Plan to boost ports
SOUTH Africa's maritime industry needs to be turned around and taken to greater heights, Transport Minister Ben Martins said yesterday.
Speaking at the opening of the SA Maritime Industry Conference (Samic) in Cape Town, he called for greater efficiency at the country's commercial ports "so South Africa can compete with the rest of the world".
The three-day conference, hosted by the SA Maritime Safety Authority, brings together the government, private sector stakeholders, organised labour, finance institutions and private investors in an effort to fast-track the local industry.
"This conference aims to develop a well-resourced multi-stakeholder maritime sector investment strategy and develop a programme of action," the Samic website reports.
Topics to be discussed include shipping, ports and logistics; fishing and aquaculture; the offshore oil and gas industry; marine tourism and leisure industries; and marine manufacturing and repair.
As much as 98% of South Africa's international trade enters or exits the country by sea, through eight ports: Saldanha Bay, Cape Town, Mossel Bay, Port Elizabeth, East London, Ngqura, Durban and Richards Bay.
Martins said studies had shown "we could have greater efficiencies at our ports". "The objective . is to unblock obstacles and formulate a strategy that will cut the cost of doing business through our ports. There are a number of studies that point to the fact that we could have greater efficiencies at our ports."
He said the local industry had to play its rightful role in the SA economy.
His department would soon submit a maritime policy to Cabinet for consideration. The department had conducted extensive studies into the maritime economy, engaging with operators in all areas.
Martins singled out the oil rig repair industry for special mention, saying this had the potential to create 4000 to 5000 jobs in and around the ports of Durban and Cape Town.