Constant water issues cripple businesses in Durban

Constant water issues cripple businesses in Durban

Business owners north of Durban are losing tens of thousands of rands every week due to an inconsistent supply of water. 

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A hair salon owner said they have seen a drop in clients over the past few months. 


Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu met with Phoenix residents in Shastri Park over the weekend and promised water would be flowing from their taps again on Thursday. 


The meeting followed protests in the Phoenix and in Verulam over the crisis. 


However, days later eThekwini's city manager Musa Mbhele made a U-turn on Mchunu's deadline and admitted that they would not be able to fulfil the promise. 


Evelyn Coopen, owner and manager of Eve's Hair and Beauty Salon in Phoenix, says they are forced clients away whenever water supply is disrupted. 


She said staff are unable to work and that they can't use the washing basins because treatments require water.


She said they are feeling the financial pinch with the continuous interruptions .


"Some of the clients leave here to find salons in other areas that do have water. Our rent and municipal bill still remains the same, however, our income is significantly affected when there is no water. Added to this is the frustration of load shedding." 


Coopen has been running her salon for 10 years and says it's the first time the water situation has been this bad.


"Sometimes they cut off our water on a Saturday, which is our busiest time. Often they don't give is notice. There are days we have clients sitting with colour in their hair that is processing and needs to be washed up and the water gets cut off. So how do we run our business like this?   


She said see hasn’t seen no water tankers even thought her solon is based in one of the busiest business areas of Pheonix. 


Tongaat residents, who have also been plagued with water challenges, took to the streets on Wednesday. 


Mbhele said technical teams uncovered unforeseen challenges on certain sections of the pipeline, ultimately forcing them to not meet the deadline. 


"On the third section from Newlands to Phoenix, 31 air valves have been replaced and six are outstanding. The outstanding valves require modification to fit the new valves into the network which also requires a shut down. This modification work was not foreseen when the work was planned to be completed by the 15th of February 2024 and for that we wish to sincerely apologise to the affected residents who are still without water supply.


"The existing aqueduct and its valves are decades old, and maintenance and asset records are not available for some of the valves inside the chambers along the pipeline. In addition, there is housing encroachment on some areas of the pipeline servitude making access problematic and therefore making it difficult to know what types of valves were under the encroachment."


The city's now says water should be restored by the end of February.

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