/ 1 December 2023

SAMSA’s 25 Year Anniversary: Section Four

Selma Schwarz-Clausen, SAMSA senior manager and PCC and NPCC: Head of Secretariat.


  • Ports Consultative Committee, a key cog in South Africa’s port management  – Maritime research from a developmental perspective
  • Fishers and fishing: Promoting South Africa’s maritime interests
  • Stevedoring: Safety of workers a primary focus at South Africa’s commercial cargo ports
  • Blessed is the hand that gives
  • SAMSA countrywide 

Ports Consultative Committee, a key cog in South Africa’s ports management

The primary aim of establishing the PCC is to foster a platform for meaningful dialogue among diverse stakeholders

The democratisation of governance in South Africa’s port spaces, achieved through the establishment of the Ports Consultative Committee (PCC) a decade ago, has faithfully fulfilled its objectives. This initiative stands as a testament to the remarkable achievements that can be realised when the nation collaborates towards a shared goal. It also highlights that there is still a vast potential yet to be explored through such collective efforts.

The PCC is a statutory body established under the National Ports Act, 2005 (Act No. 12 of 2005) for each of South Africa’s eight commercial ports. Representation consists of diverse membership that include the Harbour Master, the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), local port users, local and provincial governments of the respective port areas, labour, and the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA). The Department of Transport (DoT) chairs quarterly PCC and National Ports Consultative Council (NPCC) meetings. 

The primary aim of the PCC is to foster a platform for meaningful dialogue among diverse stakeholders, including the (TNPA) and other relevant entities, while also offering advisory insights to the Minister. The functions of the NPCC encompass: 

  • Advising the Minister on matters related to national commercial ports policy, including recommendations for enhancing the regulatory framework that governs the management and operations of ports.
  • Reviewing any significant proposed changes to the TNPA’s tariffs.
  • Addressing any additional issues that the Minister or the shareholding minister deems necessary for the Committee’s consideration.
  • Serving as a platform for resolving conflicts.

SAMSA, which is responsible for operationalising the PCCs and NPCC platforms, among other things, oversees the organizing and facilitation of port stakeholder consultations, inclusive of annual port performance roadshows, from Richards Bay in the east coast of the country through to Saldanha Bay in the west coast.

Selma Schwarz-Clausen, a senior official at SAMSA with secretariat duties for the PCC says; “Since its inception in 2011, the NPCC has played a pivotal role in shaping policy. It continually ensures that its recommendations are in sync with the wider national economic goals and the sustainable growth of the maritime sector.”

According to Schwarz-Clausen, over the last 10 years, there has been significant evolution in the consultation process, particularly in aligning with the requirements of the Ports Act. She points out that major initiatives include the review of port development framework plans, capital investment plans, marine plans, and others. Monitoring and managing these processes are integral to the deliverables of both the PCC and NPCC. 

Current challenges involve aligning the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Master Plan with the concerns of port users. There are also objections to the Authority’s implementation of the PRSA’s Weighted Efficiency Gains (WEGO) component as a Penalty Incentive mechanism, which, according to port users, fails to adequately consider their raised concerns.

According to Schwarz-Clausen: “The journey since 2011 has seen the PCCs and NPCC make significant strides in operationalising this legislated platform. Informed decision-making is a cornerstone of effective governance. By bringing together stakeholders such as port users, local and provincial governments, organised labour, and the port authority (TNPA), the PCCs ensure that decisions and policies are informed by a well-rounded understanding of the issues at hand. This diversity of perspectives ensures a balanced approach to port management and policy formulation amongst others.”

Schwarz-Clausen adds that the DoT, under the guidance of the Minister of Transport, continues to demonstrate its commitment to maintaining the integrity of this platform, “This leadership role is crucial in ensuring active stakeholder participation in the decision-making process, thereby underscoring the government’s dedication to effective port management and development. 

Schwarz-Clausen highlights among significant achievements to date the establishment of a KPI Technical Subcommittee mechanism, first piloted in the Port of Cape Town in 2012 and since extended across the port system. “This process focuses on assessing port efficiencies and developing comprehensive performance improvement plans aimed at making a substantial impact on the economy. The Ports Regulator has integrated port efficiency metrics into the Tariff Methodology, underscoring the critical role of efficiency in the South African port system and its contribution to reducing the cost of doing business in South Africa.

“From the PRSA’s viewpoint, port efficiency involves enhancing past performance benchmarks, a topic currently under extensive discussion, and relevant in the analysis of Weighted Efficiency Gains extracted from Operations (WEGO) within the PRSA Tariff Methodology. Given the current state of the South African port system, there is a considerable need for further improvements in port efficiencies. The PCC KPI Technical Committees, led by the Provincial Government and the respective Harbour Master in each port, play a crucial role in this ongoing effort.”

Schwarz-Clausen further points out, however, that even as a progressive approach to governance of the country’s ports, difficulties are encountered, and that some of these challenges linger for a while. 

As an example, she says, is the requirement that the TNPA must consult the PCC on any major expansion or development schemes to ensure that local concerns and insights are considered in decision-making processes. Port Development plans and the recent much contested Penalty Incentive Mechanism serve as such examples. The NPCC continues to weigh in on tariff related matters through the Ports Regulatory processes.

On SAMSA’s Secretariat role, she says: “The ongoing commitment to improved performance and performance measurement, maintaining transparency and accountability continue to be important in the Secretariat support to the PCCs and NPCC.” The Secretariat views it as equally important to have members of the PCCs and NPCC sharing the latest trends, technologies, and best practices as it relates to and influences the South African port system.

On administration, Schwarz-Clausen also highlights a significant development involving the selection of PCC and NPCC members, involving a refined nomination, voting and election process working. “Having the right representatives in the room makes every difference. There is no splitting the difference,” she says.

The CMTP and SAMSA CMTP Implementation Plan as part of Maritime Policy Development and Implementation

Giving effect to the country’s Comprehensive Maritime Transport (CMTP) approved by Cabinet on 10 May 2017 is among key goals of SAMSA over the next few years, a commitment evidenced by a development and completion of a position paper, as well as a roadmap since approved by the entity’s Executive Management in 2022. 

The instruments are critical components intended to provide a clear guideline on implementation of a set of activities SAMSA plans to set in motion as part of its internal maritime sector development strategy. 

Maritime Industry Growth and Transformation Strategy and Plan

The SAMSA planned activities are geared towards giving effect to the CMTP objectives with respect to realisation of, in particular; 

  • a transformed and growing maritime transport sector,
  • a developed and efficient international maritime service provided by South Africa ships,  
  • innovative financing and incentives to support the development and growth of domestic shipping, and 
  • sustainable and career driven employment opportunities, respectively.

Towards these goals, SAMSA has developed a Maritime Industry Growth and Transformation Strategy and Plan prioritised for approval and implementation in the 2023-2024 Financial Year. The strategy is geared towards contributing to ongoing transformation and broadening of the country’s maritime for inclusive economic participation, growth, skills development, employment creation, support for SMMEs, with a particular focus on black people, women, and youth. 

Promotion of South African Ship Registry 

Parallel to the aforesaid activity, SAMSA will vigorously continue promotion of the South African Registry, based on a revised strategy and implementation plan currently being developed by the office of the Registrar of Ships. 

The Registrar of Ships will determinately continue pursuit of this goal working together with similarly minded South Africans, as has been the case over the past decade.

SAMSA will also continue to work closely with the DoT towards a stated goal to have established a South African Shipping Company (SASC). 

It is noteworthy that discussions on the most appropriate funding model for establishment of the SASC are still ongoing. 

Annual State of Maritime and Inland Waterways Safety Report 

To give effect to the CMTP’s goal for an Enhanced Ships Safety Maintenance and Enhanced Safety of Navigation respectively, SAMSA has developed a State of the Maritime Safety Report covering safety boating trends in the country’s inland waterways. The plan is to have the report launched by the Minister of Transport.  

State Of Maritime Sector Report 

SAMSA’s contribution towards the CMTP’s goal for development of an “An Intelligent and Innovative Driven Industry”, will involve coordinating the development of a State of Maritime Sector Report. The drafting of the report is still ongoing.

Seafarers’ Occupational Health and Safety

To give effect to another important CMTP goal – “A Healthy and Safe industry”, SAMSA has prioritised the review of the Maritime Occupational Safety Regulations in the 2021-2022 Financial Year.  The review of the regulations is aimed at expanding the current occupational safety regulations which are more focused on shore side, to include matters relating to the seafarer’s occupational health and safety. 

Meanwhile, in promoting seafarer’s welfare, SAMSA launched the country’s inaugural national Gender Based Violence (GBV) at Sea Seminar on 24 November 2022, in Cape Town with participation of international delegates who provided valuable input on what other countries are currently actively doing to fight GBV. This project, now an annual basis and utilising varied ways of promoting sound working conditions for seafarers is ongoing, led by the Seafarer’s Welfare unit in the Centre for Maritime Operations, as its key performance indicator.  

Maritime Youth Development Programme (MYDP) 

This project gives effect to the CMTP Statement 29 which is aimed at creating a “Sustainable and Career Driven Employment Opportunities”. and is aimed at raising awareness of the maritime industry and to contribute in jobs creation for South African youth in the global cruise industry.  

Currently, youth from the Eastern Cape are being trained and placed on MSC cruise liners as part of the hotel staff, with plans to have the MYDP expanded to other provinces.  

Develop The Bunker and Ship-To-Ship Code

Giving effect also to the CMTP’s aspirations for “A Sustainable Development and Growth of Local Marine Manufacturing including Off-Shore Industries and Related Services” SAMSA continues work on the finalisation of development of Bunker Codes and Ship-to-Ship Transfer (STS) Codes.  The codes have been finalised and will be published in due course. 

Vessel Recapitalisation Programme 

SAMSA has been tasked with conducting a feasibility study for the “vessel recapitalization programme” to rehabilitate and revive the government’s fleet of vessels. Part of the work also involves securing funding and establishing a model for the fishing vessels recapitalisation programme. SAMSA is currently awaiting DoT’s inputs on the terms of reference to appoint a service provider. 

Fishers and fishing: Promoting South Africa’s maritime interests

Our country is ahead in terms of promoting fishing vessels’ and fishers’ safety

An apparent seemingly tongue-in-cheek remark by the moderator of the Joint International Maritime Organisation and International Labour Organisation (IMO/ILO) Conference on Work at Sea held in London on 13 November 2023, Heike Deggim, that South Africa “appears to be ahead of IMO Member States” in terms of promoting fishing vessels’ and fishers’ safety, might have appeared as flattering to South Africa.

Southeast Asia countries representatives on a visit to South Africa to learn about its pioneering work in the implementation of the ILO C188 convention on safe working conditions on fishing vessels.

This followed the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) presentation of the country’s progress with respect to efforts towards implementation of universal safety standards for fishing vessels and fishermen’s good working conditions, as articulated and envisaged in both the IMO’s Cape Town Agreement (CTA) of 2012 and the ILO’s Work in Fishing Convention of 1998 (C188).

According to the IMO, the CTA is, summarily, a legal instrument setting out minimum safety requirements for fishing vessels of 24m and over in length.

On the other hand, the C188’s objective, according to the ILO is, summarily: about ensuring decent conditions of work for fishers on board fishing vessels regarding specifically minimum requirements for work on board; service conditions; food and accommodation; as well as occupational safety and health protection; medical care and social security, and is applicable to all fishing vessels and labour onboard engaged in commercial fishing operations.

Deggim’s remarks, while decidedly jocular in appearance, were arguably far from an understatement, as according to available evidence, South Africa is, indeed, gracefully racing ahead of most IMO Member States in ensuring the implementation of the most modern standards for the improvement and promotion of high safety standards for both fishing vessels in the country as well as the fishers’ working condition onboard them.

South East Asia countries representatives learn about safety regulations on South African fishing boats.

To the extent that this is true, Selwyn Bailey, SAMSA Fishing Safety Specialist and main representative at this month IMO/ILO Working at Sea group meeting in London, South Africa has already completed formulation of two pieces of legislation for the construction and safety equipment, to replace the Construction and Crew Accommodation Regulations as pertaining to fishing vessels of 1968.

Both called the Construction and Safety Equipment of Fishing Vessels, one is for vessels over 24m in length (a gross tonnage of 300), and the other for vessels under 24m in length but over 25 Gross Tonnes). Both proposed South African laws are now with the Minister of Transport for further consultation towards promulgation by Parliament during its 2024 sitting period, Bailey told the meeting.

Their draft in 2023, Bailey said, followed an extensive stakeholder consultation involving among others, ship owners in the fishing industry, naval architects, boat builders and fishing vessel operators, and was wrapped up in July this year.

With the two pieces of proposed legislation eventually passed for enactment, hopefully in 2024, South Africa will soon thereafter be formally able to begin conducting Flag State inspections and Port State control inspections of all fishing vessels in its territorial waters, spread over the 1.5-million square kilometre ocean area of its Exclusive Economic Zone, once the CTA enters into force globally.

This, according to Bailey, would be despite the IMO CTA — which South Africa ratified in the same year of its adoption — having not come into effect yet, due to IMO Members who have ratified it having not reached the required threshold of 22. 

According to the IMO, the CTA — the successor to the 1977 IMO Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessels and the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol, both which failed to come into force –- is one of four pillars for safety, environmental protection and fishing sector seafarers’ training and rights. 

SAMSA fishing safety officials going on board one of South Africa’s fishing trawlers for inspection at the port of Cape Town.

The other three comprise:

IMO’s Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel (STCW-F) Convention on training of fishers, in force since 2012;

the ILO’s Work in Fishing Convention 2007 (Convention No. 188) that sets minimum requirements for work on board including hours of rest, food, minimum age and repatriation, in force since 2017; and 

the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FOA) Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (PSMA), 2009, in force since 2016. 

With respect to the CTA, however, the treaty is still not in force, as it will only do so “…12 months after at least 22 States, with an aggregate 3 600 fishing vessels of 24m in length and over, operating on the high seas, have expressed their consent to be bound by it”.

Essentially, with the fishing vessels’ sector globally not covered by the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) according to the IMO, the CTA is intended to, among other things; introduce mandatory international requirements for stability, construction, and associated seaworthiness of fishing vessels of 24m in length and over, as well as requirements for life-saving appliances, communications equipment and fire protection.

As at 2023, says the IMO, the required number of Member States qualifying remains just one short of the target, as 21 Member States are now contracting to the treaty. These are Belgium, Belize, Congo, Cook Islands, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Japan, Kenya, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, South Africa and Spain.

The lead advances being made by South Africa towards realisation of the goals of the CTA in the country at least are, according to Bailey, consistent with the country’s leaps of progress also with the ILO’s C188, which the country ratified in 2013 and became, also, the first worldwide to implement in 2017 in terms of Port State Control inspections of foreign flagged fishing vessels in South African ports.

Selwyn Bailey, SAMSA Fishing Safety Specialist, helps to create safe fishing conditions on our ships.

Bailey says that correlation in the implementation of these IMO/ILO conventions simultaneously is crucial, as both deal with parallel issues with mutual benefits. He cites as an example the construction of fishing vessels. 

For safety purposes in terms of the CTA, a vessel should be built according to certain specifications. And on the other hand, the C188, with its focus on sound working conditions of human labour (fishermen), requires that vessels should have sufficient space to accommodate decent living and working conditions onboard. 

This, according to Bailey, logically indicates that the requirements be dealt with  simultaneously when constructing new vessels.

Bailey told the London conference in November: “If I seem to be boasting about my country in my presentation I apologise. My presentation is about my country’s efforts to implement C188 and what we have done with the CTA.

“We ratified the Work in Fishing Convention in 2013, and in 2014 we conducted a gap analysis and identified certain amendments that we needed to make in our Merchant Shipping Act [as well as] certain of the regulations to give effect to some of the Articles of the Convention. We also developed three sets of regulations that we did not have; one includes the CTA. 

“Then we set about implementing C188 in consultation with social partners and got buy-in from them. By 2016, we had implemented a working Flag State regime to give effect to the Work in Fishing Convention in South Africa and by the end of 2017 when the convention entered into force, we started carrying out Port State control and inspections.” 

Two regulations directly related to the C188 awaiting promulgation and implementation are the Seafarer Insurance Regulations and the Small Vessel Medical Examination Regulations. Additionally, South Africa also introduced labour inspection items that are conducted during mandatory safety surveys. This activity necessitated the training of all the SAMSA Technical Surveyors to effectively carry out C188 labour inspections on all vessels within the country’s territorial waters.

In this regard, what Bailey did not mention at the London conference on 13 November 2023 was that due to its proactive approach to advancing the global aims of the IMO/ILO conventions related programmes and projects to enhancing the fishing sector’s safe and just work conditions, the country has done as much to assist others.

Southeast Asian countries have leaned on South Africa for engagement with development of for implementation of the conventions relative to their country and region-specific conditions, as have various other groupings, among them being the ILO, along with domestic labour unions such as the Food and Allied Workers Union, the Fishing Industry Bargaining Council as well as major South African and multinational fishing industry employers.

South Africa has recorded similar progress with respect to the IMO’s (STCW-F) Convention on training of fishers which the country ratified in 2015, inclusive of amendments for conformity first made in 2021 and later in 2023 to attendant regulations first developed in 2013.

Among these is the identification of a need that, to issue STCW-F qualifications, the country must either amend the principal Act (Merchant Shipping Act, 1951) or wait for the Merchant Shipping Amendment Bill to be promulgated. Parliament has since passed the Bill, with the cabinet minister responsible having already published an intention to introduce the Bill to parliament in the 2022/2023 period.

In the meantime, South African fishers holding Certificates of Qualifications or Certificates of Proficiencies, are currently converting their previous qualifications into STCW-F aligned qualifications.

The fourth pillar for safety, environmental protection and fishing sector seafarers’ training and rights, anchored on the (FOA) Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (PSMA), 2009 is being undertaken South Africa’s Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE).

Stevedoring: Safety of workers a primary focus at South Africa’s commercial cargo ports

The promotion of workers’ safety is now also being extended to small fishing harbours

Stevedoring at the country’s eight commercial ports, spread out over 3 200km of South Africa’s coastline, is possibly one of the country’s least readily recognisable forms of work, yet it forms a critically vital link in the effective management of ocean-going cargo transportation by ships.

This becomes even more relevant for its high significance when it is considered that approximately 80% of South Africa’s foreign trade in goods (by volume) is carried out through sea. Stevedoring essentially involves the loading and off-loading of goods from cargo vessels, as dry bulk, break bulk, roll on roll off and containers, as well as the conduct of business related thereto at and nearby the country’s ports.

SAMSA Manager: OHS & Maritime Welfare, Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe, makes a presentation to stevedore business owners in Cape Town in 2022.

South Africa has eight commercial ports: two in the KwaZulu-Natal coastline (Durban and Richards Bay); three in the Eastern Cape coastline (East London, Ngqurha and Port Elizabeth/Qqeberha) and three in the Western Cape – Mossel Bay, Cape Town and Saldanha Bay.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) takes an active, direct and continuous interests in stevedoring work safety practices at these ports, as both are consistent with the first of three primary objectives of its legislated mandate; to ensure safety of life and property at sea, and as also entrusted to it through various laws, regulations and codes of practice. 

The basket includes the Merchant Shipping Act, 1995; Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993; South African Ports Cargo Handling Code of Practice, 1994; Maritime Occupational Safety Regulations, 1994; Code of Safe Working Practice for Merchant Seamen, and Port Rules.

According to SAMSA’s Seafarers Welfare unit based in Durban, the exact number of people employed in stevedoring remains obscure due to constant fluctuations, because of  the temporary nature of stevedoring work. However, it is estimated that stevedoring has a workforce of more than 3 000 mainly part-time workers. There are as many as 30 registered and licensed companies doing stevedoring work at the country’s ports, and interest in the sub sector continues to grow.

For stevedore workers’ safety, among others; the Maritime Occupational Safety Regulations (1994) in conjunction with the mother Act, the Merchant Shipping Act, 1951, outline compliance requirements on employers, and bestow the requisite powers of SAMSA officers, including surveyors. The powers include among other things; being allowed to “board any vessel and inspect any place, equipment, document, interview persons working on board, enter any premises and inspect any equipment, document etc as well as issue prohibitions or admission of contraventions (fines) for unsafe acts and unsafe equipment/conditions”. 

According to the SAMSA’s OHS & Maritime Welfare Unit, historical statistics continue to indicate that cargo type has a direct impact on serious injuries and fatalities in stevedoring. 

Stevedore business owners attend one of the regular workshops held at SAMSA’s Seafarers welfare office in Cape Town.

“Steel cargo and containers are by far the biggest contributors to serious injuries and fatalities. Steel cargo often requires a stevedore on the cargo hold who will connect cargo to the lifting plant using lifting gear. 

“Often the stevedore will be standing on an uneven surface while performing this task. The uneven nature of some of the steel products, such as pipes, makes it a challenge, resulting in many stevedores losing their footing. This type of cargo requires specialisation, which is very limited in the stevedoring sector in South Africa. 

“On the other hand, container operations are fast-paced, with little rest by workers during their shift. Operations where the ship’s crane is used to load or offload vessels require lashing hands to be on standby both on the quayside and in the cargo hatch. This operation has contributed to many injuries and fatalities.”

SAMSA has worked tirelessly over the years to curb the number of serious injuries and fatalities in stevedoring through various initiatives. This has resulted in higher levels of compliance and safety awareness in the sub sector, and the country has over the last two decades experienced a significant reduction in fatal and serious injuries. 

The unit says part of this positive trend is attributable to high levels of interaction and cooperation between authorities and industry sectors. Enforcement of compliance has been and continues to be carried out consistently through various means, inclusive of regular ship inspection at the ports in close collaboration with the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), as well as through periodic audits. A vital cog to enhancement of safety awareness in stevedoring is ongoing engagement with employers for regular information exchanges and collaboration, such as the platform created nationally called the Stevedore Safety Committee Meetings.

According to SAMSA, this aspect became particularly relevant for its effectiveness after it was interrupted by the global outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in December 2019 and its spread to South Africa in early 2020, leading to national shutdowns that severely impacted people’s movement and work across the country, including the ports.

To gain an insight of the impact of the pandemic on the sector, SAMSA conducted a survey to determine the impact of Covid-19 on the country’s stevedore sector, looking at health impact as well as fatalities. The survey was extended to also assess the impact on business. 

“Possibly as could be expected, similar with the rest of the country, stevedores were not spared by ravaging Covid-19, as the survey revealed that over 50% of companies had workers who tested positive for Covid-19. Of these companies, sadly, just over 13% had the unfortunate experience of losing employees to Covid-19 related deaths. The survey also revealed that 80% of stevedore companies were affected financially by Covid-19, with over 60% heavily impacted.”

In addition, the survey revealed that the health protocols that were and continue to be necessary to curb the spread of Covid-19 unfortunately made doing business more expensive — over 90% of the companies reported that it had become more expensive to do business under the conditions.

However, in addition to the survey, through inspections and audits conducted, SAMSA established that a disturbing high degree of laxity for workers’ safety regulations regime compliance had begun to creep in, with various violations noted. These included decreasing safety inspections and associated activities, as well as cases where employees were not being provided with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), particularly hard hats and reflective vests. This happen on the backdrop of increased cargo volumes post the Covid-19 slump.

The stevedore operations in 2020 resulted in two serious injuries with no fatalities — one up from the previous, only to increase to five in 2021, but also with no fatalities. The 2021 serious injuries figure of five was the third highest since 2017, during which time 10 incidents were recorded including two fatalities, followed in 2018 by 12 incidents, including two fatalities.

“This was a welcome relief after having experienced two fatalities each in both 2017 and 2018, as well as one fatality in 2019. Without doubt, SAMSA would have preferred zero casualties even with due recognition that stevedore operations remain an inherently hazardous environment in which work is still highly labour intensive. It is a big achievement for everyone to complete the year with such statistics,” says the SAMSA OHS & Maritime Welfare Unit.

That there was desperation in the stevedore sub sector during the height of the Covid-19 lockdowns also became evident in the first Stevedore Safety Committee meeting, a gathering of employers, port terminal operators, SAMSA and TNPA officials in Cape Town in June 2022. The last of these regular meetings was held two years earlier.

Stevedores working to repair a vessel.

About half (14) of the business owners in stevedoring attended the business meeting and all warmly welcomed the resumption of regular meetings and workshops conducted for their businesses. The break was a result of Covid-19 imposed restrictions. SAMSA has since, in addition to Cape Town, revived the meetings in Saldanha Bay, Gqeberha and Ngqura, East London, Durban and Richards Bay. These meetings bring everyone on the table and help solve compliance issues as well as the conditions and barriers that impact on safety compliance. They also highlight compliance issues occurring nationally and emerging safety issues.

SAMSA does not only look after stevedores when it comes to compliance with Maritime Occupational Safety Regulations (MOSR). SAMSA is also responsible for MOSR compliance by shore contractors, including ship repairers. SAMSA has a similar inspection, auditing and safety meetings regime for ship repairers as the stevedoring sub sector.

With good being achieved in South Africa’s eight commercial ports, the promotion of workers’ safety is now also being extended to small fishing harbours, due to the high number of workers engaged in fishing boats in this area. The extension was preceded by a MOSR compliance assessment conducted in 2020, which included consultation with relevant stakeholders.

The 12 proclaimed small fishing harbours in South Africa are Lamberts Bay, St Helena Bay, Saldanha Bay, Gansbaai, Arniston, Kleinmond, Laiiplek, Hermanus, Struisbaai, Gordon’s Bay, Kalk Bay and Hout Bay. 

“SAMSA has always had a presence in the country’s small fishing harbours doing other statutory work. Now SAMSA will be extending MOSR compliance regime to the small fishing harbours as a lot of stevedoring and ship repair work is undertaken in the harbours. 

“Working together with the fishers, the harbour authorities and other relevant stakeholders, the aim is to formulate interventions that will ensure safety of workers during stevedoring and ship repairing.”

The interventions take into consideration the health and safety of the workers while also being sensitive to the economic impact on the fishers. To date the following harbours have been visited: Arniston, Gansbaai, Hermanus, Saldahna Bay (fishing harbour) and St Helena Bay. Initial consultation with the harbour authorities and other stakeholders took place. This will stretch SAMSA resources to the limit.

SAMSA’s continued impact in ensuring safety of life, limb and protection of property in stevedoring and ship repair work is hampered by the limited resources available to the OHS & Maritime Welfare Unit. The Unit has three employees with only one solely dedicated to this work. SAMSA surveyors in ports are utilised to assist for inspections, but this is not their primary function, hence a limited number of inspections are reserved for surveyors. Increased capacity is unavoidable if SAMSA is to maintain the safety standards.

Blessed is the hand that gives

SAMSA has made a positive contribution to the living conditions of its CSI targeted communities

SAMSA’s vision and mission, deriving from and premised on its legislated mandate, are to be “the Authority championing South Africa’s maritime ambitions to be an International Maritime Centre by 2030”, and to be “the entity providing leadership in maritime safety, prevent and combat marine pollution for a sustainable maritime environment, whilst supporting an innovative, progressive and a vibrant maritime economy”.

Donations of food and blankets to the elderly of villages in the King Sabata Dalindyebo region near Mthatha, Eastern Cape.

Within the context and scope of these, and within which resides corporate social responsibility to its broad base of stakeholders, the entity’s corporate social investment (CSI) is a strategic programme to support its goals through periodically defined activities. These include: 

  • Promotion of human safety and environment protection standards for responsible maritime transport operations;
  • Support of poor and disadvantaged communities and alleviation of suffering through collaborations with relevant stakeholders and related activities; and
  • Promotion of public maritime awareness through interventions that support targeting identified educational and basic skills development programmes for the previously disadvantaged.
Mapitso Dlepu, SAMSA Senior Manager for Corporate Social Investment.

Mapitso Dlepu, SAMSA senior manager responsible for the entity’s CSI, says SAMSA’s corporate social responsibility journey effectively started 13 years ago (2010) and it has since consistently lived up to its promise to make a telling, positive socioeconomic difference in the living condition of targeted communities, young and old, male and female.

Central to SAMSA CSI’s approach to its annual programme is direct engagement and collaboration with targeted communities with respect to accurately establishing their needs and how best they can be assisted. But also at the same time, it is the formation, where possible and necessary, of partnerships with similarly minded organisations and institutions, both in the public and private sectors. This, she says, allows for blending of required skills in terms of both target community needs assessment, identification of appropriate aid, and effective management of delivery, as well as monitoring.

Dlepu also readily acknowledges that the approach is not entirely possible or feasible in all cases where SAMSA CSI must make rapid interventions, such as in instances that involve, for example, community misfortunes deriving from bad weather conditions, or similar occurrences where immediate aid is urgently required, as has occurred in recent years in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of the Eastern Cape.

Indeed, SAMSA CSI’s first intervention in 2010 took place under such varied conditions. At the encouragement of then Minister of Transport, the late S’bu Ndebele, in response to the tragic loss at sea of young cadet, Akhona Felicity Ngeveza, a memorial was established in her honour at her former school, Ngwenyati High, at Nxarhuni village near East London.

Says Dlepu: “The South African Maritime Authority’s vision and objective is to lead and champion South Africa’s maritime interest, as custodians and stewards of the maritime policy, to be vigorous of the maritime sector and consistent with the country’s development goals and that of the Batho Pele principles, which means “people first”. 

Recipients of food parcels donated jointly by SAMSA and Absa Bank to communities in impoverished townships of the Northern Cape, during the height of the global outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021.

“This component seeks to address the social and economic development issues that affect primary communities on the shoreline and around the inland waterways.

With lessons learned from its East London CSI project, says Dlepu: “CSI projects further moved to focus on programmes that seek to encourage new entrants into the field of maritime skills and that being water skills development, education/educational development and enterprise developments.”

She says among major highlights of water skills development funded through SAMSA CSI was the launch of a flagship project on Duzi Canoeing in the KwaZulu-Natal region. 

“This project was in partnership with the canoeing world champion, former winner of the Duzi Marathon and 2015 World Paddle Award recipient Martin Dreyer and the Inanda community in KwaZulu-Natal. This project empowered over 26 young novices with skills over three years that eventually saw them become canoeing professionals. 

Members of impoverished communities in the Northern Cape were given water rollers to assist them with water collection and storage.

“Crucially, this project did not only uplift the novice in canoeing, but the monthly food parcels stipend offered also fed their immediate families, thereby SAMSA’s CSI lived up to the adage that ‘nutrition is the key to unlocking your bodies’ s potential’.”

“Most of our CSI projects have been undertaken in conjunction with communities, traditional leaders and identified municipalities such as those at Port St Johns, Nqquza Hill at Mbizana, Sabata Dalindyebo and Mhlontlo municipalities. These projects varied from donating to the elderly during Mandela Day, to career awareness about the maritime sector.”

According to Dlepu, CSI played a major role during the period of the Covid-19 pandemic. “In partnership with ABSA, SAMSA CSI reached out to communities along the shoreline in Port St Johns, Bizana and Coffee Bay. This gesture was also done in KwaZulu-Natal and in communities in the Northern Cape area. 

During the 2022/23 financial year, SAMSA partnered with the Northern Cape South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and Siyacuma Municipality in handing over 150 hippo rollers during a Nelson Mandela Day activation. Communities that benefited came from Griekwastad, Mahlomola,  Bongani and  Douglas. The hippo rollers helped to address the water crisis in these rural areas.

“With climate change being part of our lives, SAMSA employees through one of the focus areas of volunteerism, from time to time donated to communities in distress such as those in Port St Johns,” she says. 

According to Dlepu: “The CSI component further recognised and implements its projects adhering to the 17 United Nations (UN) sustainable development goals. 

“The future of organisations, including SAMSA, depends on the work and services we offer to communities. We understand that to overcome these challenges we need to take action. In all the 17 goals we continue to contribute through the projects and programmes we render to our communities.”


Gauteng-based David Bungay’s 10-seater wooden Viking boat,
The Nordic Sea, entirely hand-built by Bungay and completed and licensed in 2018.


Northern Region

Pretoria (Head Office)

Physical address: SAMSA House, 146 Lunnon Rd, Hillcrest, Pretoria, 0083

Tel: +27 (0) 12 366 2600

Fax: +27 (0) 12 366 2601

Western Region: 

Cape Town

Physical Address: 19th Floor, 2 Long St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, 8000,

Tel: +27 (0) 21 421 6170

Email – Operations and Queries: [email protected]

Duty Mobile – Emergencies Only and After Hours: +27 (0) 72 364 4958 (Not monitored and a follow up call is required.)

Saldanha Bay

Physical Address: Harbour Area, Fishing Harbour Old Salcon Building, Saldanha,7395

Tel: +27 (0) 22 714 1612

Fax: +27 (0) 22 714 3635

Port Nolloth

Physical Address: Old Post Office Building, Kus Way,Port Nolloth, 8280, South Africa

Tel: +27 (0) 27 851 7695

Fax: +27 (0) 27 851 7699

Sea Watch and Response (SWR)

Physical Address: 2nd Floor Table Bay Building, Tygerberg Office Park, 163 Uys Krige Drive, Plattekloof, Cape Town, 7500

Tel: +27 (0) 21 938 3310

Fax: +27 (0) 21 938 3319

Southern Region

East London

Physical address: 18 Marine Terrace, Quigney Beach, East London, 5201, 

Tel: +27 (0) 43 722 4120

Fax: +27 (0) 43 722 2264

Mossel Bay

Physical address: Room 109 Plaza Aquda, Marsh St, Mossel Bay, 6506

Tel: +27 (0) 44 690 4201

Fax: +27 (0) 44 691 1206

Port Elizabeth

Physical address: 1 Humewood Rd, South End, Port Elizabeth, 6001

Tel: +27 (0) 41 585 0051/3

Fax: +27 (0) 41 582 1213

Port of Ngqura (Coega)

Physical address: Neptune Road, Port of Ngqura, Port Elizabeth, 6100

Tel: (Cell) +27 (0) 79 512 1017

Fax: +27 (0) 41 582 2130

Eastern Region


Physical address: 17th Floor, 333 Anton Lembede St, Durban Central, Durban, 4001

Tel: +27 (0) 31 307 1501

Fax: +27 (0) 31 306 4983

Richards Bay

Physical address: Suite 4 Gazi Centre, Newark Road, Small Craft Harbour, Richards Bay, 3900

Tel: +27 (0) 35 788 0068

Email – Operations and Queries: [email protected]