On 25 June 2020, Trade & Investment KwaZulu-Natal (TIKZN) visited Hulamin and SOMTA Tools. This is part of the programme that TIKZN is implementing aimed at visiting 35 high impact businesses across the province in order to understand and assess business disruptions caused by COVID-19 and address challenges.
âThis pandemic has really hit a number of companies hard and the Honourable MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube directed TIKZN to have an engagement with companies to ascertain the extent and impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on them. This will then assist us in the creation of interventions that would seek to assist businesses. It was evident that COVID-19 brought about tremendous economic shocks and created a huge burden on companies due to the sudden pausing of operations during the lockdown including limitation on the movement of goods. Although itâs still early days, it is pleasing to note that some businesses are overcoming this challenge and have geared themselves up for operational restart. Companies have introduced risk-mitigating initiatives in line with the Disaster Management Act and relevant directives associated with their industries, which include but not limited to technologies for screening, strategies that improve customer and employee safety in order to mitigate against contamination.â Said Neville Matjie, the Chief Executive Officer for TIKZN.
To date, Trade & Investment KwaZulu-Natal in partnership with Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Department of Labour and SAPS, has visited ten high value businesses within Durban Metro, King Cetshwayo and uMgungundlovu District municipalities. Some of the companies visited, include Toyota SA, Richards Bay Minerals, South 32, Bell Equipment, Sappi, Unilever, Mondi SA, Hulamin, SRF Packaging and Somta Tools. These visits form part of the Business Retention and Expansion measures and are aimed at providing support and monitoring the impact of the disruption on business during the scourge of COVID-19.
Sihle Ngcamu, the Executive Manager for Investment Promotion said âwe have learnt a lot from these visits and also shared our experiences with businesses in an effort to improve business operations and safety at the workplace. Challenges faced by businesses have been beyond our imagination and the visits proved to be long overdue, we are taking stock of all requests made by businesses and have formulated and an intervention plan.â Said Ngcamu.
Already during the pandemic, companies have been creative in identifying "low-hanging fruits" that could be implemented in their operations for import replacement. Hulamin, one of the leading aluminium semi-fabricator business located in Pietermaritzburg was affected with the complete shutdown but saw a gradual start-up of essential product processes on 7 April 2020. Upon opening, the management introduced protocols which includes Compulsory screening, COVID-19 testing offered to all employees, Hygiene practises and health packs issued to all employees.
Many businesses have changed their operations to accommodate for the ânew normalâ, such as social distancing, regular sanitisation, etc. New patterns of consumer and worker behaviour and expectations have emerged during this crisis. SOMTA Tools specialises in the design and manufacture of standard and custom tools for the industrial and âdo it yourselfâ (DIY) markets. This organisation has levelled-up by innovating a sensor operated sanitizing station for Taxis, this innovation will be a game changer in the taxi industry. It is portable and completely hands-free.
For more details please contact: Angel (Mkhethie) Shabangu
Trade & Investment KwaZulu-Natal
076 062 3779 / 031 368 9667