OMUTHIYA - Investors are sceptical about plans to establish major shopping malls in Omuthiya, arguing the town’s population is small to economically sustain such developments.
This was revealed by the CEO of Omuthiya Town Council, Samuel Mbango in response to questions pertaining to the slow-paced development of the regional capital of Oshikoto.
“Investors are having fears of developing shopping complexes for various reasons such as a small population which will lead to low demand in purchasing, hence this means it will also attract less business tenants. As a result, the investors might run into trouble with their financiers as they are unable to generate sufficient funds to sustain themselves and repay their loans,” stated Mbango amid an outcry from residents who have for years bemoaned what is perceived a lack of major shops at the town. As such, residents resort to shopping in Ondangwa, Ongwediva and Tsumeb for consumables and other necessities.
A consumer market survey analysis established that it is a complete loss to venture into that direction at the moment, hence they are still waiting for the population to grow, added Mbango, who has been at the helm of the council since its inception in 2008.
Omuthiya clients are those from surrounding villages, thus the town people only reflect a minimal percentage of the clientele. “If you bring in bigger conglomerates, you might find that our customers from rural areas might not afford such products, but only a few. Once the population grow, this will attract more people to the town, which will result in higher demand in purchasing,” elaborated Mbango.
Omuthiya has a population of about 3794, according to the 2011 national census, and it is currently estimated to have spiralled to around 5000.
However, he indicated there is massive land available for such developments, in case any investor is interested to take the unprecedented risk. Omuthiya has small shopping complexes, which only offer basic necessities such as food and beverages. These include Pep, Ackermans, Dunns, and Chinese shops, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Hungry Lion, Edgars and Jet. “We can only attract development when there is enough serviced land available. Although there is a number of interested parties who would like to enter into public private partnerships (PPPs) with the town council to develop and service land, we are unable to do so because we do not have money to compensate the community who still live on that piece of land,” he said. The town also lags behind in the provision of serviced residential and business plots.
Council has for the past years been embroiled in a heated battle with the community relating to compensation, and in some instances individuals refuse to vacate the land despite being compensated, arguing they are not satisfied with what they were paid.