BUSINESS owners on Hoosen Haffajee Street (formerly Berg Street) say they will stop paying rates if their issues on the street are not resolved. After a building on Hoosen Haffajee was burnt down by whoonga addicts this week, business owners have signed a petition saying “enough is enough”.Chadaya Odayan from General Spray Painters and Motor Repairs said he was woken up by an early phone call from someone who was on the street telling him his shop was on fire. “Since the whoonga addicts were evicted from the beer hall, they don’t have anywhere else to sleep. They sleep outside on the street so they burnt the fences of the shops to get inside. We got a call at night from people on the street who saw our number on our signage saying: ‘Hey, your shop is on fire.’ My son came down and saw it was actually our neighbour’s shop. They also have a panel-beating shop at the back with lots of flammables, so it could have gone terribly wrong if we didn’t come on time,” said Odayan. “We are sick and tired of this nonsense now,” he said.He said “anarchy” on the street has made it impossible to run businesses.“There is rubbish scattered all over the streets with a stench emanating from it, the storm drainages are all blocked due to the filth that is pushed into them and now the cherry on the top is that we have all these whoonga guys running wild on our streets day and night. There is total anarchy here and our clients are too afraid to enter here. How then do we run our businesses?” said Odayan.Another business owner on the street, Naeem Aniff, said Hoosen Haffajee Street has become a health hazard for him, his customers and staff. “I have actually also contacted the health department because this is terrible. The addicts smoke whoonga here and the smoke actually comes into the shop and they also urinate outside. It is terrible and disgraceful,” said Aniff.Mohamed Hamid from Sapphire Ceiling and Partition World, also on the street, said business on the street was disrupted. “My whole business is buggered. They’re sleeping outside on mattresses. It is driving away customers,” Hamid said. “We witness daily how people get mugged and assaulted by these addicts, and the police have no concern about us because there is no proper directive from the municipality, which we are affiliated to for our rates,” said Odayan.While whoonga addicts are one of the issues listed on the petition, illegal trading is the second and traffic congestion due to businesses operating on the pavements, the third. “The illegal spray-painting and panel beating cause over-spray on to other cars and the rubbish on the streets makes one realise that we honest hard-working rate and taxpaying citizens have no place in society,” reads the petition.“We demand traffic patrols as we have never seen a traffic officer on our street. The number of illegalities on this street cannot be ignored anymore,” it states.Another disconcerting issue, the business owners say, is the Berg Street Primary School on the same street. “These children are being harassed and intimidated. If these whoonga addicts get a hold of our children they will entice them into drugs and our young girls will be raped and tortured by these dazed addicts,” reads the petition.The business owners said they have lodged numerous complaints to the municipality; however, they have received no response. “This is our last resort now. We are going to stop paying our rates until something is done,” said Odayan. “Is this the image of Pietermaritzburg, the capital of KZN? We were born and bred in Pietermaritzburg and it is very saddening to see our city like this,” said Odayan.“If we stand up for our rights, then maybe everyone else on the other streets will also do the same,” said Odayan. Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business CEO Melanie Veness said the situation looks as if “urgent action” is needed for Hoosen Haffajee Street. “I have recently received a number of complaints from businesses in Victoria Road and Greyling and Hoosen Haffajee streets regarding the disgraceful state of the streets outside their businesses,” said Veness.“It is impossible for business to operate under these circumstances and it is imperative that city officials take urgent action to rectify the situation and assist these ratepayers,” said Veness. Msunduzi Mayor Themba Njilo said the closure of the beer hall was part of the municipality’s response to complaints by the business owners on the street about criminal activities in the area. He said the aftermath from the closure was not something anyone could have predicted would happen. “We are working with SAPS and the Department of Social Development to come up with lasting solutions for the whonga addicts. This issue is affecting us all as a city and we are working on a lasting solution to benefit all,” said Njilo.