11 February 2013

Namibia: Informal Traders Relocated

INFORMAL traders who used to do business in Windhoek's Fidel Castro Street have expressed dismay over their 'sudden' relocation to a parking area next to Wecke & Voigts last week.

The traders described the municipality's decision to relocate them as 'inhumane treatment'.

"We are very angry Namibians, we don't like the way we are being treated as if we are not people enough. Some of us have been trading here since 1989 and suddenly we should move to a much smaller area and an unsafe one for that matter," said Jackline Kasume, one of the traders.

Kasume claimed that the relocation was done at short notice considering the fact that they had been doing business there for a long time and had always settled their bills with the municipality.

"It's not as if we are here for free. We pay N$80 per month for our stands and another N$65 to rent drums where the goods are stored and the drum owners pay N$300 at the municipality for keeping their drums on municipal land," Kasume said.

"This was short notice because we were just told yesterday [Tuesday] that we are moving tomorrow [Wednesday]. They even told us to pack our things and leave if we were not happy with the new allocated place," she said.

The new area is part of a parking lot.

"Not only are the cars parking there disturbing our business but it could also be dangerous for our customers. They can get bumped by the cars. Who will make sure they are taken care of when this type of accidents happen?" Kasume asked.

"We have families to feed and we cannot make an income without a proper area to trade from. They should consider our employees as well, the new area is so small that we might have to let some of our workers go. Namibia has a high unemployment rate and some people keep adding to it with their inconsiderate mentality," complained another one.

However this looks like a misunderstanding between the two parties because municipal spokesman Joshua Amukugo told The Namibian that he had a meeting with the vendors to talk about the way forward.

According to Amukugo the site where they were trading is being developed and they will be able to return to their old spot within two months. He said the vendors were informed that the relocation was a temporary one.

"They were provided with a committee that kept them updated on the relocation so they have known all along that they were going to move. This is just a temporary arrangement which will last for six to eight weeks and after that they will go back and continue doing business as usual.

"We cannot stop cars from parking there because Windhoek has more cars than parking lots."

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