Mchinji — Mchinji Cross Borders Traders Association (MCBTA) has expressed worry over closure of borders in the country, saying the development has led to dismal loss of business.
In an interview with Malawi News Agency (Mana) on Wednesday, MCTBA Vice Chairperson, Gertrude Mulinde said they are worried since it was not known when the borders would be reopened.
She said since the closure of the borders, people who travel to Tanzania, Zambia Mozambique and other countries in the district have lost business which has resulted in most of them misappropriating their business capitals.
Mulinde has since asked government and other stakeholders to intervene after the Covid-19 pandemic subsides.
"Currently we are not doing business firstly because we order our merchandize from outside the country, and now we cannot make orders because borders have been closed.
Secondly, people are not coming to buy our items as they used to before this pandemic, as a result the small sales we make end up being used for other needs in our homes, and our capitals have reduced greatly" she said.
The Vice Chairperson added that, "Our plea is that government and other stakeholders should consider helping us out so that after the pandemic we should be able to do our businesses like before by providing us with some soft loans,"
Hope for Women Executive Director, Hellen Makukula said it was imperative that government considers helping out female traders in the wake of lost business opportunities.
She said most women in the district cannot afford commercial rates from money lending institutions due to the issue of mortgage.
"Most of Women in Mchinji are breadwinners and with Covid-19, they have no money now since most of their capital is being used for basic needs in their homes. So it could have been better if government came in with some soft loans to ease out pressure on these women," Makukula noted.
Mchinji Immigration Border Post Public Relations Officer (PRO), Madalitso Banda said currently the Mchinji-Chipata Malawi-Zambia border has been closed and only people with essential services are being allowed to travel as a way of boosting COVID-19 preventive measures in the district.
"As of now, only those in the category of providing essential goods or services are being allowed entry or exit. This is part of the restriction measures put in place by government in the wake of Covid-19," he said.
Banda said currently his office has suspended issuing of border passes and instead passports are being accepted as travel documents.
"A border pass is only meant for social visits which does not make one to qualify as an essential service provider as it is the case with truck drivers transporting essential goods or certain individuals providing special services to the country," he explained.
Mchinji district has a population of over 600 000 people where about 107 965 are adolescent girls and young women.