Despite a slow start yesterday as delegates waited two hours for the Minister of Transport to arrive, the honesty expressed in Dumisani Ntuli’s opening address was refreshing as he admitted some of the successes and challenges that still face the industry.
It was hard not to miss his deliberate nod in the direction of South Africa’s ports and port authorities – highlighting that “the state of the ports is a national emergency”. While we have certainly heard these words before from a number of politicians, such continued reference will hopefully eventually convey the gravitas of the situation to those that have the power to actually respond positively.
Quite simply, Transnet National Ports Authority (and Transnet) needs to understand that they are an essential cog in the effective growth and development of the entire maritime sector.
“Today our ports suffer structure and operational deficiencies. We have known this for a long time,” he said pointing to a number of strategies that could help address this issue.
After lunch industry had its chance to voice some of its concerns and expectations of the government as well as their willingness to participate in the idea of establishing South Africa as an International Maritime Centre (IMC).
While some excellent points were raised – including the need to implement the policy objectives and not simply talk about them – the how and when still does not seem to be being substantively addressed.
It’s only day one of a three day conference, however, and I look forward to seeing the “how” more deliberately tackled.
I, for one, want to see a transparent dashboard highlighting the strategic interventions next to each objective; which stakeholder is accountable to that intervention; when they will delivery those interventions; confirmation that they were delivered on time and the actual impact that those interventions had.
With a rather full programme that saw the conference head into the evening, it was good to see how many delegates remained for the full day. The final session of the day launched the CMTP 2022 theme: Benefitting from the maritime transport value chain – and included input from Value Chain Solutions, OceanEnergy, EthkWeni Maritime Cluster and Damen Shipyards Cape Town.
This input and speaking to some of the other delegates during the breaks does highlight that things are moving forward in many spheres of the sector with individual companies, organisations and associations already well advanced in playing their role to advance the country as an IMC on the continent.
Today is another day and I will bring you a short update – but our full report on the three day conference alongside commentary from myself and others in the industry will be published before the end of the month.