CIPE and COSMI assist communities displaced by Southern Expressway

By Ifham Nizam

Through a pilot advocacy initiative funded by the Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), the Confederation of Micro Small and Medium Industries (COSMI) reached out to help the local community overcome the current crisis, through a novel advocacy initiative to assist those among it displaced by large -scale infrastructure (LSI) projects.

The intervention sought to assist the ‘Kaludodol’ community (KC) to find a better and permanent location to sell their products.

Working with the Hambantota District Chamber of Commerce (HDCC) and the Hambantota District Kaludodol Entrepreneurs’ Welfare Association (HDKEWA), COSMI sought the attention of public sector institutions and local Members of Parliament to establish a permanent place of trade for KC, either at the Highway entrance or at a suitable rest area along it.

Some 250 families live in a tiny town in Hambantota called Girapaththuva engaged in the home-based ‘Hambantota Kaludodol’ industry. They depend solely on the ‘Kaludodol’ industry for a livelihood and indirectly employ about 2500 through their supply chain.

However, with the Southern Expressway extension offering motorists a much faster option of travel to the South, KC has been dealt a death blow. The coastal road is now almost devoid of long-distance travelers and KC’s revenue has plummeted by more than half. The community occupies the current premises on a permit and those whose livelihoods depend on the industry are in a very vulnerable situation.

“Left in the hands of the public authorities, the solution itself does not seem mind-boggling. However, contrary to the abundance of enthusiasm shown by governments and their respective oppositions, there is no urgency at political level to give the community the break they deserve—the break they have been waiting for, since the Tsunami 18 years ago, said Deshabandu Macky Hashim, chairman, COSMI Governing Council.

“The CIPE-COSMI LSI pilot projects ended in July, but our advocacy effort is still ongoing. In addition, we are also helping the ‘Dodol’ community to expand their market reach at regional and international level, said Nawaz Rajabdeen, COSMI president, who is taking a personal interest in trying to help the community regain some of their revenue. Many individuals and organizations have come forward to show their interest and private orders are being placed for 1-2 kg of ‘Kaludodol’ by eager customers based in Australia and Canada.

“The ‘Dodol’ community has been more or less ‘homeless’ for some time. And they have been running from pillar to post to find a permanent place to do business. There are two fundamental issues here: the drop in revenue due to the traffic diversion by the Expressway and the lack of ownership of their business premises. We want to help them achieve both goals, Rajabdeen stated.

“Ownership of the enterprise is a fundamental entrepreneurial requirement, which allows planning for the future and ensures sustainability. The ambiguity of ownership is a major obstacle to making any future plans. In addition, relocation means many direct and hidden costs, including the cost of recommencement which is substantial. As micro- and small-scale businesses, these costs are simply unviable for the ‘Dodol’ community, he added.

, Business, ,

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post