Outgoing Otjiwarongo Mayor Hilda Jesaja says the five years she has been in office have been a period of socio-economic and political challenges, during which council faced difficulties delivering on key priority areas, such as residential land and housing.
Jesaja, who will know her political fate following the election of office-bearers on Friday, said the service delivery problems were aggravated by a lack of adequate financial resources and a high influx of migrants from surrounding towns.
New Era met up with some DRC informal settlement residents at the town, who woke up as early as 02h00 to cast their votes on Friday and now expect basic services to be provided to them.
“We want our councillors to deliver basic services, such as water and electricity. We are, however, thankful that we have plots where we have erected our shacks,” said Katrina Nabot.
Johannes Shileka feels government should urgently tackle high unemployment among the youth.
Otjozondjupa Regional Governor Otto Iipinge stressed it will not be business as usual. Iipinge says elected leaders are going to have a mammoth task to deliver the services as expected.
“President Hage Geingob has declared war against poverty and these leaders must assist central government to achieve this. They will have to continue implementing projects that are already set up.
There are a lot of pressing challenges, such as unemployment, water and electricity, housing and land, but these leaders will overcome them,” he said.
To solve the housing backlog, council decided to enter into public partnership agreements on land delivery. The contracts, Jesaja said, would bring together consortiums of private businesses that will join council in servicing close to 2 000 residential, institutional and business erven around Otjiwarongo.
These include Extension 7 Otjiwarongo (155 plots), Extension 8 (245) plots), Extension 9 (77 plots), Extension 10 Orwetoveni (157 plots), Extension 12 Orwetoveni (284 plots) and Extension 13 (360 plots). At Freedom Park, which is also part of mass housing programme, 307 plots have recently been serviced and 227 plots at Heroes Park – also part of mass housing project – will be serviced early in 2016.
Council spent around N$960 000 on town planning for Otjiwarongo Extension 6, 7 and 9, including Orwetoveni Extension 10 and 12, as well as Freedom Park, Heroes Park and the new cemetery. All these areas would be serviced next year.
Jesaja revealed that by next year the town council plans to service close to 2 000 erven. In order to achieve this target, she said, expressions of interest have been invited from developers who may want to partner with council in delivering the serviced erven.
“As we are all aware, Otjiwarongo is one of Namibia’s fastest-growing towns. This huge growth puts additional pressure on our scarce resources. We had to increase delivery in almost every area. The strategic location of the town also resulted in the influx of people to the town. Otjiwarongo today is no more the Otjiwarongo we knew five years back,” she observed.
Other achievements she singled out include the 14 km of tarred streets, which were resealed at a cost of N$7 million, as well as the upgrading of the sewerage network to the value of N$9,9 million.
She attributed the positive development of the town to political stability, peace and reduced crime in the area, which she says is key for investment in any country. Some of the firms that recently opened for business in Otjiwarongo include B2 Gold mine, Nedbank, Trustco International, Plastic Packaging, Casa Forno, Motor Vehicle Accident Fund of Namibia, Hungry Lion, Woermann & Brock, KFC and Spar Tops.
With regard to informal settlement expansion and upgrading, Jesaja said close to 1 250 informal erven were created and serviced with water reticulation. The allocation of these erven is still ongoing.
Jesaja, who was re-elected to her position during last year’s annual election of office-bearers, has been mayor of Otjiwarongo since 2010.