Former mayor opens up on Tsumeb’s arsenic challenge

By Obrein Simasiku

Tsumeb

The environmental effects caused in the past by the arsenic produced by Dundee Precious Metals Tsumeb’s copper smelter is said to have been the source of the longest headache that Tsumeb’s political leadership and community have had to endure.
Residents of the town have over the years complained bitterly about large quantities of arsenic dust and sulphur dioxide emissions that covered the area, reportedly manifesting in various types of skin diseases and affecting people’s eyesight.
However, this is apparently no longer the case as Dundee recently completed construction of its modern N$2.6 billion sulphuric acid plant that captures and reduces the sulphuric dioxide emissions by 95 percent.
According to Tsumeb’s former mayor, Ndangi Sheetekela, it was not easy for the town council to attain a solution to the long-term effects suffered, describing it as the biggest challenge they had to overcome during his tenure in office.
“It was a collective effort by all councillors, including local government. At the end our efforts worked out and turned into the construction of the sulphuric acid plant, which we can now proudly say has increased employment and will uplift the town’s economy through the provision of employment,” Sheetekela said in an interview yesterday.
He said his biggest challenge ultimately became his biggest achievement as mayor, as he spoke about his work, his achievements and the setbacks they faced at the time.
Still on the environment, Sheetekela said refuse removal had been another challenge at the time, because Tsumeb Municipality had limited equipment to provide the necessary cleaning services.
“However, at this point in time that issue is being dealt with, so I have hope that my successor, Veueza Kasiringua, will tackle the problem completely, as we now have machinery and equipment in place,” Sheetekela added.
Sheetekela said Tsumeb offered an enabling and conducive environment for investors, saying it was during his tenure that the expansion of Tsumeb mall was initiated, as well as the new Woermann Brock supermaket and Püpkewitz shopping complex.
“All my achievements are part of the current management[’s achievements], because we started the projects together and now they are completing what has been undertaken,” he said.



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