by Okeri Ngutjinazo

The Rehoboth Town Council says it does not have the money needed to build a suitable market for hawkers and street vendors at the town to use.

A breakdown of the projected costs indicates that the council would need N$656 880 for an open market which would include 20 stalls and provide for basic hygiene and sanitation standards and the required social distancing.

While discussing measures in place to address Covid-19 and economic hardships of local authorities on Tuesday afternoon, a local economic development officer of the council, Jonathan Ockhuizen, said they have identified two suitable areas for the construction of open markets to accommodate hawkers, street vendors and informal traders.

He added that the council is experiencing a challenge to execute this plan due to funds although it was budgeted for in the previous financial year.

Ockhuizen said it was a challenge for the council to allocate funds to build at least one open market for vendors at Rehoboth. He noted that a donation was given to the council of 10 bags of cement, weighing 50 kg each, and N$10 000 for building materials.

During the lockdown, 40 unregistered hawkers, street vendors and unauthorised people who operate in the town boundaries were closed down.

Ockhuizen said the main reasons for the closure was because of the absence of an open market and lack of running water and toilets.

“This put the street vendors in no position to adhere to the Covid-19 regulations,” he said.

The town council’s finance manager, Zeino Theron, noted that the council was battling with debts due to NamWater and NamPower.

“Revenue collection has gone down during the period of Covid-19 as consumers [residents] are not coming to the table,” he said.

Theron said the the council owes NamPower N$129 million.

“We have discussed strategies of getting this NamPower bill down but we could not put them into action because we went into lockdown on 31 March. Currently we are discussing it in-house and there will be stakeholders brought in to assist us,” he said.

The council’s NamWater bill stands at nearly N$4 million, which is for water provided to residents during the lockdown period, and the amount was due to be paid on Tuesday (12 May), he also said.

Theron further said the council’s credit control policy needs to be implemented, which will assist with the financial woes at the local authority.

The council installed six water tanks to supply water to the people of Rehoboth during the lockdown and reconnected more than 1 000 water points.

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