The Grootfontein municipality is embroiled in a tug-of-war with street vendors who are refusing to move to the newly established temporary open market opposite the town’s famous Otjivanda shopping mall.
It has now become the law enforcement’s daily activity to remove the traders, while products of habitual culprits are being confiscated and subsequently fined. Although the situation is relatively calm, police assistance is requested time-to-time to clean the streets. The vendors argue the area is too small and substandard. In addition, they say the open market is not strategically located; hence, it is not economically viable. Thus, traders fear making a loss when operating at the facility, which is about a kilometre away from the main Okavango road that passes through the heart of the town.
“There is a real problem in town now, as the traders are still refusing to get to market. They fear making losses, as business is not as lucrative as in town,” said community activist Moraiz Gaingob.
Last month, about 200 street vendors staged a protest to show their disapproval, suggesting additional space to be created to accommodate over 600 traders. The recently constructed temporary structure is the town’s only open market. It can only accommodate 130 vendors under Covid-19 informal trading regulations. According to the municipality, this was set up as a temporary measure while provision is being made to provide for all traders.
The municipality is still planning to construct a permanent structure, with one or two more to be constructed, said municipal spokesperson Luke Salomo. For many years, vendors have been operating on a free-range, although with a fee of N$90, at designated points around town, but since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, things took a nosedive, prompting precautionary measures to be put in place to contain the further spread.
“There are few who have moved to the facility while others are still defiant for various reasons, but what we are asking them is to all move in and, eventually, clients will start flocking to the open market. As it stands now, business won’t boom, as they are divided - so is the clientele. Some are sneaking back to town, but we do regular patrols,” said Salomo.
Furthermore, he said, vendors are given a grace period when they start trading at the open market, where they will only be required to pay stall and permit fees end of September.
The market was opened last month, and 400 vendors registered with the municipality.
2020-08-07 09:01:05 | 1 months ago