Despite the easing of restrictions to allow players in the hospitality industry to get back into business, many entities continue to remain empty.
Staff of some of these companies remain unemployed and an attempt to access support from the government 600-million-Cedi Coronavirus Alleviation Programme has been unsuccessful.
Pre – Covid-19 and life thereof
It’s been nearly six months since Ghana’s first Covid-19 cases were recorded.
Life is yet to get off the ground again. The hospitality industry, one of the hardest hit is still on its knees.
Restaurants and eateries directed to shut down due to restrictions imposed by government have their staff still at home.
Take us back to the times before Covid-19 – happy people, great parties, long nights and of course bourgeois living – if you know what I mean.
These were everyday features of the Kikibees Restaurant and Lounge at East Legon when life was normal. Live performances were regular.
Night parties were a fun jam. And for food; day or night – there was something for everyone. This lounge was always busy.
Impact of Covid-19
Fast forward…the situation is distressing.
The place now looks like an abandoned warehouse if you walked in today.
Chairs and tables crammed into one corner of the area, already gathering dust and cobwebs. Floodlights that offer this place some happy glow are off.
No power. No running water, and essentially, no life at all.
Marketing manager, Kelli Faisal, says the impact of closure during the restrictions is telling.
“As I speak to you now, power is off, we are unable to run on ECG – we have to pay extra for power in this circumstance.
We use generators in our dire situation. It is a strain,” he said to me.
But that is not all.
“We also do not have water running through our taps. Therefore, even though some people are enjoying free water, we are actually paying more for water.”
Business has ground to a halt. Staff who were sent home four months ago, remain home.
Kelli told me, “Only two or three of the staff are here – the rest are at home and we don’t know what the future holds for them. We wish we could recall them, but business is crippling.”
He added, “only a handful of people walk in daily for orders – even takeouts are almost rare.
Some restaurants have had to shut down completely even after restrictions were lifted.
Support to get back into business?
It’s been an almost helpless situation. I feel the tension in Kelli’s voice as he recounts efforts made to secure some help.
Only the face covering he wore, masked his emotions.
He is hopeful of bouncing back, somehow. Even though Kikibees and other restaurants are yet to receive any form of support from government’s 600 million Coronavirus Alleviation Programme.
He noted, “Kikibees applied for support from the 600 million CAP, under the National Hospitality Association of Ghana and till now we have not received any information.”
“We do not know if we qualify after applying. There is no information from the national board for small scale industries (NBSSI). We do not know how much has been disbursed – who received what and the like.”
He sighs and says, “we do not know what is going on there – we are just there.”
Hospitality Association steps in
Kikibees is just one of several entities reeling under the effect of Covid-19.
Executive Secretary of the Hospitality Association of Ghana, Theodore Dzeble, is worried many more companies could fold up if help does not come.
“The whole industry has not received a dime or a pesewa and everybody is hoping that something meaningful will come from government, to get our people back on their feet.
Mr. Dzeble in an interesting twist is wondering if the NBSSI, has been given the funds by government at all.
“More than sixty of our members cannot rise again from the effects of the disease. And you turn all around you and help is not available from this.
What has been the response from the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) which is supervising the disbursement of the monies?
Well, the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), on June 24, said it had disbursed GH₵1million to the first 1,000 applicants of the GH₵1billion Covid-19 Alleviation Programme Business Support Scheme (CAP BuSS).
The GH₵1 billion CAP, launched by President Akufo-Addo is aimed at aiding Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to survive the impact of the pandemic on their operations.
As of Thursday, June 18, more than 450,000 applicants had registered unto the programme with 75 per cent of the number, having successfully completed their applications according to the NBSSI.
Another GH¢600 million Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP) business support scheme announced by the president is expected to offer a soft loan scheme up to a total of GH¢600 million, which will have a one-year moratorium and two-year repayment period for micro, small and medium scale businesses.
But the hospitality association says none of its members has received any form of support.
For now, the over sixty mainline restaurants and eateries belonging to the association in Accra, Tema and Koforidua would continue to deal with empty spaces, staff layoffs and imminent shut downs.
The few who can mobilize funds from elsewhere would hope to bounce back in a time like this.
By Komla Adom|3news.com|Ghana