Guest house owners and farmers on the banks of the Vaal River report serious damage and loss of income – SABC News

Guest house owners and farmers on the banks of the Vaal River near Bloemhof in the northwest say they have suffered serious damage and loss of income. This was after the dam’s locks were opened a few days ago, without proper warning from the water and sanitation department.

Farmers say they were unable to remove their water pumps in time and many people camping and fishing near the river had to be evacuated.

The Bloemhof dam, the third largest in the country, is currently at 107% of its capacity. This is due to an increase in the level of the Vaal Dam. The situation then forced the authorities to open the locks.

From now on, businesses on the banks of the river are affected.

The owner of the guesthouse, Sias Meyer, says he lost almost R80,000.

“On the weekend when the water was this high for the last time, everyone canceled and moved because no one can fish here. They could stay here, but couldn’t fish because the water was too high. So economically it also has a big effect on the tourism industry – a loss of income. Personally, I lost between R50,000 and R80,000.

Farms along the river have also been badly affected as irrigation pumps are flooded.

Farmer Pieter Van Zyl says: “In fact, farmers find it difficult to remove all the equipment and farmers could suffer serious damage. If your fields are flooded, your pumps are flooded so obviously there is financial damage to the flood. If your equipment is below the 50 year or even 20 year flood line, there is no coverage for flooding.

One of the fishermen in the area, Piet Mogamme, says that due to the floods they could not fish.

“Since arriving here, I haven’t even managed to catch a single fish, and it is possible that I will return home without success. The problem is that the water is too strong because they opened the water from the dam. So that means I just have to give up and go home.

Water and sanitation officials say those downstream from the Vaal Dam were alerted in time.

Department spokesman Sputnik Ratau said: “Communities have been urged to remove livestock and to avoid fishing and swimming in the flood waters as a result. We should also point out that agricultural and mining activities along the Vaal and Orange River systems have also been warned to remove water pumps and equipment from the banks and surroundings of the system to avoid damage.

With continued showers across the country, dam levels are expected to rise even more.

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