Namibians find respite in stage 2 of lockdown

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020 10:36 |
A local craftsman weaves a mat in Windhoek, capital of Namibia, May 8, 2020. The precautionary restrictions and national lockdown in light of the COVID-19 has had a severe impact on informal traders and markets as it has brought businesses to an abrupt halt. Following the suspension of the lock-down measures, a week ago, business has been relatively slow leaving most informal traders without their much-needed income. (Xinhua/Jacobina Mouton)

Ndamona Nambahu is a 26 year old mother of three residing in Hakahana, suburb of Namibia’s capital Windhoek.

Nambahu survives by selling fat cakes and soup to construction workers in the Windhoek northern industry suburbs. Her routine every day starts with working up as early as 4 a.m. in the morning to prepare fresh delicacies that she will sale to mostly construction workers.

Since the advent of COVID-19 in Namibia, life has never been easy for the economically struggling mother who saw her business dwindling severely as the construction sector came to a grinding halt because of strict measures implemented by government to curtail the spread of the virus.

Namibian government has since eased restrictions to level 2 lockdown allowing many like Nambahu to go ahead with their businesses and be able to fend for their families, albeit with very strict health restrictions.

Part of the eased restrictions include that every Namibian should wear masks in public places as well as adhere to social distancing guidelines in line with the set health standards.

The public mask are selling for anything between 10 Namibian dollars for the government sponsored to 100 Namibian dollars (5.5 U.S. dollars) for designer label, alas Nambahu and many poor Namibians have to make a difficult decision between buying a mask for 10 Namibian dollars or a loaf of bread which cost exactly the same price to give her family a decent breakfast.

Nambahu’s struggle with buying the mask in line with government guidelines is not hers alone but a rough picture of how most poor Namibians in informal settlements have to make the difficult decision to part with a hard earned 10 Namibian dollars which in most cases is unavailable to buy the required masks or put bread on their tables.

Namibia Minister of Health and Social Services, Kalumbi Shangula told Xinhua that government is well aware of the challenges faced by many Namibians to afford mask in line with the new guidelines in public spaces but regulations must be followed for the safety of everyone as life slowly gets back to normal for the at country.

“We have engaged many local mass producers of masks and subsidized production of the mask with the aim of catering for everyone. We have put a directive that all masks subsidized by the government should be sold for price between 10 and 12 Namibian dollars,” he said.

Shangula added that the government is also prioritizing the usage of reusable masks that will save their poor from buying these on a daily basis.

“It will not be easy but we need to find the best ways to protect the public and also avoid undoing the good work we have so far done on controlling COVID-19 without regressing,” he said.

Namibian Minister of Justice Yvonne Dausab said government will institute strict adherence to the wearing of mask with those caught breaching the regulations facing a steep fine of 2,000 Namibian dollars or a six-month jail sentence.

“We have made sure that the police don’t just arrest anyone without a mask before engaging. What will happen is that if the police find you without a mask they will ask you to wear one and if you don’t have you must buy. If you then fail to abide by the set guidelines only then will they arrest and step fine be enforced,” she said.

Titus Uushona in Windhoek who resides in the high density suburbs told Xinhua that “it is good for government to consolidate the gains so far made to control the spread of COVID-19 but they have to find a way of making sure that the poor and those less privileged in society access these masks for free.” (Xinhua)

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