MASERU — The government on Thursday evicted livestock traders from Lithabaneng to a new market on the outskirts of the city at Ha-Foso in a major clean-up exercise.
The government says the move will ensure that the city is kept clean and allow traders to sell their livestock in one secure place.
It also argues that the decision to move the traders to the market will help regulate prices.
The new market is at the old government-operated feedlot north of the central business district.
The operation was conducted by the ministries of trade and industry, markets and co-operatives, agriculture and food security, local government as well as the Maseru City Council.
The principal secretary in the Ministry of Trade, Teleko Ramotšoari, said the decision to relocate the livestock traders will benefit farmers.
“The new market will make it easier for consumers as the animals will be in one place. It will be very convenient (for buyers).
“When the small animal traders are in one place this will help regulate and stabilise prices. This will benefit all the traders and their customers,” Ramotšoari said.
Ramotšoari said the ministry is already encouraging co-operation among entrepreneurs.
“When business people co-operate, their businesses have a good chance of succeeding than when they operate on their individual basis,” he said.
He said the ministry was planning to set up similar projects around the country.
“In the future projects of this type will be launched in other districts, and we as the ministry would like to engage relevant stakeholders,” he said.
Liteboho Mofubetsoane, the deputy principal secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, said the new market will ensure that all the livestock sold at the market are in good condition.
Mofubetsoane said the ministry will also be able to regularly monitor the health of the livestock.
“The opening of this market will make it easier for the ministry to ensure the safety of consumers and for disease control,” said Mofubetsoane.
An official from the Maseru City Council, Molefi Mokhethi, said the decision to remove livestock from the streets will protect residents from animal diseases.
It will also help in efforts to keep the city clean, Mokhethi said.
“This is a good initiative and will revive the agriculture industry as it will make it possible for the traders to supply in large quantities,” he said.
Thousands of cattle, goats and sheep freely roam the streets of Maseru posing a serious danger to motorists.
In some cases, cattle kraals are built side-by-side to urban homes in an intriguing mixture of the urban and traditional lifestyle.
However, traders who spoke to local news agency, Lena, said they were not happy with the decision to move them from Lithabaneng.
Haborethe Machaba, from Thaba-Tseka, said livestock traders were being treated like foreigners in their own country.
“We are not doing anything (criminal) by being here. All we are doing is making a living for ourselves as well as our families,” Machaba said.
Seemo Matjale, from Mohale’s Hoek, said it was going to be difficult for farmers to adjust to the new place.
“We are not sure if our livestock will be safe there and these people that are moving us there will not even take the responsibility if our animals are stolen,” Matjale said.
He said he was sure that profits will slump significantly as the new place was situated on the outskirts of the city and was not convenient for customers.