Mixed feelings about new Omuthiya market

31 January 2018 | Local News

A plan by the Omuthiya town council to establish a new open market has been received with mixed reactions by vendors operating from the current open market.

Some of the vendors believe they need a new open market because the current one is overcrowded, which has resulted in conflict among vendors. Others say they will lose their customers if they relocate to a new open market.

Council spokesperson David Ismael says the council has other plans for the current open market and has allocated land opposite the ministry of agriculture, also along the B1 road.

He says the council decided to locate the new open market next to the main road to make it accessible to customers, but it is 200 metres from the road to maintain safety.

“We are planning to build a modern open market for our vendors. This will attract more customers for them, while at the same time it will add value to the town.

“During the 2017/2018 financial year we budgeted to fence off the land and we have done that already. During the 2018/2019 financial year the council has budgeted to start with the first phase of the construction,” Ismael says.

The existing open market can accommodate 200 vendors, but at the moment there are over 500 vendors trading there. This has caused overcrowding and traders have moved out onto the B1 road to trade from there. Most of the vendors sell agricultural produce and they target people travelling to the south or further north.

This is a popular open market in northern Namibia and has been there since 1990, long before Omuthiya was proclaimed as a town in 2007.

Ruusa Shihepo, one of those not supporting the new open market, says their customers know where to find them and if they move they will have to get new customers.

“Some of us have been trading here for decades and our customers are used to us at our operating spots. Relocating to the new open market will come with financial loss to us. Let the town council just put us in order here,” Shihepo says.

Supporting the new open market is Ester Shipena, who says the current open market no longer attracts customers like it used to. She says there is no order at the market and the customers become irritated at this.

“The problem here is not customers; it's us, the vendors.

We have depleted the value of our open market by not operating in an orderly fashion.

Customers used to come buy their products inside the open market and business was good and we used to make money.”

Shihepo blames the chaotic situation on part-time vendors who only come to the market to trade for a day.

“The town council only needs to establish a section for the part-time vendors,” Shihepo says.

Omuthiya's CEO Samuel Mbango says the council plans to construct a new open market which will accommodate all the vendors and offer a better shopping experience.

He says the current open market was donor sponsored and was constructed in collaboration with the Oshikoto Regional Council.

“There is chaos at the open market. Many of the vendors are not registered for us to establish who should be there or not.

“Their current mode of operation does not give a good image to the town and that is why we would like to create a new open market for them,” Mbango says.

The town council has requested funding from the industrialisation and trade ministry, but Mbango says the process is slow and, therefore, the council is considering other sources of funding.

ILENI NANDJATO

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