Pretoria - Centurion business people and motorists have been warned to brace themselves for another bumpy ride after news that the City of Tshwane could not complete repairs of the problematic Jean Avenue sinkhole.
Business owners who were negatively affected by the sinkhole convinced the high court in Pretoria to order the City to commence construction earlier this year, when the City appeared to be doing nothing. They were convinced the municipality was moving at a snail's pace after discovering the sinkhole in May last year.
They said they could not bear seeing barricades placed around the Gerhard Street and Jean Avenue intersection as that reminded them of all the potential clients who could not access their businesses.
Popular eatery NewsCafe, situated close to the damaged road, was forced to close its doors after 17 years of operation due to the sinkhole. Owner Gerry Kanaris was one of the many frustrated business people who wanted the City to step up efforts to fix the sinkhole.
Esme Janse van Rensburg, of Zania Hair Salon said she lost some of her talented stylists because they did not make good commission with fewer clients coming in.
“I also had to retrench some of my other employees because I could not afford to pay them. It's just sad what this sinkhole has done to businesses here. We were told the municipality now hopes to complete fixing the sinkhole in September. We were hoping that they would finish by the end of July as promised, but it does not look like that will happen.”
Mimmos manager George Vurgarelles said his restaurant, like most businesses near the sinkhole, had lost income significantly since last year. He said he had been running a series of promotional specials to keep customers coming, but that yielded little return.
Asia House waitress Anesipho Boots said business was bad because waiters needed tips. “We need tips in our line of work, because they help us pay for transport. That way we can use our salaries to address other responsibilities.”
Car guards Godfrey Moyo and Malembe Mulambo now take turns in duties at the shopping complex near the sinkhole. One works for two days before the other takes over. Jean Avenue was previously used by at least 40000 commuters during peak hours every day. These people supported local businesses and the nearby Zenex petrol station.
The petrol station was part of the businesses affected by the sinkhole due to limited traffic. Centurion has experienced numerous sinkhole problems which affected various routes and almost collapsed some buildings. Mayor Solly Msimanga once said fixing the sinkholes could cost the City at least R100million.
Mayoral spokesperson Sam Mgobozi said the sinkholes were a complicated challenge that involved at least five departments and a dedicated spokesperson would be appointed to handle matters relating to the Jean Avenue sinkhole.