Traders call on gov’t to engage landlords in reducing shop rentals amid covid-19

Apr 21, 2020, 12:09 PM | Article By: Sulayman Waan

As the coronavirus pandemic affects all sectors including the trade industry, a number of shops and storekeepers along the Westfield-Bambo Highway have called on authorities to negotiate with landlords to trim down shop rentals.

It could be recalled that recently President Adama Barrow declared a state of public emergency, banned public gatherings and cut down the number of passengers in all commercial vehicles. This situation therefore, hinders people’s works and minimises financial acquisition resulting in a slowdown of business in the markets.

Despite poor marketing due to covid-19 pandemic, traders particularly storekeepers who rent beside the roads continue paying rent as usual.  Traders have now tasked the central government and Kanifing Municipal Council to negotiate with landlords to reduce the cost of shop rentals.

Speaking to The Point  on Friday 17 April 2020, Lamin Jammeh, a storekeeper, described the condition of business in the commercial town as dreadful, saying many shops are closed and other businesses are too slow.

“Despite the slow market when the year ends landlords are going to request for their annual rent. I am supposed to pay D80, 000 for rent at the end of the year and my business is not going well,” he lamented.

He added that with this slow market, if the shop rental is not reduced it would severely affect his business because he has to pay staff salary, electricity bill as well feed his family in this trying time.

Jammeh appealed to local and central governments to engage landlords to ensure shop rental is marked down and added ‘before many businesses will sink.’

Sisayding Fatajo, cloth trader, complained over the situation of the business, saying the market is poor and she has to pay D52, 000 annually.

She called on the concerned authorities to put mechanisms in place to reduce shop rental for all business people in order to save them from total loss in their businesses. 

“Landlords should also understand the situation and reduce the rental until the condition comes back to normal,” she said.

Katim Touray, also a trader, told this medium that before the declaration of the public state of emergency he used to sell about D5, 000 daily but now he cannot sell more than D1, 000 in a day.

Touray noted that despite the difficulty traders encounter, yet they continue paying rent as usual which he said government should consider.

“Government can negotiate with landlords to reduce the shop rentals because if discussed, both parties could agree on terms. However, landlords should also understand the current situation is a destiny from God,” he said.

He opined that if government cannot negotiate with landlords to reduce shop rentals for traders, therefore it (government) should help the traders and the ordinary people with daily sustenance. 

Alieu Lowe, a businessman said: “The coronavirus pandemic is a global problem but the landlords should sympathise with business people in this horrible condition and reduce the shop rentals.”

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