The boom in the use of free to air decoders has somehow affected the business of Ndirande based disc cleaner, Ellard Somanje who says his sales have gone down.
Somanje says all is not lost when a disc is scratched and cannot be played anymore because with the disc cleaning machine that he bought from South Africa, he cleans audio and video discs and they will look and work like new ones again.
“At first, business was going on so well, but now since a lot of people have bought free to air decoders, business has gone down. People are not using digital video discs (DVDs) as much as they used to, so we get only few discs to fix,” he says.
He started the business in 2011 upon his return from South Africa where he worked at a disc manufacturing company, Princo.
“I used to work at Princo Disc Manufacturers. If any disc had cracks, they cleaned it with their machines and all the cracks would be gone. I worked as a loader, loading the brands ready for the market. We had the chance to clean the discs when the operators were absent from work, and that is how I learnt to clean discs,” he says.
When he first started his business, he says he was operating from the main Ndirande Market in Blantyre, but then rentals got too expensive and he had to move. Now he operates from Chimseu in the same township.
The biggest challenge that he faces in his business is that he has to charge lower prices for his services because people prefer to burn compact discs (CDs) and DVDs because it is cheaper to do so.
“There are a lot of people burning CDs and DVDs, and it is cheaper to burn than to clean. So I am forced to put my prices lower so that people can still bring their discs for cleaning. Yet, the chemical that I use for cleaning is expensive,” he says.
The 26 year old Somanje adds that he relies on the business to provide for his child and wife and pay his rentals.