Covid-19 Roundup: PAMSA, Afrox, Afrimat and Twinsaver operating as essential services

With lockdown in full swing, essential service companies keep operating with additional precaution.

The Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMSA) has announced that the pulp, paper, packaging, recycling and tissue value chains will continue to operate as a “critical business continuity service” supporting the manufacturing, processing and distribution of essential goods and services during the lockdown. 

The sector provides wood and recycled paper fibre for the production of essential goods like tissue, toilet paper, paper packaging, hospital gowns and masks, and personal hygiene products. 

PAMSA also assured the public that there is no scarcity of toilet paper and that tissue mills produce toilet paper continuously. “Never before has toilet paper enjoyed such publicity,” says PAMSA executive director Jane Molony (pictured). “Any perceived shortage of toilet paper in the shops is more a consumer behavioural issue than it is a production issue.” 

He added that buying more than is needed only fuels the panic buying cycle and disrupts supply chains.

South African tissue manufacturers have, however, ramped up production to meet the increased demand. Packaging plants are also working at full capacity to ensure paper-based packaging gets to their customers in essential sectors. 

“Our sector is falling in line with the government’s regulations, while also adapting its operations according to the local and global recommendations to minimise risk for suppliers, employees and customers,” notes Jane.

Afrox has been designated as an essential services provider by the Department of Trade and Industry because the company is responsible for supplying medical oxygen to state and private hospitals, industries critical to food production, distribution and cold storage, as well as energy and the supply chain sectors.

According to a statement released by the company, it has placed strict hygiene, social distancing and security measures to ensure the well-being of the employees that will be working during the lockdown period.

Afrox has also identified the risks associated with operating during the Covid-19 pandemic and has put in place mitigating actions, including quarantine plans to counter these risks.

Financially, Afrox is adequately capitalised to withstand the lockdown period and has a strong balance sheet and substantial credit facilities at its disposal.

After consultations with the government authorities and industry bodies, Afrimat has been given the go-ahead to continue operations as an essential service because it supplies a broad range of construction materials and industrial minerals from its open-pit mines.
According to a statement Afrimat Demaneng, a fully-owned subsidiary of Afrimat that focuses on iron ore mining, will continue production during lockdown with a 50 percent level of workforce. The mining company will also have access to the rail and port logistics infrastructure which will operate within their reduced capacity to support the export of iron ore.
Afrimat have implemented all the appropriate measures across its essential operations, with a focus on de-densification of the workforce and isolation where needed.

Twinsaver, a tissue manufacturer and therefore an essential service, has experienced an increase in demand for toilet tissue recently as consumers have stockpiled in anticipation of the lockdown. According to a statement by its holding company, Ethos Capital, Twinsaver management is focused on tissue volume optimisation in order to fulfil the market’s requirements. Given the high demand for disinfectant wipes and surgical masks, the business has put these products on extended production providing preferential supply to healthcare workers and facilities.