Toyota has halted operations at its factory in Prospecton, south of Durban after it was flooded in the heavy rains that have battered parts of KwaZulu-Natal this week.
The Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) plant manufactures Hilux, Fortuner, Corolla Cross and Corolla Quest models, and employs 7 200 people.
"TSAM's operations have been suspended since Monday evening. Efforts geared towards a safe start-up - after water has been cleared - are in place," manager of corporate marketing Mzo Witbooi said on Wednesday.
Flooding also impacted the Toyota plant during heavy rains a few years ago, and, although it was not damaged during the unrest in July last year, Toyota had to temporarily suspend operations.
The flooding could not have come at a worse time for the motor retail industry, which is still recovering from the blow delivered by the Covid-19 pandemic, Operations of the Motor Industry Staff Association (MISA) CEO Martlé Keyter said. The union has more than 53 000 members who are dependent on motor vehicle- and component sales, vehicle services and repair work.
"Less than a week after Toyota announced that 10 198 light commercial vehicles were either built or assembled at the Prospecton Plant in Durban, images of the flooded plant emerged. This plant was responsible for over 10 000(...) vehicles sold locally last month, according to an earlier statement released by Toyota," says Keyter.
* Images were taken by members of MISA and supplied by the union.