By Reagan Malumo
The Katima Mulilo Open Market will from now on open its doors to the public on Sundays in order to allow people to have better access to business. The announcement was made at a meeting attended by a group of women and the Prime Minister Dr Libertina Amathila at Katima Mulilo last week.
Amathila met with the women at the town to hear problems that affect them and to map the way forward. She was accompanied by Caprivi Regional Governor Leonard Mwilima.
Opening the meeting, Amathila expressed dissatisfaction over the closure of the Katima Mulilo Open Market on Sundays. She said she was disappointed to see that a lot of women entrepreneurs converge under a tree in an open space every Sunday to sell their products as if the town had no
She said the idea to build open markets in the country was to prevent women from selling their products on the streets. She expected markets to always open in order to allow women to operate freely.
She bemoaned the fact that entrepreneurs at the market were subjected to high levies. She stressed that this prevents them from growing their businesses because a lot of their profits go on rental fees.
“Why are they renting the market to us and why is the market closed on Sundays? They must bring back the market to us and if not, they must tell us so that we build another market for ourselves,” urged Amathila.
She promised to talk to the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development to send a researcher to investigate issues around the market.
Representing the Katima Mulilo Town Council the Deputy Mayor, Esther Sankwasa, and the Deputy Chairperson Georgina Mwiya affirmed that the market’s closure on Sundays was based on the agreement between the marketers and the town council management board.
They said that levies and rental fees were also based on a survey conducted to determine individual businesses at the market. It was thereafter decided to open a separate account for the money which, according to them, was being spent on maintaining the market. They assured that the town council had agreed to open the market on Sundays following a meeting between the town council management board and the marketers.
Meanwhile, entrepreneurs at the market said the survey to determine the rental prices was not conducted accordingly and because of this, they were being forced to pay high fees.
The rental prices at Katima Mulilo Open Market ranges between N$70 and N$2000 per month. This makes it difficult for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) at the market to progress.
Those selling at the market also complained about street vendors from foreign countries who are selling similar products on the streets. They said this made it difficult for small businesses, especially those at the open market, to grow. They called on the Government to introduce policies that forbids people from selling their products on the streets.
Another issue which the women discussed was the revival of the Women Empowerment Forum (WEF) which they said does not exist any more in the region.
The forum was first started by women parliamentarians to assist, mobilize and empower women towards development projects. They stressed that the forum died due to lack of proper management and that there was a need for other organizations to help women to re-esta-blish the forum.