Minister: SA maritime turnaround needed

2012-07-04 16:12
The maritime industry in SA needs a turnaround, the transport minister has said. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

The maritime industry in SA needs a turnaround, the transport minister has said. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - South Africa's maritime industry needs to be turned around and taken to greater heights, Transport Minister Ben Martins said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the opening of the SA Maritime Industry Conference (Samic) in Cape Town, he called for greater efficiency at the country's commercial ports "so South Africa can compete with the rest of the world".

The three-day Samic conference, hosted by the SA Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa), brings together government, private sector stakeholders, organised labour, and finance institutions and private investors, in an effort to "fast-track" the local industry.

"This conference aims to develop a clear and well-resourced multi-stakeholder maritime sector investment strategy and develop a programme of action," according to the Samic website.

Topics to come under discussion include shipping, ports and logistics; fishing and aquaculture; the offshore oil and gas industry; marine tourism and leisure industries; and marine manufacturing and repair.

Trade

As much as 98% of South Africa's international trade enters or exits the country by sea, through eight commercial ports: Saldanha Bay, Cape Town, Mossel Bay, Port Elizabeth, East London, Ngqura, Durban and Richard's Bay.

Martins told delegates studies had shown "we could have greater efficiencies at our ports".

In this regard, the department had carried out a strategic study.

"The objective… is to unblock obstacles and formulate a strategy that will enable us to reduce the cost of doing business through our ports, as well as to reduce the turn-around times at our ports.

"There are a number of studies that point to the fact that we could have greater efficiencies at our ports… so that we can compete with the best in the world."

He said the local maritime industry had to "play its rightful role in the SA economy".

His department would soon submit a maritime policy - in the form of a draft green paper - to Cabinet for consideration. If approved, this would follow the normal parliamentary process, including public hearings.

Special mention

The department had also been conducting extensive and exhaustive studies into various aspects of the maritime economy, engaging with operators in these areas.

Martins singled out the oil rig repair industry for special mention, saying this had the potential to create four to five thousand direct jobs in and around the ports of Durban and Cape Town.

He also committed the government to "work and forge greater synergies" with stakeholders in the local maritime industry.

In a message to delegates ahead of the event, Samsa CEO Tsietsi Mokhele said the conference would "provide the first real opportunity to elevate the maritime agenda of our country into a national discourse, and put forward a clear maritime roadmap".
Read more on:    samsa  |  ben martins  |  environment

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