Epupa Constituency Councillor Nguzu Muharukua yesterday spoke to New Era about how government’s decision to freeze the awarding of tenders gravely affected development objectives in that constituency.
The Ministry of Finance last year directed government institutions to suspend the issuing of all new State contracts until the review of the national budget late last year due to massive budget cuts.
Muharukua said roughly N$1.5 billion was budgeted to address the water problem in Okanguati by transferring water from a nearby village to Okanguati. The project was interrupted because of the directive, he said.
“The water in Okanguati is not fit for human consumption and that project is just idle because there is no money,” said Muharukua, who had complained of the same problem last year.
The boreholes in the settlement are not sufficient to meet the water needs of all residents, he explained. The situation is so bad that the health centre at the settlement is limited in its operations.
“Patients have to take their own water to the health centre so that the nurse attending to the patients can wash their hands. A woman in labour has to take along potable water, or else she will not be attended to, because the nurse has to wash her hands after delivering the baby,” said the councillor, noting that patients who do not take containers of water to the health facility are rarely attended to.
“The water problem in Okanguati has been there for a long time, but as the population grows it becomes unbearable,” he explained.
According to the 2012 Namibia Labour Force Survey, unemployment in the Kunene Region stood at 27.0 percent at the time.
Among households in the area, some 73 percent had access to safe water, 66 percent had no toilet facilities. Only 22 percent used electricity for lighting and while 72 percent had access to radio, 81 percent used wood or charcoal for cooking.
In terms of household income, 35 percent derived theirs from farming.
Further, plans to construct schools and hostels in Epupa Constituency had to be halted with the freezing of tenders. Etanga Primary School and Etoto West Primary School were earmarked to get hostels, but this did not yet materialise.
There are no hostels in Epupa Constituency, with the exception of ‘informal hostels’, Muharukua explained. “Many learners do not go to school because there are no hostels. Many have to walk long distances to go to school. That is why we want to build hostels,” he explained.
He said many learners miss lessons because they choose to follow their parents in search of grazing. “If there were hostels the children would be accommodated there and would only go to their parents during weekends,” he said.
On a positive note, he said many children and parents have shown a keen interest in education since the abolition of compulsory school fees.
Meanwhile, Governor of the Kunene Region Angelica Muharukua said N$1.6 billion was budgeted for the region for 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
“Last year we did not achieve much in terms of developing the region, because it was a year of planning on how we would carry out our mandate. The budget was cut and that also affected the development of our region badly. I do not even have an office to operate from,” she said.
The Kunene Region is a tourist attraction and the governor said they are exploring ways to benefit from that comparative advantage.
“Nothing comes easy and therefore I would like to encourage the people of Kunene to be patient, because development will come,” she said.