But Prasheen Maharaj warns that success depends upon better collaboration

Transport Department Chief Director Dumisani Ntuli has high hopes for the private sector-led maritime industry initiative which launched in Durban last month.

Ntuli told SABBEX he believed the Maritime industry Development Task Force Network would add much-needed impetus to sector growth. He said private sector participation was a key ingredient in helping South Africa achieve International Maritime Centre status by 2030. “By this initiative we have unlocked private sector participation to further participate in government’s drive to achieve International Maritime Centre status which Government’s Marine Development Strategy is focusing on,” Ntuli told SABBEX. “Our message is clear, and we have created a conducive climate for the private sector to participate in the work we are doing,” Ntuli said.

He said the new private sector grouping extended across all maritime sub-sectors, including recreational boatbuilding and ship repair. He noted the presence of Lindani Mchunu as Vice-President of the new body: “Lindani’s involvement in boatbuilding and sailing is well-known and recognised,” he added.

Prasheen Maharaj, inaugural Task Force President, said success depended upon closer collaboration within the private sector, and between the private sector and government. Only sustained effort would help translate words into action, such that the sector could move beyond the multiple strategy documents which too often gathered dust without tangible results.

“All these initiatives were characterised by one common thread. They were led by Government with private sector participation at varying degrees,” Maharaj said in a statement to mark the launch.“Due to changes in leadership within government, changes in managers, adherence to bureaucratic and stifling governance procedures, progress on these matters has either been frustratingly slow or in some cases zero achievement has been made. The private sector views this as another string of broken promises by government,” Maharaj said.

However he said the private sector was also to blame for slow progress due to its propensity for complaining, rather than cooperating. And collaboration between State and the Private sector was no longer negotiable. “Instead of complaining, private sector needs to start providing solutions and engage vigorously on these proposed solution,” said Maharaj, “Government and private sector need to have a constructive dialogue with definitive timelines – not a talk shop.

“It must be made clear as to what role player each can bring to the party and what are the policy impediments  and  regulatory red tapes we need to tackle in order to overcome this so that we can increase efficiencies in port and rail and ultimately encourage investment,” he said.

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