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Omalayitsha appeal for Government support

by Staff reporter
12 Aug 2021 at 06:39hrs | Views
Informal cross-border transporters, popularly known as omalayitsha, are appealing for Government support in growing their business and enhancing their contribution to the economy. For many years, the transporters, who ply different routes in the southern African region, have been the backbone of most families as a conveyor belt for diaspora remittances and groceries.

They run businesses as private individuals and small consortiums linking up Zimbabwe with mainly South Africa and Botswana and the rest of southern Africa. Despite the disruption caused by Covid-19 lockdown measures and closure of borders, the industry still employs thousands of people and the operators believe a partnership with the Government would enhance business growth.

Recently, the Government eased lockdown measures by allowing borders that include Victoria Falls and Maitengwe Border Post in Bulilima District to permit free movement of omalayitsha.

Business Chronicle visited Maitengwe Border Post on Monday, which was a hive of activity as more cross-border transporters servicing Matabeleland region now prefer the route. Those interviewed said they were eager to work closely with the Government to enhance service delivery. They appealed to the Government to grant them special permits to allow smooth movement as most of them cross the border twice per week.

A new cross-border transporters association named "Malayitsha Asibe Ngazwilinye" has since been formed to facilitate engagement with authorities. The chief executive officer for the organisation, Mr Donald Gumede, said operating under the Covid-19 era was difficult as their members faced great losses.

"As omalayitsha we are just like the informal sector where we contribute much to the country's economy as we pay duty for the goods we bring into the country," he said.

"Taking note that we move into the country almost twice a week, we feel that Government should grant us special permissions for operations where we have a set figure of payments we make to institutions like Zimra," said Mr Gumede.

Another cross-border operator, Mr Khaya Ngwenya, said as transporters they were proposing the setting up of tollgates on the roads that lead to Maitengwe Border Post so that the money can be used to construct tarred roads.

"At the moment we are using the Maitengwe Border Post and all roads leading there either from Bulawayo, Tsholotsho, Nkayi or Plumtree are dust roads and this is a setback in our operations," he said.

"As omalayitsha we propose that the Government sets up temporary tollgates, and the money will be used to construct tarred roads and ensure effective road network." A local businesswoman from Ndolwane area, Ms Sithokozile Moyo, said most of the goods she sells were brought by omalayitsha from South Africa.

"The products I sell here in my shop are purchased from South Africa with all the assistance of omalayitsha who go out of the way to look for the products and also ferry them.

"Their call for recognition to me is something which has been long overdue," said Ms Moyo.

Bulilima West legislator, Dingumuzi Phuthi, said omalayitsha have helped bridge the service delivery gap and assist in efforts to alleviate poverty for the rural communities.

"Omalayitsha are a very crucial service to the communities in Matabeleland and even as far as Midlands," he said. "It's high time they get recognised and be even called professional couriers. They have played a very big role in bringing goods into the country and the services rendered by them has assisted Government in mitigating cases of hunger."

Source - chroncile