Mining, energy sector should transport freight on SA-owned ships – Mzimande

Minister of Transport Blade Nzimande addressing the Inaugural Maritime Transport Dialogue held at Elangeni Hotel, Durban, 28 February 2019. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng / African News Agency (ANA)

Minister of Transport Blade Nzimande addressing the Inaugural Maritime Transport Dialogue held at Elangeni Hotel, Durban, 28 February 2019. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng / African News Agency (ANA)

‘South Africa currently has no registered ships, in spite of 300 million tons of cargo moving through our ports in imports and exports,’ said Nzimande.

Transport Minister Blade Nzimande today called on the mining and energy sectors to hold “urgent” consultation meetings in order to direct freight shipping to South African-owned ships.

Nzimande was speaking at the Southern Sun Elangeni at the country’s first ministerial dialogue on transport. The two-day event aims to be used to discuss the country’s maritime transport industry and its contribution to job creation and transformation in the sector.

“Our work stream has highlighted a concern that South Africa currently has no registered ships. This is in spite of the fact that each year, 300 million tons of cargo move through our ports in imports and exports,” said Nzimande.

He said in addition, 1.2 million tonnes of liquid fuels moved along South Africa’s 4,000km coastline, while the rapidly expanding offshore oil and gas activities required a supporting fleet of vessels.

“Parallel to the adoption of favourable trade terms, it has become urgent that mining and energy sectors hold consultations towards the development and adoption of an incentivised scorecard in the procurement of shipping transportation, especially for the movement of coal, iron ore, manganese, chrome and other materials in the context of agreed percentages for such transportation as reserved for South African ships,” said Nzimande.

He said questions needed to be asked about what the obstacles were to the transformation of the sector, what can be done about these and what opportunities existed to grow the sector.

Nzimande said that while he expected robust discussion, he also wanted to minimise “lamenting”, and instead sought to focus on “concrete actions and strategies to transform the sector”.

He called South Africa’s coastline an “untapped potential” that had not been “fully taken advantage of”.

“According to Operation Phakisa – the oceans economy strategy – the oceans have the potential to contribute up to R177 billion to the gross domestic product (GDP) and create just over one million jobs by 2033,” he said.

“Forty-seven detailed initiatives have been identified, whose progressive implementation is expected to increase the oceans economy’s GDP contribution by R20 million per annum and lead to the creation of 22 000 direct new jobs in 2019.”

South Africa had a competitive geographic advantage that needed to be exploited, he said. To this end, it sought to increase local manufacturing capacity through a 10 percent increase in the usage of local components for boat and ship building.

Government was also seeking to increase the ship repair capacity in Richards Bay, which would create 200 direct jobs.

“[We are also looking to create] a dedicated education, training and skills development focus for the sector, working with the department of higher education and training in particular.”

African News Agency (ANA)

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