Thirty three-year old Pinky Zungu is South Africa’s first female harbor boss. She has been appointed the Transnet National Ports Authority’s (TNPA) first black female Deputy Harbour Master – Nautical for the Port of Durban.
The mother of three seemed excited about the position as she spoke to Daily News.
“I am overwhelmed because I know how enormous the task at hand is. It is not an easy one, but it is a challenge I am looking forward to,” she said.
Zungu who was selected by TNPA as a development candidate in 2001 was appointed this position having completed her maritime studies at the Durban University of Technology.
TNPA has admitted that a growing number of women like Zungu are being promoted to top official positions in the industry due to their hard work and determination.
In 2011, when Pinky Zungu obtained her open license which allows her to pilot any type of vessel coming into harbor, she piloted the MSC Chicago, a vessel which was deemed the largest vessel to visit the shores of South Africa at that time.
Her 7-year experience of piloting vessels of various sizes into port and profound ability to perform the job adequately makes her worthy of the position.
Zungu’s new position as Deputy Harbour Master – Nautical will include more than guiding vessels into the port of Durban. She would also work with incident management in the dredging department. The role includes monitoring vessels and ensuring the overall safety of the port.
Zungu who admitted to her new position requires a lot of responsibility deems it all worth it because she finds her job exciting. She also urges other women to consider it a career option. She said:
“The thing with this is that you have to be passionate about maritime. I did this because I wanted to see the world. I have now been to most of Europe and West Africa. And I did it all for free. It is a really exciting job.
“You have to study the sounding charts daily and have an accurate mental picture of the sea-bed. You have to know what’s underneath you including port depths, as the equipment on board the visiting ships doesn’t always work. When you bring in a vessel you take over from the captain and all the decision making is up to you.
“You are on your own and it can be stressful as you are piloting someone else’s vessel. While the new container ships and auto carriers are extremely responsive and the cruise liners even more so, some vessels (usually bulk carriers and tankers) are underpowered. You have to be prepared for any emergency including engine failure and other factors beyond your control, such as a sudden change in the weather.”