NUKUALOFA-APRIL 12,2021(Nukualofa Times): Making ends meet daily is a bigger challenge for two local market vendors now than before the Covid 19 pandemic hit the world in February last year.
While the pandemic has affected the economy in general, two women vendors at the Talamahu Market here in Nuku’alofa, say they are struggling daily to get through the day as sales and income have dropped drastically.
Mamana Loseli, 56 years old, of Kolovai has been a vendor for the last 10 years.
She said times are harder than before the pandemic, which forced the Tongan government to implement lockdowns, stopping flights and cruise liners from visiting Tonga as usual.
“My business has been affected by this restrictions of Covid 19 since my only main customers were the tourists and since the border is closed I hardly get an income, as well as my fellow seller,” she said.
“Comparing to the previous years before the lockdown it is a big big difference because tourists would always come every month and sometimes three or two times in a month but as for now we only come to the market just to maintain our area otherwise we can lose it and someone else owns it.”
Ms Mamana also explained that the only good news about business is that she can export handicraft to her daughter abroad but still it doesn’t make much difference.
She said that her business has dropped by 70 percent compared to the days before the pandemic.
Another handicraft vendor ‘Aivi Tau’ataina, of Ma’ufanga sells necklaces and bracelets, using pearls and other materials.
She said her sales have dropped so much that now she makes just around $5 a day, if she is lucky.
The drop in business has forced her to look for another job, to help her earn money for her family.
“I am the only one in the house who works and provides for the family,” she said.
“This is the only income and because of this restrictions I have to look for another way to get money and for now I am one of those workers who has been paid to clean the town area picking up rubbish and sweeping.
“I got no other option since I have a family to feed.”
The two and other handicraft vendors are praying and wishing that this pandemic will end sooner than later so that they’ll be able to see their businesses get back to normal.
The Covid-19 pandemic broke out of China around 12 months ago, forcing countries around the world to implement lockdowns, stopping traveling throughout the globe.
Tonga has since continued with the lockdowns