Choi residents stage demo over water

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Katima Mulilo

Choi residents agitated over a water crisis in the area they claim has persisted since independence recently took to the streets to express their dissatisfaction.
They are unhappy with the government’s inaction on their plight that has persisted for 25 years.
During their protest at Choi, residents were unable to hand their petition to Kongola Constituency Councillor David Muluti who was caught unawares by the demonstration.
A few weeks ago this newspaper ran a story in which the community contemplated staging a peaceful demonstration should their grievances over water not be addressed. The community depends on a single dilapidated borehole. Also affected is the Mayuni Secondary School that accommodates hundreds of learners in a school hostel.
The situation is said to have been aggravated by the cancellation of a contract by government that would have seen the rehabilitation of eleven water points in the Zambezi Region, including that of Choi, and would have resulted in more water supply to rural communities.
The reason given for cancellation of the contract was the offer to rehabilitate the water infrastructure but which resulted in a disagreement over the tendered amount, according to a communication from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry seen by this reporter.
In a petition read by the group’s spokesman Richard Limbindo, the community expressed shock at the cancellation of the contract to rehabilitate the borehole while the community is facing an acute shortage of water.
“The residents are shocked about the cancellation of the contract by one of the companies in Windhoek which was awarded the tender to rehabilitate eleven water points in Zambezi Region. This will affect us severely as we have a water crisis. There are lot of people using this borehole, including learners,” lamented Limbindo.
According to the community the problem has existed since independence and therefore the residents of Choi feel marginalised.
“Choi residents had this problem before independence during the colonial era. After independence, we are still wearing the same shoes that we thought would be changed by the new government. After independence we still feel left behind,” said Limbindo.
He further noted the situation was even more worrisome at Mayuni Secondary School where learners are compelled to relieve themselves in the nearby bush, which is a security and health risk.
“Learners at Mayuni are in a terrible situation because every morning they have to use the bush when nature calls because there is no water. The sewerage system is also not in a good condition, water is flowing everywhere because the pipes and showers are not functioning,” he bemoaned.
The community demanded the urgent rehabilitation of the borehole and a water pipeline they say previously existed from the Choi swamps to the Mayuni Secondary School, the latter as a tempory measure.
Contacted for comment Muluti – the Kongola councillor – said he had not been informed about the peaceful march therefore he could not receive the petition. He castigated those that planned the demonstration, for side-stepping him.
“This is the wrong way of doing things. They should have come to my office and informed me but I knew nothing about this demonstration. Instead they went straight to inform the office of the governor. I am told that’s where they will hand in their petition,” said Muluti.
He however noted the contractor would begin work to rehabilitate the borehole as of next week.
“The contractor will begin the work next week. I had earlier spoken to the permanent secretary of agriculture, water and forestry,” said Muluti.
It was not clear whether the contract has been awarded to the same company that cancelled the contract due to under-pricing.
The Kongola pipeline supplying water from Katima to Kongola and Kapani would only reach Choi in its third phase, expected to start next year.

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