Business to Buyeye: Keep power on and water flowing
An uninterrupted supply of water, electricity and sanitation is what businesses need to survive the coronavirus crisis.
This was the simple request from some of Nelson Mandela Bay’s biggest companies during a virtual meeting with interim mayor Thsonono Buyeye on Tuesday.
Buyeye arranged the meeting to establish how companies were coping under level 3 regulations and to announce that his door was always open to assist businesses and investors.
“As we are on level 3 with most restrictions eased, it is important that the municipality gears itself to provide the necessary services businesses require to operate in their planned capacity,” Buyeye said.
The meeting was attended by Aspen Pharmacare group executive head of operations Grant Swart, Volkswagen Group SA chair and MD Thomas Schaefer, Continental Tyre SA MD Shaun Uys and FAW administration manager Haiyang Yao.
Buyeye said it was crucial the municipality understood the effect of Covid-19 on businesses and to establish whether any job losses were expected.
“Because of this I would like to know if there is any form of support businesses require from the municipality to help ease the burden and prevent job losses.”
Swart said Aspen simply required the municipality to keep the electricity on and water flowing.
“If this can be maintained at the current level, you are supporting us,” Swart said.
“In terms of business we are actually OK. We are seeing an increase in demand to service state institutions.”
However, Swart said the company lost about three days of production each time an employee tested positive for Covid-19.
Schaefer said it was too early to gauge the full effect of Covid-19 but suggested an early indication was that the business had shrunk by 25%.
“The effect is hard to quantify at the moment. If I believe the numbers, we have shrunk by 25%.
“But much of this depends on [if] the market will establish an upturn,” he said, adding a specific figure would be available in about two weeks.
He lauded Buyeye for creating a platform where companies could directly speak to him.
“It is fantastic. We are all in this together. We must contribute.”
Schaefer asked that the municipality ensure water and electricity were always up and running.
Buyeye, meanwhile, said his office was open to any suggestions or ideas on how the municipality could help.
“If there are new system ideas you have regarding financial implications, this is the time submit proposals,” he said.
Buyeye said the municipality’s main goal was to prevent job losses.
“We don’t want anyone to lose jobs.
“We understand the effect of Covid-19 on running a business but let us work together and let everyone in the city prosper.”
He said the municipality was hopeful that businesses would even expand.
“The office of the mayor is always open to help you expand.
“We are offering ourselves to you. We are opening this direct platform for any business whenever and whatever kind of challenge you may have.”
Buyeye said the water issue was a concern for everyone.
“We are watching this closely. The dams are below 20% but we have other operations feeding water into the city.”
He said further details on other plans to augment the water supply would be announced soon.
“As much as you are concerned about water, I promise we won’t run out,” he said.