Thursday Market Traders Appreciate Indlovukazi For Trade Hub
Handicraft traders who come to the City of Manzini every Wednesday and Thursday to sell their wares have expressed appreciation to Her Majesty the Indlovukazi for establishing the Manzini Trade Hub; a new state-of-the-art handicraft facility which is located opposite the Zakhele Remand Centre and Municipal Council of Manzini depot. The over 600 traders, a large majority of whom are elderly women, are already trading from the new multi-million Emalangeni facility. Previously, they conducted their trade at the Satellite Bus Rank; which facility was not conducive for them as they got exposed to harsh weather conditions. Colisile Mbingo, a member of the Thursday Market Committee, said the Manzini Trade Hub had ushered in a great improvement with regard to their trading environment.
“We are short of befitting words to express how grateful we are for what Her Majesty has done for us. She has once again demonstrated her love for the elderly. I have vivid memories of the time when we used to sleep at the Satellite Bus Rank, covering ourselves with plastics and exposed to all sorts of risks. When Her Majesty learnt of our plight, she swiftly organised and moved us into tents for purposes of accommodation. We really appreciated that gesture. We did not know that she had even bigger plans for us”, said the trader.
Mbingo said with the new facility they were now not only conducting trade under shelter but were also enjoying clean running water and fully furnished accommodation facilities.
“We no longer sleep on the ground, covering ourselves with plastics, but we now sleep in comfortable beds. The facility also has electricity, which makes it possible to charge our phones and easily communicate with our families back home. It also enables us to work till late. Furthermore, we now have storage facilities for our goods. We no longer carry left over goods all the way back home but safely keep them at the Manzini Trade Hub until the following week”, she stated.
The traders also thanked the Municipal Council of Manzini for periodically capacitating them with entrepreneurial skills including competitive pricing, book keeping and how to properly display their products so that they look attractive to the customer. The Municipality facilitates this capacity building initiative in partnership with Eswatini Fair Trade.
“We are practising what we learnt and are realising the benefits thereof”, Mbingo said.
…PLEASE COME SUPPORT US. WE ARE NOW AT TRADE HUB – HANDICRAFT TRADERS
Handicraft traders who previously conducted their trade at the Manzini Satellite Bus Rank but are now based at the newly established Manzini Trade Hub opposite the Zakhele Remand Centre and Manzini Council depot have appealed for support from customers. The traders said they had noticed that some customers turned back when they did not find them at the Satellite Bus Rank, assuming they were no longer trading in the city.
“We are still available every Wednesday and Thursday. Not at the Satellite Bus Rank but at the new Manzini Trade Hub. Please continue supporting us. Safety precautions against the Covid-19 pandemic are being observed hence customers need not be worried about exposure to the virus”, said Colisile Mbingo, one of the traders.
She mentioned that through trading in handicraft they were able to provide for their families and also send their children to school.
“We do not make much but it is better than nothing and we appreciate the Municipality for allowing us to trade in the city despite that we come from all over the country”, said Mbingo.
…INTERNATIONAL CUSTOMERS DWINDLE DUE TO COVID-19
The Wednesday and Thursday handicraft traders have seen a decline in their international market as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, customers from various countries in the African continent descended the City of Manzini on Wednesdays and Thursdays for bulk purchases from the traders. On the other hand, a number of Emaswati bought in bulk and sold the handicraft products out of the country.
“However, we are now experiencing less of that market as a result of the travel restrictions that have been brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, we trust that the pandemic will eventually be over and things will get back to normal”, said Colisile Mbingo, one of the traders who is also a member of the Thursday Market Committee.