Cape Town – In recent months, water and water-related products such as storage tanks, sanitisers, plastic buckets and water pumps have been sought en masse.
Chief executive at PriceCheck Kevin Tucker said statistics from their website show a massive jump in searches for water-related products.
“A number of retailers are promoting things like bottled water specials. We’ve seen the search for bottled water increase by 577% in the past month, which indicated a bit of panic buying,” said Tucker.
“The price increases we’ve seen aren’t necessarily at shops, but rather individual products or categories of specialised products. Where products are scarce and specialised, the prices will and have gone up. Service providers have increased their prices.”
Tucker added: “The principles of supply and demand still apply, and we know that the demand has increased substantially, therefore it’s likely that increased prices will become the norm for as long as the crisis and demand exists.”
Businesses are, meanwhile, heeding calls to join forces with the government and civil society to save water as Cape Town races towards Day Zero.
Organisers of Cape Town’s annual horse-racing meet, the Sun Met, confirmed this week they would not be tapping into the city’s fast-depleting water reserves.
Chief operations officer of Sun International Rob Collins, which runs today’s event at Kenilworth Racecourse, said they have provided 60 000 litres of water to “service guests and racegoers”.
“Furthermore, a plan will be made and put into action to ensure that any surplus water following the Sun Met event is put to use to help alleviate the Cape Town water crisis,” said Collins.
The Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), a landmark conference and events venue in the city, launched its new R900million expansion this week.
Both city mayor Patricia de Lille and provincial premier Helen Zille, who are facing a backlash for not acting sooner to avert the water crisis, were at the opening ceremony on Thursday night.
The centre’s chief executive Julie-May Ellingson said since their first building opened in 2003, they have hosted nearly 7000 events.
Ellingson could not avoid questions about the centre’s impact on Cape Town’s water crisis. She told the gathering they had already “implemented several water savings measures to reduce the centre’s water consumption”.
“Most of our water savings initiatives take place behind the scenes and are part of our facilities management operations,” she said.
“The CTICC has been running water conservation initiatives for several years. By the 2015/16 financial year, the centre had already been using 10 million litres less water than it did five years earlier.
“As the drought intensified, the centre also installed storage tanks to capture rain water and increased the grey water storage capacity. Additional augmentation systems are under consideration but the focus remains on minimising water usage wherever possible.”
However, not all businesses have found favour with locals.
This week, Newlands-based South African Breweries (SAB) faced criticism.
The recently-established Cape Town Water Crisis Coalition criticised the company for its lack of assistance regarding the water crisis after it offered to bottle a million cases of water bottles, totalling nine million litres, if Day Zero arrives.
The coalition, which has at least 64 organisational affiliates, described the company’s assistance as paltry.
Its statement said that “your minimalist offer of handing out bottled water to the masses on Day Zero was highly insulting when you receive millions of litres of our spring water for free, every day”.
The coalition was referring to the contentious matter of the natural spring from which the company draws water for its products.
“Is this all that one of the world’s largest beverage companies can give?
“This offer of yours is to distract us from the fact that you are continuing to profit from free spring water.”John Stenslunde, SAB Newlands Brewery plant manager, said the Newlands Spring situated on its property would remain open to the public.
“Newlands will further reduce its dependency on the municipal water grid, using only spring and borehole water. This will free up approximately 1.7-million additional litres of water per month to the City of Cape Town.”