Tsumeb Municipality has announced that it will write off N$8.3 million in municipal debts owed to it by pensioners at the town.
Speaking to New Era this week, municipal CEO Archie Benjamin noted that while the municipality introduced an initiative where it helped residents to pay half of their debts that were in the 120-day margin, the municipality has somewhat resigned to losing much of the money owed to it by pensioners, hence the decision to write it off.
In total, Tsumeb residents owe the municipality N$94 million in water and energy utility tariffs as well as other municipal services.
Benjamin revealed that through the dollar-dollar initiative – an arrangement where residents are expected to pay arrears that are more than 120 days while council would thereafter write off debt equivalent to the arrears paid off – a total of N$642 200 has been written off to date after residents managed to pay up the other half.
“The initiative will run until end of this month,” said Benjamin.
“Many residents have taken advantage of the initiative and hopefully more will come before the grace period lapses.”
The initiative was introduced at the beginning of the year in a bid to recover the mounting debt of residents in the town.
Benjamin also revealed that the municipality has invested close to N$10 million in new cleaning and refuse removal equipment that is expected to arrive next week.
Earlier this year residents expressed dissatisfaction over the deplorable state in which the streets of the town were, as the town was squirming under heaps of refuse.
Benjamin was happy to say that although the situation has slightly improved with the arrival of the new equipment things would change.
“We are waiting for our new skip trucks to arrive whilst we have made provision for wheelie bins to be made available for the next financial year,” he said.
Benjamin said although extra efforts are being put in providing more cleaning services to the residents, the absence of wheelie bins at individual households also makes it challenging to keep the situation under control.
According to Benjamin, the equipment that is expected to arrive are front-end loaders, bulldozers, skip trucks and tipper trucks.
The CEO was also pleased that one of the largest and fastest growing informal settlements, Kuvukiland, has been partly electrified with about 350 households now having electricity. A survey conducted in November last year showed that the settlement has grown to close to 7 000 residents.
Most of the residents living there fled from nearby farms in search of work while others migrated from nearby towns in search of better living conditions.
“It still remains a problem, but we need to do comprehensive studies to plan properly for the provision of water and sanitation, the settlement is on a very sensitive area of the town, it is a dolomite area and it is neighbouring about nine boreholes that provide water to the town, any mistake and our town’s water can be contaminated so it will take some time before these developments take centre stage,” said Benjamin.