Mounting traffic chaos is affecting businesses as work on a burst water main remains unfinished.
Part of the junction of Rectory Lane and Church Hill in Loughton has been closed since yesterday, causing tailbacks on the main route through the town and towards Debden.
Taz Mustafa, who owns Cafe Mosaic in nearby Golding’s Hill, said the traffic was already building up at 3.30pm.
The 41-year-old added: “It’s really bad – it’s all the way back to the Wake Arms Roundabout.
“Some of my customers can’t even come down. What is usually a 10 minute journey from Debden is taking about 40 minutes.
“If you’ve got a big traffic jam and an hour for lunch, it’s not worth it.
“This happened last year, in the same place.”
Raj Patel, who has run Newsbox newsagent’s near the junction for 25 years, said: “It started very late on Friday evening.
“I live above the shop and I was woken up by some of the checks the water board was doing.
“They didn’t seem to do any work until about 7pm on Saturday.”
He said he had seen a drop in business in the shop today.
He added: “It’s just causing disruption and surely if it’s a major road, there needs to be some urgency.”
A spokeswoman for Thames Water, which is responsible for the supply in the area, said: “We're really sorry for the disruption being caused while we try and locate a leak, which was reported to us by the police on Saturday.
“Over the weekend, we dug down to the pipe under the road but could not find the source of the problem.
“Leaks can be difficult to find because the water does not always appear in the same place as the actual leak.
“We will be out again tonight trying to get this repaired.”