Mariental Businesses in Doubt

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By Hoandi !Gaeb MARIENTAL Most of the business houses at Mariental are not yet fully functional or are hesitant to begin with their activities due to the uncertainty about the future of the town, as well as the massive damage caused to buildings in the central business district. In his progress report to the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) titled “The Situation in Mariental after the February Flood”, Town Clerk Paul Nghiwililepo however assured all stakeholders that all municipal services in the affected areas have been restored and are operating at full capacity. He says the major concern of entrepreneurs in Mariental’s central business district which was hard hit by the floods, is because no plan was put forward with regard to addressing the problem of the reeds and silting of the Fish River. The Mariental Flood Task Force is working around the clock to address this problem, he assured the nation at large. The chairperson of the Mariental Branch of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry Marietha Grobelaar earlier also alluded to New Era that although the much needed development at the town should be supported and indeed encouraged, a lasting solution is needed for the problem. She said Old Mutual Namibia’s idea of developing a shopping and office complex in the area that is usually not affected by flooding is a step in the right direction. However, she said the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry must see to it that the Fish River is cleaned properly. It will then make it easier for the water in the Fish River to flow unhindered and therefore minimise flooding of the town. “It is good to bring development to the eastern part of the town, but the exercise will be futile if we don’t also address the problem of the filthy Fish River. Because if we don’t, the eastern part of the town may also be flooded,” she told New Era in an earlier interview. In this report, Nghiwililepo says there is a visible willingness on the part of all affected residents as a lot of them have already started to rebuild their houses in the affected area. “Many people have started to work towards making Mariental as it was before the flood. It is encouraging and there is not only the pride of the town that is systematically coming back, but there is also hope for the future of Mariental,” he said. Nghiwililepo stated in his report that the food distribution programme for the flood victims was discontinued on April 12 and the remaining food supplies have already been transferred back to the Regional Emergency Management Unit (REMU). He said the water network was restored to normal and water is safe for human consumption and his office did not receive complaints about the quality of water. The roads in the municipal area were extensively damaged and the cost estimated to repair them would be more that N$4 million. Since the road network is not insured, the municipality intends to spend the money from the N$10 million allocated from government coffers by President Hifikepunye Pohamba. The town clerk concluded that the assistance by the government especially by the Emergency Management Unit was excellent and is much appreciated. “We believe that the OPM will continue to spearhead the drive to find a lasting solution to the flood problem of Mariental. ” Meanwhile, many businesses have expressed interest to move to the Old Mutual Namibia (OMN) complex that will be built in the eastern part of the town, which is not normally affected by the floods. OMN managing director for Africa Operations, Johannes !Gawaxab earlier announced that the insurance giant will invest millions to construct a shopping and office complex to help the town to stand on its feet again. “We want to see economic development coming to that area as we have a social responsibility towards the thousands of policy holders in the country,” he said in an earlier interview with New Era.