The streets of Windhoek are known as some of the cleanest streets Africa.
But that is not to be the case anymore following the licentious street vending of all kinds in the recent past.
In Windhoek, however, the street in question, whose eminence is pretty troubling, is the little ‘open market’ right in front of the Ministry of Finance office building.
It is disturbing to walk into a Government building and see foodstuff including perishables like fritters, fried chicken pieces, fruits, vegetables, to non-perishables including grains - a situation that should be looked into by health experts.
Ministry of Finance public relations officer, Aldrin Manyando, said, “We do have an aspect of dealing with this so that the vendors are not a nuisance to the employees of the Ministry or to the pedestrians using this street.
“We only allow uncooked foodstuff including fruits and vegetables. Even though I understand that they also sell cooked foods.”
Paulina Namises, an employee of the Ministry, says it is a hazard for them to share the inside staff toilets with the street traders.
“They also leave the entrance full of litters and there are some street thieves who have taken advantage of the rush hour in the evenings to snatch purses from female employees,” she claims.
One of the vendors, Sharon Misine, a mother of six says she wouldn’t leave because she makes better sales as compared to her fellow vendors in Soweto market in Katutura.
“I will not to go Wernhil Park. Nobody will follow us there. And if that happens, how will I provide for my children as my husband does not make much money?” She asks adding that she applied for land in Otjimuise last year but was denied.
“If they could give me the land, then I would quit this desperate business and do farming. I bought seeds from Zambia but I do not have land. How does anybody expect me to survive?” she complains.
David Lavinia, 19, also a vendor, says she stands in for her elder sister who works as a toilet cleaner in the CBD and does not earn enough to cater for her family.
She further says she has to go for an improvement course from the beginning of next year yet she wouldn’t accomplish that if she weren’t saving for it from vending.
“I wouldn’t really mind even if they moved us to a different location here in town as long as I get to earn something,” she asserts.
City of Windhoek chief executive officer, Mr Niilo Taapopi, says they can’t do anything because there are no solutions now.
“If we were to move them, we would have to have a place ready for them. But they should be rest assured that my office as well the Government is doing everything to find them a better, less ‘out of bounce’ place.
“This shall be done as soon the discussions are finalised and a budget is drawn up. It is one of the Government’s plans to curb unemployment in the city,” he says.
Taapopi furthers says vendors follow the wave of customers, “Wherever there’re a lot of customers, there’s bound to be more earnings, hence the profits,” he explains.
Taapopi says the city police have not neglected street vending but was involved with crime.