“This has been the most difficult and agonising time in my life as an informal trader for the past ten years. I’m not sure if everything will ever be in track again. Indeed, things will never be the same again.” These are the words of well-known informal trader, Julia Siwadawada of Masisi near Tshikondeni Mine. Siwadawada, who has not been trading for the past two months due to the outbreak of coronavirus, returned to her stall after the government relaxed some of the disaster management regulations.
Regarded as one of the hardworking women in her area, Julia said she suffered a great lost during the period of the lockdown. “The government ordered us to stay at home and I could not move to conduct business in my stall. Remember, I do not have any income besides selling cooked food, fruits and vegetables in my stall near Masisi taxi rank. I understand that staying at home was for a good course and a lifesaving initiative. But to some of us who survive by selling food, the regulations were a terrible blow to our businesses.”
She said she felt happy when some of the regulations were relaxed which allowed her to trade again. Interestingly, she follows all the safety precautions as prescribed by the government. “I make sure that I have enough water and soap in my stall. Everyone who comes in is sanitized and social distance is observed at all times. There is no sit in and everyone who buys food should immediately take it away. I also make it a point that I clean my workplace every 30 minutes to make sure that it remains free of bacteria.”
Although the business is slow, Julia said she was happy that she is back in business. “I missed my customers because I stayed at home for a long time. Now that I am back, I will continue to serve my customers with pride while making sure that I protect them against coronavirus infections. As informal traders, there is nothing we can do than to adapt to the new way of doing things.”
She said the current situation has taught her a valuable lesson. “The coronavirus outbreak has taught us that we should always be prepared for any eventuality in life. It has assisted us to note that we should always put some small amount under the pillow to have something to depend on when times are bad.”