2013 is Maritime Year: but shhh, its a secret!

Last week at the Maritime Trade Forum ahead of the BRICS Summit in Durban, I learned that the Minister of Transport had declared 2013, Maritime Year in South Africa. Riad Khan of the Port Regulator stated this quite clearly while welcoming delegates to these maritime discussions and I silently chastised myself for not knowing such an important development in the industry.

Wow – that’s a real milestone for the relationship between the maritime industry and the Department of Transport, which is more vocal in its directives aimed at land-based transport modes. I was buoyed by the announcement and felt sure that I would be able to find out what the Department was doing to promote this sector within the country and amongst our citizens.

Since learning this news last week I have asked a number of other members of the industry what they know about this development only to find that I was not the only one in the dark.

So I visited the Department’s website feeling sure I would see some sort of 2013 Maritime Year banner emblazoned across the screen. No. No banner.

So I looked under the press announcements, press releases and speeches. No. No such message there either.

So I took the link to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the Department’s official maritime agency, to see if I could find more information there. No. No information there. And the same dismal non-message on the website belonging to the Port Regulator.

So I went back to the Department of Transport’s website to take a closer look at their maritime intentions because Minister Dikobe Ben Martins did make it clear in his speech at the Maritime Trade Forum that he was expecting high level engagement with the industry and that a coherent maritime strategy needed to be presented to him by July.

Surely such pronouncements would be borne out on their site? No. None of the speeches listed on the site relate to his public appearances in the maritime domain. It is as if he is embarrassed to admit engaging with us on some level; as if by admitting his engagement with the maritime industry, he is somehow ignoring the carnage on our road during peak holidays.

In fact if you click on MARITIME in the website menu bar – the persistent banner advert promoting road safety follows you there too.

In a last ditch effort to uncover their maritime mantra for 2013, I clicked on the link to their Facebook page. That provided no further assistance – especially as the last post on their page is dated June 2012. And most of the posts on the page relate to (yes you guessed it) road traffic.

So ladies and gentlemen of the maritime industry 2013 is Maritime Year, but please don’t tell anyone – it’s a secret.

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