ANC eThekwini Durban Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda speaking at the KZN Economic Council Summit

Photograph: KZN Premiers Office

Business latest: Durban mayor meets with leaders to rebuild after unrest

Toyota Motor Corporation, which has a manufacturing plant South of Durban, has expressed its concern about its business losses in the city.

ANC eThekwini Durban Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda speaking at the KZN Economic Council Summit

Photograph: KZN Premiers Office

eThekwini Municipality will meet with business leaders to discuss investors concerns about safety, security and rebuilding the city’s economy on Wednesday. 

This follows business leaders concerns about the way forward, including a letter from Toyota Motor Corporation and Toyota Tsusho Corporation addressed to mayor Mxolisi Kaunda, raising the firm’s concerns about its manufacturing plant and future investment plans South of Durban. A copy of the letter, which has been confirmed as legitimate, was circulated on social media at the weekend.

“Unfortunately the incidents in the city have left us feeling very uncertain about  the future of our business in KZN. Our manufacturing operations in the South of Durban were forced to close and have remained closed since Monday 12 July 2021. We re uncertain as to when it will be safe for us to resume operations,” the firm wrote.

“This closure jeopardises Toyota South Africa’s (TSAM) future sustainability as they embark on their recovery, following the Covid pandemic. Export volumes into Europe have started increasing their economy recovers. The loss of production over the last week means that TSAM will more than likely lose some of this business to one of our other global Toyota affiliates because our European customers will not wait for their orders. Built up vehicles destined for export markets also cannot be shipped due to the closure of the Port. The closure of the N3 to Gauteng means that TSAM will be unable to deliver vehicles to customers in Gauteng. Thus, we expect TSAM sales to drop by as much as 10% in July.”

TSAM said that the firm was in the “final stretch” of preparing for the launch of its first locally produced new energy vehicle later this year. 

“This is a graduation project for TSAM to demonstrate its ability to produce other alternate energy vehicles in Durban. However, given the uncertainty around the current unrest, they risk missing key deadlines and the opportunity to challenge for other new products,” the firm said.

“While the local management team have been working closely with the leadership of the city, they are unable to provide us with any clear direciton/plans on how the city intends bringing stability and order back to the city.  This is a key decision element for us when deciding on new investments. Currently, we are working with the local management team to plan for a new replacement model for the Hilux. We are still in the planning phase. Thus, the timing of the current unrest is very unfortunate. What would assist us is a clear understanding of the city’s counter measures to firstly bring the current issue under control and then rebuild the economy.”

The firm asked the city to provide feedback on its plans to address the current challenges “so that we may assess our own plans”.

Kaunda’s spokesperson Mluleki Mtungwa said the mayor had responded to the letter.

“On Wednesday we will be meeting the business sector in eThekwini just to solicit their views on how the city can begin the reconstruction and revitalisation of the economy following the civil unrest.”

A report in IOL said that Toyota Motor Corporation had received a plan from the city and the province in the form of a recovery roadmap from the City of Durban.