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#WaterCrisis: Thousands of jobs at risk

| Economic factors

A purée factory has temporarily closed, 5 0000 agricultural jobs are at risk, millions will be lost and more businesses could soon face closure.

The Western Cape’s worst drought since 1906 is taking its toll on the province’s economy and its most vulnerable citizens.

According to a survey of members conducted by the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry, nearly 49% of companies have reported the drought crisis has now become a threat to their survival.

Janine Myburgh, president of the chamber, said the survey also found the crisis had caused 23% of responding firms to postpone or halt new investments in their businesses.

“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,” Myburgh said.

Comments received from businesses indicated that a wide range of firms were already affected by the crisis.

“Those hit particularly hard were hotels, guest houses, catering firms, restaurants and others who provided services for the tourist industry. Landscaping and gardening services were already shedding jobs.

“A variety of manufacturing operations were affected as water was used as an essential item in production and cleaning.”

Myburgh also said there was a huge knock-on effect as cutbacks and closures affected other firms, and this would destroy jobs.

“Nearly 41% said that they had reduced their water consumption by 50% or more and 26% said they had reduced consumption by 25%. Nearly 18% said they had reduced consumption by 10%,” Myburgh said.

She believed the City of Cape Cape Town has done far too little to avert the worst, but acknowledged the City had not been given the necessary help by the National Department of Water and Sanitation.

Graham Paulse, acting head for the Western Cape Department of Local Government, said the drought had placed the agricultural sector under immense pressure.

An estimated 50v000 workers in the agricultural sector are at risk and wage losses of nearly R40million are estimated.

Paulse said that in Ceres, 50% less onions and 80% less potatoes were planted due to lack of water, resulting in a loss of R40m in wages to agri workers.

Concerned about the tomatoes, Paulse said the purée factory in Lutzville will not open this season due to the drought.

Anton Bredell, Western Cape MEC for Local Government, said yesterday the provincial government, together with the City, have worked on a comprehensive plan to avert the worst situation.

Mayor Patricia de Lille said the City has a plan, but needed the full support of Capetonians

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