Plans to revamp Katutura’s Herero Mall into a state-of-the-art facility are at an advanced stage and hopes are high that construction work will commence next year.
The Windhoek City Council has the final say on the design and construction of the market, project consultant George Kozonguizi of the Namibia Housing and Urban Development said.
Herero Mall has in recent years been in the news for all the wrong reasons, ranging from safety concerns to lack of ablution facilities and the early morning operating hours of especially shebeens. With the revamp of the new market, things would be much different, consultants said yesterday.
Phillip Lühl of the Department of Architecture and Spatial Planning at the Polytechnic of Namibia, who is the project consultant, said it was still too early to state how long the construction work will take, as that would depend on the budget of the Windhoek Muncipality.
However, he said, the upgrade will be done in phases. Lühl added that the first priority is to improve on and prioritise sanitation.
Veripi Kandenge of the Namibia Informal Sector Organisation explained that upgrading the mall would make it more attractive to local and international customers.
The idea, Kandenge said, came from informal traders at the mall. They felt the need to be on par with modernity.
Furthermore, Kozonguizi who was speaking at a consultative meeting with informal traders operating at the mall yesterday, emphasised the need to diversify the type of business.
He told the traders that alcohol would still be sold at the new mall but not as is currently the case.
An alcohol outlet would be allowed but that would be in a form of a restaurant as opposed to the current shebeens, Kozonguizi told traders. “It’s important that we think out of the box and think forward. That is very important,” Kozonguizi stressed. Other than the meat cutting, shebeens and kapana businesses, Herero Mall is home to welders and mechanics, among others.
“We want to operate from a modern facility. That would boost our business and attract many tourists. We get visits from tourists but not as much as we want,” said Vehonga Tjihero, a former kapana trader at the mall.
She said she would go back and do business at the market once the new facility is completed.
Maria Papama, also a kapana trader, said that having a modern facility to operate from is a welcome gesture. “We don’t want a facility similar to that of Soweto market or Oshetu market,” added Papama.
The proposed market will be much more secure compared to the current one, the consultants assured traders. Some units could be used for housing and offices, said Lühl.
“The idea is that if somebody lives here 24 hours a day that will improve security,” said Lühl. In addition, the new mall will make provision for a library, training centre or an internet café, according to Lühl.
The official market operating hours are 08:00 to 22:00 during weekdays and 08:00 to midnight over weekends. There are about 89 traders operating at Herero Mall.