KwaZulu-Natal Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube says manufacturing, the automotive industry and industrialisation is crucial to the growth of the province’s economy.
She was speaking at the reopening of the Toyota South Africa Prospecton Plant in eThekwini.
Toyota’s plant was closed earlier this year after floods caused damage to the plant, factory and vehicles – leaving thousands of employees vulnerable to losing their jobs.
The automotive industry employs at least 14 000 people in the province and contributes some 7% to the province’s gross domestic product.
“Our South African master plan 2035 recognises that not less than a third within the value addition within the manufacturing sector is derived from the vehicles assembly and the automotive component manufacturing activity that is happening.
“So the KwaZulu-Natal Economic Reconstruction and Recovery does very much depend on how you are recovering as Toyota. It will ensure that the issues with innovation, but also the township economy we speak about are realised,” Dube-Ncube said.
The Premier hailed the vehicle producer’s contribution not only to the economy but also in the community.
“We know that Toyota is central to the heartbeat of KwaZulu-Natal’s economy because it touches many lives. Besides the factory lines and production lines, Toyota still participates in a lot of programmes that uplift communities as well as workers.
“I know that Toyota has also been working on supporting some of the workers that had their homes damaged during the floods. And it also even managed to help the surrounding communities that were affected by the floods.
“All the efforts that are being placed on the saving of jobs and cushioning of the workers during the hard times do not go unnoticed. Let us not allow the situation that we experienced to deter us from pushing those boundaries, from bringing a lot of innovation, from revving up our productions and opening up even more markets,” she said.
Dube-Ncube said government will be looking at areas where it can assist Toyota to mitigate the impact that flooding could have on its plant in the future.
“I am glad that [Toyota] has acknowledged the work that has been done by the eThekwini Municipality in terms of fast tracking the [clean up] work but also the designs working towards how to improve the canal [near the plant] so that we ensure that something like this does not happen [again].
“Whether it’s looking at a wall or other infrastructure…we are going to be working with the municipality in realising these projects,” Dube-Ncube said.
Source: South African Government News Agency