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Informal traders call for more govt support


Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing Minister Thabiso Litšiba chats with a trader during his tour on Thursday.
Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing Minister Thabiso Litšiba chats with a trader during his tour on Thursday.

Motsamai Mokotjo

INFORMAL traders have called on government to secure their stalls and look for markets for their products for them to progress into the formal sector.

This was said during a tour by Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing Minister, Thabiso Litšiba, of bus stops and vendors’ markets in Maseru on Thursday.

The tour was meant to familiarise the minister with some of the challenges the traders are facing.

Flanked by ministry officials, Mr Litšiba visited the Mafafa, Bus stop area and Maseru Bridge Border Post markets.

Chairman of the Ha-Mafafa market, Monyane Manyebutse, bemoaned the loss of their stock to thieves who he said were wreaking havoc at the trading centre located along Kingsway Road.

“We need a guard to protect our products. We are worried that we seem to be working for thieves as they are always stealing our stock,” Mr Manyebutse said.

“Maybe a security guard would help protect our products from theft.”

He continued: “The lack of electricity is also one of the causes for the theft. We have been appealing to the Maseru City Council (MCC) for years to fix the electrical fault in this place for about four or five years now.”

Mr Manyebutse also pointed out that vendors’ markets were mostly open spaces where people were forced to erect makeshift structures for protection from the sun, rain and harsh winters.

“We are working under extremely harsh weather conditions, especially now that the winter season is upon us,” he said.

Mr Manyebutse also urged the minister to look for markets abroad for their products such as seshoeshoe dresses, handmade shoes and bags.

“It takes a long time for our products to be bought,” he said. “Therefore, we are asking for the government to help us in marketing our products to tourists and for overseas markets.”

The traders also highlighted the bureaucratic processes in applying for licences and inconsistent water supply to the markets as impediments to their development.

“We would also want to graduate from being small-scale traders to also getting tenders like other businesspeople and formalising our operations,” he said.

On his part, Mr Litšiba promised to look into the problems the traders highlighted. However, the minister would not be drawn to a time frame in which government would resolve the challenges.

“I can’t commit myself in terms of the time frame because the upkeep of markets falls under a different ministry (Local Government and Chieftainship Affairs),” Mr Litšiba said.

“We are going to meet officials from the relevant ministry soon. From there, we will then assess the situation. We will also engage the MCC on some of the issues raised.”

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