South Africa's maritime domain, with its vast potential and rich biodiversity, could face potential risk as the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) grapples with a leadership crisis and wasteful expenditure. This situation not only jeopardizes SAMSA's effectiveness but also poses a national and international crisis if mishaps occur in our waters. OUTA wrote to Parliament to intervene.

SAMSA, overseen by the Department of Transport and classified as a Schedule 3 national public entity, has been operating without a permanent CEO since May 2016, despite the issue being discussed in all SAMSA’s appearances before Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Transport since 2016. 

In our unwavering commitment to accountability, OUTA wrote to the Transport Committee on 18 April 2023 to raise our concerns regarding this leadership crisis. We also pointed out how SAMSA failed to address complaints from the Disabled People of South Africa (DPSA), a vital stakeholder in the maritime economy. The DPSA was forced to resort to a high court application to force SAMSA to act on numerous complaints it has raised over many years. This led to the suspension of three senior executives and a subsequent forensic investigation.

The consequences of SAMSA's leadership vacuum compromises our country’s marine and maritime interests, potentially placing our marine life and delicate ecosystems at risk. Would SAMSA for instance be able to effectively respond to a major oil spill in our national waters? What will be the reputational toll if SAMSA neglects its duty?

OUTA is urging the portfolio committee to exercise its powers and launch a thorough investigation into SAMSA's affairs. Together, we must safeguard our marine heritage and protect our nation's maritime reputation.

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