By Catherine Sasman
The Oshakati Town Council has commissioned a study due out by the end of the month to look at the option of rezoning and relocating many of its inhabitants that have been displaced due to the floods.
CEO of the town, John Nghihepa, told New Era that the council has passed a special resolution to re-plan many of the informal settlement areas to minimise further – and future – damage to fixed property and roads in flood-prone areas.
The study, conducted by consultants Urban Dynamics, would be completed by the end of this month.
Nghihepa said the consultants have taken aerial pictures of the town and are in the process of considering all possible conditions on the ground.
“It won’t help to get people back from some of the areas they had to leave. The process of re-planning might mean that some people have to move,” said Nghihepa.
The rezoning process will cost the council N$1 million, and could affect as many as 29 500 people from the eight informal settlements where residential constructions form a mix of corrugated iron constructions or more permanent concrete housing.
“We will engage in serious negotiations with property owners in these areas, but I would like to point out that it will be in the future interest of people to cooperate. We want a win-win situation,” said Nghihepa, adding: “We need to find solutions so that in future we won’t find ourselves in the same situation again.”
According to the 2001 census, the Oshakati population amounts to about 42 600.
The Oshakati Town Council finds itself in a precarious financial position currently. While it has not been able to quantify the exact amount of losses it has suffered as a result of the flood, the council is indirectly losing revenue for electricity and water supply services, which was suspended in many areas that have gone empty as people fled the waters.
Costs to the council – but not yet enumerated – are the overtime hours its staff has had to work especially during the first week after the floods, food that has been distributed to affected people in the camps, and the use of fuel and other equipment, the CEO said.
Nghihepa said the town council would have to lobby for funds from the National Planning Commission and development partners to get off its knees.
“We believe the central government is required to step in,” he said.
Road rehabilitation of the town’s gravel roads cost N$2 million, and a further N$7 million has been budgeted for the tarring of some of the more important roads in the network.
Nghihepa is however upbeat and positive, saying the town is slowly regaining its former self.
“Within a month things should be back to business as usual. Businesses have started to re-open their doors, and I am confident that the buying power of the town is still strong. We are forging ahead.”