Omaruru mayor struggles with water bill

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Eveline de Klerk

Swakopmund-Residents of Omaruru have accused their mayor, Hendrina Gebhardt, of setting a bad example by not paying for her municipal services as required by every individual regardless of their social standing.

They also accused the mayor of having double standards when it came to settling municipal debts.

Despite owing council N$12,200 on her rates and taxes, Gebhardt still enjoys the luxury of having running water while some residents that owe less have had their services terminated, New Era has learnt.

A member of the Omaruru Concerned Group on Monday said it was unacceptable that the first resident of the town enjoyed the privilege of having water despite owing such an amount on her bill.

“The amount is not much to go on about, but it’s the principle that counts. You cannot encourage others to pay their bills yet you have been using water without paying and on top of that you are not disconnected unlike other residents,” Bariminus Swartbooi, a member of the concerned group said.

With regard to the water bill Gebhardt owes council since 2015, an amount of N$7,245 was carried over to February 2016, but for the year she only made four payments to talling N$9,900 on her account for 2016.  The last payment was N$1,000 in December 2016.

“What example are you setting for your residents and what puts you above all of us that makes them not disconnect your water after not paying for more than 8 months? Yet we are being disconnected after defaulting only a month. Where do we draw the line?” he asked.

He also told New Era that residents questioned the high water bills they received while they have had to endure water cuts and rationing because of a shortage of water experienced since January last year.

“Our taps were literally dry and water was supplied with a fire truck but the bills that we received indicated that we used more water than usual. We see no problem in paying for other services rendered during that time, because it is only fair to pay them.
“What we question are the rather large amounts we have been charged while we did not have running water,” he said.

When contacted for comment Gerhardt did not deny owing the council money, but added that she is also just a resident with bills to pay.

“Like everyone one else I made arrangements to pay off the account.  I also think this is not residents, but some weak individuals that made it a personal attack on me.  The months I didn’t pay were basically the months we did not have water in Omaruru.

“I can also not explain myself with regards to making arrangements.  There is no one above the law, we must all pay our accounts, that is all I can say,” Gebhardt said.

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