Following a gradual production ramp-up, the Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA) plant in Uitenhage has resumed its manufacturing and export operations.
Production was restarted on May 4 already, in line with the regulations pertaining to Alert Level 4 of the Covid-19 lockdown, with essential employees returning to work in a phased approach.
The company has since started exporting Polos to various markets, in addition to manufacturing Polos and Vivos for the local market.
On-site employees are supported by colleagues who continue to work from home where this is possible, says the local arm of the German car maker.
Prior to the gradual ramp-up, a number of measures to combat Covid-19 were put in place at all VWSA sites.
These measures form part of a 100-point plan implemented globally across the Volkswagen Group to ensure the health and safety of employees.
Upon their return to work, employees were informed of the new protocols through employee orientation sessions, a detailed booklet and extensive signage installed at all sites and areas.
Returning employees were also informed regarding hygiene and physical distancing practices that can further protect them.
The company also provided each employee with a set of masks, with more than 20 t of hand sanitiser sourced for all VWSA sites.
"Our essential services team ensured that the workplace was Covid-19 compliant before we officially restarted production in Uitenhage," says VWSA production director Jens Bruecker.
"Our 100-point plan is designed to ensure that all employees feel safe and good about their workplace, so we can manufacture and deliver vehicles without compromising our commitment to the wellbeing of our employees.
"The automotive industry has a crucial role to play in the local and national economy," adds VWSA MD Thomas Schäfer.
"We are grateful that this role was acknowledged with [government’s] decision to let the industry operate and trade again.
"In many aspects, the Covid-19 crisis has eclipsed our daily lives. As such, it must be our main priority at VWSA to act responsibly in every aspect of our business and this includes, first and foremost, to ensure that our employees can work without risking their health. We will continue our extensive efforts to fulfil this duty.”