Donkerhoek Residents Up in Arms

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK THE relocation of the Hereford Long Distance Taxi Rank opposite the Sam Nujoma Stadium in Katutura to a much bigger site along Claudius Kandovazu Street has sparked an outcry from residents of Donkerhoek among others. While on the one hand, the move by taxi operators and vendors to the new facility worth N$100 000 reflects the amicable solution reached after a row between the City of Windhoek and the Namibia Bus and Taxi Association (NABTA), the relocation is seen by its critics as boding chaos and insecurity in a quiet neighbourhood. Voicing their discontent to the municipal decision, residents held a gathering recently calling for an immediate halt to the proposed development at Donkerhoek of a station for long distance buses. “We say no to such a development because this will definitely bring an increase in the crime rate and the area will become unsafe for our children and elderly that stay here,” said Julia Iyambo who has lived at Donkerhoek all her life. Fears are that the new long distance taxi rank will bring about more people, ultimately resulting in uncontrolled chaos and insecurity due to accidents and crime. “The area will be frequented by bus operators, their clients, hawkers and even criminals that have taken our society by storm lately. We have many elderly and sickly people living in Don-kerhoek as well as young children. “We don’t feel safe to expose them to such an environment that will put their lives and that of their assets in danger,” said Toyelini Kamati, a spokesman for disgruntled residents. Most of the people staying in the area come from the Old Location where elderly like Benjamin Tjongondjoze, aged 63, and Pineas Nangolo, 78, saw their children and grandchildren grow up. “I feel very unhappy because I was never told about this taxi rank here right in front of my house. Why should they (taxi operators and vendors) move here? This place was meant to be a playground for my grandchildren,” said Tjongondjoze pointing a walking stick in the direction of the proposed development. This was an arrangement destined for them two to three years ago when the municipality planned to build a recreational facility on the same spot. Residents feel the latest turn of events has dashed their hopes after it was recently decided the place would be a taxi rank for long distance operators and vendors. A letter calling for a halt to constructing the new taxi rank was signed on behalf of the Donkerhoek community and handed to the Chief Executive Officer of the City of Windhoek Niilo Taapopi this week. However, the public relations officer of the City of Windhoek Elizabeth Sibindi told New Era that the gradual move of people from the Hereford Taxi Rank to the new area would take place. She assured that the concerns of the Donkerhoek residents would be taken into consideration. “On Monday this week, we had a meeting with the residents and their community leader Lazarus Sackarias about the relocation and we said that their concerns will be taken care of at the same time,” said Sibindi, adding that the relocation to Claudius Kandovazu Street is a temporary arrangement until such time the municipality identifies a permanent site. The latest relocation was taken on the basis of the “health risks when operating under the overflowing high mast power lines of NamPower that cross that particular site,” reads the press statement from the City of Windhoek. Since the Hereford Taxi Rank is situated close to a four-way traffic junction, people and vehicles have become very congested. The City of Windhoek identified the open area along Claudius Kandovazu Street for the relocation of the Hereford Rank, since the area has been used as a filling site and is therefore not suitable for the construction of proper infrastructure, such as commercial complexes and offices. For the residents of Donkerhoek, the open space west of the same area along the main street will be upgraded into a soccer field and recreational facility for the community at a later stage. On the other hand, president of NABTA Magnus Nangombe said that his members are willing to move to the new site, provided that after six months they are provided with a permanent structure from which they can operate. “It’s a temporary move and there will be a contact between us and the municipality. We will move there provided there are toilets, enough water, lights and a shade under which people can sell their goods and we have been guaranteed that all these things will be in place,” said Nangombe, approving that the new area is much more spacious and free from criminal activities that have become prevalent at Hereford Taxi Rank. The entire relocation of the vendors and hawkers, which started on Thursday this week, is said to continue over the weekend and be completed by this coming Monday.