Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Sport suspension harms informal sector

For many, the effects of the Covid-19 induced suspension of sport in Botswana has been limited to those earning a living directly from sport, more especially athletes.

Outside the field of sports however, some sport reliant industries like the informal sector and the transport sector are also feeling the hardest pinch.

When this publication recently visited the once vibrant stalls bordering the University of Botswana and the National Stadium, the place looked desolate.

For the street vendors and transport operators who once operated thriving businesses at this place, a new pandemic called hunger and unemployment beckons. 

The continued suspension of sport and the future possibility of resuming sport without spectators has left many of them pondering what the future has in store.

Commenting on the situation, a combi driver for Broadhurst route 2, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the situation they find themselves in is very dire.

Where once they made a killing transporting people to and from sporting events at the National stadium and the University of Botswana, those taps have now run dry.

“We are really struggling because of no sport activities. We really depended on sport people to boost our business but now we are only working for fuel. Yes, people pay P5.00 but it is not enough as petrol prices has gone up,” the combi driver said.

“I wonder how long this pandemic is going to go on because in all honesty, ga re itirele sepe. It is just that we cannot stay home. We have to keep pushing,” he added. 

Sharing the same sentiments is Gomotsegang Gaosekelwe, a street vendor who once ran a lucrative business selling to sports spectators and students in the area of the National Stadium and the national stadium.

Cutting a forlorn figure as she emptily stared across the road waiting for one or two students to pop in and buy, she said the suspension of sport has been hard on them. 

Gaosekelwe said that sport was driving their businesses as vendors. She however said even if sport re-opens, it will not help due to no supporters allowed. 

“Supporters are the real reason we were making money.  UB could hold Botswana games or any sporting games, every weekend there was a match game, Notwane club had functions, Sunday soccer, the list is endless. These different sport activities gave us life,” she said.

Gaosekelwe pleaded with the government to see the importance of sport, adding that while sport is not seen as an economy booster, for them in the informal sector, sport is everything plus more.

“I used to buy stock for P5000.00 for the whole week, knowing that from one match game I could make P1500.00 to P2000.00. I saved money and my life was moving,” she explained.

“Now, I make P400.00 to P450.00 when I say I have worked. I cannot buy stock like before even saving money is a struggle because everything is expensive even our clients feel we are expensive but I cannot sell for loss,” said Gaosekelwe.

With sport on a halt, they could be depending on school going children for a little boost but unfortunately she said corona virus come with the raise of technology.

She pointed out that UB students now study online they hadn’t come to school; the once who do come curfew gets a hold on them. 

“Curfew has been an enemy to us because we have to leave our work station early which means we have to go back home with our stock and the is nothing we can do. But truth is we are really struggling,” she said.

Comment on the matter, Ezwe Cab drivers pointed out that curfew and sport closure has killed their business. For them, transporting supporters was everything and more for their business.

“I personally wish I knew what we are benefiting from curfew because it does not make sense to me. For us as can drivers, the time was our perfect time of making money also during sport events as people will be in a rush to arrive or go to their next destination after watching the game or partaking in any sporting activity,” one of the drivers commented.

Adding that, they blame parents for the situation the sporting fraternity finds themselves in. 

“Our parents have never regarded sport as important they refused and still to present day refuse children to participate in sport. Had it not been for them rejecting children participation in sport maybe sport would be valuable. May talents have been destroyed because of parents,” he said.

Highlighting that the reason our sport is not recognized in the world like other countries is because of our parents’ lack of trust in children’s talent. 

“Now covid-19 has just given our parents more reason to believe that sport is not important and that it cannot be source of income,” he said.

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