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City’s R11 billion investment in the automotive industry
​The uMlazi Auto Hub is beginning to take shape. The project
is one of the City’s efforts aimed at boosting the local
automotive industry to create jobs.

​EThekwini’s quest to become an “Automotive Hub” is fast becoming a reality following the announcement of plans to construct a multibillion rand Durban Automotive Supplier Park (DASP) which is expected to commence this year.

Head of the Development Planning, Environment and Management Unit, Musa Mbhele said a piece of land which is 100 hectares has been procured for the development in Illovo, south of Durban. Mbhele said the three phase development is a partnership between eThekwini Municipality, Toyota and provincial government through Dube Tradeport with the aim of attracting component manufacturing and car assembly firms.

He added that the development is expected to create 2 500 jobs during construction and 6000 permanent jobs after completion. The project, said Mbhele, is a strategic initiative aimed at reducing logistical costs and creating an enabling environment for automotive sector to thrive. “It is going to centralise production, assembly, sequencing and warehousing facilities that are within close proximity to the original equipment manufacturers, such as Toyota and any other new entrants,” added Mbhele.

One of the interesting component which forms part of this development is a ‘School of project management’ funded by Toyota. The school has a specific focus of building local knowledge and developing technical skill to strengthen automotive trade and ensuring that local people are employed within the sector. “This is a very exciting part for future generation because Toyota has advanced in developing the suitable programmes and have already linked with the best internationally recognised universities to ensure better quality of education,” added Mbhele.

The massive auto development, he said, will play a huge role towards achieving the objectives of South Africa’s automotive production and development programme, which aims to boost local production to 1.2 million vehicles per annum by 2020. “We are faced with a high unemployment rate and our responsibility is to invest in sectors that make a significant contribution to employment directly and indirectly. As it stands, the Durban Automotive Cluster which is funded by the Municipality represents 39 firm members and collectively employs approximately 17 000 people,” said Mbhele.

He added that about 30% of the country’s vehicles are manufactured in eThekwini which is home to the largest light vehicle manufacturer, Toyota. Toyota invested over R6.1 billion at its Prospection plant early last year. “This investment indicated Toyota’s confidence in eThekwini’s vehicle sector since this was the biggest single investment Toyota has made to date,” said Mbhele.

With the Municipality’s plans to turn eThekwini to a vibrant auto City, an amount of R1 million has been set aside to host the inaugural National Association of Automotive Components and Allied Manufactures (NAACAM) Show on 5-7 April at Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre. The show which will be hosted every two years on a rotational basis at major automotive hubs is aimed at growing the automotive components and related manufacturing sectors in South Africa.

It will include a large-scale exhibition, conference and learning tours. It will offer a powerful platform for trade, investment and meaningful engagement between suppliers and buyers. The platform will make a significant contribution to increasing levels of localisation in the automotive value chain since it will bring key national and international industry players under one roof. “This will, with no doubt, strengthen the local automotive and component manufacturing sector and enable sustainable growth in employment and investment,” said Mbhele. “It will also provide an opportunity to showcase our existing and proposed automotive developments to attendees.” To reaffirm the Municipality’s commitment in accelerating growth within the vehicle industry, the City is constructing a multimillion rand uMlazi Auto Hub project which commenced in July last year. “The project is expected to be completed in June this year and will offer dignified trading spaces for over 20 local informal motor mechanics and panel beaters.

It will also provide constant free business development services such as technical training and capacity building for mechanics,” he said. Mbhele said he is confidence that Durban is on track in creating a vibrant automobile City. The automobile sector, he said, is one of the City’s critical pillars in job creation and driving economic development. We are even planning an exchange programme where our officials will spend time with other cities so we can exchange best practices and share our success stories,” he said.

Moolla warned unscrupulous landlords that if they continued disregarding the By-law, the multidisciplinary team may soon knock on their doors. The raid also led to the detaining of 16 individuals who were living in the country undocumented and 6 individuals for drug possession. The Problem Buildings By-law became fully operational in March 2016 and outlines steps to identify and label a building as a problem building. This includes buildings that are derelict in or showing signs of becoming unhealthy, unsanitary or unsightly.

The building may also be, or appears, to have been abandoned by the owner. In May last year, President
Jacob Zuma officially commissioned the new Toyota manufacturing plant in Prospecton, south of Durban. The plant, Zuma said, will manufacture new Toyota Hilux and Fortuner models, as part of Toyota’s R6.1 billion investments into South Africa’s automotive industry. Toyota has shown confidence in Durban and KwaZulu-Natal by continuing to invest billions into its Prospecton manufacturing hub.

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