By: Nghiinomenwa-vali Erastus
In her motion tabled last week, City of Windhoek councillor Queen Kamati said the councilors only approve malls/hubs to be built in the city but no provisions are made for informal trading areas, bus terminals, and taxi ranks.
“It is my strong conviction that our planning processes in the city do not give due attention or priority to open/informal trading areas, bus terminals and taxi ranks,” she presented.
Kamati said the purpose of the motion is to advocate for council to re-visit the plan of action for the trading markets, including the hygiene status of the existing markets.
She said the illegal trading activities that are happening in the city are due to the lack of appropriate and adequate open markets in the central business district (CBD).
“As Council, we need to think about creating state-of-the-art informal/open markets in the CBD,” she proposed.
Kamati also explained that the situation of the lack of appropriate and adequate open markets prompts residents to occupy sidewalks, thereby forcing pedestrians to walk on the roads.
Similarly, the illegal traders set up their trading spaces in front of formal shops, where shops also sell the same or similar products.
These shop owners/business owners are obligated to pay council and NAMRA rates and taxes such as business registration fees, water consumption, and electricity consumption, she highlighted.
INADEQUATE INFORMAL TRADE INFRASTRUCTURE
According to councilor Kamati’s assessment, the reality on the ground is that there are simply no adequate informal trading areas in Windhoek.
The few that are there are simply not enough and some are located away from the target market with more bus terminals, taxi ranks, and other economic hubs needed to cater to residents economically.
“Hence our people are scattered all around town trading at areas which are not designated as trading spaces and in the process,” she said.
According to Kamati, this often leads to confrontation between traders and law enforcement agencies who are simply doing their job by enforcing the laws and by-laws as per their existential mandate.
As a critical example of many others, Councilor Kamati pointed out the critical mess at Tukondjeni Market at Stop and Shop in Ondoto street, Okuryangava.
“I acknowledge the day-to-day economic activities taking place there, however, traders are selling their goods in an orderless manner at the expense of shop owners,” she said.
According to her assessment, the majority of the regulated and paid-up traders who were accorded trading space in Tukondjeni Market feel unfairly treated.
This is because traders who did not pay for the market trading in the same product (vegetables and fruits) are allowed to trade within the vicinity of Ondoto Street which is adjacent to the Tukondjeni market.
While on the other side, there are other unregistered traders mostly trading in second-hand clothing, cosmetics, and other products indicating that they are there due to a lack of open market space and informal trader space within an economic hub/malls.
As a result, they are forced to trade on the sidewalks, parking lots and in front of the shops to “ambush” the potential customers who are coming for shopping, be it in the open Market, Shoprite, Namica, Pep store, and furniture retails just to mention a few.
Councilor Kamati reminded her fellows of their promises.
“We promised our people that we will improve the delivery of municipal services as well as develop adequate infrastructure and subsequently boost economic growth and help create much-needed jobs through.
Furthermore, the city councilors and management committed to building sustainable communities with clean, healthy, safe, and conducive environments for our residents to trade to make ends meet.
In the process, it is supposed to create a safety net of social services while at the same time restoring their dignity.
The councilor acknowledges the fact that the council, like any other organisation, lacks adequate funds to execute the implementation of the activities as contained in the strategic plan.
However, according to her, with the minimum funds at the City’s disposal, with better grassroots planning among others, addressing informal trading must remain an area that deserves much attention.
She has also reminded the City management of the promised Open/Informal Markets Development Master Plan Draft, which until now is not complete.
“Ever since we joined council, we have been hearing about the Open/Informal Markets Development Master Plan being drafted for preparation lo Council by the custodian department,” stated Kamati.
However, to date, such a Master Plan has not yet been presented to the councilors.
Adding that is a sign that the city does not prioritize informal trading.
“This is just another demonstration that we attach less importance to the development of trading markets for our residents. One wonders whether this Master Plan will ever become a reality,” she said.
THE PROPOSAL: NO MORE ISOLATING INFORMAL TRADERS
According to Councilor Kamati, illegal trading activities are happening because of the lack of appropriate and adequate open markets in the CBD.
She challenged the council, to think about creating state-of-the-art informal/open markets in the CBD.
She, however, did not only criticize and highlighted the City’s failure but provided proposals.
The first one is for the Council to consider reserving the piece of land north of Wernhill Shopping Mall for the development of the state-of-the-art Informal market, Bus Terminal and Taxi Rank.
Secondly for the Council to consider the development of a modem informal market and taxi rank on the land west of Shoprite (Shoprite Parking/Taxi rank)
For the council to consider making the development of trading markets, bus terminals, and taxi rank requirements before approving future applications for shopping malls.
At the same time, deliberate action must be taken to impose hygiene standards on business owners to ensure that the trading areas are kept clean.
On the critical mess of the Tukondjeni Open Market which is characterized by unhygienic conditions, chaos, and disorganisation she proposes the council intervene and find lasting solutions.
Subsequently invoke targeted interventions aimed at improving the setup, because this place has become an eyesore.
Lastly, she requested the city’s chief executive officer to submit to the council without delay the Informal Markets Developmental Master Plan for Council to provide direction.