TSUMEB – There is serious discord between the Tsumeb municipality and informal traders after the demolition of their trading structures opposite Engen Service Station last Friday.
About 180 traders had refused to move despite being offered alternative trading areas.
Although they have been informed by the town mayor, Mathews Hangula, together with constituency councillor Lebbius Tobias, the demolition went ahead as the traders’ defiance violated the rules set up under the strict Covid-19 lockdown.
Traders are still not at ease with the decision, arguing the places where the municipality want to relocate them is not convenient for business, because it is far from their customers.
The municipal leadership met with the aggrieved traders on Monday to inform them the decision was in their best to allow them to operate before the lapse of the lockdown intended to curtail the spread of the pandemic.
As a result, the mayor said the structures were demolished because they were unsuitable for operation, as they did not meet basic health standards required under the current rules.
The structures were congested with no water and ablution facility, said Hangula.
In addition, he said the piece of land where they operated in envisaged for road construction that will connect the location to town’s main road.
“We have identified three areas, which is the Omatala open market in the location, Punyu area and another one at NDC complex, in addition to that of Farm Deli service station. These places meet the standards and that’s is where they will be taken. As from Wednesday, those that are registered and qualify will be issued with permits to allow them to operate at designated areas,” said Mathews.
“How can we go sell in the location, as no one will buy our products; instead, they will get spoiled. Our customers are travellers passing through Tsumeb and not the residents. That is why we are appealing to municipality to give us a place next to the road to operate. Else, they are just dragging us down,” said informal traders committee member Hafeni Ndeshihafela.
“As much as we understand the rules of the lockdown and the effects of Coronavirus, they should also think of our wellbeing than dragging us down. How can we survive when we have bills to settle?” shouted another vendor Sabina Albertus, who has been selling at the destroyed place for 14 years.
The vendors threatened to demonstrate and return to their initial area of operation once the lockdown is over if the municipality does not accord them a favourable spot.
Meanwhile, the municipality is busy with the construction of a modern market along the main road to house all informal traders. The structure is still half-built.