South African strike impact circles outBy: DENVER KISTING
POTATOES, the staple food of many Namibians, and goods like tea, coffee creamer, noodles and even ice-cream may run out soon if the transport strike in South Africa continues.
Calle Schlettwein, the Deputy Minister of Finance, yesterday said that Namibia imports 79% of its consumer goods from South Africa.
He said the strike’s impact is increasingly being felt, especially in the fresh produce sector.
The crippling strike in South Africa has been continuing for three weeks and has an increased impact on Namibian businesses.
Leon Nel of Fruit & Veg City yesterday described the situation as chaotic. He said they would have severe shortages by the end of this week, should the strike continue. They expect to be at least 30% out of stock.
“Already, there are agencies that have not had a single piece of vegetable on the market since Saturday.”
Although they currently rely on Namibian producers for vegetables, their potato supply is running low as these vegetables are only harvested locally in November, he said. “There will be terrible shortages.”
A Shoprite representative said they have started running out of some groceries.
Melkisedek Kandjii said they have run out of certain brands of Rooibos tea and coffee creamer, certain noodle brands and long-life milk brands.
According to him, some ice-cream brands that the shop had on promotion have also run out.
Kevin Behne of Spar yesterday said they have also been affected. “We have had a couple of hiccups.”
Divan Opperman of Commercial Investment Corporation (CIC) said: “The problems are getting much bigger. The stock is coming in less and groceries are falling under pressure.”
Asked what the way forward is, he said: “We’ll need to start praying, because I don’t think it will improve soon.”
Henry Feris of Pick n Pay said they would also run into trouble if the strike continued until next week. They have already run out of some items, he said.
Schlettwein also said the impact of Value Added Tax is currently not very severe because of the two-monthly VAT payment cycle.
Last week already, local retailers and logistic companies complained that they were all feeling the pinch of the strike in the neighbouring country.
Dirkie Uys, the general manager of F.P. du Toit Transport, said: “Our services are negatively affected.”
They have been forced to put the safety of their drivers first, he said. “We don’t take any chances. And our clients are disadvantaged by this.”
He said striking transport workers pelted one of their trucks with stones last week. Another truck’s window was broken. Because courier services are time-bound, this wing of their business is more affected, Uys said. “We offer our excuse to clients, but it is beyond our control.”
He said the Cape Town route was not as badly affected as the Johannesburg and Durban routes.
They transport clothes, hardware and other consumer goods.
Paul Naudé of Blaauw’s Transport said they have also not been spared the impact of the strike. “We are quite affected but have fortunately not come to a complete standstill.”
He says they make use of alternative routes to try and escape the strike. This has resulted in delays, though.
Also, one of their trucks had to turn around after almost clashing with a roadblock set up by the strikers.
A representative of Engen yesterday said their Quick Shops and lubricant supply are affected. Their fuel supply is not affected as Engen employees in South Africa load the ships which deliver fuel directly to Walvis Bay.