Large retail chains have reported that supply of food and other products to South African stores and neighbouring states, affected by disruptions in supply- chains in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), are largely back on track.
South Africa’s three largest retail groups, with stores throughout the region, noted that disruptions were mainly the result of the pressures on the N3 corridor from the Durban port and interruptions in supply from factories in KZN.
Goods sourced from South African manufacturers elsewhere in the country have largely been unaffected,
The vital N3 national road is back to normal functioning and by Sunday morning, the authorities reported that more than 100 trucks per hour were passing key check-points to Durban, with strong traffic from Durban to other South African destinations and neigbouring markets.
Four Cabinet Ministers visited the N3 highway near Heidelberg over the weekend to meet truck drivers and logistics companies to determine the extent of goods being moved and challenges being encountered.
They were the Ministers of Trade, Industry and Competition, Mr Ebrahim Patel; Tourism, Ms Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane; Small Business Development Ms Khumbudzo Ntshavheni; and Public Enterprises, Mr Pravin Gordhan.
Representatives of large food companies and retailers shared details of steps being taken within their supply-chains to ensure that food products can reach retail stores.
Minister Patel had also issued an exemption from certain provisions of the Competition Act, to enable firms to collaborate and ensure availability of basic food and consumer items, emergency products, medical and hygiene supplies (including pharmaceutical products), refined petroleum products and emergency clean-up products.
The damage to factories and retail facilities in KZN will have a significant impact on the economy, jobs and access to goods and services. This impact will be felt both in KZN and across the rest of the country.
Some production facilities have been damaged though fortunately most factories and suppliers’ facilities are intact. Government is now working to minimize the disruptions to production and output.
The immediate focus is to get the supply of food, medicine and basic goods to KZN cities and towns speeded up. Key raw materials and components are being prioritized. The response of manufacturers and retailers has been very positive to efforts to rebuild the productive sectors.
At the same time, Government is doing an assessment of the extent of loss of production and distribution facilities and what can be done to secure alternative local supplies of raw materials and other critical goods.
The priority is to strengthen further the security of supply to KZN, other South African provinces and to neighbouring countries.