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Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) continues to affirm its fight against the spread of COVID-19 in South Africa, and the latest initiative comes in the form of a multi-million-rand package geared towards supporting the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Department of Health as well as the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality. To solidify its commitment, TSAM has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the provincial Department of Health as well as the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality.
The MOA, signed by President and CEO of TSAM Andrew Kirby, provincial Head of the KZN Department of Health Dr Sandile Tshabalala and Acting City (eThekwini Municipality) Manager Sipho Cele outlines Toyota’s pledge of close to R15 million to provide COVID-19 testing equipment, hospital facility support, 10 Hilux models for contact tracing as well as 50 000 face shields in the region. The project funded entirely by TSAM, except for the capital raised for testing equipment where Toyota business partners made some meaningful contributions, was launched under the organisation’s corporate social responsibility banner called ToyotaReach*.
According to Kirby: “We can never overstate the role and obligation of Toyota South Africa as a corporate citizen in our country: our interventions are a response to the need in our community. Due to an urgent need to increase testing in the city of Durban, TSAM – together with business partners: Cataler SA, CFAO SA, Toyota Boshoku SA, Toyoda Gosei South Africa, Toyota Tsusho Company Japan, Advics South Africa (Pty) Ltd, Metair Investments and Eguchi Iwao SA – will provide laboratory testing kits in the form of RNA extraction and amplification equipment. It is no cliché that the need is great, and we therefore need to pool our resources together as businesses to make as much difference as we possibly can.”
The City of eThekwini will provide the facility for the testing centre as well as the human resources needed to operate the station. Once this facility is operational, it will be capable of processing up to 5 000 additional samples per day – which is an impressive feat.
Kirby says “the second initiative falls within the spectrum of hospital-facility support. We are proud to announce that we will be refurbishing and upgrading the pharmacy at the Clairwood Hospital in Mobeni – the Clairwood Hospital has been substantially upgraded with a large number of beds to support Covid-19 cases and by supporting the infrastructure development at the hospital we are enabling the efficient utilisation of the beds and improving the level of health care. We will also be providing our TPS or ’Toyota Production Systems’ expertise to design and improve the process flows in the pharmacy to optimise the efficiencies and service levels. The hospital we are informed will also remain an infectious diseases hospital in the future, so the infrastructure will form a sustainable part of the facility into the future.”
As the leading auto manufacturer in the region, Kirby says it was also fitting for the ToyotaReach programme to expand its scope of involvement to enable access to remote areas. “The KZN Dept of Health identified a dire need to conduct contact tracing and testing in rural KZN… Toyota has therefore sponsored 10 Hilux 2.4 SRX 4x4 Double Cabs for nine months with the expressed purpose of helping health workers reach these sometimes inaccessible areas. The vehicles will enable officials to first track down all close contacts associated with infected individuals, and secondly conduct testing to determine what further steps are needed to curtail the spread of the disease,” adds Kirby.
The ToyotaReach package also includes the donation of an additional 50 000 face shields to provincial health institutions. In the last few months Toyota had already donated 13 000 face shields – engineered and produced at its manufacturing plant in Prospecton, Durban – to institutions such as Prince Mshiyeni Hospital, Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital, Addington Hospital and King Edward Hospital. The latest consignment of face shields is destined for hospitals in the Zululand and Amajuba districts.
With regards to the timing of the announcement of TSAM’s relief package, Kirby says: “The reality is that this disease is not going to miraculously disappear; we want to prevent a flare up or second-wave spike which has been the experience in many other countries and also, the stats suggest that KZN may not be out of the woods yet. So yes, without a doubt COVID-19 is an ever-present challenge and we are confident that we can still make a difference.”
Both the provincial Department of Health and the City of eThekwini have welcomed TSAM’s intervention. According to eThekwini City Mayor Cllr Mxolisi Kaunda: “Since this pandemic hit our shores, we have witnessed a strong collaboration between government and private sector in the fight against COVID-19. Toyota is one of the private sector companies that has been at the forefront of fighting this pandemic. We once again welcome this donation as it will go a long way towards minimising the spread of this virus. This is a clear indication that if government and private sector work together, we can overcome all developmental challenges facing the country.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic remains a global and national crisis, Premier of KwaZulu-Natal Sihle Zikalala says: “It’s extremely pleasing and humbling to see an organisation such as Toyota choosing to lend a hand in such an effective and impactful way. For Toyota to make this donation when it has, on its own, been severely affected [in business terms] by the pandemic, shows its commitment to Ubuntu. It also shows that Toyota appreciates the value of investing in the livelihoods of our people – such an initiative [ToyotaReach] is also an investment in the future of our country.”
In the last few months, TSAM has already donated more than 65 000 litres of sanitiser and thousands of face masks to the South African taxi industry, while 2 000 food parcels (each containing groceries to sustain a family of four for a month) were distributed to communities around the Prospecton Plant in Durban and Atlas Warehouse in Johannesburg. In addition, TSAM has also supported more than 270 schools in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal with readiness packs – including face shields for all the educators, santisers, educational posters and IR Thermometers.
TSAM’s General Manager of Corporate Affairs, and champion of Toyota’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, Jenny Maré adds: “We also have a campaign called Safe to School Safe to Home which focuses on the safety of school children travelling to school and back home in minibus taxis. This project currently benefits a total of 24 schools in the Durban South region. Prior to the re-opening of schools in early June, TSAM assisted operators and drivers of learner transports with sanitisers, decanting bottles and shared some educational pamphlets pertaining COVID-19 prevention protocols.”
She explains that TSAM has a very robust CSR programme which, over the years has evolved to centre around four main pillars: Civic & Community Service, Road Safety, Education as well as Health & Human Service.
However, Maré says TSAM’s ToyotaReach initiatives form part of an ongoing coordinated COVID-19 relief package to curb the spread of the virus as well as making a difference in local communities. Referring to Toyota’s pledge to KZN Health, she said “it has become more important than ever for government and private sector to work together because neither can operate successfully in isolation from the other”.
Kirby observes that the Coronavirus and its economic ramifications have created unprecedented challenges in an incredibly short period of time, and that “challenges continue to linger and grow”. He concludes that: “We are also fully aware that our potential as an organisation cannot be wholly realised when livelihoods in our communities are compromised, and while our interventions are not going to solve all COVID-19-related challenges, we believe that they will make a difference – no matter how small.”
Please click on the link below to watch the highlights of the ToyotaReach event: