BY CALUM FRASER
The misery created for residents and road users as a result of one of South London’s busiest roads being closed due to burst water pipes could continue for another two weeks.
Thames Water has apologised for the disruption in Tooting High Street but said that fixing the pipe is a complicated job because it is situated close to another large main.
Thames Water is already under criticism for the way it responded to last week’s water supply crisis which saw households with no water for up to five days.
The High Street is closed between the junctions with Garratt Lane, opposite Tooting Broadway station and the Blackshaw Road junction, toward Colliers Wood.
Transport for London (TfL) has 15 buses on diversion and has told people to check for updates before travelling.
Water surged down Tooting High Street last Wednesday after the 30-inch pipe burst.
Thames Water arrived within 15 minutes to stop the flow and the fire brigade used sandbags to limit water damage to buildings.
Thames Water confirmed that 11 properties were flooded during the incident and said it was working with affected businesses to compensate damage to stock.
New Look in Tooting Broadway claimed it lost £3k in stock in the flood and had to close on Wednesday and Thursday.
Supervisor Tash Watson said: “I opened on Wednesday. I was so confused walking through the door, there were about two to three inches of water. And it was murky like mud and water combined.
“Thames Water came in to clean the water yesterday. Today we’re just trying to get the shop back to normal.
“We’ve lost about £2,000 to £3,000 in stock.
“But the Thames Water teams have been really supportive and helpful and they’ve made sure everything gets done.”
Hannah Wales, of Mitcham Road, was on her way to Tooting Broadway Tube station at around 6.30am when she stumbled across the water.
She said: “I was walking along and didn’t even see it until I was right upon it because it was still dark.
“I thought ‘oh wow.’ It got worse the closer I got to the station and there was a point on the pavement where there was barely anywhere to walk.
“But everybody just cracked on and got into work.”
Gary Doherty, chef and owner of Tota restaurant, said: “There have been a lot of policemen standing around doing not very much since it happened. I’ve never seen so many around here.
“Perhaps they could open up the no-entry in Gambole Road and allow traffic from the south to get into Garratt Lane – that would stop the blockage. They would have to restrict parking so cars could pass each other. But it would help out motorists.
“And it should not take a chef to work out that kind of solution.”
Alamgir Khan, of Smartway Dry Cleaners, said: “It will be a problem while the repairs are going on. My business is down but it seems there is nothing we can do. It will be hard if this lasts for two weeks.”
Arumugam Sivanandan, of Jaffna House restaurant, said: “Most of our diners park in nearby streets.
But since the flooding, if I tell them they just go somewhere else instead.
“While it’s dusty and noisy with the work going on, no one seems to want to come here. We should be compensated but I know we won’t be.”
Sundar Kanatathipillai, of Sri Video and Grocery, said: “With the buses being diverted away it is almost impossible to get one, so it takes me until 2am to get home to Sydenham.
“It is much quieter in the shop now. It will definitely affect this shop. We will be fine, but it is always a worry if you lose business.”
Said Khan, of Khan Mobile, said: “It is bad but it seems there is nothing we can do.
“It has been very quiet here. But if they have to close it, there is no choice.”
A Thames Water spokeswoman said: “We’re really sorry for the disruption a burst on one of our 30-inch water pipes in Tooting High Street is causing.
“We reacted really quickly to the burst on Wednesday, arriving within 15 minutes shutting off the flow to reduce flooding, and we’ve now started to dig down to repair the pipe.
“It’s a complicated job as the broken pipe is very close to another large water main and we therefore have to be very careful not to create further problems.
“We’re working very hard to get everything back to normal as quickly as possible.”