SPEECH BY THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT, MS WRENELLE STANDER, WORLD MARITIME DAY 2003, Durban ICC, 26 September
Honourable Ministers, distinguished guests, captains of industry and labour, ladies and gentlemen, it is indeed a privilege for me to address you on World Maritime Day 2003. What makes this event even more significant is our focus for the day: the Black Economic Empowerment Maritime Charter.
I have been requested to say a few words about the challenges facing the maritime industry, as well as update you on some of the measures government has put in place or is planning to put in place.
As you already know, Transport is an enabling industry and the role of the National Department of Transport (NDOT) is to provide the means to ensure that the transport system delivers against the goals of national development and the needs of the Transport users.
A number of challenges and opportunities face our industry. The challenges include a lack of cost competitiveness in relation to global economies, a lack of investment in research and development, technological under provision, a mismatch of skills in the workforce, as well as high tariffs, which impedes the efficiency of the supply chain. These factors all serve as impediments to growth. We need to find ways of removing the obstacles.
It is not all doom and gloom. It is worth noting that over the last three years the economic growth of African countries has exceeded the average growth rate of the last decade. Similarly export volumes of African countries have grown by 2.5% over the last three years, during a period when the volume of world exports actually contracted by 1.5%.
The maritime industry comprising all forms of transport by sea, inter-modal links and inland ports (dry ports) is critical, especially since it primarily caters for the freight market. It is now common knowledge that the currently freight transport in general is not meeting the needs of customers in terms of cost and service.
The impact of these challenges are especially experienced by those customers who are central to the growth strategy of the nation i.e. the exporters of value added and manufactured products.
Cabinet has recognised this strategic challenge and has established an Inter-Ministerial Committee under the leadership of the Minister of Transport. The outcome required from the this taskforce is a framework that seeks to improve multi modal transport and logistics services including infrastructure technology and operations, as well as to develop and implement logistics and corridor strategies - linked to industrial or sector development strategies
A further set of challenges include amongst others the serious accidents on inland waterways that have caused injuries and fatalities, the loss of life on our fishing vessels, the need to grow the South African Ships Register; the protection of South African seafarers; the role of maritime in trade and tourism promotion; the rights of landlocked states in the SADC region, the shortage of surveyors, the lack of interest generally among South Africans to take up seafaring as a career and SMME's development in the maritime industry
Government has already embarked on a number of processes including a full review of policy, a review of current legislation, and the promulgation of new legislation.
The policy review has already resulted in the compilation of the Consolidated Maritime Issues Document, better known as COMIDO. We are expecting to deliver a White Paper in the first quarter of next year.
Furthermore a Gap Analysis is being undertaken to address the gaps in the body of Maritime Legislation.
The Honourable Minister Omar has already mentioned the process around the National Ports Authority Bill process.
The ultimate objective for the ports restructuring is to improve the competitive position of the commercial ports in our country so that they are supportive of the broader national economic interests.
I am also pleased to say that in the wake of the NPA Bill reaching finality, the Department of Transport has already begun the process of setting up the Independent Ports Regulator, which has been established to:
* prevent abuse of power by the Ports Authority
* ensure equality of access to the provision of port services
* monitor the business relationship between Transnet and the Authority to ensure that Transnet does not derive an unfair advantage over other transport companies
* ensure that revenues generated by the Authority are used to the benefit of the Authority and its customers.
New legislation will be promulgated for Inland Waterways in South Africa. A tender has been advertised for an overall assessment in relation to identification, ownership, navigation, and the current safety regime, as well as to ascertain the viability of Inland Waterways in South Africa.
I would now like to turn my attention very briefly to safety and security.
Safety is paramount and is a non negotiable. The Shipping and Maritime Safety Authority has been delegated with the authority to oversee the maritime industry from a safety perspective.
2000/2001: 47 injuries - 36 deaths
2001/2002: 32 injuries - 49 deaths
The statistics are showing that the no of injuries are declining, while the number of deaths is increasing.
It is encouraging to note, that members of the Fishing Vessel Safety Working Group travelled around the country to key fishing communities in order to start a process of inculcating a culture of safety.
Their mission was to educate Fishing Boat owners, Skippers and Fishers themselves on issues of fishing vessel safety, the implementation of new legislation, and alcohol and drug abuse.
They have also undertaken to assist the families of fishers who have lost their lives with necessary provisions.
They are also providing the families with emotional support and counselling during their time of tragedy.
I think this is a very good opportunity pay tribute to SAMSA for the manner in which they handled the Sealand Express that ran aground a few weeks ago.
Furthermore, we have institutionalised the South African Search and Rescue organisation, previously a voluntary organisation, to execute the SAR function on behalf of the Department of Transport.
During the 2003/2004, the Department has set aside an amount of R3.5 million for the establishment of a dedicated Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC). To this end, I am advised that the process is at an advanced stage, the posts within the MRCC have been advertised.
We will continue to pursue the conclusion of bilateral search and rescue agreements with countries bordering on our search and rescue region in support of the global maritime community's quest for economical and effective SAR systems.
September 11 has no doubt drawn everybody's attention to the importance of security in transport.
The Department of Transport, in line with the IMO is committed to enhancing measure of maritime security.
I am happy to announce the IMO Maritime Security Workshop took place in South Africa for the first time during 8 - 12 September, which was two weeks back, here in Durban.
Training in our industry is critical! We are short of surveyors and seafarers. It is imperative that our training institutions be refocused to address these challenges. This is also an opportunity for us to train and facilitate the entrance of black people and women into the industry.
It is pleasing to note also the presence of the South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA), which was formally opened on 9 September 2003. Congratulations to Safmarine on this fine achievement. Please be assured of government's continued support and commitment.
The Department of Transport will relentlessly seek to improve the position of historically disadvantaged individuals with regards to training in maritime careers. Together with the TETA we need to grasp the nettle!
Maritime Awareness is another project that is being given urgent attention within the Department. We need to make black people and women aware of the benefits.
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to conclude, by congratulating the NDOT team, who are so committed to moving South Africa forward as a world-class maritime nation through the various projects.
But importantly, allow me to congratulate you, ladies and gentlemen in allowing yourselves to be part of the positive initiative the government of South Africa is making in ensuring a fair and equitable distribution of wealth and opportunities to all South Africans.
I thank you for being part of this celebration.
Please do not drink and drive
Issued by: Department of Transport