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Hundreds of damaged VW Polos and Ford Rangers stuck at South African port

A ship carrying hundreds of VW Polo hatchbacks and Ford Ranger bakkies bound for export has been damaged by inclement weather and is now moored at the Port of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape.

The damage to the vehicles and equipment on board the 200m-long vessel, which can carry as many as 8,000 cars, is estimated to stretch into the millions of rands.

Investigations underway

Chairperson of the Eastern Cape Maritime Business Chamber, Unathi Sonti, told eNCA that the ship was hit by high winds and storms while out at sea and returned to the port after sustaining damages.

Upon its arrival, the vehicles onboard were offloaded to shore while authorities carried out inspections.

Footage of the port shows that the vast majority of the cars were VW Polo hatchbacks with a handful of what appears to be VW Caddy vans and Ford Ranger bakkies also being among the valuable cargo.

“The current understanding is there was a hydraulic failure within the vessel itself whilst it was still at sea, and that was the result of the high seas when we had all the storms in the past week,” said Sonti.

“So that is, for now, what we see as the cause towards this incident in that vessel.”

Investigations to determine the root cause of the incident and the extent of the damages are still underway. The owners of the ship were unwilling to comment on the matter.

Major automakers including Ford, Isuzu, and VW have manufacturing facilities in the Eastern Cape.

Isuzu fabricates the D-Max bakkie in the province and VW assembles the Polo and Polo Vivo hatchbacks; whereas Ford produces the engines for the Ranger and VW Amarok bakkies built at its Gauteng plant.

These companies use the Port of Port Elizabeth to ship hundreds, even thousands of vehicles to global markets every month.

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