Global celebrations of the Day of the Seafarer on 25 June 2023 – falling on Sunday this year – shifts its focus somewhat from welfare-centric matters towards one key environmental issue of general concern in the maritime sector: sea oil pollution and current as well as future mitigating measures against it.
According to the Department of Transport (DoT), lead organisers of South Africa’s marking of the annual International Maritime Organisation (IMO) event, to be hosted in coastal cities; Durban Gqeberha and Cape Town on Tuesday, 27 June 2027; the theme for this year’s celebrations, as endorsed by IMO is: Marpol at 50 – Our Commitment goes on.
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) which jointly with the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) will co-host the event in Durban and Gqeberha, respectively, says the theme spotlights the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), which covers prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes.
“It also reflects the IMO’s long history of protecting the environment from the impact of shipping via a robust regulatory framework, whilst emphasizing its ongoing commitment to this important work.
“The theme is also linked to pursuing the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which include affordable and clean energy (SDG 7); industry, innovation, and infrastructure (SDG 9); climate action and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources (SDGs 13 and 14); and the importance of partnerships and implementation to achieve these goals (SDG 17),” says SAMSA.
Hosted simultaneously at the coastal cities, with SAMSA in Durban, SAIMI in Gqeberha, and the DoT in Cape Town on Tuesday, the day’s proceedings will, in addition to a key address by the Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga; involve panel presentations and engagements focussing on what the public and private sectors, education institutions and related in South Africa, are doing jointly or individuals as groups, to contribute to the realisation of goals of the IMO Marpol Convention, as consistent also with the UN’s sustainable development goals.
The event, to which seafarers will fully participate and contribute, is scheduled to start at 08h30 and end at 15h00 in all three cities.
Capetonians in particular, and South Africans in general will be in for a spectacular live staging of an ocean ‘accidental’ oil spillage exercise off and near the port of Cape Town on Thursday and Friday this week.
The unusual exercise to involve aircraft, ocean going vessels, onshore vehicles and more than 100 personnel is, according to South Africa’s Interim Incident Management Organisation (IMOrg) part of an intensive multi-nationl exercise in ocean oil spillage incidents management training currently underway in the city of Cape Town since Monday, involving about 50 delegates from government, non government and private sector institutions in South Africa, Namibia and Angola.
According to IMOrg Project Manager, Captain Ravi Naicker, the sea exercise over the next two days, Thursday and Friday will be the final stage of the weeklong incident management training that began on Monday in Durbanville, with a desk-top classroom type engagement of the delegates on the globally acclaimed and International Maritime Organisation (IMO) approved Incident Management System (IMS) consisting of three modules; IMS 100, 200 and 300.
From a South African perspective, according to the IMOrg, the logic behind the initiative is fairly simple. Increased activity on the South African coastline of over 3900km (including the coastline around the Prince Edwards Islands) demands the country to be ready to attend to any emergency that might occur along its pristine coast.
Current estimates of shipping traffic in the three oceans around South Africa are that as many as 30 000 vessels sail through here annually, with many of the vessels laden with an excess of 30-million Dead-Weight-Tonnage of crude oil.
“A large-scale oil spill could potentially have catastrophic consequences on the marine environment. There is also offshore Oil and Gas exploration and Bunkering activities, therefore South Africa needs to ensure that while it seeks economic stability and prosperity it also ensures the protection of its natural biodiversity.
“To this end South Africa has adopted international best practice in incident management and is proactively and continuously preparing to manage marine pollution incidents effectively, ensuring that the appropriate resources and stakeholders are mobilised quickly – and important and timeous decisions made,” said Capt. Naicker.
Among the IMOrg guiding tools with the exercise is the country’s National Oil Spill Contingency Plan (NOSCP),
In Cape Town on Thursday and Friday however, for training participants as well as spectators, the weather may play ball for clear visibility of the full-scale oil spill response deployment exercise scheduled for the stretch pieces of waterspace in the sea corridor between Robben Island to the north and the port of Cape Town.
However, according to Captain Naresh Sewnath, Senior Manager Pilotage & VTS at Transnet’s Chief Harbour Masters Office in Cape Town, the ‘Cape Doctor’ – a nickname for periodic gusty winds that batter this part of the world – would be just as welcome, if only to present truly testing weather conditions for the IMOrg multinational training exercise at sea over the next two days.
Capt. Sewnath gave assurance that not only was the port of Cape Town fully supportive of the incident management exercise in the area for its worth, but also that it would seek to ensure that normal shipping in and near the always busy port would not be negatively affected.
In the video below, Capt. Sewnath briefly chatted to this blog about the IMOrg training exercise and his institution’s take of it, while on a brief visit to the training venue in Durbanville a day ago.
Meanwhile, the Benguela Current Convention (BCC) first time sponsors of the IMOrg’s periodic IMS training exercise, has described its involvement in the exercise as not only strategic in terms of its own objectives, but also essential to the extent that pollution of the oceans environment in its area of operation remains a constant serious threat to the the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME). In fact, according BCC South Africa National Projects Officer, Ms Tembisa Sineke, pollution is one of eight thematic areas in the BCC’s SAP.
“The reason for this is that marine pollution in the BCLME is increasing due to, among others, coastal zone urbanization, expanding shipping and offshore drilling and mining activities,” she said, adding that the three countries – South Africa, Namibia and Angola “are all involved in offshore petroleum exploration and production activities, whilst they also experience extensive maritime transport activities along their coasts. Furthermore, Namibia and South Africa are involved in offshore mining with vessels carrying significant quantities of oil.
“This ever-increasing use of the ocean space leads to increased risk of accidents that could result in marine pollution, especially from oil spills,” said.
For more on BCC’s viewpoint on the IMOrg training exercise and the necessity for its support, click on the video below:
Enabling legislation in South Africa for the implementation of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Marpol Convention Annexture VI that will enforce even lower sulphur content for ships fuel from 01 January 2020, should be ready by year end, Transport Minister Mr Fikile Mbalula has confirmed.
The assurance from the Ministry is significant in that an enabling legislation was among key issues raised as concerning by both industry and government during a recent two-day consultative workshop held in Cape Town and in which the IMO was represented.
Precisely, in terms of the IMO, the global implementation of the new 0.50% sulphur limit in ships fuel comes into effect on 01 January 2020.
The new regulations are in terms of the IMO’s MARPOL Convention (Annexture VI) whose goal, according to the IMO is to further reduce air pollution by ships through emission. The revised regulations for the prevention of air pollution from ships under the MARPOL (Annex VI) were adopted in October 2008 and ratified by more than 65 countries including South Africa.
In terms of this, all sizes of ships sailing on the world’s oceans will need to use fuel oil that meets the 0.50% limit from 1 January 2020. The 0.50% sulphur limit extends to carriage of bunker fuel with sulphur content of more than 0.50% for vessels not fitted with Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGSC). The carriage ban will come into effect on 1 March 2020.
At a two day conference held in Cape Town in July attended by more than 100 industry representatives from various sectors including cargo owners, ship owners and related, concerns were raised about the prospect of enabling legislation being ready on time for the deadline,
In Durban on Tuesday this week, Mr Mbalula finally allayed the fears, stating categorically that the necessary legislation will be in place by year end 2019. Mr Mbalula made the confirmation during a brief interaction with the media while visiting the Transnet offices at the port of Durban where he was scheduled to go on a port tour but which had to be cancelled after strong winds swelled the waters, putting paid to any such venture on Tuesday afternoon.
Mr Mbalula said: “It (the legislation) will be in place. We’ve taken the matter up to Cabinet and from Cabinet it will undergo the processes of public participation and before the end of the year we should be able to make those deadlines.”
Mr Mbalula also remarked about other maritime sector related issues inclusive of current moves to prioritise the setting up of coastal shipping in South Africa as a key development and broader participation tool to bolster sectoral economic growth.
He also touched on the country’s choice of the city of Durban as next year’s host venue for the country’s inaugural staging of the IMO’s annual World Maritime Day Parallel Event – the biggest gathering of its kind for the global maritime sector involving no less than 170 countries.
In an earlier speech delivered at the 8th Annual Ports & Rail Evolution Forum that started on Tuesday and ends on Wednesday at the Durban International Convention Centre, Mr Mbalula had described the IMO event in the country next year as an ideal opportunity that will allow South Africa to showcase its maritime capabilities to both Africa and the rest of the maritime world.
In that speech which is captured fully here in the next two videos, Mr Mbalula decried Africa’s apparent propensity to take its own time getting to bedding down ideas and setting its economy on track to both attract investment as well as deliver on socio economic benefits for its people.
Mr Mbalula said the adage that “there is no hurry in Africa…” simply had to make way for a hurried pace in not only generating ideas but ensuring that they are followed up and implemented in a sustainable way. The key issue for integrated development and trade in the continent was ports and rail infrastructure which he described as reputably poorly maintained leading to gross inefficiencies.
For Mr Mbalula’s confirmation of the passage of legislation enabling the implementation of the IMO Marpol Convention Annex VI, click on the video below.
For Mr Mbalula’s full speech at the Ports & Rail Evolution Forum, click on the video below.
The Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) in Durban has issued an extra-ordinary adverse weather alert as follows:
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.
But the organisation will have to do more, fast; as “50 more” are needed: Deputy Minister
Saldanha Bay: December 07, 2015
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In 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!
“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
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