The Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry says it plans to write to the minister of trade and industry and the National Consumer Commissioner (NCC) to ask them to rein in unscrupulous traders who have increased the price of bottled water to benefit from the ongoing water crisis in Cape Town.
“In principle we are asking for intervention so that something can be done to make sure the regular price of bottled water is not increased without any regard to the pockets of consumers especially the most vulnerable,” said ANC member, Adrian Williams.
All members agreed that something needed to be done while Ghalieb Cachalia from the Democratic Alliance stated that “measures should be developed to prevent the poor bearing the brunt of such unfair trading”.
The chairperson of the committee, Joanmariae Fubbs having noted the consensus of all committee members present said that given the water situation in Cape Town,“the current increase in the price of bottled water being charged by some unscrupulous entrepreneurs amounts to exploitation of the poor and vulnerable and does not reflect the spirit of the Constitution”.
She said the minister and the NCC must apply their minds “expeditiously to make sure unfair business practices do not prevail” in Cape Town.
No hike in Cape bottled water prices despite growing shortage
Research published by consumer price watchdog, Retail Price Watch, on Friday (26 January) found that major retail chains in the region are largely sticking to 2017 prices for 5l bottled water.
However the net effect of the drought is that there has been a rush on bottled water and many stores have found themselves temporarily out of stock, said Retail Price Watch’s Viccy Baker.
“Under normal circumstances demand pressure would have increased the price of the larger sizes, but instead stores have been offering specials which have cleared their shelves, even if only for a short time,” she said.
“Retailers are to be commended for not capitalising on the shortage, although it is very likely that consumers who are already very angry about the way the water crisis in the Western Cape has been handled, would not tolerate large price hikes,” Baker said.
|5l still water||Average January 2017 price||Average January 2018 price|
|Nestle Pure Life||R22.49||R20.36|
|Pick n Pay||R17.99||R17.99|