By Farai Dauramanzi
As the rains beckon, some road side carpenters in Chitungwiza are now busy with repairing their shades of any possible leakages to avoid water damages to their products.
There are many carpenters in the town who work from the roadside under temporary shades due to lack of proper home industries. Tommy Mhaka * (not real name) who operates at Unit C narrated to 263 Chat the problems that are faced by the roadside carpenters in the dormitory town.
“I am into the manufacture of beds, sofas, kitchen units and other wood products and our main challenge as roadside carpenters is the lack of proper spaces to work from and this is clearly evident in this rainy season when we have to take extra measures to protect our products which are easily damaged by water,” said Mhaka.
Chitungwiza is Harare’s biggest dormitory town with a population of nearly 400 000 people. However, the town has got only one home-industry site at Chikwanha. This Mhaka said has led to the sprouting of roadside workstations for carpenters, welders and mechanics as well as some who are located at shopping centres in the town.
“I think council should allocate us workshop spaces where we can build proper shades. I used to rent a place at a home-industry at Makoni before it was demolished during operation Murambatsvina in 2005 and this forced me to setup on the roadside,” explained Mhaka.
Mhaka noted that Chitungwiza has got industries that were closed long back but, are now white elephants. He urged government to facilitate the occupation of the industries by informal traders such as himself under the ZIMASSET program.
“We are the ones who make some of the furniture that is sold in shops in town (Harare) and it will greatly help us if we can get better spaces. I have plans to buy bigger machinery which require bigger and more secure spaces but, right now I cannot do so,” added Mhaka.
Another roadside carpenter near in Unit N who refused to be named revealed that roadside carpenters did not pay any licenses to council as they were regarded as illegal. He explained that he had tried without any success to apply for a lease of land from council to build a better shade for his work.
“I had all the required papers but, my failure to get a lease was due to the corruption at the council offices. I could not afford the bribe money which left me with no option but to set up a temporary shop illegally using plastics,” he said.
The problem of operating space for informal workers is not only unique to Chitungwiza but the rest of the country and it is the hope of informal workers such as Mhaka that their challenges will be addressed by the country’s ZIMASSET economic blue-print.