Graduates sail into new careers

AWASH WITH PRAISE: A tug joins in the celebrations at Transnet’s Maritime School of Excellence graduation ceremony in Port Elizabeth yesterday. Picture: FREDLIN ADRIAAN
AWASH WITH PRAISE: A tug joins in the celebrations at Transnet’s Maritime School of Excellence graduation ceremony in Port Elizabeth yesterday                                             Picture: FREDLIN ADRIAAN

Maritime futures beckon for Transnet trainees

It is plain sailing into a maritime career for 81 students who graduated from freight and logistics parastatal Transnet’s Maritime School of Excellence in Port Elizabeth yesterday.

The students, who were part of a record 513 Transnet graduates nationally, were treated to a swanky graduation ceremony hosted at the Boardwalk International Convention Centre yesterday.

Guest speaker and ceremony host was Transnet group chief executive Siyabonga Gama.

The graduates, who completed internationally recognised qualifications through the company’s specialized academy for marine and port operations, conducted their studies through the Port Elizabeth satellite campus of the Maritime School of Excellence – one of four Transnet schools of excellence.

Gama, who said this was the company’s highest number of graduates since 2013, said: “Now we no longer have to send people to Rotterdam [Netherlands] for training.”

The graduates were trained for careers as marine pilots, tug masters, engineers and operators of lifting equipment like ship-to-shore or gantry cranes.

According to Gama, Transnet’s training programmes are aligned with the company’s 10-year infrastructure investment programme which is valued at between R340-billion and R380-billion, its Market Demand Strategy and its customers’ business requirements.

Transnet has committed R7-billion towards skills development and training.

Since 2012, it has already ploughed some R60-million into training.

“We train more people than we require operationally, so we are training for our economy and are contributing towards national skills development and job creation,” Gama said.

Responding to questions during a tugboat display in the Port Elizabeth harbour prior to the graduation ceremony, Gama said on average Transnet retained and absorbed about 81% of its students after they had graduated through various company training programmes.

“We have found in the past that the Gulf countries in particular have attracted [Transnet-trained] employees.”

Gama also commented briefly on the often contentious manganese operation at the harbour, which, while an important revenue stream for the parastatal, is one of two major operations in the port which are delaying the establishment of a waterfront development there.

He said following a recent slump in commodity prices, which had had an effect on its manganese operations, the company was seeing an upswing in the ore operations – which it is expanding into a 16-million-ton terminal.

While Gama did not comment on the timing of the relocation of the manganese terminal to the Port of Ngqura, he said the first phase of that operation – which entails 1 050km of “heavy haul” rail development between Port Elizabeth and the Northern Cape where the manganese was mined, is near completion.

After the relocation, the existing facility would first be rehabilitated before being used to establish the biggest car terminal in the southern hemisphere.

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