TSUMEB – Sources have revealed some businesses in Tsumeb continue to defy a directive from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry that the municipality enforce a law restricting the operation of private boreholes in the town.
In December 2014 the permanent secretary in the agriculture ministry, Joseph Iita, wrote to the Tsumeb Municipality about the need to remind private borehole owners about the legal prescriptions concerning the ownership of a borehole within municipal boundaries.
“There is a need to remind private borehole owners that it is against the law to operate private boreholes whilst there is a municipality in the town,” he stressed in his directive.
In reference to business people owning boreholes, Iita noted that it came to the attention of the Department of Water Affairs that some people were operating private boreholes for water consumption within the town’s boundaries.
Some are allegedly even selling the water to other consumers.
“The practice contravenes the following sections of the two Water Acts that regulate water management in the country: Please note that Act 54 of 1956 remains in force until such time the Water Resources Management Act 11 of 2013 is official. Act 54 of 1956, Chapter 11 on the control and use of public water resources stipulates that a person who is entitled to the use and enjoyment of private water on any land of which he/she is the owner, shall not, except under the authority of a permit from the Minister and on such conditions as may be specified in that permit, sell, give or otherwise dispose of such water to any other person for use on another land, or convey such water for his/her own use beyond the boundaries of the land on which such water is found,” Iita had at the time admonished.
Sources quoted Iita as having said: “The legal responsibility to provide water within the town boundary lies with the Tsumeb Municipality as it is registered with the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry as the town’s water service provider.”
Some culprits who have dug boreholes are depriving council of revenue as they do not pay for the water.
They also do not have valid water service provider permits from the ministry, while the water quality of some of the boreholes does not comply with recommended Namibian drinking water guidelines.
At the time the ministry named the guilty parties running unauthorised boleholes as Endombo Hostel, Kupferquelle Resort and Kivukuland informal settlement.
Kierie Bruwer owns Kupferquelle Resort while restaurant franchise Dros uses the borehole to get water for own use.
According to knowledgeable sources a water meter of the municipality was allegedly shut a while ago, and the lawns and other vegetation as well as the only Olympic-size swimming pool in northern Namibia are maintained with the borehole water.
Bruwer dismissed the allegations saying he is licenced to use a borehole should he not have water. “Where is this coming from? I have metered water that I pay for, I know that I have a borehole but we only use it when we run out of water. Namwater was here and they know,” he said.
However municipal officials are adamant the borehole is used to maintain the lawns and the swimming pool and only the daily usage by the resort’s facilities is billed.
One source at the municipality said the maintenance of the park on which the resort is built was previously done by the municipality but it was a costly process and therefore the owners relied on the boreholes to maintain it.
Christo Groenewaldt has a borehole at Endobo with close to 900 people needing water. Sources staying at Endobo claim they are expected to pay exorbitant amounts for water which he doesn’t pay for.
When contacted for comment Groenwaldt confirmed he was using a borehole and it was indeed in good working condition but declined to comment on other inquiries.
Head of Planning at the Tsumeb Municipality Festus Nekayi says the municipality does not account for the water obtained from the boreholes but the authority was looking at amicable ways to resolve the issue. He however could not say how much water goes unaccounted.
“Due to the initial setting up of those boreholes that were not under the jurisdiction of the Tsumeb Municipality, many factors still need to be considered before a final decision is taken. The municipality, in coordination with the water ministry, is busy formulating a plan which will consist of control measures and possibly the way forward. This move will have to benefit both residents and the municipality,” he said.
According to the Local Authorities Act 19 of 2003, and also the Water Act, under normal circumstances no person within a municipal boundary is allowed to own a borehole.
Nekayi said: “Tsumeb was previously owned by the mine, whereby there were no restrictions in the relevant Acts and therefore boreholes were drilled in that era before the existence of the Tsumeb Municipality.”
He added: “Some of those boreholes are still operational and some are worn out . Some are on private properties making it difficult for the municipality to access or overrule as they may not be easily found.”
Municipalities are the only instances mandated to supply water to residents, within its boundaries.