February 3, 2017 By Joseph S. Margai
Some unemployed youth mainly residing in the Sierra Leone capital of Freetown have resorted to mending and polishing shoes only to eke out their living amidst the current economic hardship.
Sitting on the side of the road at Garrison Street in Freetown to attend to his usual customers, Abdul Jagitay told Concord Times that one of his uncles brought him to Sierra Leone from neighbouring Guinea in 2007 to pursue his education.
He narrated that his uncle was funding his education until his death some four years ago, and that he suddenly dropped out of school after the former’s demise.
“Situation started getting tough for me and I had no choice but to abandon school and opted for something that could earn me money for my sustenance. I stopped at Junior Secondary School (JSS) level three,” he explained.
He disclosed that he had been in the business of mending and polishing shoes for three years now, stating that he would always move from one major street to another on daily basis to service his numerous customers.
Abdul Jagitay usually mend shoes for one thousand Leones (Le1,000) and he could raise over fifty thousand Leones (Le50,000) per day, if so lucky.
“Some of my regular customers sometimes give me more than one thousand Leones to polish or mend their shoes. Sometimes, they give me below the stipulated price but they are my regular customers. I’m always willing to render them my service,” he said.
He added that sometimes, he does render free service to some of his regular customers, which, according to him, is one of his business strategies.
“I stay in the east end of Freetown and I would always wake up at 5:00am every day to come to the central business district to do my usual trade. I believe that such routine has earned me popularity among my customers,” he said.
Jagitay told Concord Times that he always purchase the liquid polish at the cost of twelve thousand Leones (Le12, 000) and raise a profit of seven thousand Leones (Le7, 000) per bottle.
His cousin, Abdul Raman Jalloh, would always sit beside him to assist him provide the needed service to customers.
Like Jagitay, Jalloh said he participates in the ‘uncomfortable’ trade only to eke out a living, and that “if I become idle, I will think of embarking on robbery which I would not want to do.
“Polishing and mending shoes keep me very busy, so I don’t think about anything that is illegal. I know many people may be laughing at us but we know what we are benefiting from this business, so we don’t care,” he said with a big smile.
Many youth in the country, especially in Freetown, have been grumbling about the failure of government to provide them jobs, but Jalloh said if government doesn’t provide them job , they had found themselves one that earn them their daily survival.
“The government hasn’t provided job for us and the economic hardship is hitting us hard. That was why we decided to do this. If fact, our case is serious because we did not go to college and if the graduates are grumbling about unemployment, who are we to say the government should provide job for us at all cost,” he said.