Northern businesses want Covid regulations lifted

11 May 2021 | Health

TUYEIMO HAIDULA



OSHAKATI

Veikko Haimbodi, the former chairman of the Ongwediva arm of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says government should lift the Covid-19 regulations as they are hindering business operations.

He said the pandemic has been disrupting businesses for over a year and while they hoped to recover from the damage, the curfew is not assisting the situation.

“As it stands, the recovered cases are increasing, but businesses remain closed. They [government] should encourage people to go and get their vaccinations and business can remain open,” he said.

Haimbodi - also a businessman himself - said his company in the construction industry had to lay off 37 employees because machinery was not being rented out.

“The machines are standing idle because we have no work to do. As a result, we had to let the people go home - a very painful thing to do,” he said.

Feeling the pinch

“We are losing our houses and cars and are unable to settle municipal bills due to lack of sufficient income. Companies are going bankrupt but the government is just quiet and emphasising the curfew. They should know people are not happy in the country as they don’t know how to survive,” he said.

Haimbodi also used the opportunity to highlight that Namibia already has a high unemployment rate, which currently stands at 36.8%.

He pleaded with government to also allow bars to operate on Sundays as per their liquor licences, saying most clients love Sunday sessions which can no longer take place.

“People are gathering and they are not being controlled. Not even by the police, so it is unfair on businesses to remain closed as a result of those regulations,” he said.

Temporary pain

Meanwhile, health ministry executive director Ben Nangombe said the current regulations will lapse at the end of the month and government will once again make an announcement whether any changes will be made.

He admitted that the pandemic has caused disruption in the livelihoods of many Namibians, but stressed that the aim of the measures put in place is to save lives.

“We are seeing an increase in deaths and hospital admissions. If we do not protect lives, businesses will not have customers. It’s better to endure temporary pain while suppressing the effects of the virus. It would be most regrettable if we are to change the system which has proven to be working,” he said.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO) projections, Namibia could have recorded close to 184 000 infections between March 2020 and March 2021, but because of the measures imposed, the country only recorded about 50 000, Nangombe said.

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