By William J. Mbangula OHANGWENA The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, Erastus Negonga, has urged the Helao Nafidi Town Council to initiate dialogue with the residents of the town. Addressing a troubleshooting meeting at Ohangwena recently, Negonga noted that one of the contributing factors to the recent demonstration and petitioning of the ministry by the residents is the fact that the local authority has not properly communicated with its residents to sort out issues raised in the petition. Although Negonga admitted that the beginning is always difficult, residents were supposed to have been informed and properly educated about the new development activities around them. He said they should have been consulted in advance as to how and when they are going to be removed and the compensation offered to them, which should include all their property including trees in their traditional mahangu fields. Negonga said the ministry was concerned about the negative reports coming from Helao Nafidi. He said the town has become “troublesome”, so much so that the ministry is questioning why among the 49 local authorities in the country, Helao Nafidi is the only one that is giving them a headache especially from the north. Out of the 49 local authorities, the ministry has only received three petitions recently. The two others came from the south, from Bethanie and Gochas. “I know very well that you cannot satisfy everyone when it comes to money but the main price for the development of Helao Nafidi to succeed and be sustained is an understanding among the local community and the elected leadership,” he said. On the water points, which were closed by the local authority because of non-payment of water bills, Negonga pointed out that this was discussed in detail and agreed that the points would be reopened while further discussions would continue. He said water is life and there is no way that people could be simply denied water while there is ample opportunity to explain and discuss any outstanding issues with them. While the water points are being reopened, arrangements are under way to find alternative ways of supplying water to the residents at a cost. One of these measures is to introduce a prepaid meter system. Apart from the councillors and the Chief Executive Officer of Helao Nafidi, Chris Shivolo, the Chairperson of Oukwanyama Traditional Authority George Nelulu, police officers, the Governor and Councillor of Ohangwena Constituency and Ohangwena Region, Usko Nghaamwa, also attended the meeting. The permanent secretary who was delegated by Minister John Pandeni to give feedback on his behalf to the villagers was accompanied by the Director of Regional, Urban and Traditional Authorities, Lameck Uyepa. After meeting the community, the two officials separately met with the Oukwanyama Traditional Authority over the weekend to hammer out solutions on issues relating to the ownership of the land that falls within the boundaries of the town, but which are still traditionally under the control of the village headmen.
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