The Deputy Minister – Honourable Sindisiwe Chikunga
MEC of Transport – Honourable Donald Grant
Exeutive Mayor – Mr Francois Scheepers
Acting DG – Mr Mawethu Vilana
All Government officials;
The COO of Maritime Safety – Mr Sobantu Tilayi
Officials from all Government Departments;
Members of the media;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
I am delighted to be here this morning to take part in the celebration of the World Maritime Day.
As we celebrate our 20 years of freedom and democracy, in the month of September, we acknowledge our heritage as a nation.
Since the beginning of this month, as a country we have also celebrated tourism and public servants month, where we rolled back our sleeves and served our people with diligence.
Not to say that public servants will not serve the people beyond this month, but just to concentrate on public servants and their responsibilities so that our people should know where and how to get help when it is needed.
We took lessons as the ANC government from the late President Nelson Mandela, our first President of the free and democratic South Africa, and former President of the ruling party, ANC, on serving the nation selflessly.
He dedicated his life in serving the nation and he also touched many hearts across the world.
We have learned so much this month about our heritage and the tourist attractions here in Mzanzi, South Africa.
We were also reminded about our indigenous games that we used to play when we were kids. It is for this reason that we need to embrace our heritage and teach our children of our languages, traditions and cultures and we also have to learn about our differences as a nation and accept each other.
Since becoming the Minister of Transport, I have been very conscious of the immense role of the maritime sector and its contribution to the economy.
Indeed, it is crucial to note that approximately 200 million tons of cargo are handled at our port terminals annually; around 4000 people are employed in the nine port terminals; about 17000 people are employed on our local vessels; and the maritime sector together with the logistics value chain are essential in determining the competitiveness of our country in global trade.
In order to achieve stability and harmony in the maritime domain, the International Maritime Organisation has, over the years, built up an outstanding track record for developing and adopting some 53 international conventions. These conventions aimed at ensuring that the maritime sector keeps up to date with technical and technological advances in safety, that the marine environment is protected from pollution and that maritime activities can take place in a secure atmosphere.
It is against this background that at the launch of the World Maritime Day theme for this year, the IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu, expressed his hope that this year would see genuine progress towards effective and global implementation of all IMO conventions – hence the World Maritime Day theme for this year is dubbed the IMO conventions; Effective Implementation.
It was not by mistake that the Secretary-General expressed such sentiments.
Without effective implementation, the conventions’ objectives will not be realised.
Adoption of safety related conventions
South Africa has committed to the implementation of safety-related conventions with the establishment of the South African Maritime Safety Authority. The functions of the Safety Authority has been clearly spelled out in the SAMSA Act of 1998, with regards to protection of life at sea and protection of our marine environment from pollution.
AT IMO level, South Africa has played a leading role in the convention related to the safety of fishing vessels, as embedded in the Torremolinos Convention. To facilitate the entry into force of this convention, South Africa hosted a Diplomatic Conference in October 2012, with the Minister of Transport chairing the Conference. The Diplomatic Conference proved to be very successful as it resulted in the adoption of the Cape Town Agreement on Safety of Fishing vessels thus paving the way for the implementation of the Protocol to the Torremolinos Convention.
Other initiatives to promote the safety of life at sea, include the Maritime Labour Convention, of 2006. In 2012/13, the Department worked very closely with the Department of Labour and NEDLAC to ensure the ratification of this convention in June 2013. This convention aims at protecting the rights of seafarers on board of merchant and fishing vessels.
It is expected that the bill to support the implementation of the Maritime Labour Convention, will be enacted in the 2014/15 financial year.
Adoption of security-related conventions
Regarding the adoption of security-related conventions, South Africa has ratified and has been implementing the International Ship and Port Facilities Security Code, that is the ISPS Code. Over the past few years, the Department has conducted security audits at all our commercial ports to ensure sompliance with the ISPS Code. The successful audit completion led to an award ceremony for the most secure ports in 2012/13.
Furthermore, South Africa became a signatory to the Djibouti Code of Conduct on the 14 May 2012. After signing the Djibouti Code of Conduct, South Africa established a dedicated a National Focal Point consisting of members from the Department of Transport, South African Maritime Safety Authority and National Joints Operational. The Department coordinates the training of law enforcement agencies on the Djibouti implementation.
Adoption of environmental related conventions
As a result of the surge in global trade over the years, there has been a marked increase in maritime shipping activities. The marine environment has thus become more exposed to pollution by merchant vessels. Many environmental protection conventions have been promulgated by the IMO. However several of these treaties have not yet entered into force. Some of these are:
The Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009;
The Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007;
The 2010 Protocol to the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea (HNS);
The environmental protection conventions that the Department is currently processing for implementation are:
The MARPOL Annexure IV;
The MARPOL Annexure VI, these relate to the reduction of Sewage and Air Pollution from Ships; and
The Wreck Removal emanating from the Nairobi International Convention of 2007.
It should be pointed out that the removal of wrecks are equated with the concept of salvage. The reality of this is that the costs of marking, locating and removing wrecks from our waters, end up being an exorbitant financial burden to the State. It is this reason that we need to accelerate the process to become party to this Convention.
South Africa was one of the first countries to ratify The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments that was adopted in 2004. In this regards the Department is planning to table the legislation dealing with Ballast Water Management in the current financial year, at Parliament.
Under the category of liability and compensation:
An important milestone for the Department in 2013, was the approval by Parliament of the Merchant Shipping (Civil Liability Convention) Bill and the International Oil Pollution Convention Bill of 2013. The latter are critical in ensuring that the carrier and importer/exporter of crude oil effectively pay for all costs related to oil spillage in our waters. Such spillage can amount to million of rands as evidenced by the British Petroleum (BP) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico a few years ago. To date BP is still compensating for damages to the environment caused by the spill.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We do believe that this demonstrates our commitment to the processes of the IMO.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
South Africa will continue to implement the IMO conventions. We believe that doing so will attract ship-owners to our flag.
We also believe that our adherence to international standards will entice ship-owners to our register their ships in our country.
South Africa’s role in the maritime industry across the globe cannot be doubted.
85% of the South Africa’s trade comes or goes by sea. The Maritime sector generates billions of rand in earning each year. As highlighted by Operations Phakisa there is ample potential for further growth in the maritime or rather the oceans economy.
Through Operations Phakisa it is expected that the strategy to promote the growth of our merchant vessels will be realised and South Africans owned carriers will actively participate in the shipment of export and import in the region and globally.
Some of the critical steps that have been under taken to promote the shipping sector in South Africa include:
The introduction of a new shipping tax regime which basically exempts the qualifying ship owners from income tax, capital gains tax, dividend tax, and the withholding tax on interest for years of assessment;
The increase in the mortgage ranking for the financing houses that supports the maritime sector – particularly those that finance ship purchasers;
Addressing the huge skills shortage in our maritime sector by signing the process recognition agreements with various countries like Poland and Netherlands. Such recognition agreements will allow us to source any skill that we currently don’t have;
Considerable progress in the ratification and implementation of a number of IMO conventions, especially those that have an impact on the operations of our seafarers; and
Implementation of the Oceans Economy strategy currently taking place in conjunction with several national and provincial departments, under the leadership of the Department of Environment Affairs.
We believe that this will provide a balance on the use and protection of our marine resources, and some of the critical economic issues will be legislated to provide legislative framework.
Our adherence to IMO conventions will indeed further enhance our country’s economic ability to create jobs.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We believe that unless we are fully equipped to deal with challenges of maritime safety and security as well as environmental degradation, a growing maritime industry will be negatively affected.
It is important that we do not undersell our maritime sector achievements and that we strongly encourage investment in the sector by among other things ensuring adherence to IMO Conventions and attracting ship-owners to our register.
We need to be clear about the overall strategy and policy for investment in the sector to ensure that we are getting the highest value for money.
But I can not emphasise enough how important it is that we all promote what we have achieved and how much more we are doing to improve our Maritime sector.
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS