South Africa has joined the world in observing International Seafarers Day.
A seafarer is a sailor or anyone travelling and working in the ships at sea.
The South African Maritime Safety Authority says thirteen thousand vessels call into South Africa’s eight commercial ports, handling millions of tonnes of cargo annually.
SAMSA Chief Operating Officer Sobantu Tilayi says ninety eight percent of the country’s trade volumes are moved by vessels.
Tilayi says the seafarers are the backbone of any country’s economy, and encouraged the youth to pursue the maritime career.
“These are the people that move trade by driving ships, by working on various positions within the vessels. Its the 80 percent of the world trade that depends on these people. Life would never be how we know it in SA or anywhere else in the world were it not for seafarers, this day celebrates the seafarers to highlight the issues that need to be dealt with in respect of seafarers.”
The South African International Maritime Institute wants universities around the country to offer courses to encourage students to enter the maritime industry.
This emerged at the launch of the Institute’s national headquarters at the Ocean Sciences Campus at Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth.
Over the past three years the university has been allocated 30 million rand to establish Marine Engineering courses.
Senior Lecturer, Howard Theunissen, says the university has made significant progress in training students in the maritime industry.
“I currently have ’20 students for marine engineering, 80 percent are previously disadvantage in that category. We are developing them; we had support from the navy, so support has been amazing,” says Theunissen.
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