New Era recently had an in-depth interview with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Katima Mulilo Town Council Dr Vincent Sazita on a wide range of developmental issues and the progress made so far at the far northeastern town in Caprivi Region.
NE: First can you tell us what is the current population of the town and if possible can you give me a breakdown of the number of people resident in each suburb including the informal settlement of Chotto?
Sazita: The total number of people in the town is about 30 000. The largest suburb is Chotto with about 5 000 people, followed by New Cowboy, followed by Mahohoma, followed by Butterfly. Then there are also smaller ones, namely Old Musika, Dairy, Makalavani East and Makalavani West.
All the informal settlements are going to be re-located to filter into these other settlements because they are on prime land. Once they are re-located since they are in prime areas and some on industrial areas, land would be used for industrial purposes as well as high-income and middle income residential areas. Places like Old Musika is in an industrial area, Makalavani West is also in an industrial area.
Makalavani East is in the high-income residential area. Dairy is on prime land.
NE: What are the main developmental challenges that now face the town council?
Sazita: The developmental challenges are investors are now interested to come but we have a problem with the power shutout. The best part is NamPower is busy with the 66kV line from Tsumeb to this place. We will be linked to the national power grid.
There are too many youths on the streets. With regard to development, one problem is poverty. It is a problem because poor people cannot support local businesses. Then another challenge is that once investors come they will attract our neighbours: Angola, Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. They will come here for services. Investors must ensure their products are enough because there will be people coming.
The influx of rural people to the town is another challenge because demand for services goes up once they see there is development and they will come.
On water, we have enough. Another challenge is our road infrastructure, it is in a poor state. That one is a challenge because we need to improve on them.
Potholes have been mended along Hage Geingob Road, Lifasi Street is being resurfaced. In April, we will again re-surface another street. To tar one kilometre costs from N$650 000 to N$1million. All our roads are 20 kilometres, which will cost us N$32 million to re-surface all the 20 kilometres.
The Road Fund Administration (RFA) gave us N$650 000 for the 2007/2008 financial year which ends now. For the 2008/2009 they will give us N$700 000 which will be used on about a kilometer of road from Hage Geingob to Malena Street in Lyambai Location. We had asked for N$2 million and they only gave us N$700 000. Every town is being assisted by RFA – they help with the maintenance of town roads.
NE: Some residents are complaining saying the material being used to resurface these streets is sub-standard. What is your comment?
Sazita: This one they put now is durable. We are also having problems with storm water. Because of poor engineering, storm water is a problem and there was no provision for storm water and our water table is very shallow.
When you dig, within two metres you are already in water. No drainage system for storm water and houses become flooded in both formal and informal settlements because of a poor drainage system. We put up an investigation with local engineers and they are busy compiling a report. After the completion of that report, we will then solicit some funds from relevant authorities.
NE: Since your appointment, what is your strategic plan to ensure the problems that have beset this authority from the time of promulgation are tackled effectively?
Sazita: There is a strategic plan that was formulated in 2005 stretching to 2009.
It includes recovery of debt, the boosting of investments, marketing the town, industrial growth, road infrastructure, training of staff, land sales, community development, public health, storm water, road infrastructure and to uplift our financial status through debt recovery, carrying forward its vision and mission statement.
Water debt stands at N$10.4 million. For power we do not owe anything because it is under NORED. We have taken steps to incorporate rates and taxes, refuse removal. Now we have taken steps to address that problem and to address the NamWater debt (of N$10.4 million).
Individuals are being summoned to our offices to make arrangements on how to repay.
Some residents we cannot transfer their property because they still owe council.
They (individuals) go up to N$50 000 and probably we will auction their properties to recover these debts on basic water, basic refuse and rates and taxes.
In addition, council suffers that these houses have not been transferred yet, in that it cannot collect rates and taxes. We are calling them individually, we have identified 809 properties, the first group we called 100 who are now coming. We put their names and house numbers in public places and they are responding – some are now buying their properties using the latest valuation roll that we are using.
Those who are not buying, they are told after the grace period given, those properties will be auctioned. Grace period is up to three months, because they were already given a grace period which they did not comply with.
NE: When I moved around the town I saw change is slowly coming to Katima Mulilo. Could you tell the public through New Era some of the planned projects and tell us what they are, and what they are worth in terms of direct investment and job creation.
Sazita: We will start with the Katima Mulilo Water Front. It is now progressing.
Then the open market, they extended other SMEs because there are still a huge number of people who still want to sell so that one has been completed.
Then we want to develop an area for high-income for 200 houses with a measurement of 700 to 900 square metres each alongside the prime area along the banks of the Zambezi River. We are busy with consultants.
The town council is going to fund the planning and surveying, and servicing is going to be done by the council – it might cost us about 3 million, it is for high income, middle income and low income earners.
This project is going to fund itself because we will now sell our own property instead of giving a huge chunk of land to someone who sells it at a profit and we lose out.
Other investors are interested in building flats, sectional titles and also this golf course. We are busy negotiating for a golf course along the river north-west of Katima.
NE: Any other information you would like to share with us.
Sazita: On other projects, we have also to negotiate with the line ministry on poorly built Build Together houses and look into their poor state and solicit for additional loans to rebuild them.
The cost implications for that could come to N$300 000, then we will solicit funds from the Build Together programe from the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development.
And also there are those 76 beneficiaries for Phase Ten Build Together Programme who should also build new houses and then the incomplete Build Together houses to be completed through the intervention of the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development funds available in the Build Together Account held by the Town Council – about N$700 000 held as a Revolving Fund.
Africa 2000 still belongs to Works but they asked us for a motivation so that it could be transferred to us. Wooden Bridge and Guinea Fowl Inn they – have been applied for by certain individuals who want to use them for business so that matter is being attended to.
Then the town hall at Boma – we are sending out tenders for it to be renovated – we are going to use it for community meetings and other national activities, say workshops for agencies and for ministries.
The last one, which is earmarked, is the cemetery – we intend erecting a boundary wall and the numbering of graves has already started. We’ re having a very good relationship with both the opposition and ruling party councillors – they phone me and talk to me often.