The south coast was once the jewel of KZN tourism…

Tourism is the economic engine of small coastal towns on KwaZulu-Natal’s southern coast, but this source of income is drying up almost as fast as their water supply.

According to George Henderson, Democratic Alliance Councilor for Uvongo, Malabo and St Michaels on Sea in the local municipality of Ray Nkonyeni, 80% of the area’s business comes from tourism. He said the region was suffering greatly because “tourists cannot visit the south coast when they know they will have no water”.

With its subtropical climate, warm seas and beautiful beaches, the south coast has long been a favorite holiday destination for visitors from overseas and from other parts of South Africa. However, this is changing rapidly.

Leka Reddy, owner of B Cubed Guesthouse and a restaurant in Port Shepstone, says they are struggling because of the unreliable water supply. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

Leka Reddy runs B Cubed Guest House and Leka’s Food and Beer Garden in Port Shepstone. She said the constant water cuts have dealt a severe blow to the tourism industry.

“We have had this problem for years, but the municipality does not seem to have a solution. We were forced to purchase water tanks, also known as JoJo tanks.

“Because we are in the tourism business, we have observed that fewer tourists come to the south coast. Even those who come leave after two or three days because they cannot go without water,” she said.

Reddy said the water crisis had been exacerbated by Eskom’s load shedding. “We have to use electricity to pump water in the guesthouse and restaurant. But when we don’t have water or electricity, we have to shut everything down… water is needed to run the restaurant.

Reddy said she was forced to lay off staff and furlough others on short notice because of the crisis.

“With the money that the municipality collects from the inhabitants, it is supposed to have solved this problem for a long time.”

Lekas ​​Restaurant in Port Shepstone is struggling due to the city’s water crisis. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

Residents of Margate said a popular restaurant, the Friar Tuck restaurant, was forced to close due to the water cuts.

The Pumphouse Family Restaurant and Bar, another area favorite, is operating under difficult circumstances. Manager Edward Retief said they had a 5,000 liter tank which pumps water into the premises.

“We are trying to adapt accordingly. Luckily for us, we never had a situation where we had to close. But we are operating under these circumstances,” he said.

Dominique Read is the manager of Superbodies Gym in Margate. She said many of her clients canceled their contracts because they couldn’t use the showers after a workout.

“A lot of our clients came to train in the morning or during lunch. Now they prefer not to come at all because they say they can’t shower before going back to work,” she said. declared.

“Every December there seems to be a problem that ensures we have no water. It’s either a strike or some kind of sabotage. In December, we had no water for 15 consecutive days. It’s incredible. We have to buy water every day for drinking, bathing and bathing,” Read said.

Angie Clench, who runs hair salon Karisma in Southbroom, said they had to close when there was no water because the business depended on water to run.

July Akhuni runs a shisanyama and salon in the Qina Bhawodi area, just outside Gamalakhe township. She said she had to close because of the constant water cuts.

“It costs R30 to wash people’s hair and I have to pay R40 for a container with 20 liters of water.”

She said the water shortages were not just affecting her businesses, but her family life had been disrupted. She said her children had to miss school for several days because the family had no water for drinking, bathing or flushing the toilet.

“A few years ago, we were relieved when we saw the Ugu District Municipality digging trenches and laying pipes. But that joy has turned into sorrow as we still have no water at our taps,” she said.

Umzinto businessman JC Padayachie said the intermittent water supply was causing many businesses to lose hope. He said those businesses were also hit when angry residents shut down the town with violent protests.

“We were told that we could not open our doors. We lost because of the protests. However, people’s anger is understandable because we live here in Umzinto and are affected by the same issues that these communities are experiencing,” he said.

The municipality claims to do its best

The Ugu District Municipality has denied that incompetence, fraud and corruption are to blame for the water crisis on the south coast.

He admitted he faced challenges during high season, such as the December holidays, but maintained that residents on the south coast had water in their taps more often than not.

Municipal spokeswoman France Zama said they were doing everything in their power to ensure the water shortage was solved once and for all.

“During peak season, when large volumes of people flock to the district, our systems are likely to experience strain due to high supply demand. Our water systems also rely heavily on Eskom’s power supply to function properly… In the event of a power outage, the risk of intermittent supply also increases.

“Capture, purification and distribution depend on energy to provide adequate pressure to high altitude areas, which also impacts the proper filling of reservoirs,” he said.

Zama acknowledged receiving 19 million rand from the KZN Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department to address the water crisis.

“As for Cogta’s R19 million, R15 million will be used for the overhaul of the mechanical and electrical infrastructure at our plant, while R4 million will be earmarked for drilling and springs.

“We have developed a water master plan which involves replacing aging infrastructure and integrating the 16 individual water systems into sustainable systems, namely Harding Weza, Umtamvuna, uMzimkhulu, Umtwalume, Vulamehlo, KwaLembe and Mhlabatshane.

“We also have a rudimentary water supply program incorporating the use of boreholes and spring water. A source protection and borehole maintenance program to support community supply is also in place,” he said.

The Ugu District Municipality has denied allegations that some contractors were working in concert with unscrupulous officials to sabotage its water supply infrastructure in order to continue securing contracts to supply water to desperate communities.

“During the recent high season…no incidents of sabotage were reported in the municipality. The municipality has, however, in the past suffered from water supply problems due to vandalism and sabotage.

“Residents with such information (of intentional vandalism and/or sabotage) are encouraged to report such information to the municipality or local law enforcement authorities. We also have an anti-fraud and corruption hotline 0801111660 or SMS 44751,” Zama said. DM/OBP


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