Dark cloud of SA violence
No Namibian trucks have so far been damaged, but deliveries of stock have been affected at some retailers.
06 September 2019 | International
Namibia, like many other southern African countries, imports almost all of its food and other goods from South Africa, and would find itself in a desperate and precarious situation if the trade route with the neighbouring country was muddled by further violence.
Yet, Namibian retail businesses remain cautiously optimistic that the violence will be contained by South African authorities, who are under the pump to get the situation under control, as retaliatory attacks on South African businesses flare up elsewhere in Africa.
“The attacks are not only on trucks. There is a general criminality that has been reported out-of-context. So far no Namibian trucks have been damaged in the violence and so far it does not impact on imports to Namibia,” said Willie du Toit, chairperson of the Namibia Logistics Association (NLA) and managing director of the FD du Toit Transport.
Du Toit said Namibian trucks have so far been unaffected because the main routes used are not unaffected by the prevailing lawlessness in South Africa. Trucks to Johannesburg drive through Botswana and the Cape Town route is a direct route through Namaqualand.
However, Daleen Reimers of the Woermann Brock retail and wholesale group, said they have already experienced a delay in stock coming from South Africa. She said one of the group's trucks en route to Namibia was delayed by an entire day at the Botswana border post on Wednesday, due to congestion on the Botswana side. Reimers said inside South Africa suppliers are struggling to get raw materials for their factories, which causes delays with production, and the resultant delayed deliveries.
“Truck drivers must drive around some areas to bypass the violence, resulting in driving longer hours and taking longer to get to their destinations,” Reimers said.
The Ohlthaver & List (O&L) Group that supplies to a number of retailers such as Pick n Pay said it has continuity measures in place to ensure that operations within the group are running smoothly, despite the situation in South Africa.
“At the moment finished products produced in Namibia cannot be sent to South Africa, until the strike is over.
Apart from the obvious logistical challenges caused, should the situation be prolonged, it may have financial implications, such as loss of revenue and additional costs such as storage. However, as the safety of our people is of utmost importance, we remain in contact with all stakeholders to monitor the situation, and ensure we do what is necessary to look after the safety and wellbeing of our people,” said Patricia Hoeksema, group manager of corporate relations at the O&L Group.
Paulus Hailonga of Taeuber & Corrsen said they have started to use South African truck drivers to ensure that goods get delivered.
Hannes van der Berg of the Namibian Fresh Produce Market (NFPM) said they have so far been able to get their trucks loaded and across the border safely. The NFPM provides fresh produce to most large retailers.
Van der Berg said precautionary measures have been taken to ensure the safety of their drivers.
“It remains a risk, but we cannot allow our clients to go without produce. We, however, do not know how long this will go on. We will take it from loading day to loading day,” Van der Berg said.
He also said South African producers are experiencing difficulties getting their produce to market, which could have an impact on the availability of stock and pricing.
Secretary-general of the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) yesterday called on SADC leaders to convene immediately and act against the “bloody crisis” in South Africa.