Informal vendors still awaiting word on the open markets that were closed because they did not meet the new Covid-19 health requirements, as stipulated by the Ministry of Health and Social Services, have been advised to approach the City of Windhoek for the way forward. Manager of Health and Environment at the City, Mary-Anne Kahitu, urged vendors to approach the City offices, specifically the division that deals with markets.
Kahitu confirmed that vendors will be advised on where to operate from. She noted there were a potential number of markets in the city where there could be space for the vendors but noted that the problem comes with vendors’ preferences and the availability of market sites. “So, to balance the two, we would first like to have consultation with the affected traders,” she said.
According to Kahitu, two markets that are still to open is the open market at the Katutura State Hospital and another at B1 City. The Katutura open market was closed due to it being at the entrance of a health facility while the one at B1 City was yet to meet the requirements from the health ministry.
Kahitu added that the council has approved the package relief for informal open market traders, including industrial stalls, in the form of waving their rates and reversing their accounts for April and May. She noted that starting from June 2020, the City also approved a 30% discount on informal traders’ accounts.
Kahitu however, cautioned that the relief would only run until January 2021, while roaming traders that need to be catered for in the relief were advised to apply with the City to get more information and direction. Kahitu also urged traders in Windhoek to understand what is required from them in line with the Covid-19 pandemic and to comply with the necessary provisions. She said the City has the obligation to educate traders and the community at large on how to cope in this period of uncertainty.
Meanwhile, Samuel Mutonga, responsible for finance and customer services at the City, alerted that the state of emergency ends in September but the council decided to accept applications 30 days after the state of emergency for roaming traders. Mutonga added that the council have approved an application form, available at City offices, which will be used by the informal traders.
He further stated that the City’s debt book has been negatively affected by the pandemic for July. He said the debt of N$1.1 billion for July was recorded, which is as increase of about N$200 million from the month of April.
Namibia Informal Sector Organisation (NISO) secretary-general, Veripi Kandenge said he is delighted by the move from the municipality to wave off the rates of informal traders and offering such discounts. Kandenge said other municipalities in other towns should follow suit and make such arrangements.
“Traders lost a lot of their income when considering the health protocols and limited working hours and it will be very hard for them to pick up from their downfall. So, I urge big entities like the Development Bank of Namibia to consider offering some loans to help these businesses,” said Kandenge.
He further urged government to conduct mass testing, especially with informal traders, as a precautionary measure and not to wait until one of them gets sick to close off all informal vending businesses.