One would think it is a dumpsite at first glance, but it is not. This, in fact, is what many people call home.
Residents of informal settlements at Mariental are struggling to keep rubbish out of their yards, and claim the municipality does not collect the garbage for long periods and this, they say, results in the rubbish piling up in their yards. In Ombili, one of the informal settlements at the town, heaps of rubbish can be seen in the middle of the streets and around the shacks.
Residents New Era spoke to claim the municipality does not clean the place and this has brought about a situation where residents have to clean every day to make sure the rubbish stays out of their yards. They accuse the municipality of only focusing on keeping the more affluent suburbs clean, while neglecting the poor.
Laurensia Gowases said the situation has gotten worse over time, claiming it sometimes takes the municipality up to four months to send a truck to collect the piled-up rubbish. She added that this has become a great concern, especially as small children end up playing with the waste, which she said can affect their health.
She further claimed that the municipality only cleans their area when the head of state is visiting the town and after that they are forgotten and left to drown in the waste. “The municipality doesn’t do anything about it. They see this everyday but they just don’t care,” she said.
Another resident, who requested anonymity, acknowledged that the residents are partly responsible for the problem as some throw their waste everywhere, adding that sometimes – especially at night – people use the open space to relieve themselves in the middle of the rubbish piles when nature calls.
It did not take long before this was proved to be true, as a male resident pushing a wheelbarrow full of garbage disposed of the waste and took a minute to urinate on his just disposed waste. Gowases explained that it is a normal occurrence, adding that it is worse at night as people also defecate there.
“Grown ups come and relieve themselves here during the night and you have to clean it up, because it’s near your house” she complained.
Mariental municipal CEO Paul Nghiwilepo refuted the allegations that the municipality is not doing anything about the growing piles of waste, stating that enough is being done, but the municipality cannot keep up with the pace of illegal dumping.
Nghiwilepo said the municipality spends a lot of money and extra time to clean such areas around the town, but this is often in vain, as residents fail to keep the areas clean for longer periods.
“It’s easy for people to complain, but they should also bring their part,” he said, adding that illegal waste dumping is a major problem the municipality faces – and not only at informal settlements.
He said some residents contribute to the problem, as they do not use the skip containers placed in designated areas, saying some people even throw their waste just near the containers, instead of putting the refuse inside the containers and in the end this rubbish pile up. He conceded that the municipality currently does not have the machinery, nor the manpower to keep up with the rate of illegal dumping at the town.
Nghiwilepo is, however, hopeful that the situation will change after the municipality securing a loan of N$8.5 million from Standard Bank to purchase a new refuse truck, front-loader, tipper-truck, skip-loader and 20 skip containers.
He warned though that the new acquisition would not solve the problem if residents do not change their attitude. “If we get the cooperation of the residents then we can keep the town clean, but the municipality cannot do it alone,” he stressed.