Nudo Attacks Okakarara Council

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By Mbatjiua Ngavirue WINDHOEK The Nudo branch in Okakarara has accused the town council of malpractices in its handling of residents’ water and electricity bills. Nudo sharply criticised the Okakarara Town Council for taking legal action against residents of the town for an estimated N$1 000 000 in arrears for water and electricity. The situation, according to Nudo, is so serious that some residents have already been evicted from their houses, while lawyers are currently preparing eviction notices for several others. The party goes as far as requesting the central government to intervene in the “political crisis” at the town in the same way it recently did in Okahandja. Okakarara has struggled with a chronic problem of non-payment of water and electricity bills for the past few years. Matters reached a crisis point in 2004 when the utilities NamPower and NamWater cut off the town’s supply of electricity and water. Nudo claims in a statement released this week that residents are disputing the figure of N$1 000 000 they are supposed to owe the town council. The amounts residents are claimed to owe the council range from N$10 000 to N$60 000, which Nudo says cannot be a true reflection of actual consumption. The party believes these high sums are the result of wrong calculation, which the council allegedly acknowledges but fails to rectify. In one example C. Kapepu is claimed to owe the council N$58 000 for all services including electricity, but the house in question was never connected to the electricity grid. Nudo questions why the house was still being charged for electricity in the July/August statement from the council, even though responsibility for electricity supply was transferred to Cenored on October 1, 2005. The council is further accused of sometimes sending residents two different bills for one house, with two different payment amounts. In some cases residents go to the council with receipts showing payment was made, but there are no records of the payments in the council filing system. In the informal settlements, some residents receive a basic water charge bill despite not having water taps at their houses. Nudo says that as a result of all these problems, many town residents were now being evicted from their houses and dumped on the street. Some people had already lost their houses; some were on the street with their belongings while others were being forced to rent in order to have shelter. Nudo says attempts were made by members of the community to meet with the council to discuss the issue, but these attempts proved unsuccessful. “Instead the management diverts council financial resources for personal enrichment and their own interests,” Nudo alleges. An unnecessary trip was allegedly made to Windhoek and Rehoboth on May 9, 2006 without council approval. The opposition party further claims management and staff are currently busy planning for a raise in their salaries and car allowances. Nudo also condemned the council’s approval of two new positions in the council structure at a time when Okakarara Town Council is struggling financially. The two new positions that are planned are apparently for human resources manager and economic development officer. The serious allegation is made that the mayor is a candidate to fill the position of human resources manager, while the chairperson of the management committee is accused of aiming for the position of economic development officer. The Okakarara Nudo branch calls on the government to look into whether elected council members have the legal right to apply for vacant positions in council structures. When approached for comment yesterday Okakarara Mayor Tjatjitirani Kandukira said he and his colleagues first needed to study the allegations made by Nudo before they respond.