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Johannesburg - Taxi drivers had a field day on Friday morning collecting free water to wash their taxis - while the rest of the city faced the prospect of an entire day without running water.
Water shot 5m into the air in a fountain on the corner of Troye and Commissioner streets in the Joburg CBD after a “patch job” on Monday by Joburg Water gave way.
Taxi drivers enjoyed the spectacle, but business owners and their employees were terrified that their premises would be flooded.
Zaahed Fakira, who works at a nearby car dealership, said the leak, which was originally small, had been reported to Joburg Water about three months ago.
Nothing was done, he said.
On Monday, the leak became noticeably bigger, but still there was no response, he claimed.
Joburg Water denied this, claiming the leak was first reported to it on Monday when technicians did a “patch job” on the leak, because it did not want to “shut down” the city by switching off water, said spokeswoman Millicent Kabwe.
“The intention was to temporarily repair it until the weekend when there were fewer businesses open and fewer people in the CBD.
“However, it did not hold, so unfortunately we had to shut down water to a very large part of the city for the whole day,” she said.
The pipe was big, judging by the extent of the water gushing out, said Kabwe, but technicians had switched off the water and were assessing the cause of the problem.
Joburg metro police spokesman Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said the roads were closed off from about 5.30am on Friday, but by 8.30am two lanes had been reopened.
Minnaar said the other two lanes would remain closed until Joburg Water repairmen had completed their work.
“Traffic has been heavy on the road this morning, but we had metro police officers redirecting vehicles on to the side roads,” he said.