Samsa barely afloat - DA

2013-05-08 22:01

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Cape Town - The SA Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) remains able to deal with pollution threats to the South African coastline, despite being without the patrol vessels it would normally call on to help, the authority said on Wednesday.

"We have had to find commercial solutions," Samsa COO Sobantu Tilayi told Sapa.

The two fisheries department-managed inshore patrol vessels that Samsa previously used to deal with problems have been languishing in the Simon's Town naval dockyard for the past year.

The vessels carry equipment allowing them to deal with oil spills.

Tilayi said the department had promised Samsa it would be able to use them again "by the end of [this month]", but added that he was not sure this would happen.

Over the past year, the authority had relied on contracts entered into with private companies - including use of the Cape Town-based stand-by tug Smit Amandla - to respond to emergencies or incidents, he said.

Tilayi was commenting on a statement by Democratic Alliance MP Ian Ollis that if a major oil spill were to occur off the South African coast, Samsa would "not be able to clean it up".

Ollis said in a statement because the vessels normally used by Samsa were in dry dock at Simon's Town meant Samsa did not have the capacity to fulfil its mandate.

This included "ensuring safety of life and property at sea, and preventing and combating pollution of the marine environment by ships".

He said South Africa’s coastline was, in effect, unprotected from possible oil spills, and human and drug trafficking.

Ollis said he would approach Transport Minister Ben Martins to find out what steps he planned to ensure Samsa had the resources it needed.

"If an oil spill happens today, Samsa would not be able to clean it up. South Africans need to rest assured that the government is able to protect the country’s coastline," he said.

Read more on:    samsa  |  environment  |  maritime

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