School Uniform Import Ban, Good Intentions But…..


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Government’s recent ban on the importation of school uniform in a bid to support the local textile industry has caused outrage from members of the public, who felt the brunt of the decision as the schools re-opened this week.

The closure of borders to uniform imports led a sudden jump in prices, as retail shops that have been selling uniforms at reasonable prices can no longer import. Local tailors have reportedly taken advantage of the new development, and increased prices which an ordinary Motswana cannot afford.

The ban has also bred illegal traders, who sell uniform from the boots of their cars at exorbitant prices, targeting rural areas where the shortage is well pronounced. Some established uniform shops in Maun have also experienced break inns recently where uniforms were stolen.

While the decision had good intentions of protecting the local industry, the general feeling is that it was sudden and hurried, at the expense of the consumer, most of who are still recovering from the effects of Covid-19.

Some have lamented that they cannot afford to buy their children at these prices and will instead send their children to school without uniform.

One of the disgruntled parents, Oreneetse Diakolo highlighted that she used to buy school shirts for about P45, but now she buys one shirt at tailors at around P80. She lamented that the situation makes it difficult for them because they usually have a tight budget at the beginning of the year.

For those who can afford, the demand is very high and make it difficult to get uniform. Galebokiwe Tshwano complained that most of the local tailors are failing to meet the high demand.

“The queues at tailor shops are very long and exhausting, one is forced to wake up early in order to be one of the first people to purchase uniforms without queueing,” she narrated.

Meanwhile local tailors revealed that since the ban their businesses have improved as more clients have started to appreciate their shops. They indicated that over the years it was difficult to generate business especially from English medium schools, a trend which they are happy has now changed.

Gaebonegwe Ratlhako stated that she is highly impressed with the decision taken by the government as it has improved her business which was terribly affected by the COVID 19 pandemic.

“I am very happy because since the year begun I get more than 15 clients a day as children were preparing to start school. This is way better than what I used to get in the previous years, furthermore I am able to feed my family without any worries”, Ratlhako said.



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