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– Fin 24

South African businesses and government are working together on cleaning up and rebuilding following unrest and looting that resulted in damage to factories and retail stores in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in the past week, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) said on Monday.

Work is also under way to ensure a steady supply of essential items, including food and medication, it added.

Nonetheless, the damage caused by the unrest will have “significant impact” on access to goods and services, jobs and the economy in KwaZulu-Natal and the rest of the country, the department said in a statement. However, government is working on getting production and output off the ground with minimal disruption, it said.

The unrest impacting South Africa’s main economic arteries was sparked following former president Jacob Zuma’s incarceration on 7 July. What started off as protests escalated into looting, property damage and violence.

The department said the country’s three largest retailers found that most disruptions were due to pressure on the N3 corridor from the Durban port, as well as supply interruptions from the province’s factories.

“Goods sourced from South African manufacturers elsewhere in the country have largely been unaffected,”

said the DTIC.

The N3 is open again and by Sunday morning, more than 100 trucks passed checkpoints to Durban every hour.

Over the weekend, Cabinet ministers – including Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel –  visited the N3 and met with logistics companies to discuss the steps being taken to ensure the supply of food to retail stores.

Patel had previously issued an exemption, in terms of the Competition  Act, to allow companies to collaborate in ensuring that food, emergency products, medical supplies and consumer items are available.

“The priority is to strengthen further the security of supply to KwaZulu-Natal, other South African provinces and to neighbouring countries,”

the department said.

In Gauteng, freight industry associations are partnering up with the provincial Roads and Transport Department and transport and retail sectors to ensure that goods continue to flow throughout the country and the continent.

The newly established Gauteng Freight Forum is led by Gauteng MEC for Public Transport and Road Infrastructure Jacob Mamabolo. It is made up of the Consumer Goods Council of SA, the Road Freight Association (RFA), the SA Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF), the SA Express Parcel Association and the Transport Forum.

The group will share information between the private sector and government, through a common platform, which will also resolve and rapidly intervene to concerns. Mamabolo said the forum will meet monthly to analyse and deal with transport related risks. He added that 60% of the country’s freight passes, originates or leaves through the province.

“We want to reposition Gauteng as the inland hub for freight and logistics. We need to realise its competitive advantage,”

Mamabolo said.

One of the points the forum’s first meeting agreed on is that there will be visible policing and law enforcement activities on the N3.

SAAFF chairperson, Juanita Maree, and CEO of the RFA, Gavin Kelly, welcomed the establishment of the forum.—Fin24.com

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