Tag: Durban

Supply chains suffer in flood aftermath

By Siphelele Dludla for IOL

Image credit: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

The business sector has welcomed the declaration of a National State of Disaster to tackle the severe economic impact of the floods which resulted in deaths, damage to infrastructure and loss of production.

Last week’s devastating floods left untold destruction and at least 443 people dead while almost 50 others are unaccounted for.

Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) yesterday (TUES) said the declaration of a disaster signalled the seriousness with which the government was tackling the task, as well as the lessons learned from the emergency responses in the last few years.

BLSA chief executive Busi Mavuso said urgent lifesaving support must be a priority, but it was important that businesses and the authorities also focus on restoring transport connections.

“The search and recovery effort is clearly the priority, while also bringing immediate relief to those who are vulnerable,” Mavuso said.

“But it is also important that we swiftly deal with the economic impact of the floods, particularly to unlock key logistics routes. The recovery thereafter is going to be critical as we rebuild infrastructure.”

Mavuso said that unnecessary delays in resuming normal operations meant a greater cost to the economy, resulting in lost employment and revenue.

“However, even properly maintained infrastructure cannot meet the effects of climate change,” she said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday night declared a national state of disaster to ensure an effective response to the extreme weather events.

Extreme flooding in KZN and in some parts of Eastern Cape a week ago left nearly 4 000 homes completely destroyed and more than 8 300 others partially damaged.

It is also estimated that more than 40 000 people have been displaced by the floods.

Supply chains were disrupted as damage to Bayhead Road which handles 13 000 heavy vehicles per day, prevented access to the Port of Durban.

“The damage caused to businesses in the area has not been fully quantified, but assessments so far suggest that the eThekwini Metro accounts for nearly half of all the reported damage,” Ramaphosa said.

“The Port of Durban – which is one of the largest and busiest shipping terminals on the continent and which is vital to our country’s economy – has been severely affected.”

Bank of America’s sub-Saharan Africa economist Tatonga Rusike said agriculture and mining were two key sectors that could be directly affected by disruption at the port.

“Movement of coal exports has already been facing structural constraints with Transnet rail system limiting amount of production volumes,” Rusike said.

“Shipping containers have been displaced and affected Transnet’s decision to halt operations temporarily. The Port of Durban is also a regional hub for goods including vehicle exports and imports for neighboring countries.”

Ramaphosa vowed to prevent corruption, mismanagement and fraud in the R1 billion funding that will be appropriated to provide relief and to rebuild KZN.

Corruption Watch executive director Karam Singh said the best way to ensure that funds were correctly allocated and spent, was to have systems in place that allow government, oversight bodies and civil society to monitor the allocations and spending.

“There must be absolute transparency and full disclosure of how these funds are being distributed, ensuring that they reach the communities for whom they are intended,” Singh said.

“The Auditor-General must be activated to do real time audits of spending, in a potentially effective and appropriate preventative measure that should be used in this instance.”


MTN, Vodacom networks hit by floods

By Sibongile Khumalo for News24

The torrential rains that have battered parts of KwaZulu-Natal since Saturday have shut down 500 MTN network sites in the region, the cellphone company said on Tuesday.

“The flooding in the KZN region has caused power outages at many of our sites, and while we have battery back-up at many of the sites, these batteries have been depleted,” says Jacqui O’Sullivan, MTN SA’s spokesperson.

According to the country’s second-largest cellular network provider, some of the areas impacted by the outage at this stage include Durban South, South Coast, Umlazi, Amanzimtoti, Ballito, and Salt Rock.

Technicians are working to restore connectivity in the affected areas.

Mayor of eThekwini Mxolisi Kaunda has told media that the flooding had resulted in damage to roads and had knocked out electricity supply to several parts of the city. Several water supply lines have also been affected.

Several regions across the country have been hit by heavy rains since last weekend.

Meanwhile Vodacom spokesperson, Byron Kennedy, said over 400 network towers of the company from the north to the south coast of Durban have been impacted due to disruptions to electricity supply. He said areas from Ballito to Amanzimtoti, in the south, “are currently experiencing intermittent mobile services”.

Some fibre infrastructure is also affected due to water-logged fibre ducts.

Kennedy said efforts to restore sites were being hampered by severe damage to roads and certain facilities not being accessible due to the risk of electrical shocks.

Provincial disaster management teams have revealed that over 45 people have lost their lives as a result of the heavy rains, according to a statement issued by the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Sipho Hlomuka.


Source: IOL; News24

Image credit: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

The unprecedented floods in Durban have caused massive damage to infrastructure, uprooting homes, destroying roads and sinking vehicles.

Reports indicate at least 45 people have lost their lives so far as the heavy rains continue to cause damage across the coastal city.

Transnet suspended shipping at its Durban terminals on Monday evening due to the severe flooding. Customers at the Durban terminal have been asked not to bringing trucks into the port. In a statement released on Tuesday, Transnet said that while there have been no major incidents at the terminals, it is taking precautionary measures as the flooding damaged road infrastructure in the province, affecting access to terminals. It will resume shipping at the Durban terminals when it is safe to do so, it said.

The south coast area experienced unprecedented rainfall, with between 180mm and 310mm recorded in parts of the city of Durban,
Authorities urged parents not to send pupils to school as the rain continues to pour, leaving a trail of destruction across the city.

The South African Weather Service also has warned earlier on Tuesday that more rainfall and widespread flooding is expected overnight in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of the Eastern Cape.

“Following a weekend of widespread rainfall over much of the country this past weekend, the cut-off low system responsible for the inclement weather began moving eastwards over KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape overnight,” the weather service said in a statement.

It has also issued a Level 9 for heavy rain in the province, calling on the public to be alert.

Roads in and out of the area are closed or partly closed as clean-up operations begin.

45 000 businesses affected by riots

Durban has borne the brunt of the ongoing unrest, with 45 000 businesses out of commission and an estimated R16-billion in stolen stock, and damage to infrastructure and equipment. This is according to News24.

The damage so far has been tallied as follows:

  • The unrest had cost the metro R1-billion in terms of loss of stock
  • R15-billion worth of damage to property and equipment
  • 5 000 informal traders had been severely affected by the criminality
  • 40 000 formal businesses, large and small, have been affected also affected, including small business
  • 129 000 jobs are at risk, following the destruction of malls, factories and other businesses

Chaos and looting have prevailed since former president Jacob Zuma’s arrest last week.

Racial tension that has arisen as residents take it upon themselves to protect not only their shopping centres but their own neighbourhoods from looters and vandals.

The SANDF has been deployed to help overrun police in the area.

Mustek building torched

Source: MyBroadband

Looters attacked Mustek’s offices in the North of Durban on Monday, stealing everything of value and leaving the facility wrecked.

On Tuesday evening a video posted online showed that the building had been set ablaze.

Mustek managing director Hein Engelbrecht confirmed that the building in the video was indeed their Durban office, which the company rented.

With this attack and the subsequent arson, criminals have destroyed a key information technology and computer hardware provider in the eThekwini area.

Mustek’s Durban offices handled orders from technology retailers in the area, dispatched goods to clients, and offered after-sales support services. Stock of some items was held on the premises.

Speaking to MyBroadband earlier today, Engelbrecht said that they had thankfully told the few operational staff still working from the offices to stay home on Monday.

“We just had a feeling … we saw the reports of unrest and some of our staff said that they were struggling to get out of their neighbourhoods. So we told everyone to stay home on Monday,” said Engelbrecht.

With South Africa’s adjusted Alert Level 4 lockdown in place, all the sales staff that usually work from Mustek’s Durban facility were already working from home.

Only some operational staff who work on dispatch and after-sales support were still working from the office.

Engelbrecht said that when the looters first attacked, their security personnel tried to hold them out but were overrun.

One security guard was hospitalised.

The police soon arrived on the scene and dispersed the mob. While the situation was calm the police were called away to quell unrest in a different location.

Engelbrecht said the police had not been gone for ten minutes before the looters returned in full force and stripped the office bare.

Looters also tore through the property, ripping screens off of walls and damaging company delivery vehicles.

Some vandals then returned on Tuesday and set the building alight.

Engelbrecht could not provide an estimate of the cost of the damage.

“We are busy assessing the damage — I don’t want to guess right now,” he said.

The loss of their Durban offices will cause some service disruption for clients in KwaZulu-Natal, but Engelbrecht said it does not impact their national operations.

He said that as soon as the highway between Johannesburg and Durban re-opens, Mustek can restructure to serve KwaZulu-Natal clients from Gauteng — though he added that this will cost a bit more.


Durban Port needs R100bn over 10 years

Source: eNCA

President Cyril Ramaphosa led an oversight visit to the Port of Durban to assess progress made in enhancing the efficiency and competitiveness of the port.

He said the Durban Port will require R100-billion in new investment over the next ten years. In his weekly newsletter, he stated that there’s been progress in reducing congestion at the port.

Accessible and affordable port services are among the main pillars of the president’s economic recovery and reconstruction plan.

He visited the port last week to check on progress on commitments made in 2019 to restore the port to its position as a first in Africa.

The Durban Port has now slipped to position number three behind Tunisia and Egypt.

For years, importers and exporters have been complaining about congestion, slow turnaround times and poor maintenance at the port.


Engen refinery set to shut down

By Shirley le Guern for IOL

The Engen oil refinery (Enref) is expected to close its doors in 2023 and the facility may be converted into a fuel storage facility for imported product, according to sources close to the refinery.

Suppliers to the refinery, who did not want to be named, said they had been informed last week that they should plan ahead for its probable shutdown, although Engen’s head office says that no formal decision has been made.

Combined with depressed demand as a result of Covid-19 and persistent low gross refining margins, the outlook for the refining business remains negative and continues to deteriorate, Engen spokesperson, Gavin Smith, said in a statement.

“Despite an excellent track record of operational efficiency, our refinery continues to be negatively impacted by the external global refining environment,” Smith said.

He added that Engen had initiated consultation with employees regarding a multibillion-rand proposal to increase its import and supply capacity in Durban.

“The proposal, which will ensure Engen meets South Africa’s growing demand for petroleum products, remains at a consultative stage with employees during which time alternatives are being evaluated,” it said.

Engen confirmed that it is considering several options with regards to the refinery but no decision has been made.

The refinery employs 650 people and it is unclear how many jobs are in jeopardy should it close.

Smith added Engen would consult stakeholders at the appropriate time should a decision be taken.

Yesterday, KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Nomusa Dube-Ncube said she had assigned Trade and Investment KZN chief executive Neville Matjie to engage with Engen to look into this matter.

“This forms part of the implementation of the economic transformation and reconstruction plan which is aimed at turning around the situation,” she said.

Commissioned in 1954, the refinery is 66 years old. It has, however, undergone consistent modernisation and routine statutory inspections and maintenance work on its process equipment.

It currently produces Euro 2 spec fuel, according to Smith.

It is South Africa’s third largest oil refinery with a capacity of 135 000 barrels a day.

As South Africa does not have its own oil deposits, liquid fuels are either imported in finished form or as crude oil which is refined at the country’s oil refineries.

Although no official figures are available, the World Bank estimates around 18.63% of South Africa’s liquid fuel was imported in 2018. As demand has continued to outstrip supply from local refineries, this has continued to climb.

According to the South African Petroleum Industry Association, the fuel sector contributes about 8.5% of the country’s gross domestic product.

It said that investment in South Africa’s ageing refineries was necessary to avoid widening the trade deficit for liquid fuels.

Smith said that approximately 60% of Engen products sold in Southern Africa were produced by Enref with the remainder imported or procured from other local oil companies.

“The global refining environment is evolving with the emergence of mega sized, integrated and complex refineries resulting in excess global fuel supply and low refining margins. This is forecasted to persist well into the future.”

Transnet, which operates the R30billion multi-product pipeline that transports four different petroleum products, including refined petrol and diesel, between Durban and Gauteng, said it had not been informed of any proposed changes at Enref.

It added it could not comment on the impact of the refinery’s closure on the port of Durban or on the operation of the single buoy mooring about 2.5km off the coast of Durban, through which both crude oil and refined products are offloaded.

Engen, together with other companies in the fuel sector, is a part owner of this single buoy mooring.

Dube-Ncube said that as part of the province’s implementation of the economic transformation and reconstruction plan, they had adopted a business support, retention and extension programme which focused on:

Supporting businesses that are weak but that have sound foundations and can become viable through accessing existing short-term industrial policy support programmes to contain further job losses and protect important production capabilities.

Supporting existing businesses’ need to expand by creating an environment that is conducive to new investment.

She added it was also focusing on the key interventions that are catered for in the KZN Growth and Development Plan, which are to ensure that they improve access to economic development funding and performance monitoring of the value chain in key sectors.

“Engen remains a key player and a leader of the downstream South African petroleum market. We are proud of the fact that this company is located in this province and on the South Durban Basin, where it contributes towards job creation.

“Our wish is for the company to remain in this province for many more years to come,” she added.

“Importantly, as KZN we potentially have access to the abundant resources of the ocean, including fisheries, offshore oil and gas and maritime tourism.

“Our ports of Durban and Richards Bay handle over 60% of the country’s seaborne cargo. We remain determined to work with companies such as Engen to increase the participation of previously disadvantaged communities in sectors such as oil and gas – maritime industry,” Dube-Ncube added.

She said the department was also determined to position Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone as a site for energy infrastructure.

“The importance of the energy supply sector lies both in improving the quality of life for the previously disadvantaged majority as well as supporting large-scale industrial development.

“In particular, the oil and gas industry presents many opportunities for partnerships in this province. Ahead of lockdown, statistics showed that the oil and gas industry employed an estimated 7500 people and had an estimated annual turnover of over R196billion, with the refining segment of the industry contribution almost 99% to the total industry’s turnover,” said Dube-Ncube.

The industry is believed to account for more than 90000 indirect jobs in the distribution and marketing segment of the industry value chain, she added.


Game headquarters could move to Jo’burg

Source: Supermarket & Retailer 

Durban could lose the headquarters of general merchandise retailer Game to Johannesburg, a move that could affect hundreds of staff members in the region.

Massmart Holdings Limited spokesperson Annaleigh Vallie confirmed that the move was eminent with Game management currently holding discussions with staff based at the retailer’s head office in Durban.

“It is, however, important to note that no decision on the move has been finalised,” said Vallie.

Massmart owns the South African local brands such as Game, Makro, Builder’s Warehouse, CBW and many others. It has four divisions, which are Massdiscounters to which Game falls, Masswarehouse, Massbuild and Masscash.

Walmart purchased a majority of shares in Massmart in 2011.

“The discussions are at a very early stage and currently involve consulting with approximately 330 potentially affected staff in order to ensure their input into the decision making process. From a legal perspective discussions of this nature typically take place within the framework of Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act.”

Vallie said currently no retrenchments were taking place in the region.

The company was of the view that if the potential move would take place, Game would benefit from being geographically closer to suppliers, Massmart and other group operating divisions.

Vallie said: “This in turn has potential to enhance commercial decision making and, group-wide collaboration and leverage.”

South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu) Kwa-Zulu Natal regional secretary Mathews Ndlovu said on Monday that the union was not surprised by the move. “Our objective is to try and make sure that there is no jobs lost in the process. We cannot stop the company from re-locating as part of their business restructuring,” said Ndlovu.

He said that if the staff members agreed to go to Johannesburg, they should receive relocation allowances and fees. “These things are on the table and have not been completed yet. As for those who are not willing to relocate must be accommodated in the perimeters of the province with same benefits which are not less favourable to what they are currently getting.”

Original article by Given Majola for IOL

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