By Kuvee Kangueehi Windhoek The National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) has accused Namwater of negligence following the flooding of the southern town of Mariental earlier this week. At a press conference yesterday in Windhoek, the acting secretary general of NUNW Evilastus Kaaronda stated that Namwater clearly did not take the common good of the affected community to heart and rather chose to imprudently wait for water levels to rise, only to flood people and property. “It is disturbing to note that water is only of commercial good to this state owned enterprise when they can actually capture and sell it, but of no consequence to them whatsoever if and when they release it to flood our people and property.” Kaaronda also dismissed claims by the Chief Executive Officer of Namwater Vaino Shivute that there was nothing his company could do to prevent the disaster. “The NUNW has difficulties believing that nothing could have been done to avoid what happened as we believe that they should have better monitoring mechanisms in place.” The NUNW also fears that given the standing weather forecasts and the geographical location of the town, it was likely that the disaster would recur. “We are calling on the government to act swiftly and very decisively in terms of what to do, most especially with regard to the moving of the town’s residents to higher grounds.” Kaaronda further noted that it was also clear that it was not only Namwater who is guilty of negligence. “The mere fact that the Mariental town council conveniently allowed people to build and reside in areas that are conspicuously prone to flooding is indeed a matter of concern.” The union leader called on the central government to take issue with Mariental Town Council for having disregarded legitimate instructions not to allow people to reside in the areas. Kaaronda also applauded individuals and parliamentarians who have spoken out against Namwater. “We strongly support all our courageous parliamentarians, especially those in the National Council such as John Hakaye for their outright rejection of Namwa-ter’s evasive explanations of this crisis.” He said the NUNW rejects the uncalled-for lack of assertiveness on the part of government in as far as Namwater’s negligence is concerned. “It is simply unacceptable that a state owned enterprise as wealthy as Namwa-ter, regardless of its degree of commercialisation and autonomy, has the audacity to flood people and claim innocence.” The acting secretary general also accused the government for taking a comfort zone. “It must go without much saying that the comfort zone taken by central government in respect of this calamity is indeed a sign of how politicians want to shift blame and also wash their hands in waters of innocence.” Kaaronda pointed out that the federation was convinced that the commercial interest of Namwater as profit-making company took precedence over socio-economic concerns such as keeping levels monitored at lower inflows commensurate with the dam’s capacity.
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