Dolam Residents Panic

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Tension is mounting in northwest Katutura where 130 families fear that the City of Windhoek is making a u-turn on a promise to help rebuild their houses that were washed away by floods when the rainy season started. Panic and tension among the 130 Dolam residents grew when the city halted their daily food rations for the third day running, sparking fears that the city has as well made a u-turn on a promise to compensate them. The City of Windhoek was however quick to ease their fears, calling for calm as negotiations with their legal representatives were still underway to devise modalities of compensating them. When asked about the delays in compensating the Do-lam residents, the city spokesperson Ndangi Katoma said that was due to protracted negotiations between the city’s authorities and the Dolam residents’ legal representatives, the Legal Assistance Centre. When New Era visited the families at the football stadium in Katutura yesterday, despair and fear were etched on the people’s faces after two months of waiting. What appeared to make matters worse is that food rations they were getting were suddenly halted three days ago. In a local daily, Director of the LAC Norman Tjombe said that the city’s decision to stop feeding the people is “absolutely unacceptable”. “They are getting this food because of a natural disaster,” he is quoted as saying. “We will not leave until we have received our compensation from the Municipality,” said frustrated community activist Claudia Namises. “The children are hungry and they have to go to school on empty stomachs, what are we supposed to do now,” said Juliana Dawis, a mother. “We are not even being treated as people who are facing a crisis emergency situation. Why is that,” asked another man angrily. Just recently, the families were swamped in sewage water after a concert was held at the Sam Nujoma Stadium where they currently reside. The high number of people caused the capacity of the drainage system to spill over and spoil their only belongings consisting of grey blankets, mattresses and a few other items. “We were even being accused of littering the place with bottles, while it was not even us,” said another worried Dolam resident. Namises added that although the City of Windhoek claims to have compensated the affected families, this is not the case. She urged the Municipality to tell them “that the houses they have restored are now safe to move into, so that we can move back once and for all”. She also said that they have lost everything in the recent floods that destroyed all their 14 houses situated just a sto-ne’s throw away from the Sam Nujoma Stadium in Katutura. “We don’t have food, any stoves to cook on and our children are even being chased away from school because they don’t have uniforms. What can we do? How much longer must we remain in this situation,” pleaded another woman who was sitting on a mattress with five grandchildren. Claims from the community are that the Dolam area was never flooded before the Sam Nujoma Stadium was constructed by the Municipality. The latest floods have left these families destitute and without any solution in sight till now. Meanwhile, towards the end of last month, the Wind-hoek Municipality’s engineering assessors finalised an investigation on the actual cause of the flooding of the Dolam houses. This report is set to aid the city in determining what possible measures could be taken in order to prevent such an event recurring. After weeks of consultations between the city authorities and Dolam residents squatting at the Sam Nujoma Stadium, it was decided that families would be compensated on “market value”. “It is worth noting that such compensation will be based on market value,” Windhoek Mayor Matheus Shikongo stated previously. However, according Namises, this term did not go down well with the affected families on the ground. “The people are happy about these recent developments but they find it difficult to understand what ‘market value’ really means. They have had similar phrases thrown at them in the past and nothing developed further,” she told New Era.