More Money Needed for Mining Town

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By Frederick Philander ARANDIS A cash injection of N$100 million will be needed to save the mining town of Arandis on the west coast from total collapse and eventual ruin. This startling fact became known yesterday during an in-depth New Era interview with the town’s Mayor, Daniel Muhuura. The mayor, a working artisan at RÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¶ssing Uranium, was elected last year to his present position in the local authority with a total population of 4500 souls. “Our town’s biggest problem is unemployment at a rate of 36% and it is getting worse by the day. These startling facts have been revealed by a base-line socio-economic study last year. It also proved that the town has outlived its life-span of 20 years by ten years,” a dejected and frustrated Mayor Muhuura said. Electricity supply and the domestic water provision system are the biggest problems the town council is facing. “Since Erongo Red took over the electricity supply function last year in July, the town council’s revenue collection has dropped by more than 50%, making things very difficult for our service delivery function in the town, which is now more than thirty years old. Electricity supply was our biggest income with which we could subsidise the rest of our service delivery responsibilities. Furthermore, we need about N$1 million per month to operate effectively instead of the current R500 000,” the Mayor said. He also cited the ongoing degradation of water pipes in homes as one of the biggest problems the town council faces. “The whole water system basically needs to be replaced, but we do not have that kind of money to effectively resolve the problem. To make things worse, the company we employed to equip homes with prepaid water meters was last year declared bankrupt. We were thus forced to revert back to conventional ways,” the despondent Mayor said referring to the persistent growing unemployment rate among the 4500 inhabitants at the town. According to Muhuura, RÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¶ssing Mine is the biggest work provider in the town, which is situated some 60 kilometres outside Swakopmund. “Most job opportunities are provided by government institutions, local businesses, the uranium mine, the Mining Technical Institute and the RÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¶ssing Foundation, all ensuring some sort of income to the inhabitants. Thirty-five percent of the population still live below the breadline, making things very difficult for the council to collect revenue. How can one in anyway expect to collect service delivery fees from people without jobs?” he asked. To save the town from total annihilation, the town council has now embarked on a ten-year strategic plan inviting local and international investors to contribute towards the town’s pathetic financial situation. “We are optimistic that our plan will work to upgrade the town to its former flourishing glory, shared by all the inhabitants. Luckily we have a very low crime rate, mainly assaults and housebreaking. This can be ascribed to the fact that we live as one big family and there are no separate economically classified residential areas. Everyone is treated the same way,” Muhuura said. He and his council is however confident and optimistic about the town’s future existence. “With our new vision on the future in line with Vision 2030, we can and will turn the situation around to the benefit of the town and the country. However, this will only be possible with the support of the inhabitants and the Central government to make the town a sustainable place for people to live in,” he said.