Unregistered car washes in economic crunch

04 Mar 2017 17:20pm
WINDHOEK, 04 MAR (NAMPA) – Unregistered car wash owners have handed over a petition to the City of Windhoek (CoW), demanding the reopening of their clamped down businesses.
The group of about 50 car wash owners Friday marched down Independence Avenue to the Windhoek Municipality building, carrying placards that expressed their discontent regarding the closure of their only source of income.
“That is my only source of income, how will I survive and is this what you call Harambee?”
Reading the petition to the Mayor, group spokesperson Martin Nangwasha claimed the CoW was using Namibia’s water crisis as an excuse not to issue Certificates of Fitness to car washes.
He said the unregistered businesses received directives from the City to have a drainage system directly connected to a sewer line for the water to re-enter Windhoek’s recycling system.
However, not all car washes were able to meet the requirements as the drainage system costs from N.dollars 17 000 to N.dollars 25 000. This forced most owners to take out loans.
Nangwasha said the CoW also directed them to each buy a pressure washer machine, which costs close to N.dollars 20 000.
“CoW keeps imposing all these laws but our applications for certificates of fitness are gathering dust in their offices due to the closure of the process since 2015,” said Nangwasha.
He noted that each unregistered car wash in Windhoek employs about five young people and contributes to reducing Namibia’s unemployment.
An audit done by City Police in September 2016 found the capital city has about 300 illegal car washes and only 20 legal ones.
CoW and City Police conducted a joint operation targeting illegal car washes in the capital in January and forced their closure.
Car washes were given until 03 February 2017 to ensure registration of the business and compliance with CoW laws that regulate such operations.
CoW noted that the mushrooming of illegal car washes remains a great concern as it compounds obstruction of traffic, damages the road surface, creates an unhygienic environment, wastes water and blocks the drainage.
Nangwasha said young employees at car washes were unskilled or semi-skilled while some were transformed criminals that could not find jobs elsewhere.
He noted the consequences of not having an income.
“Our children will be forced to drop out of schools due to a lack of food at home and those that are at pre-primary and university may have to drop out completely.”
Nangwasha asked CoW to allow those operating on municipal land to be able to agree on a lease agreement or instead buy the land.
Upon receiving the petition, Windhoek Mayor Muesee Kazapua said it will be forwarded to the Management Committee to look into the matter and consider the concerns. He noted the CoW has municipal regulations and standing rules that will guide them to address the concerns.
“I do consider your concerns in terms of issues of unemployment and economic situations that are confronting our country, but as a city we should take cognisance because we are there to run the city,” said Kazapua.