Transport Deputy Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga has appealed to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) member States in Africa, Europe, America, Asia and the Oceanic states to support the country in its quest to retain its position in the council.
“The re-election of South Africa to the council will ensure that the developing countries in general and the African continent in particular gets a fair voice in international maritime affairs,” Deputy Minister Chikunga said.
Addressing the IMO during its 30th Regular Session of Assembly this week, she said South Africa is the only country in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Region of Africa standing for re-election in the IMO Council.
“South Africa’s 3 000km coastline, strategically located on one of the major vital lanes popularly known as the ‘Cape Route’ connecting east and west seas, puts her among critical role players in world maritime affairs,” Chikunga said.
South Africa has eight commercial ports that handle in excess of 13 100 international ship traffic per annum and approximately 300 million tonnes of cargo annually.
“Our vast ocean carries the economic potential of the Oceans Economy, which South Africa has planned to explore through Operation Phakisa – Oceans Economy project launched by our government in 2014,” she said.
The project has identified the eight priority areas to ensure its successful implementation which include maritime transport and manufacturing, offshore oil and gas exploration, aquaculture, marine protection services and ocean governance, maritime tourism and small harbour development, training and skills development, innovation, science and technology.
South Africa recently launched the Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy Document (CMPT), which seeks to provide the country with guidelines in the pursuit of success in the Oceans Economy.
In support of international efforts to bring security and stability in the broader Indian Ocean under the Djibouti Code of Conduct, South Africa has adopted a strategy to curb acts of piracy and armed robbery of ships. South Africa deployed her navy vessels along the Mozambique Channel as a deterrent to acts of piracy and armed robbery of ships in the southern Indian Ocean area.
As part of the country’s coastal State obligation, South Africa continues to provide reliable search and rescue services to international shipping in the region, which extends to the Antarctica.
“Furthermore, South Africa, through partnership with the IMO, has converted her highly reliable Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) to the Regional Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Cape Town to assist ships in distress in the Region,” Deputy Minister Chikunga said.
The country has also offered marine training to its neighbouring African countries under the IMO Technical Cooperation Programme. These skills are in the areas of incident management, port state inspections and seafarer training.