SYDNEY building businesses plagued by this week’s fire have been told the ACT Government will not be “handing out cheques” to compensate for days of lost business.
At an ACT Chamber of Commerce & Industry meeting today, representatives from about 40 businesses from the eastern half of the historic building were told protective fencing could be removed as early as this afternoon from the eastern side of the building, with hoarding in place to protect scaffolding, which could allow some businesses to reopen next week pending assessment by structural engineers.
The city bus station will also be back and running by tomorrow, with free city shuttle buses available in the meantime.
But Director-General of the Economic Development Directorate David Dawes reminded frustrated business representatives the government had no responsibility to “give payouts” for any financial loss.
“The ACT Government does not own the building, it has multiple title owners, so it’s not our responsibility to hand out money in this situation, but we’ll be working with the landlords and lessees to ensure they get the insurance,” he said.
It is estimated about a third of the businesses in the row were severely damaged, while about a third were minimally affected.
Marcus Janssen, owner of severely damaged business Canberra Power Yoga, says it will take “six months” for his business to financially get back to where it was before the fire, while the owner of The London Burgers says he and his staff are “suffering.”
“I have been hit very hard by this, and unfortunately my insurance doesn’t cover me… I have only owned the business for three months,” he says.
“It’s not just us, we have staff not here and we can’t afford to pay them full wages.”
Dawes says the directorate would offer affected businesses advertising once they reopen.
However businesses would need to ensure they had gas, water and electricity supplies, airconditioning and fire exits before they could reopen, says McCabe, who also confirmed no asbestos was present in the building.