FIRST the deadline was July. Then, when an unanticipated problem with sewer pipes was discovered, it was extended to September. Now, after further delays caused by inclement weather, the Msunduzi municipality says the brick paving between the city hall and Tatham Art Gallery will be completed next week, and that stretch of Chief Albert Luthuli Street re-opened. Businesses operating in the precinct say the project, which has reduced traffic in the area, has almost crippled them. Pizza Perfect Central co-owner Graham Rodwell said they had run at a loss for the past six months. “We have taken loans from family to try to keep the business alive, who are now calling in their chits, and we can’t help them because we are still making a loss. We don’t have enough business coming through our doors because the road is still closed,” he said. Nishan Moonsamy, manager at a phone shop, said their business had drastically deteriorated since construction started. “If this road does not open now, we are going to register a major loss,” he said. An employee at Photo Yebo, Velile Luthuli, said customers were rather going to the Liberty Midlands Mall because of the inconvenience posed by the construction. “November is usually a busy month for us, but this year we will make a loss,” she said. Msunduzi spokesperson Brian Zuma said the road could not be prematurely opened. “It has to be ready for use before we do so. The delays in reopening the road were unforeseen and beyond the control of all involved,” he said. Zuma said, however, the road would be re-opened on November 28. “The inconvenience is regretted, but unfortunately there is no compensation for such,” he said.