Trying to Save Opuwo

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By Michael Liswaniso Opuwo Even though it has been almost a year now since the Opuwo Town Council suffered from alleged misappropriation of funds by its former chief executive officer (CEO), Liburtus Mbaumba, and suspended town treasurer Dickson Kahuva. The current acting CEO, Eberhardt Kaitjindi, says ‘good things’ will roll in for the town council in the upcoming months. The acting CEO is a senior chief control officer in the Ministry of Regional and local government, housing and rural development in Windhoek and was seconded to the town council two months ago, pending the appointment of a new a chief. In an interview with New Era, he said recommendations from the management committee have already been made and forwarded to the line ministry for approval. “Any day now, the new chief will take over and I will go back to my ministerial position. We are just waiting for the final approval from the ministry.” He said for the past two months that he had been in office; things had been going well despite hiccups. He singled out the puddles of sewage all over town as the current problem at the top of the council’s agenda because of the health threat to the inhabitants. Opuwo, which was recently crowned as the Kunene Region’s hub, is home to more than 7000 people. Tipper trucks are used for all rubbish removal and sewage repairs. Asked why there are a lot of unattended broken sewage pools in town, Kaitjindi said the town council has transport problems, adding that most sewage pump stations are outdated, with old machines whose parts were difficult to replace. Meanwhile, qualified engineers from the line ministry are expected to visit the town soon, according to Kaitjindi. The visit will focus on an analysis of the situation in order to find a lasting solution to the broken sewage system, among other problems. Currently, the town council has only one truck to collect refuse. As a result, heaps of uncollected household rubbish abounds in the town. “Once we repair the other truck it will be better. We are just waiting for spare parts to arrive and then I hope all will be fine after then,” he said. “Transport is really a concern and problem for us. We work on a fixed household removal programme. Now take for instance Okatuo, which is scheduled for Monday, when our truck is experiencing problems on that particular day then it affects the removal day of Okatuo that day and if the next week the same thing happens, then it is still a problem, but soon, things will be modified for the better,” he promised. Some residents that New Era spoke to feel that “enough is enough” when it comes to the sewage stench and uncollected household rubbish and insist the council should act swiftly. “The council should really do something otherwise I will stop paying my N$90 municipal service fee because what is the use of paying while they do not collect my household rubbish?” said one resident. The caretaker chief however downplayed the concerns and said the council was doing all it can to alleviate the current problems by consulting other stakeholders and the line ministry. “We just hope that we will definitely get assistance from the line ministry. As for the cleanliness part, we have already scheduled August 16 as cleaning campaign day this year. Letters have already been sent all over town and to other stakeholders. We even wrote a letter to the regional education director, Kamwi Kabanjani, to release school learners on this day for cleaning and I hope all learners would have finished with their exams on Kaitjindi also warned that those not complying with municipal regulations with be dealt with accordingly. He spoke about livestock that wander around town every day and the setting up of illegal structures as the most pressing issues. He stated that the town council was in negotiations with the Meat Corporation of Namibia for the usage of its livestock posts whereby all livestock found in the jurisdiction of the town would be impounded and owners fined when they retrieve them.