• April 1st, 2020

Coronavirus cripples local businesses

ONGWEDIVA - The worldwide spread of the coronavirus is crippling small and medium businesses in Namibia, who solely depend on importing goods from China to make ends meet. 

The spread of the virus has already resulted in the falling oil prices, due to a drop in Chinese demand and has adversely affected stock markets where trading has slowed significantly. 

Closer to home, the trade of imported Chinese goods provides an income for hundreds of unemployed youth and students alike. 

Although Namibia does not currently have a ban on goods being shipped from China, that country has yet again extended their business holiday.

Spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance Tonateni Shidhudhu confirmed that Chinese goods are still being imported into Namibia.

Shidhudhu said although they are not responsible for disease control in the country, as a ministry which handles incoming goods through their customs department, their duty is to encourage all staff to protect themselves against possible infections.

“We are only encouraging our staff members at customs to wear gloves and put on masks when dealing with consignments from China to protect themselves against possible infection,” said Shidhudhu.
The extension of the Chinese business holiday entails that shipping agents are equally affected; hence, they cannot export goods currently at their warehouses. This is despite the fact that some Namibians have stock in these affected warehouses, which is ready to be shipped to the country.

The Chinese holiday was initially supposed to end on 1 February 2020 for business operations to commence on 2 February; however, that was extended to 10 February.

Meanwhile, business operations have again been extended for another week.
A shipping company in China preferring anonymity related that after resuming operation on 10 February, they were asked by the local police to close down. However, business owners have expressed concern that the holiday extension is too long. 

“There is no business; we cannot work because the holiday extension is just too long,” said the company owner.

Another shipping company said the outbreak has also affected business, adding that some industries are gradually recovering. An agent at a local shipping company, also preferring anonymity, admitted that despite the effect on business activities, the measures taken are necessary to contain the virus.
Generally, business owners remain optimistic that operations will again resume on 17 February as scheduled.

“This outbreak has affected our businesses to some extent. Our government has taken measures and, gradually, some industries have begun to recover, but we remain optimistic that things will get better,” said the shipping company agent. 

No chances… Air Namibia has taken precautionary measures as the coronavirus continues to spread. Air Namibia Cabin Crew Givean Samulandela is well covered with a mask and gloves to serve the passengers. 

Nuusita Ashipala
2020-02-12 06:57:08 | 1 months ago

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