July 04, 2024

Seafarer’s Day celebration honours maritime heroes

SAIMI CEO Odwa Mtati encouraged high school learners and young job seekers to look into the industry for fulfilling careers.

Despite the chilly and rainy weather, the Dolphins Leap Conference & Events Centre in Humewood was packed with enthusiastic young seafarers and industry experts on June 25, as the maritime sector celebrated the Day of the Seafarer, hosted by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI). This year’s event, held for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighted the crucial contributions seafarers make to global commerce and the economy.

The Minister of Transport, Sindiwe Chikunga, addressed the gathering virtually, emphasising the importance of sea safety and the protection of women from gender-based violence (GBV) at sea. The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) also stressed the need for gender protection, and protection from bullying in the maritime industry.

The event brought together stakeholders from government, learning institutions, regulators, and private ship owners and operators. The theme, “Seafarers’ Contribution to making the Maritime Sector a Safer Workplace,” resonated throughout the presentations and discussions.

SAIMI CEO Odwa Mtati emphasised the need for a culture that prioritises safety and mental well-being in the maritime industry. Mtati also encouraged high school learners and young job seekers to look into the industry for fulfilling careers.

“There are many opportunities in the maritime industry, and diverse entry methods. While some might go the university qualification route, others will choose colleges and others through entry-level jobs,” he said.

Mtati said interested parties should download the DiveIn app, or visit the DiveIn website, www.divein.co.za for more information and available opportunities.

The event featured eight presentations covering various aspects of sea safety, regulations, and the welfare of seafarers.

The celebration coincided with efforts to address challenges in the marine logistics ecosystem, which has resulted in decreased import and export volumes across South Africa’s ports. The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) plays a vital role in maintaining minimum safety standards in the design, construction, equipment, and operation of vessels.

Executive Mayor Gary van Niekerk and Deputy Executive Mayor Babalwa Lobishe recently attended the 2024 Maritime Silk Road Port Co-operation Forum in Ningbo, China, to promote Nelson Mandela Bay’s two seaports, the Port of Ngqura and Port of Port Elizabeth, as prime trade destinations. The invitation from the Zhejiang Seaport Group aimed at strengthening ties and exploring co-operation opportunities.

“This conference is a significant opportunity for us, as it aligns with our goal to enhance port and shipping services,” said Van Niekerk. “We want to showcase our seaports’ capabilities and encourage manufacturers to use them directly, rather than shipping components to other South African ports and transporting them by road.”

The forum, themed “Enhancing Port and Shipping Service: Joining hands for more open and integrated key port and shipping hubs,” brought together approximately 4 000 delegates from 1 100 organisations, representing 50 countries and regions.

Van Niekerk expressed confidence in the municipality’s ability to attract investment, referencing the 20-year sister city agreement with Ningbo.

“We believe our delegation will receive a receptive audience, and we look forward to exploring opportunities for co-operation and increased trade,” he said.

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