Last year, I asked a question “Electronic bill of lading – are you and your country ready for it..??”..
This question could not be more relevant TODAY, considering the current circumstances, and the impact COVID-19 on the shipping and freight industry..
An electronic paperless bill of lading is a bill of lading issued electronically instead of being printed on paper and issued physically to the customer as a hard copy..
Whether using an electronic paperless bill of lading issued on the back of a Blockchain based platform or a Bolero based platform, these electronic bill of lading options are said to fulfill the functions in the same manner as a traditional paper bill of lading..
Many believe that the electronic bill of lading will be a game changer in the shipping industry with faster, efficient transactions, reduction in costs with greater security and less risk..
However, there were concerns on the issue of safety, security and acceptability relating to the transmission and receipt of electronic paperless bill of lading and in several cases it was required to check whether the carrier and country were ready for electronic paperless bill of lading..
Currently, we are in a unique moment in history where as per reports, COVID-19 has affected all countries around the world.. And this my friends is a time when almost all shipping lines and customers would be wishing that they had access to Electronic Paperless Bills of Lading..
The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak started as a locally circulating infection associated with Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market but has since developed into the current pandemic.
To assist the shoreside of the maritime industry in taking appropriate protective measures at office workplaces, BIMCO has issued below guidelines intended to help shipping companies avoid spreading of the disease at offices and office buildings.
BIMCO has produced posters that can be easily printed and used at offices to help guide members of staff and visitors.
We all have a shared responsibility in containing this outbreak and promoting a sense of awareness amongst ourselves and others. We hope that these guidelines will spread the message that basic human acts can go a long way in protecting each other as well as containing the spread of this disease.
Please feel free to share these guidelines throughout the industry.
Further to the various updates on COVID-19 with regards to South Africa, in a Presidential announcement on 23rd March, the President Mr.Cyril Ramaphosa announced a further series of measures to contain the spread of the virus..
This includes a 21 day lock down of the country starting from midnight of 26th March 2020.. The full announcement from the President is as below..
Transnet National Ports Authority is responsible for the management of the 8 commercial ports in South Africa and we value our employees, stakeholders and port users. It is important for us to review the risks and address any gaps, in preventing the spread of the disease.
Due to the risks this global pandemic poses, and the rapid increase of cases in South Africa, Transnet National Ports Authority(TNPA) has implemented additional measures to regulations published by the Department of Transport and the directives from the Department of Health which became effective from 18 March 2020.
The President has declared the outbreak of the Coronavirus in South Africa as a National State of Disaster.
Here is the latest update on COVID-19 posted by the office of the Chief Harbour Master – Transnet National Ports Authority..
IMO Secretary-General stresses the vital need to maintain commerce by sea and protect seafarers’ welfare in face of coronavirus shut down.
Stating that in these difficult times, the ability for shipping services and seafarers to deliver vital goods, including medical supplies and foodstuffs, will be central to responding to, and eventually overcoming, this pandemic, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has issued a statement addressing the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the shipping industry and the global supply chain.
South Africa exports and imports of goods equivalent to the value of about 60% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).. This puts international trade front and center of South Africa’s economy..
The size of this trade indicates that South Africa is a very open economy.. While having an open economy is a good thing, it does expose the country to greater volatility as the economy is influenced by global events and economies to a large extent..
The robustness of this trade could however, suffer due to the current hot topic on everyone’s mind.. Corona Virus or COVID-19..
The burning question that everyone has is what impact will COVID-19 have on South Africa’s trade especially as all of the above 5 countries have been affected by the virus with China being the worst affected and others not far behind..
Andrew Pike, Head of Bowmans Ports, Logistics and Transport sector shares some useful information on COVID-19 from South Africa’s shipping perspective..
On Sunday the 15th March, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa announced a ‘national state of disaster’ to enable the government to introduce measures to combat the spread of Covid-19 within South Africa..
Below is the gist of the measures now in place in South Africa..