The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber has raised red flags around the water shortage in the metro, calling on national government to urgently make funding available to support mitigation initiatives.
Andrew Muir, president of the Business Chamber, said the Eastern Cape province also needs to declare the metro a disaster area so it can secure additional funding to implement the initiatives.
“Key industrial and commercial businesses are located in the zones which are projected to potentially be without water from July. This is of great concern to us, particularly in terms of the impact it will have on our local economy.
“The automotive and related industry, which account for almost 40% of our metro’s GDP, are located within these impacted areas. So too is Aspen’s sterile facility which will be producing vaccines for half of South Africa’s population.”
While many businesses are urgently investing in measures to develop alternative water supply and to reduce their water consumption levels, not all have the resources to do so, Muir said. He added that these rising costs were making it more difficult to do business in the area.
“We need an enabling environment in place if we want to retain and attract investment to our metro. This requires the involvement and commitment of a wide range of stakeholders who need to unite together with the common goal of getting the basics in place.”
He added that the metro was now facing a ‘perfect storm’ caused by a number of issues, many of which could have been avoided.
“Inadequate forward planning and the lack of maintenance of infrastructure has impacted upon the reliability of electricity supply.
“Water leaks account for a loss of around 35% of our water, with at least 10% of this happening at schools and hence why the chamber and its members have gotten involved in initiatives to curb water losses at schools.
“Overlay this with the impact which climate change has had from a drought perspective as well as the ongoing threat posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.”