The water shortage in Northern Ireland, described by one senior politician as a “nightmare”, is affecting retail businesses as well as private homes across the nation.
Water pipes throughout the country burst after the icy conditions of recent weeks began to thaw and many Northern Irish communities have been left without fresh water as a result.
Social Democratic and Labour Party MP for South Belfast Dr Alasdair McDonnell said that the timing of the crisis could hardly have been worse.
“Businesses in our busy retail area have also been damaged by this water supply nightmare which is proving particularly detrimental at this crucial time of the year for retailers,” he explained.
Commenting yesterday, he added: “Residents also have the added frustration of not being able to get through to speak to anyone in NI Water or get any information on whether or not their water is being fixed as the agency’s website is down.”
NI Water also came in for criticism from the CEO of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association today.
Glyn Roberts told Retail Gazette that the water board’s response to the crisis has been “nothing short of disgraceful” and he criticised the organisation’s communication with the public considering the number of people and businesses affected by the problem.
In terms of the lack of water supply and its impact on retail, Roberts remarked: “The situation is very grim - it has caused a major headache at such a critical time of the year.
“Retailers are trying to make the best of things before January’s VAT rise, and I’m sure we will find out the worst of the damage in the coming days.”
A statement on NI Water’s website this afternoon said that the number of properties with no water has been reduced from 42,000 customers yesterday to 36,000 today, but many people are set to be without supplies for yet more days to come.