‘South Africa is open for business’: Vuka Marine – owner of now three SA registered cargo ships

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Pretoria: 22 June 2019

South Africa’s ship registry has been given a boost with the registration of yet another vessel operated by Vuka Marine, bringing to close on half a dozen the number of operational ships now carrying the South African flag in world oceans.

The Vuka Marine cargo vessel known as the Windsor Adventure: Port Elizabeth, was formally welcomed into the country’s ship registry at a ceremony held in the city of its registry and home, the port of Port Elizabeth this past week.

DSC_0837.JPGGuests attending included representatives of the Department of Transport (DoT), the Ports Regular of South Africa, the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), the Eastern Cape provincial government, the Nelson Mandela University (NUM), the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and other business and institutions representatives.

DSC_0764.JPGVuka Marine is a joint venture between Via Maritime of South Africa and K-Line of Japan.  The company is currently moving about 2.5-metric tons of ore per annum, mainly on the first two capesize bulk carriers that it flagged in South Africa in 2015.

The latest addition is the third cargo ship operated by Vuka Marine to be registered under the South African flag and the fifth so far in the registry since launch of the SAMSA driven campaign to revitalise the commercial ship stock registered in South Africa about a decade or so ago – an apparently painstaking venture it has proved to be to date.

At the port of Port Elizabeth on Tuesday, both senior national and provincial government officials attending, including the Eastern Cape’s MEC for Transport, Ms Weziwe Tikana, expressed delight at the growth of ships now coming carrying the South Africa flag, however slow, and also acknowledged the need for speed in adding more into fold of the registry in far higher numbers if the country was to realise its ambitions of developing the country’s maritime economy transport sub-sector, develop skills and create employment.

DSC_0804.JPGIn the videos below, all six speakers – Captain Brynn Adamson (Harbor Master: Port of Port Elizabeth; Mr  Mahesh Fakir (CEO: Ports Regulator SA), Mr Metse Ralephenya (Marine Transport: DoT), Mr Andrew Millard (CEO: Vuka Marine), Mr Sobantu Tilayi (acting CEO: SAMSA) and Ms Weziwe Tikana (MEC for Transport: Eastern Cape) were unanimous in praise of the joint effort and close collaboration being achieved in delivering on the ship registry campaign. They also expressed determination in ensuring that hiccups currently being experienced, especially with taxation and related business costs of ship registration under the South African flag must be resolved.

In their order of appearance, Capt: Adamson said the port of Elizabeth was proud to be the home of no less than four operating vessels registered calling the port their home.

The four include the three operated by Vuka Marine and one other operated by bunking services company, Aegian. For his full remarks, click on the video below.

Ports Regulator, Mr Mahesh Fakir elaborated on financial incentives now approved in preference of vessels coming under the South African flag, as well as necessary operational conditions expected of ships registered in South Africa which he said were consistent with the country’s maritime sector developmental goals.

This was coming against the backdrop that South Africa relies on about 12 000 foreign vessels to carry 96 per cent of its exports to the rest of the world each year, leaving it strategically vulnerable.

On incentives, Mr Fakir said South Africa currently offers up to 30 per cent discount on port dues by ships locally registered. On operational conditions, among other things, he said it was important that vessels carrying trade goods outbound and inbound, as well as personnel manning the vessels, should increasingly be South African.

For more on his remarks, Click on the video below:

“South Africa is open for business….” were the closing remarks of Vuka Marine CEO, Mr Andrew Millard in summation of both his company’s experience and achievements in its quest for registration of its cargo vessels dating as far back as 2009 and one of which only got registered in 2014.

Among notable achievements being increasingly realised was the placement to date of some 50 young South African cadets on its vessels, the absorption of about dozen of these into full-time employment, and a current recruitment campaign for more young trainees known in the sub-sector as ‘ratings’.

He said Vuka Marine was also keen to assist the country’s ship registry through sharing experiences with ship operators keen on carrying the South African flag.

Mr Millard’s views were earlier echoed by the company’s chairman, Mr Andrew Mthembu, who remarked: “We are thrilled to welcome the Windsor Adventure into Vuka Marine’s fleet. This acquisition demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the development of the South Africa’s maritime industry, the national registry, and our seafarer population.”

For Mr Millard full remarks, Click on the video below:

For SAMSA, the campaign to enrol more commercial cargo vessels in the country’s ship registry had proved tedious, unnecessarily at times due to lack of co-operation by some important institutions.

“We are 95% towards setting up everything in place to ensure a smooth operation in  drawing ships into the country’s registry, but that five per cent that’s outstanding is the difference between success and failure'” said SAMSA acting CEO, Mr Sobantu Tilayi.

Issues involving taxation were among the impediments, but so was more closer co-operation and collaboration necessary from particular the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), he said. For his full remarks Click on the video below.

Ms Weziwe Tikana, MEC for Transport in the Eastern Cape described it as befitting that newly registered vessels under the SA flag had their home in the province. She said the province had the privilege of having the second longest coastline in the country after the Western Cape but had little to show for it so far. However, she said, since launch of Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) by government in 2014, the province had resolve to increase its economic contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product based on maritime economic sector growth,

This, she said, was necessary not just for economic growth but also for social transformation and higher participation by all South Africans.

For her full remarks, Click on he video below:

DoT’s Marine Transport directorate official, Mr Metse Ralephenya was full of praise that ‘pressure’ from the department on SOE CEOs involved in maritime transport was truly beginning to pay off handsomely, and vowed on behalf of DoT to ensure that necessary support by government was given.

For his full remarks, Click on the video below.

While being celebrated, the 56 000dwt Windsor Adventure was busy taking on board yet another load of locally mined minerals destined for overseas markets.

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Durban port adverse weather conditions alert!

Pretoria: 04 April 2019

The Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) in Durban has issued an extra-ordinary adverse weather alert as follows:

“Dear Customer

Please be advised that the Port Of Durban is expected to experience severe adverse weather, with winds gusting up to 50 knots South  Westerly and swells over 4 meters. Please advise all vessels in Port and at Durban anchorage to put out extra oorings , have engines on short notice and standby on Channel 9 and 16. Periodic updates will follow on the night shift.”

According to SAMSA, the notice was issued by Jessie Govender, Berth Planning Manager, TNPA on Thursday afternoon.

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Inclement Durban weather keeps SAMSA on its toes

durban port storm
Image: The Mirror. UK

Pretoria: 11 October 2017

The horrible wet and stormy weather that hit the port city of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday resulting in a massive flooding in parts of the city and causing chaos with shipping at the port, will continue to be monitored for its effects on sea traffic, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has said.

In a media statement shared on social media early on Wednesday, SAMSA said after the breakout of the heavy downpour of rain and massive storm that led rapidly to some vessels at the port of Durban breaking loose and drifting dangerously, the organisation – jointly worked closely with the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA)  round the clock to manage the chaotic situation.

The SAMSA statement released early today reads as follows:

October 10, 2017: Durban, South Africa:

The South African Maritime Safety Authority, working with the Transnet National Ports Authority in the emergency response operations within the Port of Durban today (Tuesday), will continue to monitor Durban’s and the coastal weather and sea conditions.

Chief Operating Officer for SAMSA, Sobantu Tilayi confirmed together with TNPA, SAMSA provided technical support during the multi vessel emergency operation. This was as a result of the major storm that hit Durban at about 09h30 this morning.

Tilayi said: “Our principal officer from SAMSA Durban office, Captain Hopewell Mkhize together with the Port of Durban Harbour Master, Captain Alex Miya convened a Joint Operations Committee which managed the emergency response operations. Five container ships in total were affected. We will continue monitoring weather conditions along the coast and monitor the situation in Durban for the next 48 hours.”

He said the Minister of Transport, Joe Maswanganyi, has been kept abreast of the emergency response and salvage operations.

An emergency meeting was convened at approximately 11h30 today with Mkhize and Miya to form a joint command and engage on the re-floating for the vessels MSC Innes, SM York, Bow Triumph and SA Shipyard floating dock with the new harbour tug. The meeting also dealt with vessels MSC Susanna and Maritime Newanda that broke moorings and had to be held by harbour tugs to prevent them also running aground.

The vessel, MSC Innes took priority as it blocked the port entrance. It took 5 tugs to re-float the 330-metre long container vessel and once re-floated, she was allocated a berth in the port for damage inspection.

The vessel, Bow Triumph, a 183-metre long product tanker, which was berthed in Island View broke its moorings and ran aground on the sand bank near the Island View Terminal. The vessel was re-floated at 16h30 and it took further effort to clear the anchors which were still stuck. All re-floating operations were completed at 17h30 and the vessel was allocated a berth overnight for damage inspection.

The vessel, MS New York, a 330-metre long container vessel, which ran aground near Maydon Wharf was also re-floated successfully and was allocated a berth for damage inspection. By 7pm tonight the vessel, MSC Susana, which had earlier broke from its mooring ropes, was secured.  The Maritime Newanda vessel which broke loose was held by tugs and is currently berthed at Maydon Wharf.

The SA Shipyards’ floating dock and new tug remain grounded on bank. It will be attended to in daylight hours.

TNPA reported that there was a straddle carrier which was blown into the water and remains unsecured. There are also reports that some cranes were derailed by strong winds. Of concern, according to Tilayi, are reports that there were about three containers believed to have been lost into the water with the exact position unknown. These pose a danger to navigation within the vicinity. TNPA confirmed that a search will be conducted in daylight hours.

There were no injuries no pollution reported on all the above incidents. Durban Port was closed due to debris in the water and unknown position of some containers which pose danger to navigation and damages to vessels.

“We are pleased with the overall cooperation from all stakeholders and the swift action to ensure the safety of people and equipment. More importantly is the demonstration of emergency preparedness that was displayed during this major incident. It is the first time that we have had to attend to this number of casualties simultaneously.

“We are pleased by the reaction of TNPA and their handling of the incident. We are increasingly getting confronted with deteriorating weather patterns and can expect similar incidents in the future given the effects of climate change. It was a saving grace that all this took place within the harbour where all resources are concentrated, it could have been worse if it was over a large open sea area. A full SAMSA report will be done once all salvage operations are completed,” Tilayi said.

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South Africa to beef up ocean environment protection against pollution: Department of Transport

South Africa also boasts cheapest tariffs for merchant shipping sector than any other ports in the world: National Ports Regulator

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Xhariep Dam (Free State): 30 September 2016

The beefing up of ocean environmental protection, particularly pollution prevention as well improvement of labour conditions for seafarers are among a series of initiatives currently being pursued in broad efforts to enhance rejuvenation and development of the maritime esector, the Transport Department confirmed this past week during the global observation of the World Maritime Day 2016.

Speaking at South Africa’s own version of the event held at Xhariep Dam in the Free State on Thursday, and whose international theme for 2016 was: Shipping is indispensable to the World; Transport Department maritime transport branch acting deputy Director General, Mr Clement Manyungwana highlighted a series of activities the department was engaged in currently with several stakeholders – among them other Government departments, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) – to strengthen the country’s hold and management of its maritime sector development drive.

According to Mr Manyungwana, among the initiatives he said were closely aligned to the country’s National Development Plan (NDP) were;

  • development of an integrated transport strategy,
  • enhancement of ocean security through acquisition of additional vessels,
  • promulgation of legislation to advance the protection of seafarers onboard vessels, as well as
  • development of further maritime policy and legislation

The improvement and enhancement of ocean environmental protection regarding particularly oil pollution was in part, in recognition and appreciation of the growth in shipping traffic drawn to newly established bunkering services at the country’s newest deep water port, the port of Ngqurha near Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape province.

For his full remarks (Audio only), Click Here

Ports Regulator & CEO, Mr Mahesh Fakir with Department of Transport Deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga at the port of Saldanha on Monday
National Ports Regulator & CEO, Mr Mahesh Fakir

Meanwhile, National Ports Regulator CE, Mr Manesh Fakir said in efforts dedicated to attracting more global business trade vessels onto the countries’ port and to enhance local exports competitiveness, several studies had been conducted over the last year and which have led to identification of various efficiencies as well as establishment of a basket of incentives in the form of tariff reductions.

Mr Fakir said as a result, shipping liners reporting on South Africa’s ports now enjoyed lower prices of up to 50% less in comparison with comparable ports elsewhere in the world, with iron ore shipments specifically now paying less by up to 70-80% – largely due to the Rand/Dollar exchange effect.

On efforts to bolster South Africa’s export trade, he said that locally manufactured goods for export through containers also enjoyed as much as 70% lower tariffs compared containerized imports.

However, Mr Fakir warned that with global fleets increasing vessel carrying capacities leading to reduction in actual fleets, tariffs would not hold down for too long and might indeed increase over the next 10 years largely due to infrastructure maintenance and upgrading costs.

For Mr Fakir’s full remarks (Audio only), Click Here

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In celebrating World Maritime Day 2016, South Africa reflects on its maritime heritage

A commercial cargo vessel entering the port of Port Elizabeth in May 2016.
A commercial cargo vessel entering the port of Port Elizabeth. (May 2016: Photo by SAMSA)

Gariep Dam (Free State): 28 September, 2016

The global celebration of shipping as this year’s theme of the World Maritime Day on Thursday,  29 September 2016; will see South Africa broadening focus to include its own maritime heritage specific to shipping as part of the country’s oceans economy development discourse  aimed at enhancing public awareness, drawing investment and creating employment opportunities.

South Africa’s celebration of World Maritime Day this year takes place at the site of the country’s biggest dam, the Gariep; situated some 200km south of Bloemfontein, on the Orange River in the Free State.

Led by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the global celebration’s theme is: “Shipping: Indispensable to the world” – this in recognition of trade statistics indicating that as much as 80% of world’s goods trade in volume, and 70% in value; is handled between countries and continents via oceans bearing vessels.

Docked at the port of Cape Town, the SA Agulhas II, South Africa's dedicated research vessel owned and operated by the Department of Environment Affairs (DEA). Photo: SAMSA
Docked at the port of Cape Town, the SA Agulhas II, South Africa’s dedicated research vessel owned and operated by the Department of Environment Affairs (DEA). Photo: SAMSA

According to the IMO, in early 2015, the world’s commercial fleet stood at about 90,000 vessels, with a total carrying capacity of some 1.75-billion dead weight tons, manned by more than a million seafarers.

“A single ship can carry enough grain to feed nearly four million people for a month; another, enough oil to heat an entire city for a year, and others can carry the same amount of finished goods as nearly 20,000 heavy trucks on the road. Modern ships are, truly, among the engineering wonders of the modern world.

“The truth is, shipping affects us all. No matter where you may be in the world, if you look around you, you are almost certain to see something that either has been or will be transported by sea, whether in the form of raw materials, components or the finished article. Yet few people have any idea just how much they rely on shipping.

“For the vast majority, shipping is out of sight and out of mind. But this does a huge disservice to the industry that, quietly and efficiently, day and night, never pausing and never stopping, keeps the world turning and keeps the people of the world fed, clothed, housed and entertained. This is a story that needs to be told,” says the IMO in statement prepared to mark this year’s celebration of World Maritime Day.

The Gariep Dam built from 1965 and opened in 1972 is South Africa's biggest, with a height of 88 meters, allowing it a holding capcity of 5,340 hm3 (megaliters)) on a surface area of more than 370 square kilometres (140 sq mi) when full. (Photo: SAMSA)
The Gariep Dam on the Orange River built from 1965 and opened in 1972 is South Africa’s biggest, with a height of 88 meters, allowing it a holding capacity of 5,340 hm3 (mega-liters)) on a surface area of more than 370 square kilometres (140 sq mi) when full. (Photo: SAMSA)

In South Africa, on the west bank of the Gariep Dam near to its majestic sluice gates pillars, where this year’s celebrations led by the Department of Transport (DoT), are hosted by the Free State Provincial Government; the country will look as much at the crucial role of shipping currently in global business trade as has been and continues to be in other spheres of life such as, in South Africa’s case – the use of ships as instruments of liberation during the country’s past few decades of political strife over apartheid.

This focus on ships as versatile transport ready for action even during periods of civil strife will take two forms: the launch Wednesday of a South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) driven and Department of Transport endorsed initiative to have maritime heritage incorporated into the country’s swathe of national heritage records.

The two hour function to be attended by among others, National Heritage Council chief executive officer Advocate Sonwabile Mangcotywa; is anchored on a significant yet little known event involving the African National Congress’ then armed wing Umkhonto weSizwe (a.k.a MK) whose USSR-trained naval wing in the 1970s once attempted to infiltrate then apartheid South Africa via the oceans.

The story goes that the unit of between 22 and 30 men, then based on the east European coastal city of Baku, a capital town of Azerbaijan; had through assistance by Moscow, acquired a mid-size leisure vessel known as the Aventura.

SHARING EXPERIENCE: The three veterans, part of a group of five still alive today in South Africa, also shared their story of the aborted occupation of the USSR vessel, Aventura, which they'd commandeered towards South Africa for attack against the then apartheid regime.
SHARING THEIR NAVAL EXPLOINTS: The three of only five surviving veterans of ANC’s Umkhonto weSizwe naval wing sharing their story of the aborted occupation of the USSR vessel, Aventura, which they’d commandeered towards South Africa for attack against the then apartheid regime (Photo: SAMSA).

The MK naval unit’s Commander at the time, Mr Fanele Mbali and his second in command and commissar, Mr Tlou Rankabele Cholo – two of only five surviving members of the crew – will be at the function Wednesday and Thursday to share their memories of the ill-fated effort – the emphasis being on the historical role of ships in the shaping of South Africa’s history.

The event Wednesday will be followed by the main celebration on Thursday, punctuated by a formal launch of an inaugural Maritime Heritage Lecture and Dialogue series involving Mr Sobantu (SAMSA acting CEO), the Azerbaijan ambassador to South Africa, Mr Eikhan Polukhov and Mr Mbali.

Other participants in the main event on Thursday include Free State MECs, Messrs Bhutana Khompela and Weziwe Tikana, senior officials of the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), and local government officials.

The traditional rendition of the IMO statement will be done by Mr Khompela.

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