New Era (Windhoek)

Namibia: To Sell or Not to Sell Booze At Rundu Beach

Rundu — Business operators against festive celebrations at the famous Rundu Beach because of the noise by holiday revelers must close their businesses and go on holiday.

Rundu Town Council Chief Executive Officer, Romauns Haironga, said this during an exclusive interview with New Era yesterday, adding that the council cannot disappoint the general public because of a few people but they should rather close shop and go on holiday to let others enjoy themselves.

Several business and lodge owners operating near Rundu Beach have written to the Rundu Magistrate's Court requesting the court not to issue temporary liquor licences to any of the six people who will be permitted to sell alcohol at the beach over the festive period.

In a letter forwarded to the court earlier this month, Tambuti Lodge owner, Elizabeth Hilger, said: "On behalf of the neighbouring residents and affected hospitality establishments surrounding the Rundu wetland area, we humbly request you not to issue any temporary licences on such sensible places which are in a natural environment not equipped to contain sound, as provided for by the current liquor act as well as the Rundu Town Council noise regulations and environmental management act."

Or at least, opined Hilger, limit such temporary licence to six days and limited hours as stipulated by the act. "I am not the only one who is against this, people living near the beach have even signed a petition opposing the activities taking place at the beach during December," said Hilger.

"The previous tender used to be renewed three or four times and on a 24/7 basis, which then makes the event uncontrollable and the noise impact on residents and business becomes unbearable," she said.

"I am not against Rundu Beach, but rather the alcohol related activities going on there. We want activities that integrate the community. One cannot think of any positive aspect of the beach, apart from people going there to spend their hard-earned money on alcohol," Hilger said.

Hilger said clients at her lodge, which is situated less than 50 meters from the beach, often complain about the excessive noise during this time of the year, adding that it negatively affects her business.

"There is no leadership at the town council. How will they attract investors to the town if things are so disorganized. I am missing the leadership qualities of our leaders at the town council because none of them are showing that," said Hilger.

However Haironga says if lodge owners are complaining that "the noise is too much for the tourists, then the tourist must go and stay at other lodges because we have many lodges along the river." He said the council would in the coming days award six successful applicants the tender to do their food and liquor business at the beach.

"People do not celebrate throughout the year, it is only during the festive season. People come to Rundu from other towns to come and relax, most of them go to the beach. The festive season is the only time we allow festivities at the beach," said Haironga.

Over the years, said Haironga, the council only awarded the trading tender to an individual but this time around "we are giving it to six people so that we can empower our people."

"We want to give the tender to six people - instead of one - so that more people can benefit."

"Apart from the money the traders pay to operate from the beach, the council does not really benefit a lot, ours is simply to provide a platform where the public can go and relax," said Haironga.

He said measures to ensure that laws are adhered to by traders and the general public are in place. "We have involved the Namibian Police and those that will be awarded the tender will be given conditions to which they must adhere," he said.

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