This is without a doubt the most challenging economic and trading period the RMI and its associations have experienced in our history. The sustainability of the automotive aftermarket is at a critical junction.
I appreciate that the last two months have created a lot of financial pressure on all of our members. The survival of the automobile aftermarket sector is key for South Africa, not only as a vital employment sector and contributor to the fiscus, but also as a significant enabler of, and support function to, many other sectors. Without an effective and operational automotive aftermarket, strategically located in each district, community, town, metro and city across all provinces, we are of the view that vehicle safety and effective vehicle repairs and maintenance will be negatively impacted and detrimental to the much needed and speedy recovery of the economy.
In preparation for work readiness our members have adopted a phased approach to help alleviate financial pressure until business momentum can resume. It has allowed us time to ensure our businesses are all fully compliant with the stringent sanitisation regulations and protocols which need to be carefully adhered to. The reality is that just one positive COVID-19 case will close a business and we cannot afford that at this stage.
The RMI has accordingly developed an indepth COVID-19 business risk plan which will be used and updated for some time to come. We feel confident that our industry is ready and committed to implement all measures and maintain compliance at all times.
We understand that business recovery will take as long as six to nine months, if not longer, post lockdown to return to a sustainable and profitable return on investment. We not only have to deal with the impact of the virus and the lockdown, but at the same time the global retraction of the economy.
We need to be agile, adaptable and resilient during this time. We have found new ways of connecting and talking to members and customers with zoom calls and podcast and we have seen virtual training taking the lead. Moving forward we will continue to use these digital channels but I still see a more blended approach to avoid losing the power of face-to-face interaction. Our industry is known for its innovation and now more than ever, we need to find new, more effective ways of connecting with customers and staff. We will find a new normal.
I would like to end off by expressing my appreciation and pride in the way our member businesses have conducted themselves in these hugely challenging times. I would like to believe that this crisis will present an opportunity to come back stronger together.