Street vendors booted

Ondangwa's open market remains open for now, but street vendors have been ordered to go home for their own safety and that of their customers.

30 March 2020 | Health

ESTER KAMATI

OSHAKATI



The Ondangwa town council is one of many authorities that have to take necessary and somewhat extreme measures to keep residents safe from the coronavirus. One such measure is clearing the streets of Ondangwa of street vendors who may be at risk of contracting or spreading the virus.

Ondangwa has a high number of street vendors who sell food and other products.

One such entrepreneur is Veino Elia, who says business has been good so far and he has not yet felt the impact of the coronavirus crisis as his customers are still buying regularly from him. Elia, who sells vegetables such as tomatoes and onions, is one of many vendors whose families rely on this income.

“We are scared that soon, the town council will evacuate us from here,” he said.

Another entrepreneur, Laimi Absalom, shared the same sentiments, stating that office workers may not be affected as much by a lockdown, but vendors would feel the heat since they have no other means of earning an income.



Trading illegally

Ondangwa town council spokesperson Petrina Shitalangaho confirmed these rumours, saying that the vendors do not have permission to sell on the side of the road and are thus there illegally.

She added that the evacuation will be for their own good as they operate in areas where they do not have access to water or sanitation.

“Their own safety is at risk,” Shitalangaho said, explaining that vendors come into contact with a lot of people and the coronavirus could easily spread through such contact.

The town council issued a notice on 20 March, informing the vendors of this decision and engaged them one on one as well, according to Shitalangaho. Announcements were also broadcast on radio to make sure that everybody is aware of the measures to be taken.

Shitalangaho added that vendors were given a grace period between Friday and Sunday to sell any stock that they may have before the evacuation becomes effective.

From last Monday, the vendors were supposed to evacuate the area, and according to Shitalangaho, the police will be making rounds to ensure that the rules are adhered to.



Market still open

The Ondangwa town council also said that for now, the town's open market will remain operational, with special precautions being taken.

Health inspectors will ensure that the hygiene requirements and precautions are met.

Shitalangaho also confirmed that the practice of non-permanent traders utilising the open market facilities on Mondays and Fridays will be discontinued, but regular traders will continue business unless otherwise communicated.

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