BY MOSES MATENGA
THE International Labour Organisation (ILO) has teamed up with local partners to create a safer working environment and offer training for informal traders in Bulawayo.
One of the projects is the refurbishment of the Bulawayo small-to-medium enterprise (SME) centre that will benefit hundreds of informal traders.
Formerly known as OK Mart due to its proximity to the retail giant, the Bulawayo SME centre was declared unsafe and a health hazard for dozens of informal traders.
The Bulawayo City Council, National Social Security Authority (Nssa) and other stakeholders are involved in implementing the project.
“This facility was just iron and sheet with open power cables all over and one person actually died from that,” said Dumile Sibanda, a board member of the SME Development Trust and administrator of Bulawayo SME centre.
“There had two toilets for over 78 people with no running water in most cases, which posed a health hazard.”
The facility is set to be officially opened by Bulawayo Metropolitan Affairs minister Judith Ncube next week.
Beneficiaries, who are now working in the refurbished facility, said a lot had changed since they started working from the facility.
“We used to work outside, and the unfriendly weather would affect us.
We were in an open space but now it’s closed, no dust and it is very secure and very strategic for marketing purposes,” Tinarwo Moyo, an aluminium fabricator said.
Martha Maoche Company director of Mao-Trad which is into detergent making, said the new facility was a game-changer.
Mao-Trad supplies its products to army barracks, schools, supermarkets, surgeries and other markets in and out of Bulawayo.
Bulawayo City Council director of housing Dictor Khumalo said the partnership with ILO started in 2019 and would help informal traders to transform their businesses.
“What followed was that the lLO engaged a consultant who looked at the issues relating to informal sector activity in the city and did a needs assessment to understand operational modalities,” Khumalo said. Bulawayo has a lot of infrastructure which is not being used after the closure of several companies due to economic difficulties.
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