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By Vukosi Maluleke

Digital Journalist

How businesses at the epicentre of Joburg CBD explosion are picking up the pieces

Joburg CBD business owners on how they are coping in the aftermath of the explosion.

Uncertainty permeates the usually bustling Bree Street as business owners try to deal with the aftermath of the explosion in the Joburg CBD.

Bree is one of Joburg’s busiest, noisiest and most congested streets, with thousands of people navigating their way around the city’s CBD daily – but Thursday is slightly different.

The explosion has turned the area upside down.

‘Today is a bit slow’

Hairlord Exclusive Hair Salon owner Innocent Uba was faced with the tough task of convincing staff members to show up for work as most of them were concerned about their safety.  

Although no one in his salon was injured, “one staff member complained of having a slight headache, probably due to shock”.

“Today is a bit slow. Cars are not coming this direction,” he told The Citizen.

Uba said the explosion happened quickly, with the lights instantly going off.

ALSO READ: Map – Avoid these roads affected by Joburg CBD blast

‘Right in front of my store’

The explosion happened right in front of Akhona Furnishers owner Ibrahim Hassan’s shop.

Luckily for Hassan, he’d just called it a day moments before the explosion happened. He didn’t witness the explosion firsthand but said there was no structural damage to his shop.

He did not open on Thursday morning due to roads being blocked for ongoing investigations into the cause of the incident. He said he was unsure when he’ll be able to reopen.

ALSO READ: No lights and ‘the high smell of gas’ morning after the Joburg CBD explosion

‘Safety first’

City Property’s Marketing Specialist, Lize Nel, said the company’s commercial and residential properties in the area have been affected by the explosion.

“One of our properties, Lara’s Place, was evacuated as a precautionary measure and nobody is allowed access to the building as the authorities are still busy with their investigation,” Nel said.

The company has provided alternative basic accommodation and refreshments for affected tenants as well as parking at another building.

“Emergency services have closed retail shops in the immediate vicinity of the explosion,” Nel said.

She confirmed both commercial and residential tenants remain without water and electricity in the area.

Nel said maintenance engineering confirmed no structural damage to their buildings.

ALSO READ: Joburg CBD explosion – Patients not showing signs of gas inhalation

‘Awaiting the Premier’

When asked for comment on its plans to assist affected businesses, the Gauteng Provincial Department of Economic Development said “any assistance to the business community would come from the Gauteng Provincial Government through the Premier and Treasury”.

‘This may cause job losses’

Meanwhile, the National Taxi Alliance’s Theo Malele told SABC News, said road closures following the explosion could impact on jobs in the sector.

“The Bree Street corridor is very important to the taxi industry. It is mainly used to get into the city and we also have a ranking facility there. We have quite a number of businesses and vendors who rely solely on on the taxi industry. So, the non-operation of the taxi industry will have a negative effect on these businesses and we are afraid that this may cause job losses”.

The industry reportedly contributes about 400 000 direct and indirect jobs.

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