The Eastern Cape, South Africa’s 2nd largest province by coastline along the Indian Ocean, will be the venue for this year’s local celebrations of the international Seafarers Day on Sunday, June 25.
The Department of Transport (DoT) together with the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) have confirmed that the annual event focused on the crucial role seafarers worldwide play in the management of seagoing transport, will be staged at Mbizana in the Eastern Cape, this partly to also honor the country’s current year-long celebrations of the O.R Tambo centennial.
Driven by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) together with partner countries including South Africa, this year’s Seafarers Day celebration theme is; “#SeafarersMatter” .
According to the IMO, the theme is intended as a campaign to engage people responsible for the world’s ports and seafarer centres to “demonstrate how much seafarers matter to them by featuring great initiatives that support and promote seafarer welfare.
“These efforts”, says the IMO; “are presented on a new virtual world map, which showcases best practices and helps celebrate seafarers.”
In South Africa, the DoT and SAMSA together with the Eastern Cape provincial government will use the event to not only celebrate seafarers worldwide to spread greater public awareness both about the country’s maritime economic sector, as well as awareness about the role of seafarers in that space, but will also seek to connect with communities in the eastern part of the Eastern Cape with a view to establishing community projects to enhance people’s skills for meaningful participation in the sector of the economy.
Towards this end, the parties will launch a series of maritime sector skills development initiatives including the training of about 150 youths in the Port St Johns, Mbizana and adjacent towns in deep sea diving, sea rescue and related skills.
The programme will also see others receive training in basic seafarer skills that will allow them to be placed on cruise vessels around the world.
The Seafers’ Day celebrations at Mbizana are scheduled to also feature a dozen or so sailors from South Africa including cadets currently undergoing training under the country national cadets development programme.
According to the programme for Sunday, aspects of the country’s maritime heritage as well marine and coastal tourism will also feature as some of the components of Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) ocean growth project.
Tributes will also be made to former African National Congress president, the late Oliver Reginald Tambo in whose area of birth the Seafarers Day celebrations will be held at the weekend.
Meanwhile, it was also formally confirmed this week that South Africa will be the host venue for the IMO’s 2020 World Maritime Day Conference by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Assembly in 2020.