Humans were made to be social beings, and every other aspect of human existence and development rides on that; be it the economic, emotional, psychological or mental. All that are because of the social nature of human beings- if the social aspect flourishes they also flourish, if it is crippled they are also crippled.
Owing to the outbreak of the corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic, people’s movements has been greatly impacted negatively. Starting from April this year for most countries, this was due to lockdowns that were imposed by states to curb people’s movements in order to reduce the spread of the virus.
According to a report by Garmin on the ‘Impact of Global Pandemic on Human Activity’, the total worldwide steps decreased by twelve percent (12%) in the month of April 2020; these comes from uploaded activities such as walking, running and hiking. The countries with stricter stay-at-home orders and lockdown rules generally had fewer steps as compared to others, the steps also depended on the population density of each country.
Economy relies mostly on the movement of people, it needs people to move around for it to flourish- that is why mostly countries with larger populations have flourishing economies and investments, because they provide a handsome market for businesses. There might be technological advancements that made it easy to purchase without necessarily going to the shops physically, but most developing countries have not yet utilized those. In addition, small and medium enterprises do not have enough capital to venture into and utilize the said technologies.
Bringing it home, a number of sectors or association has cried out; among them is Botswana Bus Operators Association, Botswana Alcohol Industry Association, and Copyright Society of Botswana (COSBOTS).
According to Botswana Bus Operators Association this pandemic has greatly impacted their business as they depend on the movement of people. This is due to the national and zonal lockdowns that has been implemented, as well as the number limits of work stuff, students per class ratio, minimum events numbers, and limits in number of worship days per week, and number of worshipers.
The chairperson of the association, Mr. Tirafalo Mponang stated that their business has been greatly affected as they seldom make profits due to low numbers of customers. “As bus operators our main customers are; school going children, work group, church goers, as well as those in the football and arts categories” he said “COVID-19 pandemic has affected our business because movement of people is now restricted. Also, at churches, and social gatherings only a few is allowed to attend. We are no longer having a lot of number of passengers as we used to”
In an effort to control and contain the virus, the Ministry of Health and Wellness has partitioned the country into zones. To cross into another zone a permit is needed, the ministry through the presidential COVID-19 task team also can impose either a national or zonal lockdown as and if the need arises. This at often times affect Botswana Bus Operators business as most often than not, the times set by the task team for lockdowns and the times required by the buses, especially the long distance buses, to complete their routes are conflicted.
Working in shifts and working from home has been imposed by the government in order to reduce crowded work environments, also at schools the shift system has been introduced, as for the churches, they are allowed to have a limited number of services per week and are not allowed to exceed fifty (50). Similarly, the arts, sports and entertainment industry has been put on hold for some time now. These means there are no music festivals, sporting events as well as religious pilgrimages, and that means the money the association has been making through such is no more. Also, the money they have been making on weekends to transport people to their respective churches is now limited as much as is during the week for school going children and the work force.
During and after the national lockdown, which went for close to two (2) months, one of the measures that was implemented to curb illegal gatherings and reduce the spread of the virus was suspending the sale of alcohol and halt the operation of all alcohol outlets.
Mr. Mothusi Molokomme, the Chairman for the Botswana Alcohol Industry Association (BAIA) decried the negative impacts of lockdown and the subsequent suspension of alcohol sale on their industry saying that thousands of their workers countrywide have been negatively affected as they can not make money to feed and provide for their families.
He added that they anticipate large volumes of wastage in expired alcohol if the suspension goes forth. The industry is reported to have lost forty million pula (BWP40 000 000) in losses due to expired products in the first lockdown alone.
On the other hand, the artists have also reported that they have been negatively impacted as most of them solely live by income generated through their artistry of which they make returns through music events, festivals and exhibitions. The mentioned gatherings have been suspended until further notice, and it has been more than seven (7) months ever since.
Street vendors has also seen a blow on the face due to lockdowns as they are not allowed to operate during that time meaning some of their goods like cooked food, fruits and vegetables end up expiring or rotting in events of sudden lockdowns.
The poultry industry has also experienced a short supply of day old chickens because of closure of boarders- meaning there could not be import of such to cushion the low production in Botswana. As a result, small and medium enterprises dealing with broiler farming suffered the most.
In recognition that it is most likely that COVID-19 is here to stay, it is imperative for the businesses, both small and large to come up with measures and methods that they will use in an occasion of lockdowns in the future in order to stay afloat regardless.