Oshakati dismisses open market demonstrators’ claims

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Nuusita Ashipala

Oshakati-Oshakati Town Council has refuted claims levelled against it by angry demonstrators from the Oshakati Open Market, who protested this week against high rentals, dismissing the claims as devoid of any truth.
About 30 vendors from the open market on Tuesday staged a peaceful demonstration demanding reduced rent.
Further investigation at the market on Thursday revealed that the demonstrators represented only a small faction from the meat section.

Some vendors operating from the open market claimed they were not aware of the strike, while others claimed they only heard of the strike when the striking vendors returned from the council offices.

The vendors further said the committee representatives were not imposed on them by the council. “All I know is that council at the start asked us to nominate people who will represent us and we chose the people that formed the committee,” related one vendor.

Oshakati CEO Werner Iita said the highest amount paid at the open market for a stall rented by marketers is N$600. Some vendors said they were unhappy with the high rental tariffs, agreeing with the demonstrators they had not agreed to the tariffs.

“Council should look into reducing the prices. The money we make is not equivalent to the rent tariffs,” said another vendor. Other complaints brought forward at the open market include being exposed to harsh weather conditions.

The vendors said often when it is windy or when it rains, their goods are damaged – including their machinery – and asked the council to look into shielding their stalls from the elements.

Iita said a meeting with the committee would be held next week to iron out issues pertaining to the open market. He maintained that the money collected from the vendors only covers a fraction of the market’s expenses.

He said the money is used to pay for water, electricity, cleaning and security officers. “We use the money to maintain the facility, but the collection alone is not enough, hence council highly subsidises the operations of the market,” Iita said.

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