Zulu ‘tugs’ her way to a ca­reer in mar­itime

Vuk'uzenzele - - Transport Month - Hlengiwe Ngob­ese

LONDIWE ZULU, a li­censed pilot en­cour­ages high school pupils to do well in math­e­mat­ics and sci­ence as a gate­way into the mar­itime sec­tor.

Londiwe Zulu is a young woman who has taken the trans­port sec­tor by storm as a tug mas­ter at the Richards Bay Transnet Port in KwaZulu-Na­tal.

Prov­ing that hard work re­ally does pay off she is li­censed to pilot any type of ves­sel.

A tug mas­ter com­mands the pow­er­ful boats used to as­sist ship move­ments in ports and har­bours. While small in size, tug­boats are ex­tremely pow­er­ful wa­ter­crafts and their han­dling re­quires spe­cialised skills.

“I wanted a ca­reer that was chal­leng­ing and I am glad that my job gives me just that. As a tug mas­ter I have to study the sound­ing charts daily and have an ac­cu­rate men­tal pic­ture of the sea-bed. I have to know what’s un­der­neath me in­clud­ing port depths,” she said.

The 27-year-old adds that things were not easy when she took the de­ci­sion to ven­ture into the mar­itime sec­tor. She al­most gave up on her dream to be­come a tug mas­ter be­cause she didn’t have money to study.

Af­ter pass­ing ma­tric with fly­ing colours at Tyson Tech­ni­cal High School in 2004, she en­rolled at the Cape Penin­sula Uni­ver­sity of Tech­nol­ogy as a Mar­itime Stud­ies stu­dent.

“My mother was able to fund my first year of study. I also had some sav­ings that helped me. With the re­al­i­sa­tion that my mother would not cope, it be­came clear that I would need some sort of fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance. I ap­plied for a bur­sary at Transnet and luck­ily I was ac­cepted. I had no choice but to suc­ceed,“she said.

“Af­ter that, Transnet of­fered me a cadet­ship for one and half year as a tug mas­ter. I pro­ceeded to go to the South African Mar­itime Safety Author­ity for an oral test. I passed and was granted a cer­tifi­cate of com­pe­tence which pro­moted me to be­come tug mas­ter,” she said.

Zulu’s ad­vice to Grade 12 stu­dent is to work hard and ob­tain good re­sults as a gate­way to the mar­itime sec­tor.

“This is a very dif­fi­cult sec­tor if you don’t have good re­sult es­pe­cially in math­e­mat­ics and sci­ence it will be chal­leng­ing for you.”

Londiwe Zulu is a tug mas­ter for Transnet Ports in Richards Bay.

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