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Limited space hampers growth of auto businesses – As municipality “refuses” to avail land

Kalimbo Timateus, a self employed mechanic, works from home in the informal settlements of Katutura. (Photograph by Yvonne Amukwaya)The lack of space or land is one of the major obstacles informal panel beaters are faced with. They say they are forced to operate from home because the City of Windhoek is refusing to avail land to them.
“I have been applying for office space since 1998 when I first started my business and up to now, they are keeping me on the waiting list,” said Gabriel Eiaseb, owner of Gabes Panel-beaters and Spray Painting CC.
Eiaseb, who is a qualified panel-beater and employs five people, said that although his business has grown in the last 17 years, the lack of space to efficiently run his business has proven problematic as it is unsafe to park customers’ vehicles outside.
Uzandu Kejarukua, also a panel-beater who also operates from home, says that finding adequate space has also been a problem.
Kejarukua started his own panel-beating business in 2010 after resigning from Autoboss where he worked for 10 years.
He said finding customers is a big problem and it is even more difficult when you are not operating from your own site.
Kejarukua added that he does have his loyal clients but they are mostly relatives and people who know him.
The Economist also spoke to Willem Llinus who also operates from home and he says that his business has been on the go for about 10 years and employs five people.
Although the lack of space is also a problem for him,  lack of electricity is a bigger challenge.
“Land is a problem, but the greatest is electricity and water for us at the moment,” he said.
Llinus said that when the sun sets, he is unable to work as his business does not have electricity, this leads to lack of productivity.
Mechanics in certain parts of Katutura are also facing the same problem. Kalimbo Timateus, a Vocation Training Centre(VTC) graduate in Auto-mechanism, said that it is difficult to obtain  one’s own space as the City makes it difficult for them.
He said that officials from the municipality have visited them on numerous occasions because they are operating from residential settlements.
Timateus argues that if the City wants to vacate or shut their businesses down, they should be given erfs where they can legally operate from.
“If they don’t want us to be here, making a living for ourselves then they must provide us with employment,” he stressed.

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