The Western Cape has been in the throes of an unprecedented drought for the past few years, and matters are only getting worse with the dearth of normal winter rain in the region.
While the local government has done all it can to get consumers to use less water, including instituting stringent water usage restrictions and of late also water rationing via the throttling of water delivery, the dams are still way lower than normal for this time of the year with no relief in sight.
The Western Cape is a major agricultural region and this has led to failed crops, shortages in certain foodstuffs, price increases, livestock dying and even farmer suicides. It has also led to the shedding of thousands of jobs and the possibility of even more individuals losing jobs or not getting their usual seasonal employment in the upcoming season.
Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Janine Myburgh said, “It is clear that we have a major crisis on our hands and it is time to slash the red tape and take emergency measures. Unless we do so without delay we will suffer long-term damage to the economy and the reputation of the City.”
Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane gave an assurance in parliament that government would not allow the province to run out of water, but many question why this crisis has been ignored by national government for so long and whether something concrete can be done in time, especially with the annual tourist season just around the corner.
The chamber warned that nearly 49% of businesses that it had surveyed said the drought and water crisis were now a threat to their survival. Many firms have postponed or halted new investments due to the water woes, and building, landscaping and gardening services were shedding jobs hand over fist.
Hotels‚ guest houses‚ catering firms‚ restaurants and others who provide services for the tourist industry are being particularly hard hit by the water crisis.
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