Weekly Press Review – 27 November 2017

Deputy Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Bheki Cele was cornered by a group of small-scale fishers at a launch to mark World Fisheries Day in Saldanha Bay this week.

According to the press, representatives from various fishing organisations seized the opportunity to demand answers to their many grievances. Lambert’s Bay fisher, Ferdinand Fransman, speaking on behalf of The Collective said, “We had a meeting with you, the Minister Senzeni Zokwana and the Fisheries deputy director-general, Siphokazi Ndudane, in September.

“You gave us many promises that turned out to be lies. What we want to know today minister, specifically with the West Coast rock lobster, is what happens to our poor people after February?”

The department announced on 10 November that the total allowable catch (TAC) for 2017/18 fishing season for rock lobster would remain 1924.08 tons – the same as the previous season.

Another arrest was made this week after a man from Swellendam was caught in possession of perlemoen with an estimated value of R7.1 million.

According to the press, police spokesperson, Captain FC van Wyk said that the police and K9 unit were completing a routine patrol when they stopped a truck to search it. In a hidden area within the truck the police found 1,403,2 kg of perlemoen.

Mentioned in the press this week is the announcement by Barloworld that the listed distribution group has given notice of its possible exit from logistics if its business failed to improve its return on invested capital.

TNPA anticipates that more than 20 luxury passenger ships from 17 international shipping lines will visit South African harbours during the cruise season. According to the press, Cape Town and Durban will receive the largest number of passenger ships. Shulami Qalinge, head of TNPA, said that the two harbours are positioned as the country’s major ports for attracting passenger ships.

An investigation into the near sinking of the passenger ferry, Thandi, has cited weather conditions as one of the key contributing factors causing the incident that led to the rescue of 60 tourists en route to Robben Island.

The Robben Island Museum (RIM) says the report, carried out by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), has helped the organisation to evaluate its current safety procedures and to provide an even better and safer experience for all visitors to the island.

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Transnet and the Game of Thrones

Yesterday the Minister of Transport, Joe Maswanganyi, toured the Port of Durban with the Chief Executive of Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) ahead of the official launch of the Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy. There’s nothing altogether strange about that – but I did feel like I had missed a crucial episode of The Game of Thrones.

Richard Vallihu, who less than a month ago revealed the new TNPA building at the Port of Ngqura, was nowhere to be seen. Instead it was Shulami Qalinge that stepped up to the title of CE at yesterday’s proceedings.

It seems that there has been a succession to the title in the few weeks since the unveiling in the Eastern Cape, but with none of the usual official announcements from the State Owned Entity, the Department of Public Enterprises or even a Cabinet congratulatory notice. Why?

Minister Maswanganyi made it clear last night that the shift to promote women leaders in the maritime space was welcomed by his Department and Qalinge appears to come to the position with good and relevant experience within the logistics sector and Transnet.

TNPA is not usually shy with appointment announcements, but Qalinge seems to have flown in under the radar and ousted Vallihu who’s appointment was certainly officially announced in 2015 when he took over following the sudden departure of Tau Morwe.

Industry sources say that they too are surprised at the seeming secrecy around the appointment and report that news spread to them via the grapevine and not through official Transnet channels.

Indeed Vallihu is still listed in the position on the TNPA website and I am left questioning the validity of my own eye-witness account of yesterday’s proceedings as I scour TNPA as well as government statements for confirmation of the episode I seem to have missed.

Nevertheless, welcome aboard Ms Shulami Qalinge and may your time in the position help steer the Port Authority forward.

Weekly Press Review – 19 February 2016

Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) has made headlines this week with the announcement of the introduction of a R800 million state-of-the-art system aimed at boosting security at South African ports.

“The National Ports Act 12 of 2005, and the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code of 2004 dictate that we, as a port authority, implement measures to assist in detecting security threats and take preventative measures against security incidents that may affect ships or port facilities used in international trade,” said Richard Vallihu, chief executive at TNPA.

The new control room, based at the port of Durban, was activated last week. The CCTV system gives a bird’s-eye view of the port security system and is integrated between all port sites.

“CCTV is but one aspect of our broader integrated technological security system, which encompasses technology, skills and systems,” said Vallihu.

TNPA said that the hi-tech security system would add to the position of South African ports becoming “smart people ports”.

The story of a rescued blind penguin has also made headlines this week. A four-month old penguin was discovered on a beach in Glentana and taken to a local vet, Dr Frans de Graaf, in Hartenbos, where it was discovered that he had been born without eyes.

The frightened bird was taken to the Penguin Rehabilitation Centre (SAPREC) in Mossel Bay where he was closely monitored by Dr de Graaf. He is slowly responding to his new environment and already recognises voices and joins in the swimming time in the pool.

According to Carol Walton, founder of SAPREC, it would appear that the penguin’s parents cared for him for a period of about three months, but after that he was left to his own devices. How he managed to stay alive is a mystery.

The little blind penguin will remain a permanent resident at SAPREC. He will not be able to return to the wild. He has been christened Stevie Wonder.

Weekly Press Review – 15 January 2016

As South Africa experiences devastating droughts across many parts of the country, food shortages become the new reality.   According to the press this week, our ports are sadly ill-prepared to handle the massive agricultural imports that loom for the year ahead.

Grain South Africa (GSA) estimates that up to 5 million tons of maize will be imported over the period May 2016 to April 2017, as well as up to 2 million tons of wheat.

With these figures in mind, Transnet Port Terminals Agricultural Bulk operations had a total of just 4 million tons of capacity available across all seven of its local ports over the last year.

Another factor influencing the logistics is that Zimbabwe will also be importing maize during that period, most likely requiring the services of South African ports.

Transnet is apparently in the process of preparing for this influx.  Transnet spokesperson Mboniso Sigonyela said, “Some of the initiatives include adapting and improving our handling methods, focusing on efficiencies, as well as storage facilities.  We are confident that we will meet the demand on both rail and ports, should the need arise.”

Weekly Press Review – 7 February 2014

Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), the SA Revenue Service (SARS) and the SA Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) are reported to be working together to finalise “benefits that would be flourished to vessels bearing a South African flag.” (sic)  The purpose of the exercise, obviously, to attract companies to the South African ships register.

The authorities are looking for a collection of benefits from various sources, not only port-related benefits.  Tau Morwe, TNPA chief executive, said:  “We could look at benefits such as berthing priority.  We could look at benefits in terms of port costs and benefits of what actually happens in ports.”

It would seem that things are moving in a positive direction with regard to securing vessels for the South African ships’ registrar.  The major players are  working together to come up with a plan that will really excite, inspire and motivate ship owners to look at the South African ships registry as a realistic and preferred option.

This week, the Italian flagship aircraft carrier, Cavour, docked in Cape Town on a truly humanitarian mission.  The vessel is functioning as a mobile hospital.  In conjunction with the Red Cross and the Operation Smile, the staff of 40 volunteer medical professionals on board are here to perform free facial surgeries on children born with cleft lips and palates.

Italy’s ambassador to South Africa, Vincenzo Schioppa, said, “This is not a ship for war.  This is a ship for peace, a ship for friendship and for collaboration.”

Australia’s shark culling programme made headlines again this week as a group of South African protesters gathered outside the Cape Town International Convention Centre to protest the culling.  It is good to see South Africans supporting wildlife concerns in other countries, although I suspect the demonstration would have made little impact on Australian shores.  Interesting that we do not see much protesting to protect our own endangered wildlife being “culled “on an almost daily basis.

Finally, the South Africa Ship Society hosted a viewing of the documentary “Nazi Titanic” earlier this week.  We invite those present to please offer some feedback.