By Ayoub Derraza
By Ayoub Derraza
Rabat – Summer jobs do not require a special uniform, or standing in a queue for a work permit. All you need is to choose a popular commodity and the appropriate place to sell it. Every summer, products which become necessary for the season appear on sidewalks and near beaches.
This phenomenon attracts people from various professions. “This trade does not thrive only in the summer, specifically from June to September,” explains Ayoub, who sells sunglasses and protective hats he bought from one of rabat’s popular markets, on sidewalks. The 22-year-old always tries to satisfy his customers by bringing new models of glasses. “Most of my customers are ladies and teenagers,” Ayoub adds. It seems that unemployment forces many youths to create new kinds of trade, even if it cannot extend past the end of a specific season.
Summer months are, for the majority of those hawkers, an unrefined opportunity to do this profitable business. Houssine, 29 years old, sells sunglasses on one of streets in Rabat’s Bab Elhad neighborhood. He says, while arranging his goods on sidewalks and as anguish fills his face, “this trade does not prosper except in summer when tourists begin to visit our beaches.” Houssine describes these months as the “peak season, “ which is why he adjusts product prices – by adding higher profit margins – in order to benefit well from this period.
As long as the temperature remains high, selling ice cream retains its profits – especially in July and August. However, this profession is full of troubles and suffering. Ayad, who was born in 1968, says, “I do not work except during the three months of summer. I tolerate the exorbitant transportation expenses which reduce the profit margin. On the best day, I earn MAD 70.” Once the peak months finish, Ayad returns to the daily battle with poverty.
Because our beaches become full of vacation-goers, many hawkers wander between them – carrying on their backs various kinds of sandwiches in bags. Afternoons especially give witness to many of those sellers, as the beaches become extremely full. Abdurrahman, 43 years old, says that he is “suffering from lack of sales and [his customers] are pestered by those who want to monopolize the beaches. Mostly, I respond with silence.”
Just steps away from Abdu, Sanae combs the beach with her bag full of sandwiches. After a long hesitation, the 23-year-old agreed to tell about her suffering from some tourists and hawkers, “most of them do not hesitate to harass me. Some even try to abuse me physically. Life is too hard.” The student of Arabic studies adds, “Every summer, I find myself obligated to do something in order to cover the expenses of my studies. What else can I do?” With those shocking words, Sanae tries to speak about her suffering which has torn her in opposite directions: the high cost of studying and an unmerciful society.
Seasonal trade is not necessarily linked to sunglasses, summer products, caps, and protective sunblocks. Rental chairs also represent also a profitable business. “This domain does not always provide us enough to live by as the benefit is only in summer months,” says Tareq, 33 years old and a father of two. He adds, “Some exploit our trust and just steal chairs.” In order to provide a lasting income, Tareq invests what he saves during this period. “We live just like ants. We save what we earn during these months to spend in the coming ones.”
Commenting on the phenomenon, the sociologist Ali Shaabani says, “Even if the seasonal jobs are only marginal and do not provide stable income, they abound in the summers. Since people are attracted to these products, it is a seductive business venture for many. However, only if you have a product that receives a large turnout will you make a sizeable profit.” The sociologist adds, “The absence of surveillance contributes to the spread of this trade; however, its practitioners do not respect safety conditions in the absence of deterrence mechanisms.” Regarding customers’ growing demand for sandwiches, Ali mentions the effect of restaurants on food consumption trends of Moroccan families. “The family meal setting is preferable – especially in this season – to snacks”.
On the other hand, vacationers’ opinions vary between the supporters who see this commerce as an attempt to fight unemployment and those who are afraid of the products. Siham, 26 years old, says, “Sandwich sellers provide many things which we cannot bring with us because we spend the whole day at the beach.” Anouar, another beachgoer, mentions, “I do not risk buying those products, because they do not respect safety conditions, especially sandwiches. Even their prices are too expensive,” the 19 year old adds.
Summer raises several problematic issues such as the emergence of seasonal professions. Several age groups try to fight unemployment, albeit for a short period. However, many questions exist specifically regarding safety conditions. Among these are how to abate the trend and what alternatives exist to the crowds of jobless people practicing these professions unwillingly – questions that are still without response.
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