‘Not worth opening’

2020-05-14 14:15
Crescent Car Sales marketing officer Siya Mkhize outside the dealership in Langalibalele Street. PHOTO: Moeketsi Mamane

Crescent Car Sales marketing officer Siya Mkhize outside the dealership in Langalibalele Street. PHOTO: Moeketsi Mamane

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While car dealerships are now allowed to operate, some are questioning if it is going to be viable under the strict lockdown rules.

In level 4 of the lockdown, government allowed dealerships around the country to open for business after they were forced to close during level 5.

Several dealerships in Pietermaritzburg have opened, although they feel it is pointless. Others have opted to keep their doors closed for now to determine if it’s worth opening. The dealers said if someone buys a car now, they will only get it after the lockdown. In addition, the national Department of Transport have instructed test centres to open only on June 1.

Crescent Car Sales, which has two outlets in the CBD, has opened its doors but general manager Nadeem Malani said the tough restrictions will be a serious challenge for them.

“We are opened but if it was up to me, we wouldn’t be opened because the restrictions that have been imposed on us are a nightmare.

“We are allowed to have 30% of staff and we have to sanitise the building and all the cars in the dealership. If a client comes in, we have to check his or her temperature and they can’t take the delivery from the dealership.”

Malini also said what makes their operation even harder is that test stations are still closed, so is the Department of Transport. “We can’t license vehicles. And the banks are also holding back. They can approve the client’s application, but one can only sign once the lockdown is over.

“So, we are going to be opening and we will see what happens. Customers can come in but obviously there has to be social distancing,” he said.

A number of dealerships in the city agreed with Malini but they didn’t want their names to be published as they were still mapping a way forward. They are open to help essential workers with repairs, car parts and services.

A manager at Motor City told The Witness that the dealership was not open for the sale of cars.

Audi Centre Pietermaritzburg’s Nathi Mncube said while people are not allowed to come in to buy cars, they can do so online. “We will open tomorrow [on Thursday] but we are still not able to deliver cars and people can’t fetch it from our dealership because we are still in lockdown,” said Mncube. “We are operating under very strict rules, people can still buy cars online and other things, but they can’t come in”.

They are not working at full capacity because only 30% of the staff are allowed to work. They also have to work out a shift roster to give everyone the chance to work.

He added, “For car services we need a permit which is proof that one is an essential service worker.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  car dealers

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