Durban auto supplier park SEZ back on track

11 November 2020 | Web Article Number: ME202021186

Automotive
Commerce & Trade
Government & Municipal
Manufacturing
SMME Development & Support
Transport, Distribution & Warehousing

PLANS for a multi-billion-rand automotive supplier park special economic zone (SEZ) in south Durban, stalled by the COVID crisis, are back on track, paving the way for the creation of more than 1 300 jobs and, possibly, South Africa’s first locally designed and made car.

That’s according to MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environment, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, speaking at the recent signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Ithala Development Finance Corporation (IDFC) and the South African Technicians Association (SATA).

She said the automotive sector had suffered billions in losses due to COVID-19. “This has resulted in job losses with millions of people facing the jaws of abject poverty.”

Before outbreak, “we were moving with speed” to ensure that the automotive supplier park SEZ,would be in operation by 2021. “We had projected the creation of 1339 jobs through an investment of R2.2 billion.”

She added that automaker Toyota had agreed to be one the tenants.

“We wish to reiterate our commitment to ensure that we move with speed to resuscitate those negotiations with Toyota and many other companies involved in the sector. We can report that we agreed with Toyota South Africa that they should lobby automotive suppliers to its patent company in Japan to locate their operations in our SEZ.”

Dube said that ahead of lockdown, Toyota was about to start assembling the new Hino 500 series truck in Durban. “These would be exported to Europe and Africa. We expect this province to earn foreign currency with our export capacity being boosted significantly.

Dube said that ahead of lockdown, Toyota was about to start assembling the new Hino 500 series truck in Durban. “These would be exported to Europe and Africa. We expect this province to earn foreign currency with our export capacity being boosted significantly.

“One can never over-emphasise the contribution that has been made by Toyota into our economy. The company spends R24, 2 billion on procurement with previously disadvantaged communities benefitting.”

Dube said government’s pre-lockdown figures showed that the entire transport equipment sector employed more than 14 815 in the province and 9 242 people in greater Durban.

“I am mentioning here companies such as Toyota, Bell Equipment, Mahindra and many SMMEs in the retail sector. What we are undertaking to do as part of ensuring recovery in this sector is to be aggressive in our approach aimed at attracting new investments into our Automotive Supplier Park.

“We want to ensure that jobs are created in the provision of bulk infrastructure development. We also want to promote innovation and localisation in particular through the manufacturing of the first South African car in KZN.

“In Kenya they have Mobius. In Uganda they have Kiira. In Malaysia they have Proton. In India they have Tata. In KZN we want to have our own brand.”

In addition, said Dube, her department planned to invest more in research and development to promote electronic vehicles.

Turning to the MoU, she said this was aimed at fast-tracking the entry of disadvantaged communities into the automotive sector and entire value chain.

“As part of the revitalisation of the township economy we have taken a decision to assist emerging entrepreneurs that are involved in the automotive industry. This is part of reengineering our economy post COVID-19.”

Ithala SOC will provide a range of services to SATA members including corporate and retail banking and insurance.

“Over the years this industry has had a profound and wide-ranging effect on the city and suburban communities. We want the impact of the sector to be felt in the township and rural communities.”

She said automotive repair or service facilities located in the city and suburbs had a jobs multiplier of 3.6. “This means that for every one job at the facility, there are an additional 2.6 jobs supported in the local economy.

“There are millions of cars in the township and rural areas that require repair and service. We are already in negotiations with big players in the automotive industry and we want them to use these auto repair centres.

“In addition, we have said government departments across the province must use these centres for the repair of government fleet,” Dube said.

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