From the onset, I wish to express my appreciation to industry stakeholders who are part of this important engagement.
No doubt, the line-up of speakers, the topic that will come under discussion today will surely assist us to “redevelop and reengineer the growth of this sector.”
As the department, we are currently exploring ways and means of “doing development” differently in view of the devastating impact of COVID-19.
This pandemic has created a global crisis which has impacted all aspects of life and badly affected the world of work. In the maritime sector, it has severely disrupted the functioning of shipping and affected the work of nearly 2 million seafarers worldwide.
The most affected role-players that have contacted the department include:
- Ship Manufacturers
- Raw Material Suppliers
- End Users
I must hasten to point out that as government we are identifying major development projects that will define the future of our province.
R15 billion – new ship building orders
We must speak with one voice as KZN on how to take advantage of the national government’s new shipbuilding orders which are said to be in the region of R15 billion.
We must find a way of ensuring that as KZN we benefit out of this in order to resuscitate the industry and create more jobs.
Losses and Building Maritime Industry for the future
Ladies and Gentlemen, as the department we are fully aware that some of you have been able to pay employees in full despite the fact that you have not been operating.
We know that many of you who are involved in ship repair, have suffered losses as a result of lockdown restrictions.
We are currently engaging the national government and UIF Commissioner in particular with the view of exploring the possibility of getting them to extend the UIF/TERS.
We are making this submission to the national government because there are sectors of the economy that are still closed.
I can refer to tourism which has been badly affected. The curfew which has just been introduced has affected other sectors of the economy.
In addition, the next 6 months, will be the most difficult period for the cruiseline industry because of travel restrictions.
We have previously made submissions to the national government on a number of issues since the beginning of the lockdown. We remain positive that the national leadership will consider our inputs and suggestions.
Importantly, despite these difficulties, we believe that we need to come together and plan for the future. We must ensure that as we move forward, we develop the industry such that we are all satisfied that we have taken advantage of the fact that this province has the two largest ports on the continent.
We have a long coastline and we host the largest number of ships than any port in the continent, yet we have a poorly developed maritime industry.
We literally have no major coastal activities in maritime tourism, ship building and repair, fisheries and maritime support services.
Together, let us plan for the future and ensure that we develop this multi-billion rand industry in order to employ thousands of people.
COVID-19 has effectively highlighted that many of our communities remains at the periphery of this industry. This is the area where I believe we need to pay more attention.
Redefining the work of Provincial Maritime Cluster – COVID-19
Today we must discuss how to revive the Provincial Maritime Cluster. We need toensure that we have one single plan which must guide the deployment of resources in order to develop the industry post COVID-19.
We need all various strategic stakeholders – captains of industry, emerging businesses, SOEs, learning and research institutions. All these role-players will be critical to harnessing the full potential of the sector within the province.
Critically, we need to relook at our Integrated Maritime Sector Development Strategy in view of COVID-19.
Is it still relevant – how can we ensure its relevance?
What sets of maritime skills do we need to focus on?
Our objective should be to empower our citizens, especially young people, by granting them an opportunity to become a part of the Maritime sector.
Through our revised Maritime Strategy, we envisage the involvement of the peripheral community, who see the Maritime sector as a sector that is distant from the community and also see it as a preserve for the elite.
Webinars on Maritime Sector
We need to host ongoing Webinars and other sessions to explore further opportunities in the maritime sectors created by COVID-19.
As stated earlier on, we must speak with one voice as KZN on how to take advantage of the national government’s new shipbuilding orders which are said to be in the region of R15 billion.
We must find a way of ensuring that a new joint fleet acquisition strategy is developed to keep the industry busy for the next 10 years.
KZN Government Commitment – Working with TNPA – Port Users
Before the outbreak of COVID-19, our port users highlighted concern over issues pertaining to our port governance, our policies, as well as our pricing.
Evidence from port benchmarking has in the past, generally depicted South African ports as high on cost and low on performance.
I would like to assure you ladies and gentlemen, that all these cries have not been falling on deaf ears.
I wish to report that I have already met with TNPA – represented by Mr Moshe Motloi to discuss issue the implementation of decongestion strategy. We are satisfied with the progress that has been made to turn around the situation.
We have agreed on the need of ongoing consultation on a number of issues. I wish to highlight the work of the Identification of State Owned Land Parcels Workstream:
Myself and the Mayor of eThekwini will be having more discussions around this matter.
We will engage with KZN Cabinet as well as national government to unlock all blockages.
Rail Short Term Work: We also want to ensure that we take up the matter of the on alleviation of congestion in our Port by deploying wagons to move cargo from road to rail, with specific focus on the short distances.
Port Truck Association: We also need to discuss the possibility of setting up Formula 1 Hotels away from Durban in areas such as Cato Ridge where we could accommodate truck drivers. Trucks need to come to the port only when they are required to do so.
The trucking fraternity need to be engaged more and made aware of the new Rules of the Port that are aimed at dealing with congestion.
In conclusion, government acknowledges the strategic role played by ports and their necessity to the logistics chain.
Among other factors that affect transport costs, the efficiency of ports is one of the most important factors that will be directly influenced by government as we move forward.
I wish to make an undertaking that our policies, legislation, rules and code of conduct will be directed towards the reduction of red tape, improving the efficiency of our systems, and capacitating our infrastructure.
I thank you
Issued by The KZN MEC for Economic Development, Tourism And Environmental Affairs, Nomusa Dube-Ncube