Motor giant Toyota has officially opened its Prospecton plant in Isipingo, south of Durban. The plant was closed for more than three months due to extreme damage during the floods that devastated Durban and other parts of KwaZulu-Natal in April. The plant was also affected by the floods that hit the city in 2017, but not as severe as this year’s heavy downpours.

Toyota is up and running:

Once the flood receded, the company began the time-consuming process of cleaning and maintaining the electronic equipment used on the production lines. The damage to the facility cost billions to clean up and refurbish.

Annually, the plant produces about 540,000 cars. Production was halted for three months following the recent floods, and around 4,000 cars had to be scrapped. The car’s electronic parts were also damaged beyond repair.

All equipment on the production lines had to be cleaned, tested and faulty components replaced.

“Our plant was incredibly damaged with mud all over the area, but today we are happy to announce that we are back. We are back in production, we have restarted all our production and export lines. It was a very, very big milestone for us. Of course, we are not going back to full [productivity] but we will get there in the near future,” Toyota South Africa CEO Andrew Kirby said.

Kirby says that despite the losses, of the 7,500 employees employed at the plant, no jobs have been lost. In addition, the company has additional contracts and on-site suppliers that are highly dependent on the business they receive from Toyota.

The newly appointed Premier of KwaZulu-Natal Province, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, spoke at the reopening of the Toyota plant and said the resumption of operations would boost the province’s economy.

“We were very happy last year when Toyota [South Africa] management went to Japan. They were given the opportunity to produce a hybrid car that would be produced outside of Japan for the first time. Unfortunately, the April flood affected these plans,” said the Prime Minister.

She adds that Toyota’s plans to produce hybrid cars in Durban will continue and the plant will be able to meet its commitments to suppliers in Europe.

All car production lines are now up and running. By the end of the fiscal year, the company hopes to produce at least 120,000-130,000 vehicles.

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