ONGWEDIVA – Wood, art and craft vendors at the ABC open market in Ondangwa have come out guns blazing against the Ondangwa Town Council which they accuse of discriminating against them because they emanate from another region.
The wood vendors, who mainly hail from the two Kavango regions, accused council of wanting to ‘hide’ their business behind the open market, shielding them from customers despite them honouring their monthly rental fees.
The eight wood vendors pay council N$77 monthly rental fees and say they have never defaulted on their commitment. Although the vendors have been operating from the open market since they were relocated from the Ondjondjo open market, the council is now moving them to the back of the market to pave way for fruit and vegetable vendors, who previously sold outside Pick n Pay supermarket.
The wood vendors argue that apart from being shielded from customers, they are being moved to an area with no water and light, making their goods exposed to thieves especially at night.
“There is enough space for all of us in front of the market, why are we being moved to the back, is it because we are not locals? It is disheartening because even delivery trucks cannot access the area we are being located to because it is sandy,” related one wood vendor.
The chief executive officer at Ondangwa Town Council Ismael Namugongo, said that the council is restructuring the open market, hence the move.
He also dismissed the tribal connotations being attached to the council’s decision, saying the council is treating all its residents under the same banner and does not discriminate.
“All we know is that they are residents of Ondangwa – we do not ask individuals where they are from when rendering services, for us they are our people,” Namugongo said.
Namugongo said council is ready to tackle the concerns raised by the wood vendors.
“We are not shielding them from customers. Apart from selling wood poles, they also chop wood and the current locality is not convenient because customers also park their cars in the front, but as council we are ready to work with them to solve the problem amicably,” Namugongo said.
New Era understands that the wood vendors were relocated from the Ondjondjo open market after the council took a decision to clear the front of the open market as it was previously an eyesore.