Ethekwini Municipality is investigating the feasibility of establishing an Automotive Body Repair Incubation Programme which will assist previously disadvantaged auto repair shops with the necessary skills and equipment to become sustainable and competitive in the industry.
The municipality says the purpose of this project will be to assist black body vehicle repairers by creating a platform for them to obtain skills, share resources, including tools and equipment and get the necessary accreditations required to do all types of repairs including insurance work.
The objective is to identify and mentor historically disadvantaged automotive body repairers in the incubation programme for a prescribed period. This is envisaged to be undertaken in partnership with major vehicle insurers and industry specialists in South Africa. The Executive Committee on 25 July, chaired by Mayor Zandile Gumede, noted progress made by the City Fleet Unit on the proposed programme.
A feasibility study is currently underway to analyse and evaluate the potential of the proposed programme and to provide the road map regarding its implementation. The study will also clearly show the estimated costs and value of establishing the incubator. A service provider to conduct feasibility has been appointed through a public tender process. The feasibility study began on 1 July and is expected to be completed within six months.
A report noted by the Executive Committee outlined the need for the incubation programme. It stated that the City Fleet Unit is responsible for the procurement, maintenance and disposal of Council vehicles which includes panel beating and body work. The Unit has a panel beating and spray painting workshop which is responsible for all body repairs on light and commercial vehicles including the outsourcing of accident damage repairs.
However, the report stated, it was noted that previously disadvantaged panel beating companies do not have all the tooling and equipment to do both structural and non-structural repairs. The process now includes bidders that do not have the required tooling to do major structural repairs.
The intention was to attract and accommodate previously disadvantaged panel beating companies which will allow them to grow their businesses and be able to obtain necessary tooling and equipment in the long run. To assist these companies, City Fleet assisted by the Economic Development Department, has embarked on a feasibility study to develop an incubation programme targeted at developing historically disadvantaged businesses to receive full accreditation by vehicle manufacturers.