Okahandja’s sleeping on the job

02 September 2019 | Opinion

The multitude of challenges that the residents of Vergenoeg, an illegal settlement on the western outskirts of Okahandja, face, have now been compounded by the development of the A1 highway. According to the mapping of the bypass, some 300 homes will have to make way for the road, with residents having nowhere to go.

That the Okahandja municipality has been caught sleeping on the job cannot be denied. Namibian Sun has seen letters addressed to it by the Vergenoeg residents, asking for the settlement to be formalised and recognised. There is no power, there is no sanitation, and there are no roads. There is nothing there, save a tap coming into the settlement where residents collect water and trek it home on wheelbarrows.

There is no person who would choose to live under those conditions, and with such a lack of infrastructure.

But of course, the 2015 moratorium on land sales is still in force and this has had the effect of throttling the town’s municipality. And yet, there is, after four years, still no closure. And nobody appears to be pushing for any kind of resolve.

The bypass, a necessary evil, especially for Okahandja, has been proclaimed and the residents are powerless to stop it. But where must they go? Most have applied for erven from the municipality, some as far back as 2009, and no response has been forthcoming. For those that received an answer, they were told that there is no land available.

The town’s folk are equally concerned about the impact of the bypass on business. There will be no reason to enter Okahandja at all, as long as you have enough fuel.

Namibian Sun spoke to some of the wood carvers at the entrance to the town and they seem to not understand the full impact the bypass will have. And unless a tour bus opts to visit the wood carvers, which they can find readily almost anywhere in the country, those men and women will have no business anymore.

The municipality must make an urgent plan. Authorities need to be engaged and people need to be given a space to call home.

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