While welcome, the restriction of public movement occasioned by the State of Emergency that was enforced through the Parliamentary resolution of 9th April 2020 has left local cleaning and hygiene companies in a lurch as they are unable to market and distribute their products and services.
The situation was worsened by social media giant Facebook’s blanket ban on advertising of all products and services related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brian Ketshabile, Managing Director of Braintec Cleaning Services said in an interview that local companies are unable to market and distribute much needed essentials like hand sanitisers and masks because of the restriction of movement.
“We understand the need for restriction of movement, but we can’t go door to door to market our products to Batswana as we have to adhere to set restrictions. Selling to government is also a challenge because most departments demand hard copy profiles, so sending emails is not effective,” he said.
He added that local companies had stockpiled COVID-19 essentials in response to President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s clarion call for them to avail enough essential supplies to boost Botswana’s fight against COVID-19. However, they now stand at risk of incurring huge losses as their stock might end up expiring.
Their woes were worsened when Facebook outlawed all adverts and commerce listings of face masks, hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes and test kits. Rob Leathern – Director of Product Management at Facebook, wrote on March 19: “In addition to masks, we’re now also banning hand sanitizer, surface disinfecting wipes and COVID-19 test kits in adverts and commerce listings. This is another step to help protect against inflated prices and predatory behaviour. We’ll be ramping up our automated enforcement…”
Braintec Cleaning Services is a wholly citizen owned company that offers contract cleaning, office care, commercial laundry and hygiene supplies services. The company also offers trans care services, which entail cleaning and fumigation of high traffic environments like railway stations, airports, bus terminals and parking lots.
Ketshabile said Braintec has in stock International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Certified sanitizers that can help Batswana combat COVID-19.
“Our biggest concern is the lack of enforcement of standards. We suspect most of the products that are being sold are not Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS), South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) or ISO certified. It’s important to maintain the highest hygiene standards during this pandemic,” he said.