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Y2K bug eats into South African economy

Damning report claims 80 per cent of country's transportation could fail

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South Africa's lack of preparedness for the date change at the end of the year is starting to show. Cargill, the agricultural trading group, has said it will avoid trading in the country over the mid December to mid January period. The move has angered South African officials. The technology manager at the South African Reserve Bank commented in the Financial Times: "It's an insult to South Africa as a whole that we have been placed through some obscure method of assessment on a risk basis." He was referring to report from analysts Gartner Group that suggested that in a worst case scenario, up to 80 per cent of South Africa's transport systems and services could be disrupted. Mike Davies, the MD of Cargill, said that his company would be playing it safe. "We plan to avoid entering into or executing trades in any commodity in the period. Where we are a key supplier, we will build stock positions with our customers to provide them with sufficient material to operate until the end of January. We are trying to be sensible and conservative, but not alarmist." However, could this sort of action be too little too late? Or, too early. According to some industry experts, the real problems from the bug will not surface on the eve of the new century. The real test will be in the few weeks and months after the changeover, as corrupted data starts to make its presence felt. The National Year 2000 Decision Support Centre described Cargill's move as a 'bit of an over reaction'. ®

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