By: Kebba AF Touray
Women vendors at the provincial Lumos (weekly markets) have called for a bailout from the Government and relevant stakeholders in a bid for them to restart their businesses amid post-Covid-19.
The vendors revealed that they need financial assistance to empower and strengthen their businesses, which were seriously handicapped by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
According to these women, the reopening of the Lumos was thoughtful and a wise decision by the government, but said they are still grappling with the effects of the closure of the Lumos. During the closure of Lumos as a result of the pandemic, the women said they relied on the profits they earned to fend for their families.
The women made these comments on Thursday 7th January 2021, while speaking to this reporter in interviews, as they explained their plights in the wake of the resumption of business activities at the Lumos.
Fatou Konjera, who sells at the Sareh Ngai Lumo, said she has virtually spent all the profits she gained from her business during the restriction period. Konjera said her family was relying on her profit for their sustenance.
“The decision to reopen Lumos was a welcomed decision. But it happened at a time when most of us have spent our earning. At the moment, we are trying to continue our businesses, but we are really sort of financial strength to restart and expand our businesses,” she said.
Aja Isatou Darboe, another vendor at the said Lumo, said her current financial status would not allow her to restart and expand her business and at the same time cater for the needs of the family, particularly in terms of feeding as commodity prices are currently on the high scale.
Halima Saidy, a vendor at the Sami Lumo in Upper River Region (URR), said the authorities should urgently help them with a storage facility where they can keep their goods.
Madam Saidy said the current store in their village is in a deplorable condition, saying none of them would keep their goods there.
“This is because the roofs have holes and the door is getting rotten. The poor nature of the roof exposes them to sunlight and some of the perishable goods will get perished if they are stored therein,” she said.
Madam Saidy also called on the authorities to assist them with a Waiting Shed so that they can sit under it and be protected against sunlight while they sell their goods.
Kaddy Trawally, for his part hailed the government for the food relief it distributed among the communities to help their families during the restriction period. She added that it has really helped them to provide meals for their families.
She however underscored the need for the government and relevant stakeholders to collaborate and ensure that a Restart Fund is rendered to them. This, she said, will help them continue their entrepreneurial efforts, noting that she relied on her business to provide food for her children, pay their tuition fees and medical needs.
Omar Jagana, a donkey-cart owner who transports goods and people to the Lumo is also affected. He also reiterated the need to assist businesses in the area with financial support to boost their businesses.
Jagana said the price of basic commodities is of great concern to majority of household heads and that government should look into the issue and provide mechanisms to ensure that the prices are affordable.
Jagana also urged the citizenry to adhere to the guidelines provided by the health ministry and experts to protect themselves and their families against the COVID-19 disease.