GEORGE NEWS - The prolonged road works in Caledon Street, initially scheduled to be completed in September last year, are seriously affecting trade at Getafix Café in the Botanical Garden, as well as occupancy figures at bed and breakfast establishments.
Noise is chasing away guests and difficulty accessing properties is a huge discouragement to visitors, said Michelle Cawood van Vuuren, owner of Getafix. She said customer numbers to their coffee shop have dropped sharply and the continued road works is adding to the effect.
"I am one month away from closing the doors. I have been carrying the business for too long. We've had to stop the night market and cancel the Easter egg hunt, as efforts to attract people with events are fruitless. It has been almost a year now and it has become unviable to stay open. We are thinking of a class action law suit for losses suffered."
She said her formal letter of complaint sent to the municipality three weeks ago on behalf of various establishments in the street has so far been ignored.
The George Municipality said previously it was upgrading the street to be suitable for its public buses. The project started in early June 2018 and the completion date was extended several times - first till November, then February and eventually end March. It was extended again till end April, but the month has come and gone, and it seems far from over.
Earlier in the year, a section of the completed road had to be lifted and the contractor seemed to start from scratch on one section after the road failed a quality test. The municipality further decided that the pavements, which would initially have been refurbished, would be replaced altogether.
This process began recently, but road users were baffled when a completed section of the new paving was also lifted.
Kingston Cuthbert, an utterly frustrated resident perplexed at the way the project was stalling, complained several times. "Do these people know what they are doing? No one cares," he wrote in one of his letters. He questioned the necessity of the project, as does Pottie Potgieter of Alsan Property Development. Potgieter said the specifications for the project were excessive and it is costing the ratepayers more than it should.
Clementine Guesthouse has had a drastic fall in guest numbers. Manager Rita van Tonder complained about evenings and nights of construction disturbing her guests. "It feels like a never-ending story and we suffer losses all the time."
Louw Steinberg of Caledon 23 Country House said his occupancy is down too. A German group who had booked in for two days, left after the first day due to the ongoing noise from the road works. "One can just guess at the long-term effect these issues will have on visitors."
Two Fat Owls Guesthouse manager, Esmé Vermeulen, also complained about the project dragging on and said that their income is being affected.
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