Epukiro Tired of Waiting

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK Epukiro residents, tired of the state of development in that area, last weekend established a development fund and pledged thousands of money and livestock to help develop the area. Epukiro, which was until 2004 part of the Otjinene constituency, has seen minimal development since the country’s independence in 1990. More than 150 people turned up for the meeting, which was called by Epukiro councillor, Brave Tjizera, and others that are driving the process. “Little or nothing has taken place here since independence,” he said. The area has a host of pressing issues such as lack of an ambulance and mortuary, as well as a water problem, while its roads are also in bad shape. Tjizera told New Era this week that since the residents have come to the realisation that developing the area depends on the residents themselves, they had decided to gather funds “to see how far we can go with the most pressing problems”. According to the Omaheke Regional Council, development projects for Epukiro since 2002 include planning, surveying, rural electrification, prepayment meters and construction of a constituency office. But apart from rural electrification in the 2003/4 financial year, no infrastructural programmes were implemented. While serviced plots have been a problem leading to the Build Together Programme building houses on unserviced erven, renovation of government houses has also been a headache. If this trend continues, there are fears that other areas such as Tallismanus will be declared a town before Epukiro. The workshop on Saturday and Sunday was, among others, attended by Omaheke Regional Governor, Laura McLeod, Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Kilus Nguvauva, representatives of various government ministries dealing with development, traditional authorities, church leaders, farmers’ unions and the residents themselves. They pledged close to N$12 000, about four sheep, six goats and seven heifers. Due to a lack of a mortuary in Epukiro, inhabitants of the constituency are forced to travel between 135 km and 200 km to Gobabis, where the nearest morgue is. Apart from the fact that residents spend lots of money transporting bodies of their lived ones, sometimes bodies get rotten in the process. Epukiro and Steinhausen are served by one ambulance from Otjinene, which poses a challenge because it breaks down frequently. Tjizera said that Epukiro has lime in its water, which clogs water infrastructure in the area. All these, said the councilor, have made the people stand up to start doing things themselves. “While we are still lobbying for funds, we want to do something on our own. Although we are keeping our fingers crossed that in the current budget the Ministry of Health and Social Services will consider building a mortuary for us and that the Government will still come in, we cannot wait,” he said. Addressing the workshop, McLeod said although the regional council was committed to assist with realising the objectives of decentralization, it needed partners to deal with the challenges that continue to confront the process. She said the council has a strong poverty focus to raise the standards of living and reduce poverty, among other things. The Participatory Poverty Assessment (PPA) of the region has identified water supply, income generating activities, unemployment, a high crime rate, land reform, inadequate accommodation in schools and poor road infrastructure as some of the urgent problems that need to be addressed. Even though there are policy strategies in place to drive sustainable development in the country, the governor said people should be proactive and participate in the implementation process.