By Hileni Nembwaya
WHAT was once a lucrative and attractive business centre at Oshikango has been hit by a huge decline in business due to a decrease in foreign arrivals, with the accommodation occupancy at the border town low as many facilities have turned into white elephants.
The business community at the town told Confidente that the occupancy rate has gone done by between 30 percent and 60 percent.
According to a monthly review data carried out by the Princess Pension Hotel on the matter, there has been a decline in arrivals from Angola every month, compared to last year.
Rabi Delcio, hotel supervisor at Princess Hotel, an establishment that used to cater for mainly foreign nationals told Confidente that the decline in business has forced them to drop their daily rates from N$590 to N$450 in order to suit Namibian nationals as well.
“Business is now slow since November, last year up to now. We still receive clients from Angola but the situation cannot be compared to before the decline in the economy, because 90 percent of our clients were mainly Angolans and other foreign nationals who use to visit the town for recreational purposes, shopping, and medical attention,” said Delcio.
“We used to receive more than 20 Angolan customers but now we only receive one or two Angolan customers per day. This situation has also forced us to drop our rates and branch out into other avenues as well,” he said.
Delcio further said that the situation has forced the hotel to change its perspective and services rendered in order to cater and adapt to local customers.
“But with business you should be prepared for everything, either to win or lose and when you lose, you should turn around and see how you can revive your business and thrive once again,” explained Delcio.
Another worker at Oshikango Country Lodge who preferred to remain anonymous echoed the same sentiments saying that many of the accommodation facilities at the border town heavily depended on the Angolan market and job security had become a threat to many.
“At the moment we receive two or three Angolan customers, only and it is very sad because our future remains uncertain too. You do not know if you will be able to open your business tomorrow or not. We are considering retrenching more workers in order to reduce the cost of operation,” said a source.
The source further said that many accommodation facilities are pushing hard to market their facilities hoping to attract more visitors.
Tarah Shaanika, CEO of Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) advised the accommodation facility owners to hang on until the situation retains to normal.
“Business is down and it is a problem when one focuses on a specific clientele. We do not want the money invested into that infrastructure go to waste and become white elephants. The business owners should hang on until the situation normalises as the Government seeks for alternatives to revive business at the town,” said Shaanika.
He further added that NCCI is working on ways to resuscitate business at Oshikango by firstly improving the environment and the infrastructure in order to turn the town into a manufacturing hub.
In recent years, many of the export, wholesale and retail businesses have closed down at an alarming rate, after a drastic decline in customers from neighbouring Angola.
Many of the businesses at Oshikango depended on foreign investment, thus the slump had crippled businesses across the border town.
Angola is currently experiencing an economic slump putting financial pressure on its citizens.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015