Vendors say lockdown ruined business

BY MARX ITAMALO

VEGETABLE vendors plying their trade in towns such as Eenhana, Oshikango, Ondangwa and Omuthiya said the lockdown that was imposed on many regions last month brought them heavy losses in terms of revenue.

This was because many of them could not source their stock from the Etunda irrigation project and the nearby Etaka irrigation project near Olushandja dam in Omusati region due to the fact that they could not enter that region as it was sealed off from Oshikoto and Ohangwena regions.

“It was difficult for us. We could not obtain produce from our suppliers because the region was sealed off. So we only sold for the first week of the lockdown and our stock got depleted and we only had to sit at home hoping for the lockdown to be lifted,” says Timoteus Simeon who sells vegetables at a stall at Ondangwa.

He sells to customers cabbage, onions, carrots, tomatoes among other vegetables. Most of his merchandise is sourced from the Etunda irrigation project.

Another vegetable vendor who lost out on revenue owing to the lockdown is Abraham Angula from Oshikango. He sells vegetables in Oshipwatapwata location.  According to him, he is the only vendor in his neighbourhood and many people go to him for their vegetable supplements.

“My supplier normally brings vegetables with his truck here. It’s not for me to go to Olushandja. However, he informed me he was not able to deliver stock due to travel restrictions because of the lockdown. I had to make plan B in order to keep the business running,” he told Confidente by telephone. Employing plan B for him meant sourcing vegetables from Tsumeb. However, this comes at a great expense and the pain is also passed on onto customers.

“Tsumeb is far and I had to use a lot of money on transport. As a result, I also needed to increase the price of the goods unfortunately,” he articulated. Nonetheless, when the lockdown was lifted last weekend, everything has started returning to normal.

Like her fellow businesspeople, Rauna Ndemwiimba of Onyaanya in Oshikoto region, stressed that she experienced immense loses due to the lockdown.

“Vegetables get spoiled fast and one cannot keep a large stock. You need to buy twice a week at least. Even if we knew in time lockdown was coming, there is nothing we could do because you cannot store a lot especially tomatoes. So we just suffered in silence because we had no choice.”

The vendors pleaded with authorities especially the head of state to always consider entrepreneurs and their activities before coming up with drastic measures such as sealing off regions.

“We understand the President has advisors. On what do they advise him? Before locking down regions, especially those involved in economic activities, they should always consult the people. They are making our lives difficult. What we do is what we live on,” Simeon said.

Ndemwiimba, a part-time vendor and student said if government finds itself tempted by another lockdown, it should provide a relief incentive to upcoming entrepreneurs.

“They should pay us money for lost income. Some of us are surviving hard and lockdowns only compound matters,” she pointed out.

Several producers in the Omusati region have also been frowning upon the last lockdown in the past week claiming their produce has been going to waste as they were unable to sell it off to their customers.