By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK AFTER an embroiled public discussion on Tuesday lasting over two hours between the City of Windhoek and disgruntled residents of Donkerhoek, last minute consensus was reached that the relocation of Hereford Taxi Rank be halted for now. The parties agreed that the concerned community should set up a committee that would chart the way forward. Prior to this decision, residents of the Donkerhoek stuck to their guns and rejected municipal plans to go ahead with relocating the current Hereford Taxi Rank to the new site along Claudius Kandovazu Street in Katutura. Since the public notice for the move last week, there has been a public outcry from the community residing in the area about the planned relocation. Donkerhoek residents staged a demonstration that called for a complete halt to the planned relocation saying this would bring about crime, chaos and accidents. According to members of the community, they were left in the dark about the decisions between the City of Windhoek and the Namibia Bus and Taxi Association (Nabta) when deciding on the relocation of the bus station to an area of residence. “For me, this is a very big shock and is more disheartening to see that our own people are treating us like dogs, because we were not made aware about the move. Therefore, Donkerhoek says no to the move to this place,” fumed one angry resident. Questions were raised as to how the municipality could allow Nabta to decide on this venue without even consulting the community of the area. However, trying at all times to reach an amicable solution with the disgruntled community the Chief Executive Officer of the City of Windhoek, Niilo Taapopi, apologised to them saying there was now a need to level the playing field on which both parties could agree on the proposed relocation. In response, there came a unanimous ‘no’ from the over 50 residents at the meeting. Most of the community members felt that the relocation would only create fatal accidents especially at the curve of Hans Dietrich Genscher and Claudius Kandovazu streets, noise pollution and become a breading ground for crime. On top of that, they felt they were being deprived of an area they were once promised two years ago as a recreational playground and soccer field for their children. “Without consultation, this place has already been built at a cost of N$100 000, but what happened to the Swedish donation of N$400 000 – money that was made available to the community of Donkerhoek to turn this place into a playground for the children,” asked concerned resident Tangeni Kambangula. During the lengthy public discussions, a group of four security guards also came to the venue, in case any violence erupted, while the close to ten police traffic officers were also in attendance of the public meeting. According to the Windhoek Municipality, the relocation of Hereford Taxi Rank to Claudius Kandovazu Street is a temporary arrangement until such time the municipality identifies a permanent site. Taapopi explained that the latest relocation was taken on the basis of the health risks when operating under the overhead mast power lines of NamPower that cross that particular site. Since the Hereford Taxi Rank is situated close to a four-way traffic junction, the area has become so congested that it creates a health hazard and could become a haven for criminals. Yet still, the residents of Donkerhoek refused the relocation. “Take the relocation to town, why here? You just can’t come here and build structures without consulting our elderly,” said another frustrated woman. “We say no and what is there further to discuss because it seems the municipality has already decided …” said another man. As the meeting stretched into the evening hours, some people left rather angry. Yet for now, the relocation has been halted, until such time the community comes up with their own committee that would address the situation.
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