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Parliament, Cape Town - Fisheries department officials were criticised again on Thursday for a delay in ensuring the country's research and patrol vessels take to the seas.
Acting fisheries department deputy director general Desmond Stevens updated Parliament's portfolio committee on fisheries on the status of the ships on Thursday.
The ships had been berthed at Simon's Town for the past year, after the awarding of the tender to a Sekunjalo consortium to operate and maintain the vessels came under investigation, and was subsequently withdrawn.
MPs said they would be waiting at Simon's Town to board the vessels on the dates the department set for the ships to become operational, to ensure the department was not lying.
“The day the Lillian Ngoyi (inshore patrol vessel) is sailing we must be there...you know the premier of Mpumalanga went to launch a housing project and when he arrived there were no houses,” Cope MP Nqaba Bhanga said.
“I've reached a stage where I'm sick and tired of this situation.”
Stevens told the committee the Lillian Ngoyi would be ready to set sail at the end of September.
The other two inshore patrol vessels, the Ruth First and Victoria Mxenge, were ready to set sail, but were still awaiting seaworthiness certificates from the SA Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa).
Stevens said the reason they had not attained the certificates was because Samsa had introduced two new compulsory courses for crew members to attend before the boats could start patrolling the country's shoreline. The two-week course ended on Tuesday.
“If Samsa looks at the performance of the people on the course, then tomorrow (Friday) if they give us the green light, then the Victoria Mxenge and Ruth First are ready to go.”
The country's main research vessel, the Africana, was currently undergoing major repairs estimated to cost R14 million. She would likely also set sail at the end of September.
The Africana is more than 30-years-old, and will likely be withdrawn from service in the next three to four years.
Stevens said a proposal had already been submitted to Treasury for money to replace the ship.
“The estimated amount to replace the Africana is around R900m,” Stevens said.
The offshore patrol vessel, the Sarah Baartman, will be operational at the end of September. The department had shifted the dates several times.
In March the department said the ships would be fixed and ready to go by April, after two companies were contracted to do repairs.