SOME Tsumeb residents have had to drink water from public toilets over the past few weeks, after their water supply was cut off by the town’s municipality.
Taps in the Kuvukiland informal settlement and the old section of the Soweto township have been closed, leaving residents without water.
Residents in the Kuvukiland only have access to taps with pre-paid meters.
Some 900 residents, most of whom are from the Kuvukiland and Soweto townships, handed over a petition to the municipality yesterday, expressing their unhappiness with the situation.
They called on the municipality to provide them with an answer by tomorrow. Contacted for comment yesterday about the reported problems in Tsumeb, the town’s chief executive officer, Archie Benjamin, said the municipality had no comment.
“We don’t have any comment at all. We have challenges in Tsumeb but we also have successes. Through various channels, we have informed our Tsumeb residents about what’s going on and if the rest of the country wants to find out what’s going on in Tsumeb, they should come to the Copper Festival and we will let them know,” Benjamin said.
Tsumeb residents, especially those in Kuvukiland and Soweto, told The Namibian that the issue of a lack of water has been a recurring one, which the town’s municipality has chosen to ignore deliberately.
“This water issue is coming on for a long time now. When we tell the municipality, they are telling us that they won’t come to the dogs. Maybe because we live in informal settlements, they are calling us dogs. We have been collecting water to drink and cook from public toilets in Soweto,” said Nghiyalwa Geiirod Congo, chairperson of the Kuvukiland Committee.
The informal settlement of Kuvukiland has more than 3 000 shack dwellers. Combined with Soweto, the number of residents living in these townships are more than 5 000.
The residents, most of whom are unemployed, live in shacks with no electricity.
The water cut-offs come in the wake of media reports that the town’s municipality is being sued by various creditors, including a waste management company, for a N$1 million debt.
In an interview in July this year, the municipality’s finance manager, Karolina Damaseb, told The Namibian that as at June last year, Tsumeb residents owed the municipality N$77 million, adding that this amount had been escalating every month.
Damaseb could not provide The Namibian with the latest amounts owed to the municipality, saying that the accounts for the financial year which ended June 30 are still to be audited.
“We are trying as by the credit control policy to control the debt but one of the hampering factors is that, as per the Cabinet order, we are not allowed to evict people who are in arrears with their housing accounts,” Damaseb said at the time.
She also said that unemployment is one of the main reasons why most people are unable to pay for services rendered by the municipality.
Namibia has a reported unemployment rate of more than 50 percent.
“Even if we decide to cut off someone’s water because such a person is in arrears, the municipality still charges a monthly service, refuse and sewerage charge, rates and taxes, which you find people are also unable to pay. This is what contributes to the already high debt,” said Damaseb.
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