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Mbalula calls for unified front in SA’s maritime industry

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula

Published Apr 21, 2022

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CAPE TOWN - Leaders of major maritime companies are not coming to the party, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula suggested as he officially opened the three-day Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy (CMTP) Mid-Term Review conference on Wednesday.

South Africa is currently implementing the CMTP as a blueprint for maritime growth and excellence with the key objective to improve the socio-economic conditions of society by creating much-needed jobs, reducing poverty and developing critical skills in the sector.

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The plan was in response to South Africa being a primary goods export-oriented economy, with the total cost of importing foreign produced products and delivering agricultural produce, minerals and other industrial outputs to foreign markets impacted significantly by the transportation element. This, the government said, necessitated the need to strive for national transport cost efficiencies in order to remain globally competitive as a country.

Although South Africa is a maritime trading nation, it is, however, not yet a significant ship-owning or ship-operating nation. It is a consumer of international maritime transport and hence this component represents a significant expense item for South Africa’s international trading system, the CMTP implementation plan explained.

Mbalula on Wednesday highlighted several challenges the government was experiencing in the process of reaching its goals to transform the sector.

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“We have arranged this conference knowing fully that although we are halfway through the CMTP, we are still in the 3rd year of the Maritime Decade Implementation Plan. The conference will specifically consider progress with regard to the implementation of the activities contained in the CMTP 2020-2030 Decade Plan.

“My concern, however, is the level of initiative taken by you acting as government departments, as government entities, as private companies and most importantly acting as private citizens, to say, what is it of the CMTP that I can implement and or enterprise on. I am saying this because the academia is doing exactly that when subjecting the CMTP to in-depth scrutiny and study. Let me then call upon all of you involved in the maritime industry to adopt the CMTP as your own and not to look at it as a government document.

“It worries me that to this day, leaders of major maritime companies have not as yet seen the benefit of reaching the level of seeing the benefits of an industry approach to growth and development. Companies have not reached a stage of identifying matters of common interest affecting them as industry and therefore not stopping there, but proceeding to providing a co-ordinated response to such challenges.”

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He sent role-players a stern message, saying: “In politics we have a saying, ‘United, we stand and divided we fall’. I use this as a warning to you that unless you organise yourselves to have a unified or co-ordinated voice of the industry, you may wake up one day with an industry that is ruled or dominated by others except the South African maritime industry.”

Cape Times

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