Cobblers in Luanda town have to bear with the heat of the scorching sun in order to make a living. Only few can afford umbrellas making cobbling one of the riskiest occupation in the country at large. Natural disasters like flooding are hurricanes also threaten the business operating in an open area.
The cobblers are now pleading with the County government of Vihiga to build a fully equipped and permanent workstation to enhance a smooth operation of the business.
“We had a small operation area with a shade that was demolished to make room for road construction, something that did not happen. We later reclaimed the place but now working in an open area without shades,” said one of the cobblers.
Being a roadside hustle, the cobblers often compete for space with other roadside entrepreneurs who operate in front of their workstation making their business invisible and inaccessible to customers.
“Most food vendors have constructed stalls next to the roads in order to lure travelers into buying, in turn blocking our business. It’s a survival technique that is affecting our business,” they complained.
The rise of mtumba business that sells shoes at a lower price has seen the cobbling business go down a notch. Some people prefer going for the ‘new shoes’ at a low cost rather than repairing old and worn out shoes.
Moreover, footwear designers all over the world are making shoes that are hard to repair. Some shoes are long lasting in such a way that wearing out is next to impossible and when they do, they are no longer fashionable. Contrary to that, some shoes are made from material like plastic that are hard to repair.
Most of the people venturing into the shoe repair business are old aged. This elderly folks sit all day long in uncomfortable positions exposing them to muscle related illness and discomfort arising bending of neck and folding of legs.
“We are facing a lot of challenges as cobblers in this town. We humbly ask the Governor, Dr Wilber Otichilo to remember us and construct a workstation. It will be a solution to most of our problems,” Samuel Olilo, the head of the cobblers said.
By Susan Agoi