Residents See Red over Alcohol Outlet

0
18

By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK School and church communities of Khomasdal are up in arms over a planned bottle store that will be part of a new multi-million-dollar business complex that is expected to open its doors to the public in October this year. Even the Ministry of Education has formally expressed shock and dismay to the Windhoek City Council for having given permission for the said bottle store to operate opposite the largest Khomasdal secondary school and the Congregational Church. The erf on which the business complex is being erected at a purported total cost of N$75 million, was sold on tender by the Windhoek City Council to a company, Tulongeni Property Developers, in July 2005, New Era has reliably learned. “In my view, the Windhoek City Council is very insensitive to the feelings and the needs of the Khomasdal community. It’s really sad and a shame that the local authorities have gone ahead to sell the plot for a business that will accommodate a bottle store with its destructive effects on my school learners,” a perturbed Dennis Fredericks, principal of David Bezuidenhout Secondary School said. The building is being erected right opposite the school that has more than 1 000 full-time learners. “The Khomasdal community is literally and socially drowning in the abuse of alcohol due to the many illegal shebeens operating freely in the township providing alcohol to all and sundry, including school children. Now the authorities have allowed a bottle store to operate right here at the school’s doorstep. Whatever the argument for economic development, what’s the use of investing N$75 million in a complex of this magnitude, but causing millions more to the social destruction of the same community the complex is supposed to serve?” Fredericks asked. According to him, the school’s staff has a perpetual problem of discouraging learners not to indulge in the abuse of alcohol and/or drugs. “We have had incidents where learners ran away from school to go drink in some of the shebeens. We have nothing against economic development per se, but we object to a bottle store license being issued to any business in this complex, now nearing completion. Me and my staff are supported in this strong stance by our school board, who intends fighting the issuing of a liquor license to any would-be businessperson in the complex. We will oppose any such granting of a license by the Ministry of Trade and Industry for the safety of our children,” a determined Fredericks said. In a letter to the Chief Executive Officer of the Windhoek City Council, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Vitalis Ankama expressed shock and disappointment at the inclusion of a bottle store opposite a school. “The construction of a bottle store in close proximity to a school and especially a secondary school is not acceptable to the Ministry of Education and is not of benefit to the school community. I therefore request your office to look into the matter and consider the view of my ministry and the community for the benefit of quality education, and high standard of social upbringing in favour of the upliftment of the Khomasdal community in a positive manner,” reads a letter, dated May 19, 2006 from Ankama to CEO Niilo Taapopi. The almost completed business complex is to house a supermarket with a bakery and a butchery, a pharmacy, a bottle store, two clothing outlets, a retail furniture outlet, a hair and beauty salon, a fast food outlet, a spares centre, a post box outlet, a petrol station, an office complex, a hardware and building yard outlet and even a small police charge office. “The Congregational Church of Namibia is also very much concerned about the bottle store that will be allowed to operate just next to our church. With almost 30 churches operating in Khomasdal and 10 registered shebeens operating day and night, the impact and devastation of the social fibre of the community will further deteriorate. This is why we as religious leaders reject this planned bottle store, a metre or two away from our church,” said the church’s secretary, Johan Ndjaronguru, when approached for comment on the issue. He expects the bottle store issue to be discussed tomorrow when spiritual leaders from various denominations get together.