By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK The Municipality of Usakos has invited business people interested in converting the municipal abattoir into a viable business to approach the Town Vouncil for negotiations on the lease. Since 2003, the Usakos abattoir has been non-functional due to a poor local market. Deputy Mayor at the town, Pieter Hermann, told New Era that, since the establishment of the abattoir, the previous Council had neglected the municipal assets without any proper maintenance. Due to lack of markets, running the facility proved expensive for the Municipality. This prompted the previous Council to rent out the facility in 2001 to a local farmer who then used the abattoir not for slaughtering but as a biltong manufacturing facility. Although Hermann could not divulge how much the Council spent to run the abattoir, he stated: “It was heavily subsidized by the Council”. Judging from the number of butcheries at the town, Hermann said the business was not sustainable. The agreement between the Council and the new management at the abattoir was to renovate the facility before new functions were carried out. Two years after it was turned into a biltong factory, the facility was closed. From 2003, the building and its equipment inside have been lying dormant. “It is no use for us to run it. Whoever is willing to operate any other business, the Council will consider”, he added. In a letter written by a group that identifies itself as concerned citizens, some residents asked what the Council was doing about what seemed to have become a ‘white elephant’. Residents reminded the Council in a letter that the abattoir was one of the employment providers or creators at the town. Hermann could not tell how many people were employed at the abattoir while it was still operated by the Municipality and the last owner. He acknowledged that the unemployment rate at the town was quite high, standing at about 40 percent. The deputy mayor expressed concern at the residents’ attitude towards the Council. He urged them to work together with the Council in trying to bring development to the town and not to just criticize the Council and its efforts. “Millions in investment at the town are standing idle because of residents who concentrate on tarnishing the image of the Council”, he said. The last major development at Usakos, Hermann said, was the construction of the hospital in 1989. Other concerns at the town involve the road infrastructure which is reported to be in a bad state. “The roads are in very bad condition, full of potholes”, the letter reads. Usakos mayor, Elmer Eiseb, concurred with complainants and assured that the Council is addressing the problem. So far, the complaint is known by the relevant ministry for funding and constructors, he added. Since December, the Municipality has operated without a town clerk. The mayor explained that advertising and interviews were conducted a few months ago and the matter was now in the ministry’s hands to appoint a candidate. “We are also eagerly waiting”, he stated. Recently, the municipal building was broken into and set on fire. The concerned group alleges that this was a deliberate move by some guilty individuals within the Council who wanted to destroy evidence on allegations levelled against the Council. These include names of people who are apparently employed not necessarily based on merit, and the misappropriation of funds allocated by the government for building houses in informal settlements. A meeting between the Council and community members is scheduled for Tuesday next week.
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