Source: Cyclone Idai hits Manicaland business | The Herald March 28, 2019
Cletus Mushanawani in Chimanimani
THE devastating Cyclone Idai has affected Manicaland’s agro-based industry thereby reducing exports, while players in the small to medium enterprises sector were either forced to close shop or downscale operations.
The most affected big players include Border Timbers, Wattle Company, Allied Timbers, Tanganda, Matanuska, and Manica Boards and Doors as some of them could not access their premisses or raw materials as the roads remain unusable.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries’ Manicaland Chapter president, Mr Remington Mpande, said: “Most companies in Chimanimani and Chipinge are currently not able to access their facilitation in terms of outcome and outgoing logistics. Some are still to resume operations a fortnight after the devastating cyclone.
“This has affected the export market as the bulk of the companies are agro-based that produces for that particular market.
“Other companies like Manica Boards and Doors that depend on raw materials from the affected areas were not able to access timber. This slowed down all business operations.
“We are still quantifying the losses,” he said.
Mr Mpande said the damage of the Beira Corridor also had negative effects on businesses in Manicaland.
“We depend so much on the Beira Road and railway line and their closure affected operations. We are happy that the Beira Road has since been repaired, while activity is now up along Mutare and Chimoio railway line,” he said.
Mr Mpande said as the business community they were among the first to react to the national distress call to assist the affected communities.
“As the business community, we played our part by making contributions in cash and kind towards the relief programme. The timber companies were the first at the scene to clear roads. We will also play our part in the reconstruction process,” he said.
For the SMEs, most of them are feeling the brunt as some lost their wares and tools of the trade.
A food vendor at Tanganda Halt in Chipinge, Ms Tatenda Mhlanga, said all her cooking utensils, benches, shed and stocks were swept away by the flooded Tanganda River.
“We were the most affected. We are also lucky to be alive as the flooded river destroyed the room where we were sleeping in. The river burst its banks and water flooded this business centre.
“Everything that we had worked for all these years was swept away. I lost my kitchen utensils and benches.
“All stocks were also gone and we are now using makeshift structures. Business is now low because people are no longer coming as they used to do because the bridge linking this part and the main road to either Chipinge town or Chiredzi was swept away,” she said.
A bartender, Ms Melody Mhlanga, said their bottle-store was flooded and this damaged all their electrical appliances.
“Two of our deep freezers were badly damaged. We are now putting all our beer stocks in a chiller and this is affecting the temperatures as some people prefer ice-cold beer.
“Some of perishable stocks were also affected. Restocking is now a challenge as some of the money is now being diverted towards repairs,” she said.
A vendor and a mother of three young boys at Skyline Junction in Chimanimani, Ms Sibongile Mapatire, said she was now surviving on hand-outs from well-wishers as she lost her source of income.
“I am into vending because I want the best for my boys. I used to get my supplies from Nyanga, but since the roads are impassable I am grounded here.
“It is now expensive to be in this line of business as one has to travel via Chipinge. The transport costs are exorbitant.
“All my wares were swept away and I don’t have anywhere to start from. My savings were also washed away as we had to abandon our homes to higher grounds as the mudslide was wreaking havoc at our homesteads. Most of what we used to call home is now rubble,” she said.
A pirate taxi driver at Wengezi, Mr Tawanda Musarira, said the damaged bridges along the Mutare-Chimanimani Road had badly affected them.
“People have been forced to reschedule their travelling plans as they now being have to pay three times more than the normal price.
“We hope the situation will be addressed urgently because we are spending most of the time idle and counting our losses,” he said.