Durban to Kokstad
It was an early start for both Oubrey and myself, 6am flights to Durban International Airport. On arrival we collected our rental Nissan X Trail 2x4 for the journey that lay ahead of us to Kokstad. The X-Trail was definitely put to good use in the days of our adventure.
The drive down from Durban was beautiful, we were able to witness one of South Africa's hidden gems in the South KZN and Northern Eastern Cape. What made the region so breath-taking was the fact that it is such a unique part of the country that seems to make you feel as if you are traveling back in time as you travel on the roads and how villages and cultural homesteads are seemingly untouched.
Once we arrived in Kokstad, we met up with Valen and added 63 new areas
with a total house count of an estimate 15,000 households
and the removal of three NU areas. The following day we took off for Umtata, we added 72 new areas with an estimated 12,500
new households.Kokstad to Mthatha
The next day, 10 July, we started the morning off with the Mthatha team and we were taken on an adventure to interact with some of the communities around Mthatha.
Needless to say the drive turned out to be an eye opener into what the runners and contractors have to deal with in the region. It was
unfortunate that the night before it had rained so it made the mud roads difficult to deal with at times but the trying circumstances never got us down and we rallied through it to meet and interview a few people.On a personal note
We have a new found respect for our contractors and runners, some of these villages are so far away from each other and on steep slopes that the runners walk up and down. We experienced the mud after a night's rainfall and our contractors tackle this on many occasions to ensure that our clients messages get to their target market. Respect guys respect! Some villagers use mini trucks as taxis because of bad road conditions. Most of the spaza shops in these areas are branded, the entire building will be branded by a particular brand e.g Rama.Mthatha to East London
Our final day in East London we discussed the demographics with Jannie and Fundi. Unfortunately they needed more time to research into the JD Group area inquiries and so we do not have figures for this region as yet. However, later in the day we were accompanied by Fundi to the second largest township in South Africa, Mdantsane. We again attempted to interview the locals but found it a lot more difficult to find people willing to be filmed, we finally did find a group that agreed to be interviewed and we got some really good material to take back to Jhb.On a personal note:
It was incredible to see how our medium is vital in these areas. We travelled around here for three days with no radio reception and when we did stop at our guesthouses there was also no television reception (they say they experience on/off reception but very poor reception), so short of one or two billboards the only form of communication in these outside areas is printed material. Speaking to the locals it is also incredible to note that the locals knew exactly who On the Dot was. They could even tell us where the driver parks and the runners distribute from which points. They wait to receive our pamphlets or make the long journey to the store to pick up their pamphlet, the pamphlets are used to check prices and make decisions on what to purchase when they are paid.On the Dot Pamphlets depot visit
Week two 15-19 July 2013Port Elizabeth
Another early 6am flight to Port Elizabeth Airport. On arrival I was provided with a Toyota Corrolla for the long journey that lay ahead that will eventually see me arriving in George. Most of the day was dedicated to the rectification of the NU's and additions of new areas for the Port Elizabeth depot. A total of eight new areas were agreed upon to add to the demos amounting to 2,500 new households. The NU's were discussed and out of the initial 14 NU's within the Port Elizabeth depot we decided to keep only five, resulting in a decrease of over 18,000 households. The next two days were focused on the outside depots and updating the demographics for these areas. The outside depots are Aliwal North, Cradock and Queenstown with the exception of George. Aliwal North a total of 42 new areas
were added resulting in an increase of 6,000
households for the depot. The one NU in this area remains so there were no removals. Cradock depot added two new areas
with an increase to the demos of over 1,200
and removed six NU areas with a removal of 14,500 households. Queenstown Depot added 67 new areas with a potential of over 10,000
and remove nine NU's decreasing the potential for the depot by 12,700
.On a personal note
The runners in this region wear the On the Dot bib with confidence and pride; the residents aspire to be runners for On the Dot. One specific runner who is in the process of studying at the College in the region does work for On the Dot for additional income and to support his tuition cost. A number of residents approached us and indicated their interest in becoming an employee of On the Dot. Our brand is very much alive at grass route levels in these regions.
I was very proud of the work and effort the depots had put into the research of these areas before I reached them. This resulted in the process being more efficient and less time consuming than initially thought which allowed for Elrich, the Port Elizabeth depots head Quality Controller to take me out and to experience the Port Elizabeth distribution areas first hand.
We drove from Port Elizabeth throught to Uitenhage to take some pictures and videos to share the amount of growth they are experiencing in the Kwanobuhle areas as well as new RDP developments that are bearing fruit and rapidly increasing the household quantities in those areas
Thursday 18 July was the day I had set aside to drive down to George. In total it took me about six hours to drive down. Knowing that I would be experiencing a lot on the way down I had prepared myself to stop and get out taking pictures and videos of as much as I possibly could to try and capture the experience of this scenic drive along the coast through the Garden Route.
On the final day I sat with Sakkie, from the George depot, and we started discussing the Demos for his region again I would like to mention the amount of preparation the Port Elizabeth Region depots have put into the depot visits of 2013. Not only did these depots prepare everything we as the MI department have asked them to do but they have gone above and beyond by also looking into other additional areas and presenting them to me upon my arrival. George depot added two new
areas of over 500 households
and six NU areas removed with a total decrease in the demos of 7,400
I must say that it has been a pleasure thus far. I have been blessed with the experience the OtD Depot Visits during 2013.