OMUTHIYA – Tsumeb mayor Mathew Hangula has come to the defence of the municipality’s decision to demolish informal traders’ structures within the town on Friday, saying this was dictated by the requirements on how vendors can operate under the national Covid-19 lockdown.
Local authorities were asked by the urban and rural development ministry to come up with modalities on how informal traders can operate, including ensuring controls of social distancing and maintaining hygienic conditions. Government has relaxed Covid-19 regulations and has now allowed informal traders to operate under strict conditions.
“In the current form of trading set up, it was not meeting the standards to operate as indicated in the strict requirements in place; that is why we opted to demolish the structures so that we can provide improved ones, which maintains hygienic health standards to avoid any likelihood spread of the Covid-19,” said Hangula.
Some condemned the municipality’s action, with many saying the timing was wrong, especially at a time when informal traders were being given a chance to redeem themselves.
“Why demolishing now? Couldn’t the municipality wait until after two weeks of the lockdown? Where are these people going to start operating in order to generate and try to recover the income lost over the past weeks they did not work,” Tsumeb resident and businessman Nico Kaiyamo questioned.
Hangula said the traders were consulted and informed of the decision to which they agreed before the structures were dismantled. In addition, he said, those allowed to trade will be issued with permits – and in the meantime, the municipality identified three sites where the traders can operate.
Furthermore, the mayor said they would consider other informal traders who are operating at Farm Deli service station to be issued with permits in consultation with the owners of the property.
“The idea was totally misconstrued and interpreted by the people, yet this was the best move for the informal traders to get back on track. I would like to urge our so-called self-proclaimed activists to desist from instigating and feeding the residents false information. These are the same people inciting residents not to pay municipal bills,” countered Hangula.