By Frederick Philander KEETMANSHOOP Unemployment in Keetmanshoop is rife and is further exacerbated by the fact that potential investors are deliberately prevented from legally acquiring prime plots in the Central Business District of the town. This is the view of the town’s mayor, Dean Thibold. He and the Regional Councillor for the Keetmanshoop Urban Constituency, Hilma Nicanor, aired their concerns over issues of unemployment and poverty in the Southern town. “The unemployment situation is critical and needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency by my Local Authority Council, especially the availing of prime plots to potential investors who are being kept out by the refusal of certain white landowners in the town. A number of investors had shown interest in opening businesses in the town but, due to the fact that most white business plot-owners do not want to sell erven they have been clinging to for ages, these investors have moved on to other places with their monies,” Thibold said. According to him, white landowners use tactics to sabotage his Council’s efforts to bring investment to the town for development. “These white business plot-owners who bought the land way before independence, demand high and basically unaffordable prices for their land; hence, the fact that possible business investors have been shunning us. They could have provided employment to the many unemployed people daily roaming the streets,” said Thibold. “The Council has now introduced rates and taxes forcing white business landowners either to develop their empty erven or sell the properties at reasonable prices within the next five years. In this way, we hope land can be made available to potential developers whereby the people can benefit through job opportunities,” he said. Sharing similar sentiments, Regional Councillor, Hilma Nicanor, said the town was facing many challenges. “When one looks in the streets of the town, poverty and unemployment are strongly visible. Therefore, we are constantly faced with many challenges of creating jobs and improving the livelihood of our people by working harder,” Nicanor said last Saturday during the official opening of a constituency office in the town. According to her, Keetmanshoop is showing signs of progress in creating jobs through the development of several public and private offices and businesses. “Examples of government efforts to provide job opportunities are the recently-extended Regional Magistrate Court and the construction of the offices of the Receiver of Revenue. These are all efforts to ensure jobs are created. Some local businesses have also expanded their operations and infrastructures, sure signs of investor confidence. I want to urge these business people to continue doing that, so that more jobs can be created for our people,” Nicanor said.