Construction Projects vs Small Businesses: Impact of Road Clearing exercise on women vendors

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Women Vendors around the Turntable in Brusubi are left without any alternative place to sell their produces following the road clearing exercise.

By Kadijah Bokum

Government road-clearing initiatives aimed at enhancing transportation infrastructure often have unintended consequences for small business owners, especially women entrepreneurs.

These repercussions were the highlight of an exclusive interview with local vendors Fatou Bah and Awa Ceesay, who told TAT how the exercise deeply affected women selling vegetables at the turntable, leading to massive livelihood disruptions.

Awa tearfully explained her struggle to find a place to sell her products, which was her only means of survival, a way to pay her children’s school fees and put food on the table.

These women struggle daily to make ends meet for their families.

It’s a story repeated by many women who share similar challenges.

“My little table has been destroyed; I have nowhere to go. I am a single mom of two who struggles to feed my family, and now I have to start from scratch. I have no hope,” cried Fatou Bah.

One of the most immediate impacts of road clearing is the loss of income. With their usual customer base dwindling or inaccessible due to construction activities, women entrepreneurs face a significant decline in revenue.

Moreover, the disruption in supply chains and transportation logistics further exacerbates their financial woes as they need help to procure raw materials or transport finished products to market.

Maria Dacosta, president of the National Federation of Gambian Women, highlighted several challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in the multi-purpose market center in Sukuta, including the lack of electricity, funds for security personnel, and the high cost of electrifying the center, which may cost them over 2 million dalasis.

This is one market earmarked by the women’s federation to serve as an alternative space for women entrepreneurs and vendors, but the establishment needs more facilities to cater to small-scale businesses affected by the road-clearing exercise.

The center, operated by over 400 stalls with membership contributions required for registration and contributions toward its construction, stands strategically to offer space to women vendors.

“The clearing of roads disrupts the daily operations of numerous women-led businesses, leading to a significant decline in revenue and hindrances in supply chains and transportation logistics,” Awa added.

This economic fallout is exacerbated by disrupting community social connections, where women entrepreneurs often serve as support pillars.

Women entrepreneurs must adapt and innovate to survive when faced with these challenges. However, temporary solutions often come at a considerable cost, further straining already limited resources.

Addressing these challenges requires a multifaceted approach. More excellent consultation and collaboration with affected communities, gender impact assessments in infrastructure projects, and investment in women-led businesses forging crucial steps to foster inclusive economic development and ensure no one is left behind in the pursuit of progress.

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