Businesses demand government assistance

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 June, 2007, 12:00am

Businesses that rely heavily on tap water in Wuxi claimed yesterday that their business volume had been cut in half because of pollution in nearby Tai Lake, and have demanded compensation from the government.

Blue-green algae blooming in the heavily polluted lake has led to smelly tap water throughout Wuxi, in Jiangsu province, forcing residents to stock up on bottled water. The outbreak has also kept people away from businesses using water from the lake.

Zhu Guoquan , who runs a foot-bathing centre in Huishan district, said he had few customers in the past two days because customers said the water smelled bad.

'We are badly affected by this water incident. If we use tap water the customers will not come here. Now we have to put fragrances in the water basin, but there are still few visitors,' Mr Zhu said.

He said that although the water problem could have resulted from natural causes, something environmental groups dispute, the city's government should help those most affected by the problem.

'The government does not care about the interests of the public. We have lost so much. I think the government should compensate us to some extent, such as exempting us from water fees for this month,' Mr Zhu said.

Some inner-city hair salons and restaurants were closed until next week due to 'the poor water quality', according to notices posted on doors.

Bi Chunhua , who owns a food stall, said her earnings had been reduced by more than half because people would not eat at the street stalls, thinking they used tap water.

'Now I have to buy bottled water to boil rice and to carry well water from a distant suburb to wash vegetables,' Ms Bi said.

Tourism in the area has also taken a knock, with many people cancelling tours and hotel reservations, a municipal tourism official said.

Wuxi is one of the top 10 tourism destinations among mainland cities. Last year, tourism earned the city 35 billion yuan as 760,000 overseas tourists and 36 million domestic tourists visited the area, according to the tourism authority.

Regina Gong, the sales manager at Motel 168 near the railway station, said bookings were down 60 per cent.