Please allow me space in your esteemed newspaper to throw a stone into the ocean pertaining to the recent media headline reading “Otavi toilet deal questionable” (The Namibian newspaper 02-12-2015).
I am writing this article in my capacity as a son of the soil hailing from this very developing town. Yes, Otavi is a fast-developing town and with development comes many business opportunities that could benefit the town and its residents.
But for these developments to be realised, Otavi Town Council executives, as custodians thereof, opted to enrich themselves at the expense of developing the town. The toilets fiasco is a perfect example. Whose brainchild was this? Pit latrines are not in the best interest of the town, neither are they in the best interest of the residents or any other human being for that matter. It is simply not a viable project to pursue. It leaves more questions than answers. One may speculate that the project is rather in the best interest of some executives, town council members’ middlemen and the South African Grove Point, who appear to be pushing the agenda to benefit themselves. The assertion that the tender was exempted and rushed because of the need to immediately solve deplorable conditions of the residents is total hogwash and an insult to Otavi residents’ intelligence.
If your newspaper’s analysis is correct with regard to the survey done by the Shack Dwellers Association of low-cost houses (one bedroom house N$30 000 and a two-bedroom house N$70 000) in relation to the pit latrine goldmine of N$50 000 to N$75 000 then Father Christmas has really come early. It is really against conventional wisdom to push for such a project.
This reeks of insanity coupled with greed. Building 300 low-cost houses either at a speculated N$16.5 million (at N$55 000 per house) or N$22.5 million (at N$75 000 per house) would have been the best bet considering that these low cost houses automatically would have included toilets.
The pit latrines are not needed at all. Rather build 300 low-cost houses with that money instead. Quick research I have conducted tells me that during June this year in Kalkfeld, 34 one-bedroom low cost houses built under the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia were handed over. These one-bedroom houses included bathroom, kitchen and lounge, electrified and connected to the sewerage line.
This construction only cost N$23 000 per house. Ironically the handover of the low cost houses was done by the Otjozondjupa Governor Otto Iipinge. Kindly enquire from him, as the comrades ought to advise each other on good deeds and not issues that take the electorate five steps backwards.
Obviously the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development will endorse only what is proposed to them by the Otavi Town Council. Instead, a very close look is warranted at what was presented in terms of the breakdown of costing of this project and who are the parties involved behind the scenes, instead of glossing over a recommendation which seems to be above board. I urge the same ministry to scrap this utter nonsense and employ local companies. Equally to appoint a reputable contractor to spearhead this project and look at better and cheaper ways to deliver the service, if at all needed.
Wonders shall never cease to happen in this town. The town’s administrators and their cronies have now developed a syndrome of ‘What can the town do for us to personally develop ourselves instead of developing the town’.
The following questions beg answering:
• Who identified Grove Point, a South African based company?
• Who were the middle men?
• Do we not have capable Namibian companies who could do the job at better rates that are not inflated in the name of the deplorable conditions of the residents?
Wealth creation and management is a good thing to do for any individual as long as it is done in a fair way and not at the expense of Otavi residents.
On a lighter note, Otavi of late has been in the media spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Issues ranging from maladministration, incompetency to giving away land to cronies at cheap prices, tenders for friends and associates, etc. There is a saying in Damara/Nama, “//gami ama sis ge !naru a sa” meaning, “to get to the well is to drink thoroughly”. This seems to be the order of the day at Otavi Town Council. In the run-up to the recently ended local authority elections political jealousy also reared its ugly head as dirty tricks were at play to position people who only understand and practise greed to secure strategic positions to keep the caravan rolling their way. After all that’s called politics and you don’t keep winning all the time every time. The electorate has become more enlightened about the real issues on the ground.
The town council even sees it fit to import skills to build a simple speed hump. How and when are you going to empower the local people? There are able builders in Otavi who are not even considered at all for any building jobs. At the very least a local service provider should partner with the outsider so that they can be empowered.
Yes, the envisaged pit latrines (toilets) deal must fall! No monkey tricks or snake techniques can challenge our natural intelligence!