Transnet staffer juggles mind-boggling schedule

DRIVEN TO SUCCEED: Port of Ngqura marine shorehand Phakamile Skosana has gone to exceptional lengths in his bid to qualify for the chief marine engineering officer position
DRIVEN TO SUCCEED: Port of Ngqura marine shorehand Phakamile Skosana has gone to exceptional lengths in his bid to qualify for the chief marine engineering officer position
Image: SUPPLIED

Every week, for about a year, Phakamile Skosana would commute between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town — balancing his shift work at Transnet and full-time studies in the Mother City.

But his perseverance paid off as he is well on his way towards completing his Marine Engineering Certificate of Competency.

Skosana, 38, a marine shorehand at the Port of Ngqura, is completing the practical side of his studies which will enable him to reach his goal of becoming a chief marine engineering officer.

Speaking about the past year, Skosana said he had used up all his annual leave days to complete some of the theory work he had to do at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), so when it came to writing the assessments he had to juggle his shifts to ensure he made it to work every day.

“Almost on a weekly basis I would have assessments.

“I would have to swap shifts with a colleague to ensure I got to go to do my assessments.

“For instance, I would be working a 2-10pm shift for a week and I would swap with a colleague on Tuesday and work from 6am to 2pm.  

“At 7pm I would get on the bus to Cape Town, which would arrive in the morning, write the assessment and rush to the airport to catch a flight back to Port Elizabeth.

“And I would make it back on time for my shift at 2pm.

“I never missed a day of work,” Skosana said.

Due to his outstanding academic performance, including three distinctions, he was awarded a Transnet bursary.

It was gruelling period and an expensive one, too, as he is the breadwinner with a wife who is also studying — and two children.

But Skosana said he persevered because he kept his end goal in mind.

“Those thoughts do arrive and you feel like giving up, but my goal was bigger,” he said.

Skosana, who was born and raised in New Brighton, will do several practical courses, which could take up to two years, before he can qualify for the chief marine officer ticket.

He started his career as a general worker at Triton Express, a logistics solutions company in Port Elizabeth.

His tenacity and love for operations soon became evident when he helped with administrative duties in his spare time.

This opened doors for him when he successfully applied for a data capturing position.

He once again went beyond the call of duty by assisting the operations department in his spare time — loading and offloading trucks, and checking parcels for collection and delivery.

He successfully applied for a zone controller position and climbed the ladder to operations supervisor, senior operations supervisor and operations manager, before leaving for the Transnet national ports authority in 2013.

His current position entails assisting with the docking and sailing of vessels, including the supply of fresh water.

His career highlights include being part of the firefighting team which competed in the national Transnet annual safety competition recently, being recognised for the “Best Health and Safety Improvement Idea” in 2018, and his academic achievements.

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