Wednesday, 19 August 2020 20:20

File Photo.

The Department of Transport has confirmed the postponement of this year’s IMO World Maritime Day Parallel Event (WMDPE), which was scheduled to take place in October.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the department said the postponement was due to travel restrictions as well as other health and safety regulations aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“South Africa will not be able to host the WMDPE in 2020 but will instead defer its hosting of the prestigious event to the year 2021,” said the department.

In 2015, the Cabinet of South Africa approved the Department of Transport to host the WMDPE and plans were at an advanced stage to host the event in the City of Durban from 27-29 October 2020.

“With the country being in Lockdown and now on Level 2 of the Risk Adjusted Strategy, international travel and mass gatherings remain prohibited. The aforementioned are key elements to hosting a successful WMDPE, as the country would require the support and attendance of various national and international stakeholders, (i.e. IMO Secretariat, Member States and other Maritime Industry stakeholders),” said the department.

In the statement, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said: “We acknowledge the tireless efforts of all the Agencies thus far and are mindful of the general industry anticipation for the IMO World Maritime Day Parallel Event 2020.

“However, health and safety is paramount and must be prioritized above mutually beneficial engagements and bilateral discussions regardless of their urgency and importance. The South African government remains eager to welcome delegates to our shores, under much safer global conditions in 2021.”

The IMO in its Extraordinary 32nd Council Session approved the postponement of the yearly celebration of the World Maritime Day Parallel Event by host countries with South Africa now scheduled to host in 2021, subsequently the Islamic Republic of Iran will host in 2022, the Russian Federation in 2023 and the United Arab Emirates in 2024 due to the current restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new dates to host the WMDPE during the October Transport Month of 2021 will be announced in due course.