OUTAPI: Street vendors at Outapi in the Omusati Region on Wednesday staged a peaceful demonstration accusing the town council of preventing them from selling their wares on the street.
For the majority, it is their sole source of income.
Spokesperson of the group, Loide Kandjai handed over a copy of their petition to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the town, Oswin Namakalu who promised that the town council will discuss the petition before convening a meeting with the street vendors on an as yet undetermined date.
Kandjai told the media that about 300 street vendors who mostly sell vetkoek, kapana, fruit and vegetables are affected by the ban on the sale of goods on the streets at Outapi, regarded as the capital of the Omusati Region.
Protesting street vendors charged that the council regards their business as illegal while it is allegedly the local authority which has failed to legalise the practice “for no apparent reason”.
Kandjai and her group charged that only four of them are legally registered as street vendors at Outapi, but the town’s Senior Manager for Local Economy, Nyeuvo Ekandjo confirmed to the media that the council has thus far registered only three vendors.
“The protesting community members are all illegal street vendors who do not want to obey the rules and regulations governing local authorities in the country,” Ekandjo noted, adding that protestors will face the law if they continue to conduct illegal business.
She said illegal street vendors are “scattered all over the town”, conducting business at sites where there are no toilet facilities and clean water.
She named the two formal open markets called Onimbu and Outapi, as well as informal open markets called Olefa and Anamulenge, as the only designated sites where all vendors are expected to do business from.
The Onimbu and Outapi open markets, according to Ekandjo, are provided with decent infrastructure, water and toilet facilities, while Olefa and Anamulenge have been provided with shade and are as yet to get water and proper toilet facilities.
“We are fed up of the council’s instructions to the police to arrest us, confiscating our goods or chasing us away from places where we sell our products to customers,” the street vendors stated.
They then claimed that foreign street vendors, mostly from Zimbabwe, are allowed to conduct their business “all over the town” at the expense of Namibians trying to do the same thing.
Members of the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) were present during the demonstration to prevent the protesting street vendors from entering the town council offices on Wednesday.
The prevention of business activities by unauthorised street venders at Outapi is said to have started in 2007.