The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition has warned that the damage to factories and retail facilities in KwaZulu-Natal will have a significant impact on the economy, jobs and access to goods and services.
“This impact will be felt both in KZN and across the rest of the country,” the department said.
This comes as South Africa’s three largest retail groups, which supply food and other products to South African stores and neighbouring States, reported to have resumed operations.
The retail groups, which own stores throughout the region, were affected following the disruptions in supply chains in Kwa-Zulu Natal last week.
The disruptions were mainly the result of the pressures on the N3 corridor from the Durban port and interruptions in supply from factories in KZN.
In a statement on Monday, the department said the vital N3 national road is back to normal functioning.
“By Sunday morning, the authorities reported that more than 100 trucks per hour were passing key check-points to Durban, with strong traffic from Durban to other South African destinations and neighbouring markets,” the department said.
Four Cabinet Ministers, including Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel; Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane; Small Business Development Khumbudzo Ntshavheni and Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan, visited the N3 highway near Heidelberg over the weekend to meet truck drivers and logistics companies to determine the extent of goods being moved and challenges being encountered.
During their visit to the highway, representatives of large food companies and retailers shared the details of steps being taken within their supply chains to ensure that food products reach retail stores.
Patel has issued an exemption from certain provisions of the Competition Act to enable firms to collaborate and ensure availability of basic food and consumer items, emergency products, medical and hygiene supplies, including pharmaceutical products, refined petroleum products and emergency clean-up products.
The department said government is now working to minimise the disruptions to production and output. The immediate focus is to get the supply of food, medicine and basic goods to KZN cities and towns speeded up.
“Key raw materials and components are being prioritised. The response of manufacturers and retailers has been very positive to efforts to rebuild the productive sectors,” the department said.
Government is currently doing an assessment of the extent of loss of production and distribution facilities, and what can be done to secure alternative local supplies of raw materials and other critical goods.
“The priority is to strengthen further the security of supply to KZN, other South African provinces and to neighbouring countries,” the department said.