The Department of Transport recently released the long-awaited draft Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy (CMTP), which was approved by Cabinet on February 8 2017, for public consultation and comment.
The CMTP aims to facilitate the revival, development and transformation of South Africa's maritime transport sector, in order to enhance its contribution to international trade and the development of the South African economy. The policy can be accessed on the Department of Transport's website.
The CMTP provides details on:
- what constitutes the 'maritime transport sector';
- the benefits that the sector holds for South Africa; and
- an institutional framework for the sector's governance and management.
The policy's ultimate goal is to create an effective, reliable, well-regulated and economical maritime transport system that meets South Africa's international trade needs.
The CMTP sets out, among other things, the Department of Transport's policy position on:
- coastal shipping and cabotage, on which is states that:
"The Department will develop a cabotage regulatory framework, inclusive of licensing, restrictions and enforcement functions as well as a roadmap for implementation in the coastal shipping market, also considering other regulatory frameworks concerning movement of goods and conveyances, such as customs regulations."
- providing government support to South African citizens with regard to the construction, acquisition and ownership of ships in the form of promotion, legislation and other appropriate measures;
- improving the priority of mortgagees regarding claims to the proceeds of judicial ship sales under the admiralty regime;
- introducing a single command structure for marine incident response and management with appropriate funding; and
- establishing a maritime bargaining counsel in accordance with the Labour Relations Act to align seafarers' conditions of employment with International Labour Organisation requirements.
The policy also contemplates the exclusive employment of South African seafarers on ships operating between South African ports.
The draft CMTP is broad in its application and lacks detail. Following the consultation process, a number of important aspects will hopefully be articulated in more detail. For the time being, anyone looking to invest or participate in the South African shipping sector should read the document and, if appropriate, make a written submission to the Department of Transport.
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