Tsumeb Feeling the Pinch – Mayor

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK The Tsumeb Town Council has taken the interim measure to re-connect the water supply of at least 20 pensioners. Two weeks ago the council took the step to cut the water supply of more than 100 households at the town. The decision, the town mayor Engel Nawatiseb said, was taken after the realization that some community members are reluctant to pay their accounts. “There are some people who have not paid for services for about ten months,” the mayor lamented. He told New Era however that pensioners at the town have been “faithful” in settling their accounts compared to other members of the community. Although the former leaders in the council allowed the debt to escalate to this level, Nawatiseb said, the council was left with the limited choice to cut the supply of some of its services. “We are feeling the pinch financially,” he said. Currently, the council is owed about N$38 million, an amount which Nawatiseb said has “blocked” the progress of some projects. He explained to New Era that the current financial year had seen slashed at least N$25 million off its capital budget due to bad debts. Some projects such as the upgrading of the Soweto settlement and another housing project would during this financial year not progress unless residents paid off their debts. The council was re-considering introducing a pre-paid water system and a meeting that would discuss such matters was scheduled to take place today. Last week Wednesday, residents took to the streets demonstrating against the council’s decision to cut off water supply to consumers who are in arrears with their accounts. Although the council would reopen water for pensioners, Nawatiseb stressed that pensioners were, however, requested to make acceptable contributions to their accounts. He said that the council was also encouraging the town’s unemployed homeowners, whose water is also cut, to use public/communal taps, which the council is subsidizing. All other defaulters, Nawatiseb said, should report to the administrative offices of the council to make arrangements on how to pay off their debts. ‘The measures taken by the council should, however, not be construed to mean that we are going to provide free water to pensioners, but it is a temporary measure taken while looking for a long-term solution to the matter,” the Tsumeb mayor pointed out. Nawatiseb said that his council had made the said arrangements in good faith. But he reminded the demonstrating residents that they too have a responsibility to contribute to the town’s development by paying for services, rates and taxes. ‘There is no need to go into a debate of who should and why we should pay for services received. It is a mere honouring of a contractual obligation of which failure to comply with ends in a breaching and termination of such contract,” the mayor cautioned. * (Additional reporting by Nampa)

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