South African full-production rental company MGG has been offering its 32-strong fleet of vehicles, ranging from 45ft artics to small run-around vans, to move essential medical and other supplies during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Owner and MD Mark Gaylard composed a Facebook post on his personal page about the transport fleet, which quickly garnered interest, resulting in almost 400 shares.

The initial inquiries have started to become a ‘steady trickle’ of work, helping keep MGG’s six full time and regular freelance drivers busy.

The fleet has had calls to move anything from foodstuffs and agricultural produce to steel and building materials. All important medical supplies like hand-sanitising products have been trucked from the docks in Durban, KZN, up to Johannesburg, where MGG is based.

Gaylard said: “I quickly realised that the general transport and freight business is radically different from moving and delivering goods and trucking services in our core entertainment industry world.

“It’s highly competitive and a lot of the work gets outsourced to those who don’t own their own vehicles. It’s definitely not an environment where you can just flip a switch and start moving goods as you might be used to. But it’s been extremely interesting!”

The manufacturing side of MGG has also been producing Covid-19 hazard warning signage while there are no shows going on.

At the time of writing, SA President Cyril Ramaphosa had just announced that the country is to go into lockdown for three weeks from 26 March in a bid to stop the virus spreading, after cases of the coronavirus reached over 1,000.

During the South African lockdown:

  • Shopping is restricted to food and other essentials, with the sale of alcohol and cigarettes banned
  • Walking, or jogging for exercise is banned
  • Public gatherings are banned
  • Funerals are restricted to 50 people
  • Security forces will be patrolling, and roadblocks have been set up to ensure compliance
  • Offenders face prosecution, heavy fines or six months’ jail time

Gaylard is optimistic about the future of the event industry: “Live events, music, theatre, etc., are very vibrant sectors, and people do love to congregate and enjoy each other’s company, energy and an atmosphere. When we come through this I think there will be a massive demand, while there may be some changes in the way we use remote networking technologies, people will still need and enjoy getting together, music fans will still want to experience bands and DJs live, theatre and moviegoers will still want to relax and escape for that time…We will bounce back!”

Gaylard also thinks that there’s a clear need for quantifying the economic contribution made by the South African entertainment industry in particular to the GDP, and as a sizable employment sector.

In the meantime, he has said his plans are to ‘look after MGG’s staff and regular freelancers’ and ‘ensure that the company is ready to hit the ground running when the lockdown is lifted and business starts flowing again’.