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New association to represent interests of OPL sector
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New association to represent interests of OPL sector

Founding members set up voice for OPL operators

SOUTH AFRICA: After a number of significant events in 2023 that negatively impacted the operations and businesses of local Off Port Limits (OPL) operators, discussions highlighted the need for improved cooperation within the sector and the establishment of an industry association that could advocate on behalf of its members.

Four founding members have successfully constituted OPLASA (Off Port Limits Association South Africa) and are ready to tackle some of the issues facing the sector as united group on existing industry platforms as well as at governmental forums.

The leadership of founding members, Bosss Marine, Malgas Marine, Offshore Maritime Services (OMS) and Servest Marine, believe that recent changes impacting the operational environment for OPL service providers have made it clear that the sector needs to be more involved and united in discussions that result in new regulations or legislation.

“Structural changes at governmental level emphasised the need to establish a unified voice for the sector that could provide input on the status, requirements, operations and workings of the OPL sector to assist the shaping of legislated requirements or new regulations,” says the newly elected founding Chairperson, Andrew Hendrikse of Servest Marine.

“With an excess of 50,000 vessels passing the coastline of South Africa a year, the opportunity to service this traffic remains largely untapped, but negative influences from government as well as operators stand to diminish this opportunity,” he says adding that recent instability in the Red Sea and the resultant increase in ships’ traffic around the coastline have amplified the need for South Africa to step up as a ship supply destination.

Vice Chair, Godfrey Needham of OMS agrees and adds that current discussions within the industry and at government-led industry reports highlight the need for OPL operators to provide accurate and relevant information to policy makers.

“Some of these reports are deficient and it is up to industry to submit comments and accurate feedback that provides a true reflection of the scope of the sector as well as the opportunities that can be harnessed with the right support,” he says.

The launch of OPLASA aims to not only promote South Africa as an OPL destination for international shipping, but to work towards establishing a code of conduct for OPL operators in the country.

“Our aim is to champion safe, optimum and cost-effective OPL services from South African ports by working with maritime authorities and government institutions to develop a suitable minimum standard of operation across the sector."

“Our aim is to champion safe, optimum and cost-effective OPL services from South African ports by working with maritime authorities and government institutions to develop a suitable minimum standard of operation across the sector,” says Hendrikse who believes that a more cooperative sector will help foster knowledge sharing as well as the development of skills.

OPLASA is open to all companies offering OPL services from one or more ports in South Africa provided that they have been in operation for at least six months and hold valid company registration documents as well as port licences for operating as an OPL service provider.

“As all OPL services are arranged through ships agents, our members rely on their continued solid reputation to attract and service international trade. We will continue to support these efforts by marketing the country as an OPL destination and promoting South Africa as a safe option for crew changes, ship supplies and technical support,” says Hendrikse.

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