Onandjaba settlement's small business owners up in arms

28 Oct 2013 13:50pm
ONANDJABA, 28 OCT (NAMPA) - Small business owners at the Onandjaba settlement in the Omusati Region’s Okalongo Constituency are up in arms as they say they are being forced to move from their preferred trading area to a less ideal area.
The businessman say their settlement’s development committee and local police officers forced them to vacate their current business spot on 24 September this year and relocate to a site designated for an open market in the future.
A total of 76 business owners staged a peaceful protest at that settlement on Friday and handed in their petition at the office of the constituency councillor, Elizabeth Mwanyangapo, who was not available to receive the petition.
One of the senior officers at the constituency office, a certain Martha, received the petition on behalf of Mwanyangapo.
“She (Mwanyangapo) was also at the office and we don’t know why she opted not to meet us and receive our petition,” the protesters’ spokesperson Jordaan Thomas told Nampa shortly after the protest.
Thomas pointed out that the small business owners are bitter that the development committee in collaboration with the police, decided to forcefully evict them from their business places without proper consultation.
The protesters have however refused to relocate to the new area and continue to trade at various spots alongside the settlement’s main road.
According to Thomas, on 24 September they were evicted by police officers who cited the expansion of that road as the reason for their removal.
The expansion of the Onandjaba settlement also forms part of the upgrading of the Omafo-Okalongo-Outapi gravel road to bitumen standard.
“We are not refusing to pave way for the expansion of the road, neither opposing the removal, but we want to be relocated to a place which has toilets, water points and is not situated in a flood-prone area,” Thomas narrated.
He said the location the development committee wants to relocate them to is vulnerable to floods, and allegedly does not have toilets or a water supply.
“We wrote a letter to our constituency councillor to look into our plight on 26 September, but she too ignored us and remains silent on the matter until now. Therefore, we have decided to hand in a petition at her office today,” he claimed.
In their petition, the protesters indicated that they will not move to the new site before it is, amongst others, filled up with sand and provided with toilets and a tap.
Mwanyangapo and members of the SDC were not immediately available for comment.