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I visited Isuzu’s automotive vehicle assembly plant in Struandale, Gqeberha, last week for the launch of a production line to produce a new bakkie. Beneath all the fanfare and ceremony that brought numerous Japanese guests to the home of the SA automotive sector, or what was known in the 19th century as the “Liverpool of the Cape”, lay poignant reminders.

In the Isuzu and other auto factories around it are some of the most skilled industrial workers in SA, and increasingly digital operators, as machines, robots and humans work in concert to produce the vehicles we see on our roads. Such operations are the apex of sophisticated supply chains, which span vast distances to get capital, components and people to the production line not far from Kwazakhele and New Brighton...

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