Windhoek-As part of its sustained efforts to keep the capital city clean the Windhoek City Police have embarked on a clean-up campaign aimed at removing all illegal street vendors operating both in the central business district (CBD) and Katutura, where public safety and health are compromised, City Police Superintendent Chief Abraham Kanime has confirmed.
In an interview with New Era, Kanime said the campaign that kicked off late last year has managed to move some illegal street vendors to the vacant shops available at some open markets, as well as in the CBD, while others were assisted to obtain a vending licence.
Areas from where illegal vendors and hawkers were removed include Otjomuise, Stop and Shop in Okuryangava as well along Monte Christo Road.
“We have been telling the people to stop operating along the pavements and places that pose a danger to pedestrians and motor vehicles, and even to themselves (the street vendors), but maybe because of the economic situation and desperation of customers, even if you remove them today, they always come back,” Kanime said.
He said the current campaign is not to arrest them or to give them fines but is meant to educate them on the dangers of operating at unsafe and unhygienic places, where their lives are also at risk, as well as to convince them to move to open markets.
Illegal street vendors operating at Havana Four-Way Stop will be the next target.
“Of course there are some places where vendors are allowed to operate from, such as demarcated areas where the pavements are wide and there is no obstruction to the public – and such vendors we don’t really bother but at places where safety and hygiene are compromised the City Police will intervene,” he said.
Kanime said once the operation has concluded and all targeted vendors are moved to the open market, those vendors found operating illegally on the streets will be subjected to a fine of N$1,000.
Meanwhile, street vendors have vowed to continue selling their wares in defiance of the City Police warnings to them not to sell illegally along the streets, stating that selling their goods is the only source of income to support their families.
“It’s not that we do not want to go to the available open market but it’s about doing business where potential customers are. Like here at Havana Four-Way Stop, our market is those people that live at the informal settlements since they are far from the shops. So they always buy their tomatoes and meat here and in return we make profit,” said Tresia Shikongo, who has been operating along the dusty road of Havana informal area for more than five years.
Shikongo suggests that the best way to address illegal vending is to build an open market at the right place where one can find customers and not somewhere outside town or places where there are shops.