By Frederick Philander USAKOS Negotiations between TransNamib and the town council of Usakos to have its mechanical workshops in the capital relocated to the rural town as a central location for rail transport into Africa is at an advanced stage. So said the acting Chief Executive Officer of Usakos Town Council, Manfred Weskop, during a New Era interview on Friday. The official was interviewed on a wide range of current developmental projects at the town. “We see the relocation of the mechanical workshops in Windhoek as a strong possibility for railway service delivery and a source of employment for the town’s people, perpetually struggling to make a decent living. Such a move will definitely stimulate the economy of the town. At this stage, I am very optimistic that TransNamib will agree to the town council’s urgent request,” said Weskop optimistically. According to him, TransNamib has done a feasibility study for the relocation of the mechanical workshops to Usakos. “These workshops were in previous years accommodated in the town, but for one or other reason it was shifted to Wind-hoek. It would be of greater help in view of the fact the Usakos is centrally located to serve the Trans-Kalahari Highway and at the same time provide at least 50 to 100 jobs to the local population,” the CEO said. The town council, willing to provide erven for industrial investment, is presently also negotiating with TransNamib to reclaim or buy back certain erven belonging to the parastatal. “The town council’s hands are basically tied down as far as the availability of industrial erven are concerned. We have identified the area around the station as a potential industrial area. TransNamib possesses almost two-thirds of the town’s industrial and residential erven, a great impediment for us to provide for the needs of the many requests we receive for industrial erven. We hope to also resolve this issue amicably,” Weskop, who has been acting as CEO for the past months, said. Weskop announced that the Namibia Roads Authority has allocated N$500 000 for the development of streets in the Hakhaseb township, which has more than 3 000 inhabitants. “This is a milestone achievement for the township in view of the poor conditions the gravel roads are in especially during the rainy season. We are confident that these streets will be properly upgraded for the benefit of the inhabitants and the town in general. Furthermore, the town council has a big problem recruiting quality officials prepared to stay in a rural set-up such as Usakos,” he said. In his view, the formerly antagonistic attitude of the population towards the town council has tremendously improved. “There were strong moves afoot to have the present council replaced because of political differences and divisions within the community. We held a number of meetings with the community and since then, there has been better communication and cooperation between the two parties. There is now understanding for the problems the council faces,” he said. He estimated that millions of dollars would be needed to upgrade the town’s old-fashioned and dilapidated water reticulation system. “The system does not function properly and needs either to be repaired or totally replaced before it falls apart and the community will be disadvantaged,” said Weskop, who expressed serious concerns about the housing situation in the town. “Fortunately, there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel now that a private company and a commercial bank have both indicated their willingness to invest in badly needed housing projects at the town. We are expecting some 100 sub-economic houses to be built in the near future by the private company and another 30 economic houses by the bank. Plans to that effect have already been submitted to the town council,” he said. Waskom’s biggest concern is the upgrading of the informal settlement bordering the formal township. “We have already set up a number of public toilets in the informal settlement to make life more bearable for those living in it, mostly unemployed people. However, I am confident of a possible economic upswing for Usakos in the near future,” Weskop said. A new CEO is expected to be appointed at the end of this month to lead the town from strength to strength on all levels.
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