If we go home, we will die

Some street vendors at Rundu are refusing to stop trading as ordered by the town council.

27 March 2020 | Disasters

KENYA KAMBOWE

RUNDU



Street vendors at Rundu, who have refused to heed the council's order to stop trading for 30 days, say they have no other income and will die of hunger at home.

The vendors, who mostly sell perishable products, also said they had nowhere to store their stock as they live in informal settlements and have no electric fridges. The Rundu town council has issued a public notice suspending the operations of hawkers and street vendors for 30 days as a precaution against the coronavirus.

Worried

The street vendors say they understand that the government is taking the pandemic seriously, but they have not been informed of any assistance for the poor during the shutdown.

“If we stay home, we will die of hunger,” one vendor said.

“We understand that coronavirus is a dangerous disease but what can we do in this situation? We do not come to the streets and sell because it's a choice but it is the only option we have in terms of surviving.

“With schools closed and our children at home, how does the government expect us to feed our children and our relatives who depend on the money we earn by selling on the streets?”

Another vendor asked why they couldn't just follow the example of grocery shops and step up their hygiene.

“I still want to understand why we the street vendors, who interact with fewer than 50 customers a day, are forced to stop operating while the retailers who accommodate hundreds of consumers are allowed to conduct business as usual,” the vendor argued.



Market still open

The areas where vendors usually conduct business were empty yesterday as the Rundu town council's enforced its emergency measures. All open markets at Rundu were still operational despite many other local authorities closing such markets.

The town's acting CEO, Sam Nekaro, said the council decided not to close the open markets but implement other measures to curb the spread of coronavirus. Nekaro said most of the street vendors defying the council directive are in fact not registered with the council.

He added that the authorities would deal with those refusing to adhere to council orders.

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