By Hileni Nembwaya
THE business community at Oshikango in the Ohangwena region has accused Government of abandoning the erstwhile prosperous town.
Neglect, including the lack of Government services and agencies, has added to the economic collapse of the northern border town.
Many business activities are currently experiencing a huge decline and while others have closed down due to, amongst others, the high tax rates imposed by the Government.
Residents have lamented that they are forced to travel long distances to nearby towns to seek for essential services such as schools, hospitals and clinics.
In 2012, former President Hifikepunye Pohamba inaugurated the Rev. Theofilus Hamutumbangela Station at Oshikango as a new opportunity for trade and commerce in Namibia and other SADC countries.
The railway station is said to be the only state enterprise at the town.
According to Fernando Valindi, who has been conducting business for more than four years at Oshikango, the town cannot stand on its own anymore because it has been neglected and left to turn into a ghost town by the Government.
“Oshikango has been neglected for many years. There are no government ministries or agencies here not even the Ministry of industrialisation, Trade and Development. Despite the town being one the towns that contributed highly to the country’s gross domestic product, it cannot stand on its own. Where are the Government representatives, what is the Government doing to rescue and revive the town? Oshikango is not a ghost town,” said Valindi.
Valindi further suggested for the Government to bring public services closer to the residents and create an enabling business environment for foreigners.
“People are closing down their businesses here every day. I have also closed down almost all my shops because I can no longer cope with the situation. It is getting tough here. The Government should do something and help us out. The decline in economy should not only be blamed on Angolan nationals but Angolan nationals should be used as a bonus to revive the economy,” he said.
The Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI), Oshikango branch chairperson Frieda Shikangala told Confidente that there is nothing more that NCCI could do as they had also appealed to Government to resuscitate Oshikango.
“We are not the ones responsible for decentralising Government services because we are also appealing to Government to meet us half way and rescue our people,” she said.
The Chief Executive Officer of Helao Nafidi town council, Inga Iipinge placed the blame on Government’s doorstep. “I cannot say much on that because the matter lies with the central Government and not the town council,” said Iipinge.
However, Usko Nghaamwa, the Governor of Ohangwena region refuted the claims saying that the decline in economy at the border town should not be solely blamed on the Government because the crisis is countrywide.
“The Government services will not alleviate the crises. The services will be decentralised in the long run. There is barely anything that the Government can do because there is no money and no one is happy that the town is turning into a ghost house,” said Nghaamwa.
Oshikango is smarting from the decline in cross-border trade was caused by the de-dollarisation in Angola; trade tariffs; slow declaration and clearance processes; tightened business visa processes; the development of other trade points; and the evolving economic developments in Angola.
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 Angola.
Many of the businesses at Oshikango depended on foreign investment, thus the slump that crippled businesses across the border town.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015