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Mpumalanga Province Freight Data Bank > Maritime > Safety & Security

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Safety & Security

South African Maritime Safety Authority Act (SAMSA)

The South African Maritime Safety Authority Act 5 of 1998, drafted by the Department of Transport, governs the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA). The objectives of the SAMSA are as follows:

  • To ensure safety of life and property at sea
  • To prevent and combat pollution of the marine environment by ships
  • To promote the Republic’s maritime interests

SAMSA is responsible for effectively exercising its jurisdiction and control in administrative, technical and social matters over ships flying the South African flag (Flag State Controls). The aim of the port state control system is to rid the region of sub-standard shipping by ensuring the maintenance of international safety and environmental standards for South African and non-South African ships. Another major function of the state control system relates to the management of ballast water that could transfer harmful marine organisms from one part of the globe to another. There has been evidence of such transfers and consequential ecological, social and economic damage to the marine environment.

SAMSA is involved in the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) Technical Co-operation Programme, which renders technical assistance to African states. This initiative is aimed at fostering the effective implementation of maritime conventions relating to maintenance of sound safety standards, prevention of pollution and assistance on various training programmes.


International Maritime Organization - International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) CODE Part B

“Recent world events have shown that no country is immune from terrorism … whatever the reasons behind them, acts of terror can be committed at any time … and in any place.”[1]

The International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) code has its roots in the reaction of the United States of America (USA) to the events of 11 September 2001. December 12th, 2002 marked the occasion of an international amendment to the International Convention on the Safety of Lives At Sea (SOLAS). The main aim of the amendment was to establish an international framework for corporation between contracting governments, agencies, local administrations, shipping and all maritime stakeholders in order to detect security threats and take preventive measures against security breaches affecting vessels or port facilities/infrastructure used in international and domestic maritime trade.

Since July 1, 2004, the USA has involved the world’s ports and ships in the security of the US homeland, by effectively pushing the responsibility for the declared integrity of cargo and ships trading to the country of origin. US Custom officials are posted around the world in all perceived “risk” countries in an attempt to identify potential (cargo) dangers to the US homeland before the cargo leaves its point of origin.

In terms of the ISPS code, Port Facility Security Plans embrace:

  • Measures to prevent weapons or other dangerous substances or devices from entering the port;
  • Controlled access to the port;
  • Measures to respond to security threats;
  • Measures to respond to security instructions from the contracting government;
  • Measures for evacuation in the face of security threats;
  • Duties of port personnel on security aspects;
  • Procedures for interfacing with ship security activities;
  • Procedures for plan review and updating
  • Procedures for reporting security incidents;
  • Identity of port security officer with 24 hr contact details;
  • Measures to ensure security of information in the plan;
  • Measures to ensure security of cargo and equipment in the port;
  • Procedures for auditing the plan;
  • Procedures for responding in case of security alert on board a ship; and
  • Procedures for handling ship’s crew on shore leave.

Implications of Port Security as Influenced by IMO-ISPS Codes

South Africa as a signatory to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), has implemented the ISPS code at all its commercial ports. All ships trading with South Africa have to be ISPS Code compliant, since cargo vessels are already covered by the IMO SOLAS convention, of which the ISPS Code is an addendum. It should also be noted that freight vessels and cargo transiting South African ports from a non-ISPS accredited ports are considered a “security risk”, therefore even though the Port System is ISPS compliant, a ship leaving any of our ports which originate from a non-ISPS compliant port, will voyage to the US under stringent and costly conditions. Clearly, the ISPS code places an additional burden on port operations, TNPA resources and the port’s effectiveness in handling cargo. The Security levels to be adhered to are as follows:

  • Security Level 1- Normal: the level at which a ship or port normally operates

  • Security Level 2- Heightened: the level applying for as long as there is heightened risk of a security incident

  • Security Level 3- Exceptional: the level applying for the period of time when there is probable or imminent risk of a security incident.

The ISPS code balances security of ports and ships with the commercial realities of (commercial) working ports, while at the same time having the capability and resources to react to a level 2 and 3 security threat. The South African government through the appointment of the National Department of Transport (DOT) has ensured that responsible implementation of the Code through-out the port system is adhered to. It remains the responsibility of the individual ports to prepare, submit and maintain Port Facility Security Plans (PFSP) to the DOT for initial approval, monitoring, amendment and acceptance.

Risk Management

Risks are defined as uncertain future events that could influence the achievement of specified objectives. All risks impacting negatively on the achievement of an organisation’s objectives are addressed on a company wide basis. Hence risk management is defined as the identification and evaluation of actual and potential risk areas, followed by a process of risk control encompassing termination, transfer, acceptance or mitigation. Risks are assessed at all levels of the organisation viz. strategic, management and operational levels with annual assessments. From a corporate governance point of view, a risk management culture/commitment has to be established from top management down to the operational level. There is responsibility and accountability of risk ownership by line management and must be tasked to:

  • Identify actual and potential risks
  • Evaluate and prioritise risks
  • Design and implement interventions based on cost/benefit analysis;
  • Monitor progress and benchmark performance;
  • Analyse loss producing events and follow-up action;
  • Generate/approve expenditure; and
  • Generate, approve and review risk management plan/program per defined area.
  • The Port Authority’s Risk Management Statement states that:

  • “While facilitating economic growth in South Africa through providing and sustaining world class port systems, the National Ports Authority is committed to the protection of its people, property, clients and shareholder interests and the environment.”

  • Through a process of risk identification and assessment, systems auditing and evaluation will as far as reasonably practicable:

  • Comply with legal, operational, engineering and environmental requirements
  • Provide the necessary guidance, appropriate training and supervision in order to promote the well being of our personnel and the port community
  • Provide adequate resources for the management of those risks threatening the health and safety of people, the environment and our capacity to deliver a quality service
  • Conduct research and development for continuous improvement in the effectiveness of our safety, health and environmental management systems
  • The NOSA Occupational Safety, Health and Environment (OSHE) risk management system fosters sound safety, health and environmental practices and form part of business performance measures.
  • The NOSA OSHE system is also compatible with ISO 18001 (Health and Safety) ISO 14001 (Environmental) and ISO 9001 (Quality) and allows for the integration of these systems.