu of Transnet’s National Ports Authority extended an invitation to the Free State community to take advantage of the ports authority vast training programme across several interrelated transport sectors – road, rail and sea.

He said the NPA with four divisions is currently involved in an infrastructure, transport and logistics investment over 10 years since 2012 worth half a trillion rand. Since 2012 to date he said, the NPA had spent some R124-billlion on these, but also as much as R8-billion in skills development alone, leading to the graduation in 2015 of close on 4 000 trainees in various skills.

To increase public awareness of the opportunities, Mr Vallihu announced that the NPA had launched a free WiFi service in mostly disadvantaged communities of the eight port cities to enable people to fully gain access to relevant information relating to the ports’ activities.

To listen to Mr Vallihu’s full remarks, Click Here

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SA Maritime Safety Authority applauded for historical ship registry in 2015

But the organisation will have to do more, fast; as “50 more” are needed: Deputy Minister

Saldanha Bay: December 07, 2015

The Cape Orchid, a Vuka Marine cargo vessel that has made history by becoming the first to be registered under the South African flag since 1985. It is the first of two expected to lead in the campaign by the SA government, assisted by SAMSA to have as many trade vessels as possible registered in the country.
The Cape Orchid, a Vuka Marine cargo vessel that has made history by becoming the first to be registered under the South African flag since 1985. It is the first of two expected to lead in the campaign by the SA government, assisted by SAMSA to have as many trade vessels as possible registered in the country.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has received praise from Government for its speedy facilitation of the registration of cargo trade vessels now carrying the country’s flag in the past year.

The accolade came from national Transport Ministry’s deputy Minister Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga during a Presidential Imbizo week event held at the port of Saldanha on Monday.

Speaking during the open imbizo of the maritime economic sector (oil and gas subsector) chaired by the Transport Ministry and attended by the media, to receive reports on progress achieved so far with new infrastructure development being undertaken at the port of Saldanha, Ms Chikunga hailed SAMSA’s pace in achieving the registration of at least three cargo vessels in 2015 under the South African flag.

Ship registry is among priorities identified under Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) launched a year ago.

The first of the three private sector trade vessels now carrying the country’s flag was registered in September 2015, followed soon thereafter by two others.

Chairing the Presidential Imbizo meeting on Monday at Saldanha Bay on behalf of the Depatment of Transport was South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Chief Operating Officer, Mr Sonwabo Tilayi
Chairing the Presidential Imbizo meeting on Monday at Saldanha Bay on behalf of the Depatment of Transport was South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Chief Operating Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi

Ms Chikunga noted how she had put ‘tremendous pressure’ on SAMSA to “deliver” on the goal but went further to describe the feat as exemplary of the high pace denoted by Operation Phakisa (meaning “speed things up”) in implementing timely, programs and processes jointly identified by Government and the private sector as required for the country’s economic rejuvenation and growth, but especially the maritime economic sector.

“We made promises to the people of South Africa. We have to deliver on those.” She said, adding that while the ministry was happy with the development, the country needed more vessels registered.

“We now want to see 50 more registered and we want to know from the institution (SAMSA) how soon can we have that 50 in our books,’ said Ms Chikunga during a media conference.

However, the applause for SAMSA contrasted the mood of both the deputy Minister as well as private sector representatives that greeted a Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) report on progress achieved so far with development of the port of Saldanha.

The gathering was the first of several this week during which Government and private sector principals across sectors are meeting to thrash out challenges facing the economy and to come out with clear plans on how best to overcome these.

IMG_1172 (2)Ms Chikunga said the imbizo at Saldanha Bay on Monday had been convened to receive and evaluate reports by both her office as well as concerned maritime sector investors on TNPA’s progress with projects earmarked for the port of Saldanha in terms of the Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) plans for the Marine Transport and Manufacturing lab – one of five targeted for prioritization in the revitalization of the country’s maritime economic sector.

Precisely, in terms of the MTM lab recommendations, the port of Saldanha was approved by Government for the establishment of a purpose built oil and gas port infrastructure, with TNPA charged with facilitating rapidly not only the development, and unlocking investment in new and existing port facilities around the country, but also with creating and implementing a public procurement and localization programme, as well as developing a strategic marketing campaign and value proposition for target markets.

A composite map of the port of Saldanha reflecting the areas of the planned oil and gas infrastructure to be developed in the next few years
A composite map of the port of Saldanha reflecting the areas of the planned oil and gas infrastructure to be developed in the next few years

According to a presentation by port of Saldanha manager, Mr Willem Roux, the oil and gas infrastructure intended for development at the West Coast port, at an estimated investment of approximately R10-billion, include a proposed Mossgas quay extension, a general maintenance quay, a new oil and gas repair berth as well as an extension of the current iron ore berth.

This would be in addition to a long planned development of an Industrial Development Zone alongside the port.

It emerged at the imbizo on Monday the expectation was that with timely execution of the MTM lab related plan for the oil and gas port infrastructure by the TNPA, at least 3 000 direct and indirect jobs would be created each year since 2014 – a figure said should have doubled to 6 000 new direct and indirect jobs to date.

A round table robust discussion between maritime sector (oil and gas subsector) representatives, South Africa Department of Transport deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga, business and civic society representatives duing the Presidential Imbizo Week event of Monday, looking at progress achieved in establishing port infrastructure for the oil and gas industry by Transnet's National Port Authority at the port of Saladanha on Monday
A round table robust discussion between maritime sector (oil and gas subsector) representatives, South Africa Department of Transport deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga, business and civic society representatives during the Presidential Imbizo Week event of Monday, looking at progress achieved in establishing port infrastructure for the oil and gas industry by Transnet’s National Ports Authority (TNPA)at the port of Saldanha.

However, tempers flared at times during the imbizo after it emerged that according to TNPA current plans as presented by Mr Roux, the key facilities of the development at the port of Saldanha earmarked for the oil and gas subsector would most likely be ready for utilization by about 2019 instead of the scheduled 2017.

An artist's impression of the new facilities to be developed for the oil & gas subsector at the port of Saldanha
An artist’s impression of the new facilities to be developed for the oil & gas subsector at the port of Saldanha

This according to Transnet, was due in part to the need for the relocation of manganese ore from both the port of Saldanha as well as the port of Port Elizabeth to the Ngurha deep water port also in Port Elizabeth. This would take three years through to 2019 to complete, the parastatal reported.

The report did not go down well with neither Ms Chikunga nor the investment, business and local community representatives virtually all of whom saw the performance as ‘slow’.

Speakers all bemoaned what they described as a reflection of South Africa’s apparent inability to stick to undertakings, and instead seemed at ease with moving further time frames for delivery of identified infrastructure development programmes.

Business representatives said this practice did not only paint a bad image of the country in the investment community but was also proving costly to those investors already committed.

Saldanha Oil & Gas 1In addition, local business and civic society representatives were far from pleased that the number of jobs planned for the port of Saldanha infrastructure development were far from being realized – but especially that there were not even figures presented at the meeting to illustrate if any jobs at all had been created, in order to alleviate high unemployment in the community of just over 100 000 inhabitants.

It helped little that TNPA officials cited also ongoing discussions within the institution intended partly at ensuring that businesses currently utilizing the port ,such as mining; were not impacted negatively by the new projects.

An apparently frustrated Ms Chikunga responded: ‘If decisions take 14 months to make…by people sitting together every day, who therefore can organize one another and discuss, what do I say? What report do I take to the President…and you are expecting investor confidence?

“It cannot be that you are taking 14 months to sit and discuss. The second issue for me is that we do not respond quickly as South Africans, why is that? If are you are saying we as the Department of Transport are appointing people who do not know what they are doing, then tell us, so that we can look into the issue!

Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chiikunga (standing) making remarks during the meeting
Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chiikunga (standing) making remarks during the meeting

“We are a country like other countries. We must be able to respond quickly enough as other developing countries are doing. I am talking about Kenya. I am talking about developing African countries. A delay in an Operation Phakisa project has so much impact on other projects..and surely it should be frustrating investors even more because there is money involved,” said Ms Chikunga

Transnet's National Ports Authority (TNPA) CEO, Mr Richard Vallihu giving assurances to the meeting about NPA's commitment to stick to deadlines for earmarked oil and gas infrastructure development at the port of Saldanha during Monday/s first of week long Presidential Imbizos
Transnet’s National Ports Authority (TNPA) CEO, Mr Richard Vallihu giving assurances to the meeting about NPA’s commitment to stick to deadlines for earmarked oil and gas infrastructure development at the port of Saldanha during Monday/s first of week long Presidential Imbizos

TNPA Chief Executive Officer Richard Vallihu, however assured both Ms Chikunga and the business and local community representatives that deadlines on the projects would be met, and that a substantial number of jobs were assured to be created in this and various other current projects underway, inclusive of the deepening of parts of the Durban port.

With regards community benefits but especially in terms of jobs and related matters, Mr Vallihu said his institution was doing far more, as it had embarked also on investment in schools along its ports intended to offer skills development programmes for labour, specifically youth and women that would be absorbed in the maritime sector.

The imbizo wrapped up with a visit of the earmarked port area in Saldanha designed for oil and gas infrastructure development.

Clip One: Department of Transport deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga outlines the purpose of the Presidential Imbizo (Transport sector/maritime sector)

Clip Two: Department of Transport deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga responding to Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) report on progress achieved to date on the development of port infrastructure for the Oil and Gas subsector at the port of Saldanha

Clip Three: Transnet National Ports Authority CEO responding to concerns raised by both Department of Transport deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga and business, investment and local community representatives at the imbizo.

For Deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga’s media conference video remarks, click here