While Thursday’s rain brought some relief to city residents, businesses in Kimberley are paying the price for the ongoing water cuts.
WHILE yesterday’s rain brought some relief to city residents, businesses in Kimberley are paying the price for the ongoing water cuts.
Sol Plaatje Municipality this week announced afternoon water interruptions and businesses in the city have indicated that these interruptions placed additional strain on their operations and on their profit.
Local business owners said they now have additional costs to deal with and even have to cut operating hours due to the water interruptions.
The management of the North Cape Mall described the water interruptions as a “total mess” and an unhygienic process.
“These interruptions are a total mess. We cannot supply our restaurants with water because our JoJo tanks are empty,” Johan Visser said.
“We have tried to source water but the quantity of water we need is too much for the suppliers. The fire brigade cannot assist us because they will then be left without water. The municipality only has grey water, which we cannot use.
“We are now looking at a borehole, which will cost us thousands of rand. However, there is no indication when the water problem will be resolved,” Visser said.
He added that mall management was forced to put alternative measures in place in order to continue operating.
“We had to hire portable toilets, which cost us R24 000 a week. We have to pay that bill, but we have to think of the hygiene conditions at the mall. Some offices have taken the decision to temporarily close and allow their employees to work from home. The retail stores are, however, still operating. The stores took a decision on whether they wanted to remain open or close. Mall management does not make a decision for businesses to cut operating hours.”
He said he hopes that the problem will be resolved soon.
“This is a great challenge as we have so many people visiting the mall. We have the water for the sprinklers, but we cannot use that water in case we need it for the sprinklers should there be an emergency,” he said.
The DFA’s offices, situated at the Northern Cape Mall, will remain closed until further notice. DFA editor Johan du Plessis said the decision was made for hygienic reasons. All staff are working remotely.
Local hair salon businesses said they are also feeling the pinch.
A hair salon owner said she had to turn many clients away because there was no water.
“Some clients come here to relax and get their hair done. I had to turn many clients away because I ran out of water. I stored water in buckets and bottles, but the demand was greater than the supply I had.
“I even resorted to buying water in order to assist my clients. I spent about R150 a day on water and realised that it was too costly as I could only use that amount of water on about two to three clients. That has resulted in my business losing a lot of money.
“However, one cannot take the risk of doing someone’s hair knowing that there is no water. This is crippling our businesses and also resulted in me not being able to meet some of my other daily expenses,” she said.
The DA in the Northern Cape has called on the municipality to address the water challenges with urgency and transparency.
DA councillor Chris Whittaker said the municipality needs to act with urgency to prevent a total collapse of the water grid.
“The DA observed during an oversight visit that only three of the 12 filters at the old Riverton Water Purification Plant were working. In effect, there is not a sufficient volume of purified water being produced to be pumped to Kimberley. This is evident from the empty water tower and the mass storage facility at the Newton Reservoir.
“The situation is serious and is being aggravated by the extremely high temperatures and subsequent higher water usage. The DA is calling on the municipal manager to establish a water crisis desk that can keep Kimberley residents up to date on water levels,” he said.
“It is important for Kimberley residents to grasp the seriousness of the situation, so that mitigation measures, such as water restrictions, can be implemented at short notice in order to prevent an unscheduled water shutdown.”
Whittaker also said that the municipality must act with transparency around the water crisis if it expects the support of residents.
Municipal spokesperson Thoko Riet said emergency repair work on the water filtration system started on Wednesday.
“With the persistent challenge of maintaining safe water reservoir levels at the Newton Reservoir Complex, the municipality has embarked on emergency repairs of the water filtration system at the old purification plant at Riverton.
“When the emergency repairs are completed, about 27 megalitres a day will be added to the system,” said Riet.
She added that the water interruptions will still continue while the repair work continues.
“The daily water interruptions, which are from 11am until 3pm and then again from 9pm until 4am, will continue until we are satisfied with the water levels at the reservoir. We ask residents for their co-operation during this time,” she said.