By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Illegal outdoor advertisements through big billboards results in the City of Windhoek losing money estimated to be thousands of dollars every month. It turns out that in the past, construction of advertising billboards did not always take place with the approval or consent of the city authorities. However, most billboards were put up with the approval of the city through a yearlong contract, but the contracts were never renewed, or in some cases, never had any official documentation. According to the City of Windhoek’s latest draft policy on outdoor advertising, “many boards were illegally erected for which no applications had been submitted, or late applications were submitted after construction had taken place”. Against this background, the City of Windhoek yesterday held a one-day participatory consultation meeting with close to 40 representatives from the outdoor advertising industry in the capital. The aim of the meeting was to solicit the input of those in the industry towards the draft policy on outdoor advertisements. This in turn will further help the City of Windhoek to streamline the process in a more coordinated manner in order to generate more revenue at the end of the day. Welcoming the participants, Manager of Economic Development at the City of Windhoek Colin Ramothibe said the objective was not to blame anyone, but rather to get their inputs on how best to address the situation for a win-win approach for both parties. “We don’t question the integrity of the industry, but we are here for you to give us your inputs. We will then work on it and see what we can do,” said Ramothibe, adding that the City of Windhoek currently controls outdoor advertising through its Outdoor Advertising Regulations promulgated on September 15, 1999, Number 279. Through the guidelines, the erection and display of advertising material as set out per Revised Policy were accepted and approved based on the Council Resolution on Outdoor Advertising. The frequent appearance of unauthorised outdoor advertising, as well as the necessity to control the industry, prompted the City of Windhoek officials to undertake a survey in May this year. Charlie and Elmarie du Toit of Town Planning Consultants and Emerald Sky Joint Venture from South Africa conducted the two-day survey. Findings reveal that most of the big billboards in the city are unauthorised, out of a total of 121 advertising structures that were surveyed along the capital’s major roads. However, only 31 of the 121 structures are advertising sites that fall under the city’s jurisdiction, while the rest are on government land, private land and parastatal areas. From the 121 structures, 83 could be allocated to specific billboard industry structure owners. Yet it turns out that only eight of the 83 structures have obtained valid approvals to have billboards. “The City needs to generate income, therefore it needs better control and management of outdoor advertising. We need to also look into new tariff structures that have to be implemented,” said Du Toit, adding that this is not a witch-hunt, but rather an input consultation. Through the consultations, the City of Windhoek plans to come up with a final draft on outdoor advertising for Council’s final approval some time next year.
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