By: Julia Heita
Angry vendors from Oluno in Ondangwa told The Villager that they’ve been told to vacate their place of trade with immediate effect as the town council is busy renovating the area with interlocks.
The street vendors say they do not want fancy built omatalas (open markets) but instead just serviced land to set up their equipment to sell their goods.
One of the vendors, Felesmina Mwandingi, who has been a vendor since 2000, said that the town council never consults them regardless of the letters they write to them.
Mwandingi said they’ve been fighting for land space to build an open market for their businesses since 2017, and when the council built an open market, they never came back to consult them.
“We had to go through a draw so we get selected as to who will get space in the open market, only four people from us street vendors this side got space there,” she said.
Eveline Phillipus, a member of the street vendors committee, said the municipality requested them to move because the council claims they want to clean the area.
“How can you have a clean area with hungry people, people who have kids at home that need to be fed, and people who need to pay school fees and take food home,” she questioned.
Phillipus said the council sent security guards to move them and their things.
“They should come and arrest us. We no longer have the strength in us. Some of us have pending cases for past arrests because of the same incident.”
Phillipus said the leaders should come out of their offices and talk to the same people who voted for them to come up with a permanent solution.
“They are sending security guards while they are just in offices, turning their chairs around while we are fighting each other here. They should come to us, so we talk like normal people and find a solution to the problem.”
Ondangwa Public Relations Officer town council Petrina Mutikisa said the council builds open markets, but currently, two are partially empty, and only a few places are occupied.
Mutikisa said all the street vendors could occupy the current capacity of the open markets.
“The street vendors have been notified before moving to the open markets, but they refuse.”
When questioned about the high walls of the open market, Mutikisa said that the walls are not an excuse because if all the vendors move there, all the customers will know where to go to get the goods.
Mutikisa said they are moving all the street vendors out of the streets.
“All the newly open markets are next to the road, which makes it better for the vendors, the market has proper parking, it’s safer, and it has toilets,” she explained.
Ondangwa town council Mayor Paavo Amwele said that the vendors are sitting on the interlocks immediately when they are being fixed, causing damage.
“If they sit on the interlocks immediately, they will get damaged, which will defeat the purpose. We told them in advance to move to give space to these people to work,” he explained.
He said he would meet up with the vendors by next week to explain the process and situation adequately.
“I will go talk to them again to ask where they want to be re-located to apart from the streets.”