Road closures cause chaos

Charlotte Varcoe

A NUMBER of businesses within the Montebello complex have called for compensation after reportedly losing about 30 per cent of profits due to road closures.

Gym Challenge Meals, Odd Socks Laundromat and the Montebello IGA have reported the loss in profits across a number of weeks due to road closures for future housing developments with the IGA having to reduce staff hours.

The Wireless Road West and Suttontown Road retail hub had been partially shut off for a number of weeks with sewage works underway.

For a number of weeks the entrance to the shopping complex along Wireless Road West was almost completely shut off with no access from the roundabout.

Gym Challenge Meals owner Alex Marlow said his business entrance was right at the entrance from Wireless Road West which was partially shut.

“We get a lot of early morning traffic people on the way to work, grabbing coffees or meals on the way,” Mr Marlow said.

“We have had that road completely blocked for the first three weeks of the roadworks, which was tricky because we have since pretty much lost everybody.”

He said all retail stores at the Montebello shopping complex had lost a significant number of customers who would otherwise come through due to the road blockage.

Mr Marlow said with access limited customers who would usually come through on their way to work were no longer doing so.

“Access on Wireless Road was opened up but then they blocked off the roundabout and people would just come towards it but then leave,” he said.

“We have lost about 30 per cent of trade which is pretty catastrophic and it is a tough time for businesses anyway.

“We have really struggled this year with the cost of living and all our customers and clientele want to support us but they do not have the ability.”

He said in order to try and maintain funds and staffing Mr Marlow had discounted food and provided free delivery.

“We have a $5.90 delivery fee and we had about 60 deliveries last week which was great but that also means we have missed out on about $350 of delivery fees which is the wages for my driver for the day,” Mr Marlow said.

“We also had discounted food because we did not want to be left with any surplus stock so it has been difficult to know how much food to make.”

Now, Mr Marlow – along with other managers and owners in the complex – were wondering whether they were entitled to compensation.

“There has to be something somewhere for businesses like us to be able to recoup those losses or at least some form of compensation because being a business is so tough,” he said.

Odd Socks Laundromat owner Steve Kleeman and IGA Montebello owner Sumeet Cheema both reiterated they had a surplus of about 30 per cent compared to previous months.

Mr Kleeman said his main concerns were whether customers would return to the laundromat during the busiest period of the year.

“Montebello is normally our busiest one and customers can come in from two entries but those coming from the Montebello Estate will be compromised because the other day the roundabout was fully closed,” Mr Kleeman said.

“Something needs to be done but also communication was a letter slipped under the door and that was it so the communication has not been the best.”

He said while all business owners were feeling the pressure he was concerned with the business relying on customers to keep it afloat.

“We will keep providing the service because that is who we are but the access for our customers is not comfortable getting in and out,” Mr Kleeman said.

Mr Cheema said he had to reduce staff hours – resulting in some handing in their resignation – due to the lack of income.

“Due to reduction in staff hours they were not happy about it and have left or resigned or might not come back when needed,” Mr Cheema said.

“That means I will have to start from scratch in terms of training new staff which will be challenging in finding and training them.”

He said he had never seen a downturn in profits like this since taking over the shop a number of years ago and had always experienced positive feedback from customers.

An SA Water spokesperson said the construction of the new sewer mains was being undertaken by a private contractor on behalf of a local developer to connect housing developments to SA Water’s sewer network.

“As part of this complex work being undertaken by the local developer, SA Water had to review a change to the contractor’s proposed construction methodology in March, who recommended an alternative approach to limit the impact of their work on commuters along Suttontown Road,” the spokesperson said.

“We advised the contractor and the local developer they could proceed with this new construction methodology in early April.”

The contractor – Fraser Baker – assured residents and retail owners they had followed all due process and throughout the duration of the works sought to work with and accommodate all stakeholders.

Shadow Assistant Minister for Regional Development Ben Hood said he was made aware of the issue and wrote to the Minister for Housing and Development Nick Champion.

Mr Hood said he was concerned about whether there would be compensation for business owners and if not there needed to be consideration to do so.

Mr Champion said the vital works were necessary to install critical sewerage infrastructure to enable more housing in the region.