Local Authority Defends Actions

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK The Chief Executive Officer at Mariental yesterday in a press release heavily criticized critics for accusing the local authority of unlawfully developing and selling residential erven in a flood area west of the town. CEO Paul Nghiwilepa specifically identified the chairperson of the town’s Flood Task Force as the main culprit allegedly propagating what he termed a misconception. “Since the floods in February this year there had been individuals, who through media reports, wanted to create the impression that the local authority of Mariental has developed and sold erven and property in a flood area. Unfortunately the chairperson of the Mariental Flood Task Force has been the leading figure in this campaign,” Nghiwilepa charged in the press release. He also accused certain officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and Namwater of misinforming the town’s residents and the nation at large. “They stated as fact that the town west of the railway line is a flood area and that the Municipality unlawfully allowed development to continue there. These allegations are disparaging to the local authority, the residents, business and the town as a whole,” he claimed. To put the record straight, he gave a historic background of the development of the town since 1912. “The railway line running through the town was built in 1914. Mariental was declared a town in 1920. The town proper comprising of 350 erven was surveyed and approved in 1921. At that time 115 erven were situated to the west of the railway line. Currently there are about 190 erven to the west of the railway line, of which 98 have business rights,” Nghiwilepa said, According to him there is no denying that Mariental as a town is located in an area that forms part of the Fish River valley. “The railway station was built near the Fish River to allow easy access of water for steam engines. The town naturally developed and expended around the railway station,” he geographically explained. He further stated that approval of town development and surveying is done by the Namibia Planning Advisory Board and the office of the Surveyor General. “Since the first flood of the 1920s no part of the Mariental Municipality was declared a flood area or any restrictions on development imposed as a result of flooding. After the 1972 flood and again in 1990 flood lines were drawn up by Water Affairs and Bicon Namibia indicating the flood lines. Areas developed west of the railway line after 1990 were not below the flood lines drawn,” the CEO defended the local authority. “The residents of Mariental and the Hardap Region are willing to cooperate in finding a lasting solution to the flooding problem at the town,” he promised.

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