Desperate vendors go against lockdown

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By Itumeleng Koleile

Hunger has forced a sizeable number of street vendors to operate on the sly around Maseru town amid the national lockdown meant to curb the spread of Coronavirus.

The street vendors took the government to court on January 15 2021 in pursuit to have their businesses opened, arguing that supermarkets and retails selling the same goods as them are operational.

Their case was postponed to February 7th which is beyond the current lockdown and told to respect regulations put in place by the government.

Government had promised the vendors a M500.00 relief fund but many say they have not received it. The fresh promise comes after one that was made during the 2020 lockdown which a lot of the vendors never received.

According to one, Lijo Thai, times are tough as he has dependants to feed and ensure their basic needs are met. Given the situation, Thai says he was forced to operate eventhough the regulations state otherwise.

He said although his name had been listed among people who are eligible for the relief fund, he has not received anything and is not hopeful as the lockdown comes to an end today.

“Vendors from other zones have received relief funds however, in my case together with some vendors working at the Thibella Zone, we have not received such,” Thai told KDnews.

Thai also shared how heartbreaking it is to watch his goods rot and go to waste hence risking it all and working against the lockdown restrictions.

Street vendors say they were looking forward to recovering from the loss experienced last year, but that seems very unlikely.

The lockdown was imposed by the government on the 14th January, restricting street vendors among other businesses from operating.

A number of vendors said the current lockdown has impacted them negatively to a point where they have ignored the regulations and are operating their businesses.

While some received aid in the form of food parcels, some are still in destitute and have not received anything.

On Monday, the vendors wrote and signed a petition to the government raising their issues of concern on the fact that they are barred from working. In the petition, they state that it is unfair that they are being restricted from working.

The 14 days lockdown comes to an end today at midnight and the Prime Minister is expected to make a speech on the way forward.

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