By Pascal Mwandambo
The other day, I told you about the unfortunate incident where disgruntled market traders attacked us as we were leaving a town planning committee meeting. I had accepted the offer to serve as the secretary of the committee with the hopes of making an extra buck and in doing so, overlooked the likely challenges we would encounter in trying to relocate traders from Mavumbi bus park.
One thing I realized is that squatters should never be allowed to get a foothold in any area.
However illegal their status might be, moving them out to an alternative site might require something close to a real battle.
Being in the committee has brought me closer to Bolingo and once I’m free from classroom duties, we while the time away at Makuti bar in town drinking anything from whisky to beer and even keg when the chips are down.
This time round, his sorrows were not about the wounds inflicted on him by traders at the bus park but his boda boda business which had begun crumbling six months after he decided to try his hand in business.
“The young men I have hired are up to no good. One of the motorcycles is in bad state as one of the guys crashed it.The others are not sending in my daily remittance as we had agreed. I think they are enjoying the money with the ladies who they claim are their customers” Bolingo lamented, wiping his eyes and staring keenly into his beer bottle as if it had the crystal ball for unravelling business solutions.
“You must have rushed into the business without undertaking a serious business survey” I opined, hoping that I was not going to annoy him since he was the one buying the alcohol. “The young men you think are chewing your money may not be making enough, given the difficult times we are going through. Many businenesses are on the edge especially because of the Covid-19 crisis”.
“Be that as it may, am considering withdrawing the four motorcycles and locking them up in my store. I would rather the machines gather dust in there than benefit other people. Mark you I bought those motorcycles with my terminal benefits” he said almost getting hot under the collar.
“How will you benefit if you pull the motorcycles out of the road? Won’t that render them mere liabilities to you? Why not use them for other modes of transport like ferrying goods to the market?” I asked.
Bolingo stared at me with a heavy heart and said “I might consider that but I must replace those young men with more serious riders. If I don’t do that, I might not get any value for my money.”
Sometimes, it’s useless trying to make someone change their minds over an issue they feel is beyond their endurance.
“Using boda boda for carrying passengers is becoming less lucrative as days go by. Competition is too high and their numbers keep swelling on our roads. You can modify the motorcycles and use them to ferry eggs, vegetables and other assorted items to the market. ” I said.
Bolingo beckoned the waiter and gesticulated to her to add us two more beers. That was good enough.
I could have lectured him on entrepreneurship and good business practices but I stopped short of it.
Deep down, l knew it all had to do with lack of experience in business. People work all their adult lives then venture into business as a last resort after retirement. Without mentoring and guidance, most end up in very stressful situations like my friend Bolingo.