Earlier in May, Volkswagen South Africa acquired the necessary approval from their head office in Germany to convert its Port Elizabeth plant into a temporary medical facility.
Volkswagen says that once the facility is up and running, it could accommodate up to 4000 beds for patients diagnosed with Covid-19.
Thomas Schaefer, VWSA chairman and managing director, said: "Solidarity is crucial in a crisis – and Covid-19 is an unprecedented global threat. Through collaboration, we will be able to achieve the position of strength we will need to fight the Covid-19 virus.
"VWSA has devoted its time to finding innovative ways in which we can combat the scourge of Covid-19 and prepare the Metro to care for those who are infected. We are highly appreciative of the financial support from the BMZ/GIZ as it will help us to continue to offer support to protect our citizens and our country."
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VW says that the conversion of the building, which is 66 000m2 in size, was made possible through a collaboration formed between VWSA, the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber, the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and the Eastern Cape Department of Health.
Furthermore, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) will provide funding of 5.2 million Euros (R107-million) to support the conversion of the plant, as well as the procurement of protective gear (PPE) for staff at regional tertiary hospitals, regional Primary Care Clinics and 49 Covid-19 test centres.
Volkswagen South Africa will contribute a further R28-million to the project.
The entire project will be completed in phases, with the first already underway. This phase is expected to take six to eight weeks to be completed and will equip the medical facility to accommodate up to 1484 patients.
The plant will be made available to government until March 2021, with the Department of Health and the NMBM responsible for the management and daily operations of the facility.
Compiled by: Charlen Raymond