In recent articles in Business Report on the fracking danger to the Karoo (“Farmers oppose fracking as destructive, but business sees significant potential”, August 28, and “Water to be more tightly regulated”, September 4) two issues need to be given attention. It is obvious fracking is going ahead. The economic benefits are too enticing.
SABC3’s Special Assignment on September 5 illustrated the water problem in the platinum mining belt as a warning to the Karoo.
First, anyone who has spent time in the Karoo knows how fragile the environment is and how concerned farmers, who know their terrain after generations of experience, are. There is little indication from big supporters nor politician Chris Nissen that there is any genuine concern for the principle of “environmental sustainability”.
Farmers know desertification of the Karoo will be speeded up by poisoning underground water. The authorities and big business declare they are taking the issue seriously. But are they? Large parts of the Karoo will be lost to productive agriculture as the water is steadily poisoned.
The Karoo is dependent on underground water. Talking recently to a farmer in the Uniondale area, he explained when there was good rain in the Free State the water table rose. It illustrates a feature of the movement of underground water. The unresolved issue is what happens unseen under the surface.
Another farmer in the Beaufort West area some years back explained that in the Karoo “you have to farm 25 years ahead”. Neither big business nor the government have given any indication they understand the nature of Karoo farming or what will be done once economically productive farming has ended. Also, not mentioned is that many farmers are paying fixed amounts for borehole water. What happens when it is poisoned?
Second, the Karoo farmer is dispensable to this government. The bottom line is they are perceived as settlers. Farm ownership and occupancy of the land by them is believed to be illegitimate. President Robert Mugabe is a hero for the way he got rid of Zimbabwe’s “settlers”. What farmers need to establish unequivocally now is how they are going to be compensated for loss of livelihood with the inevitable poisoning of the water.
They need to go beyond the persuasive arguments of big business to the realities. It is well known how business and the government operate when challenged after the inevitable disaster strikes. Claims take years, at great cost to the claimant who has to bash at the door repeatedly to get any response. The little man gets broken quickly by the system, not least because the government wants him off the land anyway.
As seen elsewhere in the world, it is too late when the environment has been killed. Then not even the original settlers, the Khoisan, will be able to farm productively.
Acsa’s airport parking is far too expensive
A whopping net profit after tax of R991 million was posted by the Airports Company South Africa in 2013 (“Acsa looks to spread its wings”, Business Report, September 2).
Its revenue increased by 16 percent to R6.66 billion, an astronomical monetary value that some of us have no comprehension of. What is notable is that 17 percent of the non-aeronautical revenue was from car parking, and a simple calculation shows Acsa generated R407.6m from parking fees in one year. Those of us that parked their cars at the airport contributed to this and the government and some private sector operators benefited financially.
Parking fees at the airports are at a premium and expensive for the location, but why is it necessary for Acsa to tariff its parking fees at such exorbitant rates? I believe the parking fees are too expensive.
When one parks at the airport, it is out of necessity, Acsa is making an unreasonable profit on these non-departing public.
Acsa does not need to grow its revenue from many of its public use facilities, the parking lot being one.
The public that contributes towards the growth of Acsa must be able to use the infrastructure at a reasonable cost.
Councillor Michael Sun
Member of Municipal Public Accounts Committee, Member of Oversight Committee of legislature, City of Johannesburg
Chicken price claims do not pass muster
Having followed the recent chicken wars between importers and local poultry producers with some interest, the claims and counter claims from both sides appeared to have abated.
However, in the latest salvo fired by David Wolpert of the Association of Meat Importers and Exporters, local poultry producers are blamed for price increases of “between 25 percent and 30 percent”.
Empirical evidence tells a different story. Unless Wolpert is pricing his chicken at one upmarket retailer that recently released excellent results, a simple glance at the retail multi-page ads in The Star shows South African chicken priced at R34.79 for 2 kg.
Online shopping offers individually quick frozen braai cuts at R38.99 for 2 kg, and chicken thighs are selling at R26.99 for 1.5 kg. This represents an average price of about R19 a kilogram, which does not support the exaggerated figures claimed by Wolpert, who does his cause no favours by peddling this kind of misinformation.
In light of dramatically lower earnings posted by local chicken producers such as Rainbow Chicken and Country Bird and a local industry in severe distress, perhaps he could share with us the landed costs of imported poultry and its current selling prices so we can see how his association’s members are helping keep prices down to benefit the poor in whose interests he claims to act.
Small traders beware point of sale gadgets
It would be interesting if the 22 000 small traders that are getting debit/credit card point of sale machines have been fully briefed on the horrendous charges they will incur.
I very much doubt it. Once the reality sinks in – the commission charges and the monthly rental – they will see a large chunk of their profits being re-routed to the banks.
In 2010, the banks convinced the government and the fuel industry associations to accept credit cards for petrol (which was previously disallowed) as their argument was that overseas visitors would be inconvenienced. They promised fuel retailers that the charges would be equivalent to cash banking fees.
However, in practice, fuel dealers have seen a huge spike in card charges as debit cards linked to cheque accounts are processed through the terminals as normal credit cards attracting the higher commission.
Fuel retailers make 7.5 percent gross profit and the banks take 1.2 percent commission.
Repeated representations to the banks are met with disdain. The matter is conveniently ignored at all levels and petrol industry associations realised they were taken for a ride by the banking industry.
Oh to be a banker.
Bulwer Park Service Station