Leading Japanese shipowner invests in South African shipping

Apr 20, 2005
Author: P&S

Japan’s Sanko Steamship Co announced yesterday (19 April 2005) that it had taken a financial investment in two Cape Town-based South African black economic empowerment (BEE) companies, Marine Bulk Carriers Ltd and Marine Crew Services Ltd.

Sanko president and CEO Steve Matsui said the investment would ensure the two BEE companies have financial resources and ships necessary to carry South African cargo.

“It is part of our ongoing commitment to South Africa,” he said. “Sanko is committed to providing a substantial number of training berths to South African mariners – ship owners worldwide are looking for new sources of committed seafarers and through this involvement we will also help ensure the highest standard of training.”

Mr Steve Matsui, president of Sanko Steamship Co. Ltd, Japan (Sanko) (right) and Robert Knutzen, director of Marine Bulk Carriers and Marine Crew Services of Cape Town South Africa, at the announcement of Sanko's strategic financial investment in Marine Bulk Carriers LTD and Marine Crew Services Ltd of Cape Town, South Africa

According to Lance Manala, MD of Marine Crewing and Marine Bulk Carriers, Sanko’s investment would greatly increase South Africa’s involvement in shipping bulk cargo to and from South Africa, which currently amounts to about 150million tonnes of raw material annually. He said the fact that a competitive wage agreement had been negotiated with the ITF last November had contributed to opening the door for this new agreement.

Sanko operates a fleet of more than 100 bulk carriers, tankers and LPG carriers and a further 50 new vessels will be taken into service within the next two to three years.

South Africa currently exports around 130 million tonnes of raw materials each year and imports more than 20mt of oil. Foreign buyers or receivers arrange almost all the shipping of these cargoes with little benefit to South Africa.

The competitive wage agreement negotiated with the International Transport Federation (ITF) in November 2004 has received the support of the South African Transport Workers Union (Satawu). Since then the company has successfully placed fully South African crews on board several Holy House reefer vessels sailing in international waters to and from local ports. The first breakthrough was in January with the handover of the first South African crew on board the Swedish reefer vessel Snow Land, an initiative that not surprisingly received the support of the minister of labour, MMS Mdladlana.

Manala said that given the training capacity available in South Africa, his company believes the country to be uniquely positioned to once again become a sustainable source for international crewing.

“We believe all South African companies who own cargo and are part of the import and export business should support these ventures. South Africans should be given the opportunity to benefit from the shipping of their own cargo and the commitment by Sanko to investment in South Africa is a major step forward to achieving this.”

See related stories in Ports & Ships News
5 December 2004: Milestone as foreign shipowner takes South African crew
12 January 2005: South African seafarers shine at sea
16 March 2005: Crewing company sees huge potential for jobs in maritime industry


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