The announcement by the eThekwini municipality that it will be implementing water restrictions for a year is a blow to many small businesses, with some warning that they will not survive. This municipality needs to repair and recommission raw water pipelines that were damaged during April’s floods. One entrepreneur warned that he will lose customers, while another said her business would close.
Lungisani Zwane, who operates Zebraah Paints in the Umlazi township, told Vutivi News that his business would lose customers which he had worked hard to gain through rigorous marketing. His business operates in the paint manufacturing sector, which means that he uses a lot of water to develop paint and clean his equipment. “I have so many orders to work on and I don’t think that it will be easy for us to deliver on those orders, which will affect our sales and our brand,” Zwane said.
“Customers won’t wait until the municipality fixes the issue. They’ll just go to another business which will be a huge loss for me.” Zwane blames these problems on poor political leadership. “The current government inherited the country with good infrastructure, but over the years they failed to upgrade and maintain the infrastructure,” he said. “It would not help to ask for compensation because whatever compensation they might want to offer won’t bring back the customers we would have lost in that time.”
Luyanda Radebe, who runs Amahlubi Laundry, which is based in the north of Durban, said the prospects of keeping her business open were slim. She has already lost one laundromat in KwaSeme because the machines were damaged in the floods. “Our business depends solely on water, and without water, we won’t be able to operate. I don’t see the business surviving because of how long these water cuts will be taking place,” she told Vutivi News.
“The business is already financially strained. I had to let go of two employees from the other branch and I’m afraid my last employee will lose her job. “This means that I must go and look for a job because I feed my children through this business as I am a single mother.” SA Farmers Development Association CEO Siyabonga Madlala has called on the government to assist small-scale farmers who will be affected by the water cuts.
“In areas that use the irrigation system, (water restrictions) have had devastating effects on their crops as crops need water, and if they don’t get enough water or water at all, their ability to produce quality products becomes minimal,” he told Vutivi News. “Unfortunately, small farmers are always hit hard by (water restrictions like this one), as these farmers cannot afford crop insurance.”