South Africa’s transport minister promises low-sulphur fuel legislation

South African Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula. Credit: DAVID HARRISON/AFP/Getty Images

South Africa’s Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula has assured the maritime industry that the enabling legislation needed to implement the International Maritime Organization (IMO) MARPOL Convention Annex VI will be in place before 1 January 2020.

Annex VI is designed to reduce air pollution by limiting the amount of sulphur in marine fuel to 0.5% per m/m.

It [the legislation] will be in place. We’ve taken the matter up to [the] Cabinet, and from [the] Cabinet it will undergo the processes of public participation. Before the end of the year we should be able [to] make those deadlines,” he said on the sidelines of the eighth annual African Ports and Rail Evolution Forum in Durban this week (15–16 October).

The enabling legislation requires amendments to the country’s existing Marine Pollution (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 2 of 1986, which is administered by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

This includes a new Section 2A of the act, giving the convention force of law in South Africa. There are also proposed amendments to Section 3, which references air pollution. In addition, Samsa will be given the power to impose fines of just more than USD216,000 on non-compliant vessels calling at South African ports.

The proposed amendments have already been published in the Government Gazette, and the 30-day deadline for public comment has passed.

The minister’s comment is significant in that an enabling legislation was among key issues by industry and government at a recent two-day consultative workshop in Cape Town, South Africa.

However, even if the legislation is not in place by 1 January, SAMSA will still be able to enforce some of the provisions of Annex VI, such as reporting any violation to the relevant flag state, taking appropriate steps against the offending vessel, and reporting to the port state the outcome of such investigations and any action taken.