The relaunch of South Africa’s maritime sector education and training syllabus committtee in Durban a week ago, after a haitus of just over a year, has been warmly welcomed by the sector, and key to its significance, among other issues, described as being its enhanced inclusiveness.
Stewarded by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), no less than 30 members of the committee, representing virtually all subsectors of the country’s maritime industry across public and private institutions, gathered in Durban over three days from Tuesday to Thursday last week (27-29 June 2023) for the formal relaunch of the national syllabus committee.
According to industry, the 37 member strong commitee’s notable enhanced inclusiveness, now also strongly entrenched through adoption of a new Constitution, and a Code of Conduct, denotes a welcome reapproach to needed broad sector stakeholders’ consultation and collaboration.
Ms Yvonne Wright, founder of Saldahna Bay based Project Maritime Training, Ms Alicia Moreland, Training Coordinator for Viking Fishing, a division of Sea Harvest, and Ms Theresa Williams, a Transnet executive for training, were among those that applauded the latest development.
According to SAMSA, the legally mandated custodian and enforcer of the Merchant Shipping (Training, Certification and Safe Manning) Regulations 2021, the relaunch of the maritime sector education and training national syllabus committee last week followed its desolution in June 2022 due to gaps and weaknesses that were identified as hindering its intended objectives.
Among these, was the absence of guiding documentation regarding the committee’s composition and operations, which led to unseemly complications that hampered its effectiveness.
Following the dissolution, said SAMSA Chief Examiner, Mr Azwimmbavhi Nelwamondo last week, industry-wide consultation ensued over a number of months, eventually leading to both the development of a new Constitution and a Code of Conduct, as well as reappointment of sector representatives as members of the committee who were inducted during the relaunch meeting in Durban last week.
Mr Nelwamondo said the Syllabus Committee’s chief role is to serve as a sector advisory body on national maritime sector education and training for certification of seafarers across the board, in terms of the Regulations and, where applicable, strictly consistent with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Conventions on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch Keeping (STCW, 1978 for seafarers) and (STCW-F 1995 for fishers ).
As now fully outlined in the newly adopted Constitution, Mr Nelwamondo said the work of the Syllabus Committee is limited in focus to three aspects; the development, review and maintenance of the training and assessment standards for seafarers, through the Training Standards Code, development and submission of proposals for consideration amendment of Regulations, and identification and channelling to the authority of any other matters relating to the training, assessment and certification of seafarers, raised by members of the public.
Crucially, he added that with membership of the committee in three broad categories comprising ordinary, associate and invited person’s for purposes of formality (‘good order retention and continuity’); “The Syllabus Committee is a public engagement forum, therefore its meetings are open to all members of the public who have interest in the training and development of seafarers.
Below, is a 15 minutes interview with Mr Amwimmbavhi Nelwamondo, in which he fully explains the latest development.
Meanwhile, Ms Zamachonco Chonco, acting CEO of SAMSA described the relaunch of reconstituted Syllabus Committee, almost a year to the day since dissolution, as highly significant with regards to ensuring South Africa’s maintainance of high standards of seafarer education and training on an ongoing basis.
With more than 133-million people globally infected by the Covid-19 pandemic and close on 3-million of these having succumbed to the virus as of Wednesday this week, the true full impacts of the virus on human society – a full year after its outbreak in Wuhan, China in late 2019 – have yet to be determined.
This notwithstanding, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the suffering by those already affected has been intense and among the victims already reeling from the impacts of the pandemic are millions of seafarers worldwide, thousands of them being South Africans.
It was for that reason that the agency, under the supervision of the Department of Transport, has thrown its full weight behind a survey undertaken by the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) to collect information directly from South African seafarers that will assist indicate the nature and extent of the Covid-19 pandemic impacts on them.
The survey led by UKZN Professor Shaun Ruggunan, seeks to; “….investigate the impact of Covid on South African seafarers. This survey specifically focuses on how Covid has impacted South African seafarer’s in terms of their work-life balance and the impact of Covid on their mental, emotional and physical well-being,” says the university in a statement.
Said Prof Ruggunan: “We hope that the survey will allow us to show how important seafarers are to the national and global economy and bring greater attention to their work and challenges during the pandemic. The results will be shared and potentially drive or inform policies of employee well-being for SA seafarers. The survey will benefit both employers, seafarers, agencies and seafarer labour market institutions.”
Unregistered seafarers far more at risk of negative Covid-19 pandemic impacts
For SAMSA, the initiative was of critical importance and value in more than one respect with regards the country’s seafarers, according to Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe. Generally, he says, seafarers can be described as operating virtually under the radar – that is, taking up employment with various companies domestically and globally yet without formal registration, and therefore now currently suffering the impacts of Covid-19 without being noticed for assistance.
“The impact of Covid-19 has been felt worldwide. Seafarers have not been spared. Seafarers have been working throughout, as maritime transport is responsible for carrying 90% of world cargo by volume. It was essential that shipping continued to operate through various lockdown regimes implemented by different countries. This ensured that critical movement of supplies of food, medicine, including medical equipment remained unhindered during lockdown,” says Mr Rantsoabe.
However, several countries across the world inclusive of many that are South Africa’s trading partners in Asia, Western Europe and the American continent embarking on variable states of national lockdown to this day, seafarers struggled and continue to, with millions finding themselves unable to sign off in various ports around the world due to travel restrictions.
“Some seafarers including South Africans found themselves stuck in vessels for much longer periods than they signed for. This led to the situation being termed ‘the humanitarian crisis at seas’,” said Mr Rantsoabe, pointing to the intervention that soon ensued in the global maritime sector led by both the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and other interested and affected parties, calling for seafarers to be declared “key workers”.
With the full backing of the United Nations, the intervention soon succeeded as the IMO, in a Circular letter No.4204/Add.35/Rev.4 issued on 05 February 2021 advised that 55 of its Member States, including South Africa had signed a resolution to declare seafarers “key workers”.
“This has not stopped seafarers suffering due to stringent travel restrictions still in place in various jurisdictions,” said Mr Rantsoabe, adding that because of this very fact, SAMSA – through its welfare section – continues to seek ways to ensure that the country’s seafarers are not left alone to battle with Covid-19 pandemic induced conditions at work.
“Hundreds of South African seafarers found themselves stranded in various parts of the world. SAMSA through its welfare programme managed to assist hundreds of seafarers reach home through various direct and indirect interventions which included advising shipping companies on the processes involved in travelling back to South Africa via repatriation flights and best routes for flying South Africans home. The interventions included direct contact with seafarers, employers of South African seafarers and NPO’s with interest in seafarer welfare.
“There are still many seafarers that SAMSA could not reach especially cruise staff. Since these seafarers’ occupations do not fall under the SAMSA qualification framework, it was and remains impossible for SAMSA to understand the numbers involved. In addition, cruise staff generally leave the country through recruitment agencies that are not accredited by SAMSA. As such SAMSA is unable to account for them. It is important to note that ‘generally, SAMSA does not get to know when any seafarer leaves the country to take up employment overseas. This has proved to be a major problem as SAMSA struggled to quantify the problem and help required,” he said.
On the UKZN survey, Mr Rantsoabe said: “SAMSA was approached by UKZN for support on the study on impact of covid-19 on seafarer welfare. SAMSA having considered the aim and content of the study fully supports this study. UKZN committed to sharing the results with SAMSA which will provide the Authority with much needed information.
“It is very important that SAMSA gets a full picture of what is/was faced by seafarers during this difficult period. The results will assist SAMSA as we continue to advance the interest of seafarers in various forums within government. The study will also provide information that will help shape the Authority’s welfare offering. All seafarers are encouraged to complete the survey as it will help SAMSA better understand the impact of Covid-19 on seafarers,” said Mr Rantsoabe.
Meanwhile, Prof Ruggunan stated that: “Participation is voluntary, anonymous and confidential and no survey can be traced back to any individual. The survey takes approximately 6 to 7 minutes only and can be accessed on a phone or computer via the link provided (see headline pic above) or by clicking on the photo placed on the landing page of this blog platform, or one placed on the landing page of the SAMSA website.
For further information, alternatively queries; these may be directed to Prof Ruggunan either by email or mobile phone as follows: email@example.com, cell: 079 1970 743. Also, for all seafarer welfare issues, seafarers both South African and international can correspond with SAMSA through the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA says problems encountered by South African seafarers at Department of Home Affairs relating directly to renewal of their expired or expiring passports are being attended to and hopefully soon, these will be resolved.
The SAMSA statement in Pretoria on Thursday comes in the form of a Marine Notice 2 of 2021. The notice comes barely a week after the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), of which South Africa is a Member State, confirmed the country’s ratification of a resolution involving 50 other Member States, granting seafarers globally the status of ‘essential workers’.
In the notice, SAMSA acknowledges that with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and numerous problems arising since about a year ago, some due to Government’s counter-measures against the spread of the virus, such as the national lockdown at different levels since March 2020, seafarers but especially South African seafarers, have been among workforces who have suffered most even as the maritime sector remained operational for the longest of time under the circumstances to date.
In the notice, SAMSA in further acknowledgment of the effort put up by the South African government through various departments inclusive of the Department of Transport under which shipping transport falls, states nevertheless that: “….as much as Maritime Transport remained essential in the eyes of the world’s authorities as it continued to be allowed to operate under different lockdown regimes around the world, seafarers were forgotten. Crew changes were banned in many countries during the first half of 2020.
“This caused mayhem in the maritime industry as seafarers struggled to sign-off vessels and relievers struggled to get to ships. This resulted in what some termed as the humanitarian crisis at sea as seafarers had to stay on board for extended periods. Another humanitarian crisis was brewing at home as seafarers who had made it home before travel bans struggled to get back to the ships and were left without income for extended periods.”
According to SAMSA in the notice, even with global strides being made to alleviate the plight of seafarers globally, this inclusive of sets of resolutions by the IMO, the United Nations as well as organised business calling for seafarers to be declared ‘essential workers; with the second surge of Covid-19 infections in South Africa in the latter part of 2020, South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs scaled down operations, in the process suspending applications for passports except for people under certain categories permitted to travel.
In this regard, SAMSA says even as the country’s seafarers were classified under Category 2, (people allowed to travel), several seafarers reportedly encountered problems when seeking to renew their passports at various offices of the Department of Home Affairs across the country.
“South African seafarers have been allowed to disembark and join vessels within the South African ports from as early as level 1 of lockdown. From 10 June 2020 they could travel internationally via repatriation flights to fulfil contractual obligations. SAMSA and the Department of Transport are currently engaged in talks with the relevant departments to ensure this matter is resolved,” announced SAMSA.
In the meantime, SAMSA called on all South African seafarers still battling to renew their passports to contact the organisation.
“When renewing a passport, the seafarer must take the following documents to the Department of Home Affairs office:
(1) Letter from the company, declaring you as a seafarer, employed and an essential key worker.
(2) Copy of the IMO Circular Letter No.4204/Add.35/Rev.3 which states that seafarers have been declared key workers (essential workers). A copy is attached to this Marine Notice.
“Should a seafarer experience any problems regarding renewal of a passport, kindly forward the following to email@example.com:
Name and Surname.
Department of Home Affairs office visited.
The details, according to SAMSA, will allow the agency to take matters up with relevant authorities.
With Covid-19 entry restrictions still on for crossborder travels, the world’s yachting community will find relief in the special dispensation by South Africa allowing them to call into the country’s ports.
That is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Marine Notice No.50 published on the agency’ website on Monday.
The notice titled: “COVID-19: Humanitarian Relief Project to Support Stranded Yachts to enter South Africa during Lockdown Period” dated 4 November 2020 states that, the implementation of the new measures is in recognition that Covid-19 restrictions in the maritime sector, particularly seafaring, have had highly negative consequences for sailors worldwide.
“The issue of stranded yachts has become topical in the past months and it is a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic that had dire consequences for the ocean cruising community. This community utilizes a wide range of yachts and small pleasure craft to navigate their way across the oceans and who primarily sail the world’s oceans as a way of life.
‘As a response to Covid-19, many countries around the world closed their borders and making it extremely difficult for sailors to proceed with their traditional sailing voyage along the Indian Ocean The current weather patterns along the Indian Ocean (are) posing a huge risk to yachts and sailors.
With these and related issues in mind, says the notice: “The South African government is continuously reviewing its processes and procedures to identify challenges within the maritime sphere during the Covid-19 Pandemic. As such, the government has found that there is a need to address the challenges faced by the yachting industry.”
In terms of the new measures, according to SAMSA, “Sou1h A!ica will offer a safe corridor and humanitarian services to yachts stranded along the Indian Ocean from 09 November 2020 to 15 December 2020.
“Yachts falling within this category must only utilise Yacht Clubs wthin the port of Richards Bay, port of Durban (both Indian Ocean) and port of Cape Town (straddles both the Indian and Atlantic Ocean). All yachts will be eligible to receive all services including stores, provisions, refuelling, repairs, maintenance and disembarkation of foreign sailors.”
The SAMSA notice further gives operational procedures on how relevant applications and related matters will be handled by the various government departments and institutions in conjuction with sailing communities organisation, with emphasis that: “these operational procedures are only applicable to yachts that fall within the humanitarian scope as outlined.”
The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in China some six months ago has without doubt brought about the greatest health risk globally and, in its wake, by some accounts, the biggest economic threat and devastation in more than 100 years.
Yet as the old adage has it: ‘every dark cloud has a silver lining,’ so it turns out that the outbreak of the pandemic that’s forced many countries to close their borders, would also lead to new business opportunities for others that were not readily available before, and in the process, giving rise to creative thinking and innovation.
Heron Marine, a black woman owned bunkering services company based in Port Elizabeth is one such business operator to be presented with an opportunity that would call for its creativeness in delivering services to four huge international cruise vessels it has never serviced before.
According to Kgomotso Selokane, Chief Executive Officer of Heron Marine, four international cruise liners from Carnival, namely, the Carnival Dream, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Conquest and Carnival Ecstasy, came calling into the port of Ngqura in May.
The call into South African ports by these four cruise liners – among several similar – was to disembark the country’s seafarers who – along with the entire cruise line industry– have become economic victims of the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.
Enroute to disembarking crew at Durban and other ports outside of South Africa the Carnival cruise ships required replenishments, among which was fuel for the journey to return home their thousands of seafarers rendered stranded due to closure of the industry worldwide.
Unlike its three sisters, the Carnival Dream – at 130,000gt and 305.47 meters long, with a guest capacity of some 3646 people as well as 1367 crew members – was to be refuelled seat anchorage. That presented some interesting challenges.
According to Ms Selokane, due to the configuration of the vessel and barge, the actual refuelling operation at anchorage required for the first time, the utilisation of a spacer barge with two Yokahama fenders on either side to serve as a bulwark between the company’s bunker barge and the cruise ship. In turn, this required not only tugs to shove and hold vessels in place, but also the utilisation of a mooring boat to layout oil booms to cover stern of the vessel.
Once arrangements had been finalised, and with a keen eye constantly on the weather conditions as the refuelling had to be conducted in open anchorage , Heron Marine called on, among others, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) for assistance with tugs and consulted with the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) to ensure compliance with the strictest safety standards during the bunkering operation.
The final alignment of all parties and equipment and calm weather conditions allowed for a successful refuelling of the Carnival Dream by one of Heron Marine’s bunkering barges, the Bonaire Trader.
She added: “SAMSA and TNPA’s approvals… demonstrated South Africa’s commitment to implementing the Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy’s (CMTP) in making the country an international maritime centre, but more so our contribution to the global maritime economy during these trying times.”
Part of the economic contribution involved the deliberate utilisation of all local based services suppliers for support infrastructure, she said
“In our commitment to our license requirements, we use local suppliers as much as possible. In this operation specifically we procured the services of a drone operator to take footage of the entire operation.
“However, the pinnacle of our excitement was how we committed ourselves, as an entity, to SAMSA’s SMME Development requirement, as our mooring boat was provided by a local 100% Black Owned SMME.
“We would really like to thank SAMSA and the TNPA team for allowing this operation to take place and supporting its precedence as a first of its kind offshore ALGOA BAY or maybe even South Africa. “Working together like this is a true indication of our South African Spirit – not matter what we endeavour,” said Ms Selokane.
Certain tough restrictions imposed on every aspect of life in South Africa on the basis of the country’s recent declaration of a state of National Disaster, as well as a three weeks population lockdown that began on midnight Thursday (March 26), as a response to the global outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, are constantly receiving reviewal, according to the Department of Transport.
For the maritime sector, one such strict restriction is that related to the entry and exit of seafarers and associated personnel at any of the country’s ports, which are virtually closed to all international trade cargo except that deemed to be essential supplies.
In terms of the new special rules, vessels dropping anchor at or near any of the country’s ports are not allowed disembarkment of seafarers and therefore not permitted to change crews, even if the seafarers are South African.
However, in a statement in Pretoria on Friday, Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula said that specific restriction was urgently being reviewed, this coming in the wake of an incident in Durban, where a crew of six (6) South African seafarers on a cruise ship, the Queen Mary 2 (erroneously named as the Queen Elizabeth 2), were disallowed disembarkment, according to the lockdown rules.
“These South Africans want to disembark and return home. However, our regulations do not allow crew changes at any of our ports, even if these are South Africans. The Queen Mary 2 is waiting for clearance to enter the port in order to refuel and take provisions. This is a matter we are urgently considering,’ said Mr Mbalula in Pretoria on Friday.
The confirmation of the reviewal came as South Africa ended its first of 21 days of a national lockdown in terms of a declared State of Natonal Disaster in line with a global scramble to ward off or limit the grossly negative impacts of the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic now in its fourth month since its outbreak in China in December 2019.
As of Friday, the start of the national lockdown, South Africa recorded a rising figure of just over 1000 people found infected by the virus as well as confirmation of the death of the first person due to the pandemic.
The Health Ministry in a report on Friday gave a breakdown of the nature and extent of infection, stating that of the total 1170 people so far found to be positive of the Covid-19 virus, those hospitalised (both public and private) included 55 patients in intensive care units and three (3) in ventilations while 31 had recovered.
Of those infected, a total 4407 of those with whom they had been in contact had been identified and of these, 3465 successfully traced for their locations. The ministry also raised alarm that: “There is an increase in the rate of internal transmissions. Patients without a history of travelling abroad have been detected in many provinces.” – a situation giving justification to a clampdown n the movement of people between provinces and districts during the 21 day nationwide lockdown in order to prevent further infections.
Meanwhile, with regards the fate of seafarers, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), announced a raft of measures aimed at assisting the country’s seafarers.
The statement said:
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Republic of South Africa announced measures to combat the spread of the disease by declaring a State of Disaster and putting the country on lockdown effective midnight on 26 March 2020.
“The results of such lockdown is that all businesses are required to close doors except for those offering essential services. The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and its stakeholders have been affected by the lockdown as a result only with essential services being rendered. As such, the services for seafarers which are rendered directly by SAMSA and/or its clients/stakeholders may not be delivered during the lockdown, viz:
No training of seafarers for short courses over the period, academic programmes may continue through ‘e-learning’ platforms
No assessments for seafarer certification will be undertaken during this period.
No eye sights test will be undertaken during the period.
The results of this is that seafarers whose certificates expire during this period are not able to attend re-fresher training whilst some are unable to sign-off their vessels. SAMSA has granted a general extension to all certificates expiring during the National State of Disaster as set out in the Marine Notice.
For this purpose, the production of the said Marine Notice shall be sufficient for Seafarers working on vessels trading within the South African Ports.
Seafarers working on foreign vessels may be required to produce specific individual documents expressing the extension of the certificate. To this end, seafarers and the employers may obtain such extension by completing the application forms below.
All extension requests shall be made using the form below;
Users are requested to download the form from the link above and not to share with other persons to prevent missing out on changes that will produce negative results or return incorrect information. The system requires that all fields be completed correctly to ensure that the correct information is distributed.
As South Africa joined the rest of the maritime world to mark and celebrate the international Day of the Seafarer as guided by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and organised locally by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) jointly with the Department of Transport (DoT), seafarer’s general welfare was on the menu and there were few surprises about the issues raised or discussed.
After all, the IMO suggested theme for 2019 was #IamOnBoard – with Gender Equality.
South Africa’s marking of the annual event this year took the same format as in 2018, with three of the country’s coastal cities, Cape Town (Western Cape), Port Elizabeth (Eastern Cape) and Durban (KwaZulu-Natal) hosting simultaneously the event. The idea according to the Department of Transport, is to ensure that as many of South Africa’s seafarers – some based in these cities – participate in the celebrations as well as ensuing discussions.
Indeed, speakers lined up to lead discussions totaled about five people in each of the venues – all selected according to either or both their involvement as well as experience in seafaring or such other field of engagement directly related to or impacts seafaring. Emphasis was placed active seafarers – seagoing or not – employers, as well as education and training providers or professionals.
This blog covered the Cape Town leg of the event and this is where, among a range of issues raised for discussion concerning gender equality and empowerment of particularly women, the question about drug use by seafarers – and precisely the adequacy and appropriateness of rules and regulations governing its management arose.
Ms Thembela Taboshe, one of the first three of South Africa’s black African women seafarers to obtain a Master Mariner qualification in the past fives years and now currently serving as a SHEQ Executive for Blue Continental Products at fishing group Oceana, wanted to know what the allowable limit of narcotic drugs could a sailor have on his or her system to be deemed safe or unsafe at work.
She said the question was arising against the backdrop of law reform developments in the country concerning the use of especially dagga or “weed” and which now deemed it no longer illegal for people to use the narcotic drug in the privacy of their own homes.
The law reform was well and good, she said, but it raised a few questions regarding implications of the free, legal use of the narcotic drug.
“This is a matter I’d like to raise and speak with SAMSA and DoT about. We need to actually come up with legislation about how people find out…..what is the allowable limit….what is not. How do we know that a person who is on the 10th day after having taken weed is actually capable of doing the job?” said Ms Taboshe.
She contextualized the matter as one concerning and with implications for seafarers in general and therefore relevant in terms of gender equality, but also women empowerment. (Ms Taboshe’s full remarks – average 6 minutes – along with those of the other participants are shared on the Day of the Seafarer‘s page)
The issue climbed quickly into the DoT and SAMSA list of issues requiring address over the next while and a report back to sailors prior to, or on Wednesday, 25 June 2020 and perhaps soon thereafter.
The DoT’s representative at the Cape Town event, Acting Deputy Director-General, Maritime Transport, Mr Dumisani Ntuli committed the department to do exactly that.
As indicated the drug usage issue by seafarers was among several that led to a robust debate in Cape Town. For a comprehensive multimedia report on these discussions, click here or on this blog’s main menu, click on the Day of the Seafarer‘s page at the top left of the bar.
The seafarers career in South Africa is bound for a major shakeup in the coming months involving three major aspects: a re-look at the status of their qualifications for proper positioning, an overhaul of the process of their intake into the career path, as well as expansion of employment opportunities – the latter expected to involve the establishment of a South African fleet of vessels to do port to port shipments.
The policy shifts by government, driven by the Department of Transport in collaboration with the maritime sector and various others, emerged during observation of the international Day of the Seafarer held in Cape Town on Monday – one of three similar events held also in Port Elizabeth and Durban.
It was the first time for South Africa to observe the annual seafarers’ event at three locations simultaneously on the same day at three venues – the other two being Durban and Port Elizabeth.
Participants at all three events included government and its agencies including the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), higher education and training institutions, industry representatives as well as seafarers, among others.
In Cape Town, Department of Transport acting Chief Director General for Maritime, Mr Dumisani Ntuli said a policy revision was currently underway to shakeup the country’s maritime sector but specifically shipping, with a view to facilitating the establishment of a domestic fleet of vessels to take over port-to-port shipping transport.
Primarily, this was to ensure greater participation of South Africa in the shipping sector involving its own people, but equally important, to create a stable and expanded opportunity for ongoing, sustainable development of a professional cadre of South African seafarers immersed in an own culture.
However, Mr Ntuli also acknowledged an urgent need currently to both address the issue of already qualified seafarers and whose qualifications as well as related experience do not enjoy recognition by the country’s education system in terms of the South African Qualifications Authority.
He said a task team involving appropriate representations from relevant stakeholders would be set up to fast-track the process.
In tandem, the quality of young people entering the profession would also require a re-evaluation as it was being established that some, if not a significant number of people pursuing seafaring for a career were either ill-prepared or simply not suitable for the type of work.
Currently, it emerged, there was a high drop out rate of maritime sector education students by especially cadets, once they get employed fully at sea.
According to Mr Ntuli, the main goal of all the initiatives was to ensure a stable career path for seafarers and that they are absorbed into the shipping transport industry and remain employed for their working lifetime.
With regards the observation of the Day of the Seafarer annually, he said the new format involving the staging of the event in cities across the country’s coastline would remain the feature, primarily to ensure engagement of all stakeholders for a continuous dialogue on matters affecting the sector.
For a detailed presentation of Mr Ntuli’s remarks on this and related matters, Click on the video below.
A full round up of the various participants’ contributions to the discussion at the Cape Town event on Monday will follow soon.
Among the key participants were Ms Leone Louw, a lecturer in maritime studies at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Mr Rob Whitehead, president of the Society of Master Mariners South Africa, Mr Leon Mouton of the Safety Training Group, Captain Ravi Naicker of the South African Maritime Safety Authority, as well industry and seafarer representatives.
Miss Lelethu Ntuzula. A Deck Cadet
Mr Sanele Hlongwane. Ratings Trainee
Meanwhile, dozens of young and aspirant seafarers attending the event were all enthusiastic about the prospects of their careers given the increasing attention that was now being given to their well-being going into the future.
Among these were Ms Lelethu Ntuzula and Mr Sanele Hlongwane, both in their 20’s – one a deck cadet and the other currently undergoing the first ratings training of its kind on board the SA Agulhas – an initiative of the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) together with the TETA, that began three weeks ago in Port Elizabeth.
To hear their views, click on the video below.
Still in Cape Town, about two kilometers or so from the Cape Sun venue of the Cape Town leg of the Day of the Seafarers observation, at the Cape Town harbour, dozens of seafarers, young and old, on board the country’s dedicated cadet training vessel, the St Agulhas, had a cake and a braai, to mark the day, and fun was had by all.
Seafarers on board SAMSA owned national cadet training vessel, the SA Agulhas taking time out to enjoy Day of the Seafarer 2018
In the other two coastal cities where the event was held, similar sentiment and merriment emerged.
Mr Sobantu Tilayi, Chief Operating Officer for SAMSA reiterated the authority’s openness to seafarers and informed those gathered that the overall wellbeing of seafarers was their priority.
Seafarers had to prepare themselves for the challenges associated with working in a diverse and multi-cultural environment, he said.
Some seafarers gathered in Durban asserted that one of the challenges they faced at sea was being perceived as ill-disciplined when they raised labour-related issues with their superiors on-board.
Mr Tilayi said: “It is important for our seafarers to understand that it is the Merchant Shipping Act, rather than the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, which governs the labour rights of seafarers.”
He encouraged seafarers to view the maritime industry in its global context, and consider the norms and standards established in the companies in which they worked.
“We encourage all our seafarers to understand the complexities of the industry they serve,” Mr Tilayi said.
In summary the DoT and SAMSA said the maritime industry had the potential to address the high unemployment rate, and a plan of action was necessary to include the following interventions:
Adopt South African models and knowledge to solve the country’s unemployment rate.
Develop and own a South African shipping fleet for economic growth.
Develop a seafarers’ culture and create employment opportunities for qualified South African seafarers.
Develop a career path plan.
Build the fishing industry to accommodate SA seafarers.
Strengthen the capacity of the SA Agulhas to use it as a training vessel for South African seafarers.
Integrate technological advancements in the industry.
The eyes of the maritime sector globally turn their focus on Monday onto the role of one of the most critical key role players in the field, seafarers – upon whose shoulders the movement of ships of all sizes as well as safety of global goods trade rests.
It is observance internationally of the Day of the Seafarer (DosT) in South Africa for the first time, the event led by the Department of Transport (DoT), with assistance by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) will be marked simultaneously in the three coastal cities of Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, beginning from about 9am.
Deputy Transport Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga (Left) and (former) Transport Minister Mr Joe Masangwanyi (Right ) with Ayanda Miya and Mluleki Khwela – two of the SA Agulhas cadets that returned with the vessel from a trip to Antarctica over 80 days in November 2017 to January 2018. They were invited for the opening of South Africa’s Parliament in
Two of the SA Agulhas 20 cadets that returned with the vessel earlier this year, Ayanda Miya and Mluleki Khwela with President Cyril Ramaphosa at the opening of 2018 installment of the sitting of South African Parliament in February
Young cadets returning from a three months sojourn into the Antarctica in 2018
Participants are expected to include several role players in the country’s maritime sector inclusive of government agencies, shipping and related company representatives, higher education and related institutions, seafarers and others.
And central to the events, in addition to messages both by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the Department of Transport, will be a round-table session (Duban) and panel discussions (Port Elizabeth and Cape Town) on matters affecting seafarers.
(For a preview of the Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga’s full message for DosT pre-recorded earlier, and for that of the IMO, Click on the videos below)
According to the DoT, for this reason, the South African Day of the Seafarer event will have as its supportive domestic theme: “A Dialogue with the South African Seafarer on the Day of the Seafarer.”
Reflecting on how the annual observation of the seafarers day came about eight years ago, the department says the IMO designated 25 June as the international Day of the Seafarer “as a way to recognize that almost everything that we use in our daily lives has been directly or indirectly affected by sea transport.
“International shipping transports more than 90 percent of global trade to peoples and communities all over the world and about 20 million containers are traveling across the oceans every day.
“Driven by the IMO together with partner countries including South Africa, this year’s Seafarers Day celebration theme is “seafarers’ well-being”. IMO asserts that the year 2017 and 2018 have seen strong momentum in the industry to address seafarer’s well-being, particularly their mental health.” says the DoT
Also noting that “South Africa, as a member of IMO has traditionally supported and participated in the Seafarers Day celebration,” the department says the country’s approach this year to include a stakeholder dialogue as part of the observation is intended to ensure that seafarers are not just celebrated, but also given opportunity to share their owns views about matters that impact their profession.
“The Department of Transport wants to create a platform to engage with seafarers in order to better understand the challenges they are facing and together to develop responses to the identified challenges. The purpose of participation is to create awareness about the role of seafarers and to inculcate the seafaring culture and excellence in South Africa.
“The IMO encourages governments, shipping organizations, companies, ship owners and all other parties concerned to duly and appropriately promote the Day of the Seafarer and take action to celebrate it meaningfully,” it says.
Monday’s observation of the Day of the Seafarer in South Africa in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban will then have its main goals; the initiation of a dialogue with the country’s seafarers, with the intention to find possible solutions on how to tackle challenges they may be faced with, but also provide ideas and projects to improve seafarers prospects for placement on ships worldwide and related opportunities, says the DoT.
Captain Pretty Molefe
Captain Tsepo Motloutsi
TRAILBLAZERS: The Department of Maritime Studies has teamed up with industry and the College of Cape Town to train marine engineering students in workshop skills which are needed before they start working on ships
Notably, the DoT says it also wants to focus attention on the role of especially female seafarers and about whom it says, remain under represented in the shipping subsector.
“The Department of Transport will use the Seafarers Day to launch an annual platform of engagement on issues affecting seafarers including promotion of female seafarers. Shipping is one such wherein women constitute a very miniscule part of the shipboard workforce.
“The Seafarers day is a great opportunity for seafarers and maritime professionals in general from all sectors to promote and raise awareness of the value of seafaring culture and practice including training and development. The industry still foresees a shortfall of skilled, licensed officers and engineers in future years.
In keeping with modern communication trends, two hashtags are being used to highlight the event: #SupportSeafarersWellbeing through dialogue and #GoodDayatSea
According to the DoT, The first hashtag can be used by shipping companies and others within the industry, “to show how they create opportunities and decent working environment for seafarers and how they address mental health issues among their seagoing staff.
“The second hashtag can be used to engage the general public, to wish them a good day at sea and encourage seafarers to share photos of themselves in a positive work environment.”
Meanwhile, in support of the ‘dialogue’ aspect of the observation, a couple of weeks ago SAMSA launched an initiative involving video interviews with local and international seafarers currently in South Africa, but also a social media initiative encouraging seafarers anywhere else to share their stories.
Ahead of and in marking the Day of the Seafarer, a few of them spoke out about their love and challenges of being a seafarer
International seafarers in South Africa sharing their experiences of the job as part of Day of the Seafarers 2018 celebrations
In the video interview series dubbed: “In Conversation with Seafarers – In celebration of Seafarers’ Day 2018′ 10 seafarers ( five female and five male including three international) shared their joys as well as frustrations that they experience in the profession, yet with most stating that seafaring is remains their first love and so it shall remain for a while yet.
To view the interviews (averaging 15 minutes each) go to the “Day of the Seafarer 2018” page or Click Here.
Of Monday’s Day of the Seafarer observation event nationally, in addition to traditional media coverage, SAMSA’s news information online platforms, inclusive of social media, will share news and information flowing from the events on a regular basis throughout the day. In addition, this blog will provide a comprehensive multi media report, inclusive of interviews with some of the participants, from late afternoon on Monday through to Tuesday.
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has expressed sadness at the confirmed death of a South African seafarer, Mr Stephen John Bouch of Johannesburg on board a Maersk Line cargo vessel that caught ablaze in the Arabian Sea near Oman a week ago.
Mr Bouch, 53, a veteran seafarer was believed to be among four missing crew members of the Maersk Honam cargo vessel that caught alight on Tuesday last week while en route from Singapore to the Suez in Egypt.
At the time of the incident, the vessel had 27 crew on board of which 23 were evacuated. One crew member, a Thai national, had passed away due to injuries sustained while four others remained missing until on Monday after three of the bodies were found, Maersk Line reported.
According to the shipping company’s statement, the three bodies found had not yet been identified and the search for the fourth person, now presumed dead, was continuing.
It was not clear on Tuesday whether the South African seafarer, Mr Bouch was among those whose bodies had been found, since no identity had been established of any of the bodies.
In Pretoria on Tuesday, SAMSA which had been in touch with all relevant authorities as well as the affected family since reports of the incident last week, expressed sadness at the turn of events involving the death of Mr Bouch and the other sailors.
In a statement SAMSA said: “The South African Maritime Safety Authority joins the South African maritime fraternity in mourning the loss of seafarers on board the Maersk Honam.
“South Africa has lost Mr Stephen John Bouch, of Johannesburg. Our condolences goes to his family, colleagues and fellow seafarers.”
According to SAMSA, Mr Bouch was a qualified and experienced Marine Engineer with seafarer certificates inclusive of a Certificate of Competency as an Officer in Charge of Engineering Watch or Designated Duty Engineer for which he Qualified 24 June 1991.
He had been an employee of Safmarine, later becoming part of Maersk, for the most part of his life.
SAMSA said during his time with Safmarine (Maersk), he worked and mentored many other young South African officers.