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Ramaphosa meets with KZN business leaders

Home Business Management Disaster Management Ramaphosa meets with KZN business leaders

THE meeting was requested by the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry to draw attention to numerous challenges the business community in the province confronts in the aftermath of the April floods.

The meeting was held on 15 May between local, provincial and national government as well as business leaders in order to develop a plan of action to aid recovery of business in the province.

In his closing address Ramaphosa said government was keenly aware that the economy of KwaZulu-Natal was struggling to recover from the July unrest and the impact of the pandemic.

He acknowledged that KwaZulu-Natal is a vital part of the national economy, and reassured business leaders that government would support them with the resources and technical capacity necessary to recover from the floods.

“The economic reconstruction and recovery underway across the country in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic cannot succeed without the swift, comprehensive and sustainable recovery of the economy of KwaZulu-Natal,” Ramaphosa said.

Damage to key infrastructure such as roads and the port of Durban have had  a dire impact on the operations of many businesses, in particular manufacturing, FMCG, retail and wholesale, distribution, warehousing and freight,  which have been hard hit, the president noted.

Port rehabilitation

Ramaphosa welcomed the pace of progress towards restoring port road infrastructure and operational efficiency. This includes terminal clearing, rail line water draining and reopening, stormwater jetting and the repair of sea-walls.

With regards to port traffic, capacity has been restored and the port has handled more than 100 vessels since the 13th of April and tugs are all operating at full capacity.

Terminal operations are also back at full capacity, with vessel offloading, loading operations and truck deliveries operating optimally.

Efforts by Transnet to deal with rail infrastructure damage are also proceeding, although this is likely to take some time given the extent of the damage.

Interruptions to rail have impacted the delivery of exports to the port, with automotive and citrus produce particularly affected.

The short haul trucking solution to facilitate faster inward container movement is working well, but will put further pressure on traffic flows particularly around Bayhead Road.

Completing all the rail repair works that have been identified within the necessary timeframes will be critical.

We are encouraged that there are discussions underway with Toyota and the City of eThekwini on what measures are needed to restore the Toyota plant in Prospecton to full capacity, but also to address what is needed to secure resilience for the future.

Lessons learned

A great many lessons have been learned from this natural disaster. As government we must now prioritise the integration of climate change and its associated impacts into all government planning.

This includes climate proofing human settlements, building climate resilience in the agricultural sector and constructing climate resilient infrastructure.

Our collective state of readiness for natural disasters has to be drastically improved, and disaster risk assessments by all provinces have to be regular and ongoing.

This disaster proved to us that we are not as ready to deal with natural disasters.

There will now be a clear expectation that municipalities, provinces and departments should develop, update, review and submit their disaster management and contingency plans to the National Disaster Management Council.

Mechanisms to improve access to provincial and municipal disaster relief funding are being addressed.

Read the president’s full address here

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