Saturday, 11 April 2020

LOCKDOWN : VENDORS COUNT LOSSES


BULAWAYO vendor, Mr Peter Bhunu does not know how he will continue feeding his family as the 21-day lockdown takes a toll on his business.

Mr Bhunu who has a stall along Fifth Avenue said while the market place has been reopened, that does not benefit them as vending stalls remain shut.

He said the lockdown was welcome as it is aimed at saving lives, but it was coming at a personal cost to him.

After the lockdown came into effect last week on Monday, the vendor was back in town yesterday to clear his stall as the city council wanted to disinfect the area.

“I just came to clear my stand as we were told that the chemical used to disinfect this area is poisonous. But my biggest concern is that we have lost our livelihood at the moment. We have nowhere to turn to and staying at home without food is a challenge,” said Mr Bhunu.

He said even the few items that they had bought prior to the lockdown were running out and he does not know how he will continue feeding his family.

Last week, Government said it had set up a $600 million fund to cushion those running small businesses from the impact of the 21-day national lockdown.

Vendors claim information has not cascaded to the intended beneficiaries.

Mr Bhunu said he had not heard about the fund and fears losing out on the rescue package.

Another vendor, Ms Siphathisiwe Nkomo shared Mr Bhunu’s sentiments, saying it is increasingly becoming difficult for them to cope under the 21-day lockdown.

Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association executive director Michael Ndiweni said his members were struggling for survival as most are living from hand to mouth.

Mr Ndiweni said it was important for Government to expedite releasing the bailout.

“This is not a sector where people can make savings. They sell what they have and buy their groceries, their livelihoods have been seriously affected. We have so far registered approximately 1 800 vendors so that they benefit from the Government cushion targeting people in such sectors. But not all the vendors are under our association.

“Some of them do not even have knowledge on how to register for the fund. We had to assist some of the people, some of them who are not under our association,” said Mr Ndiweni.

He said the biggest challenge has been to disseminate information as the fund was announced when the country was already under lockdown.

Mr Ndiweni said his organisation was working closely with Bulawayo City Council and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development to register the vendors for the grant. Chronicle

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