11 June 2013 –
Durban’s N Shed at the Durban Harbour has an unusual landscape this week. Our country’s dedicated maritime training vessel, the Agulhas, which underwent major maintenance at the Port Elizabeth dry dock earlier this year, arrived in Durban harbour to participate in the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) KZN Maritime Careers Expo and Job Summit,. Throngs of school children have been visiting the refurbished ice-breaker which had to undergo a mandatory upgrade following its various trips including an expedition through Africa to London and Antarctica.
It has been specially commissioned to participate in the KZN Maritime Careers Expo and Summit, which takes place from June 10-12 at the Inkosin Albert Luthuli ICC which has drawn crowds form unemployed youth, graduates and scholars.
Excited learners from around KZN were the first to witness the changes to the vessel which now boasts state of the art computers to aid students with navigational training as well as simulators. SAMSA CEO, Commander Tsietsi Mokhele, said the upgraded vessel now had the capacity to carry 100 cadets, upped from 60 previously. He was confident that the new look Agulhas would entice young people with its state of the art technology, classrooms and upgraded berths to become interested in a maritime career. “We want our youth to understand that they can embark on a career less ordinary and broaden their horizons by choosing subjects and careers. Having a ship as a work place is so extraordinary.” Mokhele said the current SAMSA cadets had great stories to tell of how life on the sea had already changed their lives in a short space of time. “Last year they went to London to fetch Sir Ranulph Fiennes and then took him and his crew to Antarctica, a place in the world which even very few hardened sailors have ever seen.”
Fiennes is the British adventurer who attempted to cross Antarctica over land as part of a charity fundraising event but had to leave his crew behind after suffering frostbite. By the end of the three day SAMSA event at least twelve thousand school children would have attended the careers expo. The job summit on June 12 is expected to attract entrepreneurs as well as various government departments and employers in the maritime industry who will discuss the opportunities and challenges facing the sector.
SAMSA cadets Nqabakazi Zola and Simamkele Nthshanga were the eager tour guides who showed pupils and journalists around on the Agulhas, their unusual home. Nthshanga, said the best part of her training as a cadet was watchkeeping because she gets to control the ship. “It is incredibly exciting to learn how to control and steer such a large ship and then to actually do it,” said Nthshanga.
According to Zola, 23, from Cape Town, she left her home to follow her passion in maritime and says that it is hard work being in the sector which is definitely worth it. “The best part of being a cadet is gaining experience at sea and being independent.” said Zola. Bhekithemba Zuma, 25, from Clermont said his dreams came true when he was selected to join the training programme in November 2011. “Being able to work for SAMSA and get exposure to the sea is fun, exciting and definitely a path that will provide me with the tools I need to excel in maritime which will take my career to new heights,” said Zuma.
His dream is to be a captain of the ship and wanted to get into maritime since he was a youngster. “Soon I will be a navigations officer and will be able to help my family financially while moving forward in my career in maritime,” said Zuma. Thobile Lusiba, 21, says SAMSA gave her the opportunity to learn and gain core experience, vital for her career in maritime. The Clermont resident has studied maritime at the Durban University of Technology and applied to work as a trainee through SAMSA. SAMSA approved her application as a trainee due to her hard work and symbols at university. “I am looking forward to being a navigations officer and learning more about maritime and life out on the water.”
In yesterday’s opening session Mokhele said the maritime sector was the biggest contributor to the world economy. The expo continues today and will culminate in a job summit on Wednesday, eager to bring industry, graduates and the unemployed together to discuss synergies and opportunities available in the largely untapped maritime sector.
Samukele Ngubane (email@example.com), cell +27785560965
Shoaib Wahed (firstname.lastname@example.org), 031-2085525/cell +27735258723
Farhana Ismail (email@example.com); cell +27827876987/0312085525)
Issued on behalf of SAMSA by FBI Communications and Blue Leaf Communications