‘Town council should do something,we are losing business’ – vendors

‘Town council should do something, we are losing business’ – vendors

Vendors at the once popular Ongwediva Open Market say the town council should allow food and beverage vendors to sell alcohol because it attracts more customers.

Vendors claim that they are finding it difficult to make a profit because many customers have stopped frequenting the open market which was previously popular for its traditional food served with any drink, including alcohol.

However since the onset of Covid-19, a ban was put in place on the sale of alcoholic beverages, in line with Covid-19 regulations countrywide.

However, post Covid-19, business as usual has not fully resumed at the market.

This is because the Ongwediva Town Council reportedly decided to create their own regulations allowing only one vendor to sell alcohol, while the others are only permitted to sell soft drinks.

This situation, vendors say, has set their businesses back in terms of losing out on income from alcohol sales, as well as the loss of customers who stayed away, preferring to eat, drink and relax elsewhere as a result.

“We are not in the Covid-19 era anymore, why can’t things here completely normalise like it is at other open markets such as Oshakati and Ondangwa?

The town council thinks we leave our homes to come here and play, or what?

They must consider and think of us all. When it comes to the open market, they run it like it’s their own personal house without a care about those of us who depend on this place for our livelihood,” says vendor Salome Haiduwa.

Salom Johannes has owned a barbershop and salon at the market since 2004.

He says before Covid-19, business was good as everything was operating well and without any limitations, with vendors able to sell a variety of foods and other items.

“I understand that things had to change due to the pandemic, but now we have passed the pandemic and we expect everything else to be back to normal. However, here at the Ongwediva Open Market, it’s just not working.

A market should not be treated like an exclusive place where only some people are allowed to be there and do certain things.

When you are outside the fence, people are selling their items under the trees.

Why are they not included here? Council should set up new structures to cater to everyone. Here we just have too many limitations,” Johannes says.

Ongwediva mayor Taarah Shalyefu told The Namibian yesterday the council is currently in the process of reviewing all the rules and regulations.

“When Covid-19 came, all the procedures that were there dramatically changed.

The changes we had made was that no vehicles were allowed inside and only one vendor could sell alcohol.

As of now, vehicles are allowed inside and we are busy reviewing everything because complaints are coming to my office, and I am not happy too.

All I can say further is that in 2023, council approved a budget to renovate and add new structures to the open market so as to cater to everyone, including those who are operating outside the fence.”

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