HUNDREDS of fishermen who have fallen on hard times gathered at Walvis Bay on Wednesday to receive boxes of fish donated to them as part of a Covid-19 relief drive.
The former seamen gathered orderly, maintaining social distancing, while waiting for their turn to get a 20kg box of horse mackerel fish each.
The president of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) branch at Walvis Bay, Johnny Doeseb, said the distribution of the fish was a once-off exercise as there were challenges in locating all the fishermen.
"It would have been a logistical nightmare for us to go door to door to distribute the fish. Most of these people live in shacks and we would not have been able to reach each and every one of them. When we made this decision, we considered the risks involved and also informed all other stakeholders involved in the fight of this deadly virus," he explained.
According to Doeseb, thousands of people would face food shortages, especially the unemployed, during the Covid-19 pandemic state of emergency lockdown period. He added that the decision to distribute the fish was also because of a lack of storage.
"The fishing sectors continue to operate because they are an essential sector of our economy. We cannot expect the cold storage facility owners to keep our fish while we are busy with paperwork. It will cost us dearly if hungry people revolt during this period," he said.
A local fishing company, Three Ocean Seafood Distribution Namibia, donated 81 tonnes (4 028 boxes) of horse mackerel fish worth N$900 000 to help feed less fortunate people in the community during the lockdown period.
Denise Visser, a director of the company, said the fish was booked by an overseas customer of the company, but when the lockdown measures for the region were announced the company opted to donate the fish locally.
"We decided that it will do much better for our people than exporting. Horse mackerel fish is a very high source of protein and contains a lot of minerals. There is specifically one mineral that boosts the immune system. If we bring food to the people, they will also not move as much," said Visser.
DDE Import & Export, Supplies and Logistics CC provided logistical services for the distribution of the fish, while CPJ CCSS cc offered short-term cold storage. HRL Investment CC made lorries available to transport the fish.
The fish will also be distributed to the families of fishermen who have died, the Topnaar community, street vendors, old age homes and to six other constituencies in the Erongo region.