Renters vexed by relocation to make way for Shoprite U-Save
MASERU – Tenants renting space at the Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation (BEDCO) complex in Sebaboleng, Maseru, are distraught after the corporation’s decision to relocate them to a new office block within the premises to pave way for a wholesaler who is expected to occupy the space in September.
The tenants, who are eager to grow their small businesses to realise their full potential, argue that the decision by BEDCO means loss of income on their part as their loyal and long-time clients could fail to locate them.
The cost of the relocation, they say, could also be huge as some of their big machinery might be affected and would need servicing as a result of the shift.
On Monday, BEDCO confirmed that the move is imminent as a big local retailer will be occupying the space in the near future.
While BEDCO was reluctant to reveal the name of the retailer, this paper has it on good authority that Shoprite U-Save will be expanding its wings to Sebaboleng where BEDCO is situated.
On estimates, close to 10 small business holders will be moved to new office space on the same premises to make way for a bigger fish, expected to generate more revenue for BEDCO than its current tenants.
Tenants scheduled for relocation currently pay between M3 000 and M6 000 per month in rentals.
“It is a challenge for us and we are certainly going to lose customers because of this relocation. It is true that we are not moving to a different place altogether but the challenge is that the new space may not be appropriate for my type of business,” said one of the tenants, Teboho Lekhotla.
As part of its mandate, BEDCO seeks to develop Basotho-owned business enterprises with particular emphasis on the promotion of indigenous entrepreneurial skills.
But some tenants argue that the decision to invite such a big retailer to its premises is a sign that the corporation does not necessarily care about small business development as it claims.
“BEDCO is supposed to provide assistance in developing Basotho small businesses in the country but now the company that is coming to occupy this space is not local and definitely not a small business. This is not fair to us and we are not happy at all,” another tenant, Liteboho Mapete said in an interview.
During a media briefing on Monday this week, BEDCO Chief Executive Officer, Idia Penane, said the incoming wholesaler will generate income for the corporation as well as invite more traffic which will, in turn, be beneficial to many other small businesses in the area.
She said while more jobs will be created, BEDCO will also benefit through improved rental fee collections, hence more revenue.
“These people are not going anywhere; they have just been asked to move into a new space in the same building to allow space for the retailer. We were very thoughtful when we made this decision as we also want to attract more business to this place,” Penane said.
Projections are that between 30 and 40 people will be hired by the said retailer.
BEDCO has promised to hold one on one sessions with the affected tenants before relocating them in order to identify the most suitable ways to move to the new office space.