The Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry welcomes the opportunity to comment on the impact of Durban’s storm. The Chamber would like to pass its heartfelt condolences to families and friends of those people who have passed away as a result of this week’s adverse weather conditions we are deeply saddened by the devastation.

Businesses in Durban have reported extensive damage to property and loss of productivity. Valuable assets that contribute to the day to day operations of businesses were put at risk to the extent of some losing these assets. In addition, the South of Durban was crippled by the weather conditions, as a result making it difficult for people to reach various business destinations. The South of Durban is a host to some of the country’s largest manufacturers: including Toyota. Our Deputy President who is the Senior Vice President of Toyota SA said, “the Toyota plant was in absolute chaos and all employees had to be evacuated from the plant due to extensive flooding and roofs flying off”. Small businesses have also reported devastation with a huge challenge of getting back onto their feet and once again opening for business.

An insurance company has reported that losses due to infrastructure damage from this week’s destructive storm in KZN could amount to between R400m and R500m (the estimate includes uninsured losses).

A storm of this magnitude is detrimental to the local economy especially in an already depressed economic environment. With many businesses being forced to cease operations as a result to damaged property, low productivity and the inability to travel to various destinations all placing  huge pressure on the local economy. This translates into poor turnaround times and inefficiencies that amount to significant losses for business and in turn the economy. Over and above this, small businesses may not have adequate insurance to recover the losses, hence, jeopardizing the existence and sustainability of these businesses going forward. If these losses are not recovered over time the local economy can suffer significantly.

The Durban Chamber is taking a two pronged approach in providing support to local businesses and communities.

The Durban Chamber has set up a Durban Chamber Business Disaster Relief Call Centre in partnership with Vodacom and First Call Centre Solutions. The purpose of this call centre is to help link businesses with the relevant help needed. Businesses can contact the call centre on0870862507.

Durban businesses are working hard to stabilise their business operations after the storm, they remain committed to the vision of the Durban Chamber- “in business for a better world”. To this end, the Durban Chamber is collecting any contributions from business towards the most vulnerable communities worst hit by the storm. Food, clothing and building supplies are desperately required to rebuild our vulnerable communities. In addition, suggested relief items include: bottled water, filter masks, mould killer, insect repellent, towels, blankets, non- perishable food, baby diapers, bleach, brooms, mops, candles, matches, shovels, bleach wipes, hand sanitizer, triple- antibiotic ointment, work gloves, rubber boots, buckets, toiletries (soap, shampoo, toothpaste etc.) batteries, mattresses and stationery.

Thus, far businesses have come on board in support of this initiative. The Durban Chamber continues to encourage business to continue to support this initiative. Drop- off points for items that business or individuals are willing to sponsor include the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry Offices, 892 Umgeni Road, Lion Match Office Park and Pick n Pay stores.