Business owners at Lüderitz have complained they are being overlooked by organisers of the annual crayfish festival.
The concerned business people say the organising committee is slowly drifting away from its objectives of boosting the town’s economy, as local businesses are allegedly being sidelined, meaning money will move out the town instead of circulating and boosting the local economy.
The group in a letter to the organisers claimed most of the business stalls and tenders, such as those for catering and event management, were given to companies from other towns, which the group says charge huge amounts compared to the asking prices of local companies.
The group said the lack of participation by local companies means the town’s economy is being deprived of a much-needed financial boost.
“This year most of the tenders are given to people from outside, and they pay these guys astronomical sums compared to what they pay local companies. This to us is unreasonable and unacceptable as they are not empowering local people,” said one businessman.
The letter further noted that the organising team gives the impression that they are not interested in sticking to the initial objectives of the festival, i.e., creating a platform for the local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and to boost the town’s economy.
The group further complained that the annual festival at the coastal town has over the years become very expensive for locals to participate in.
“We observe hiccups in the organisation of the crayfish festival and the allocation of tenders for the festival – how do local SMEs benefit from this event?” read their letter.
Contacted for comment, Lüderitz mayor Hilaria Mukapuli confirmed having received the letter, but said she could not comment on the issue as she was yet to familiarise herself with the contents of the letter.
She however stressed the issues surrounding the festival are matters that are handled by an independent body and she could not comment until the board had interrogated the letter and responded to the matters raised in due course.
“I do not think the comment of the mayor or CEO will make sense as all decisions as far as the crayfish festival is concerned are made by an independent body,” she said.
This year’s annual crayfish festival is set to kick off next week Thursday and many Namibians are expected to flock to the town to join in the festivities.