Keetmanshoop-In an attempt to recover about N$60 million owed to it, Keetmanshoop Municipality has enlisted the services of an independent debt collector to start work next month.
While it might be bad news for some defaulting residents, Keetmanshoop chief executive officer Desmond Basson during a media briefing yesterday said Red Force Debt Management has been contracted for at least two years to assist the municipality to recover millions of dollars owed by residents, businesses and public institutions at the town.
Red Force is the same debt collector recruited by Agribank to recoup debts running into tens of millions of dollars that drought-affected Namibian farmers owe.
Basson said the sole aim of the debt collector is to ensure that those who owe the municipality pay up and stressed that the exercise should in no way be seen as targeting certain people.
“We want to assure the residents that we are not in a witch-hunt against them, but we just want to collect what is owed to the municipality and we want to assist them in paying off their debt,” he said.
CEO of Red Force Julius Nyamazana echoed Basson’s sentiments, noting that the exercise should not be perceived negatively by the residents, but should be approached with an open mind, as it will benefit the residents in the long run if the municipality has more funds at its disposal.
He said if the huge debt of residents is collected, it will enable the municipality to deliver quality services in return and called for cooperation. “We are not here to harass people, we are not here to take anyone’s property. We are here as Red Force to assist the municipality to improve its cash flow, which will improve service delivery,” he stated. He gave a brief summary of how the operation will be conducted, indicating that the company will engage defaulters to discuss their situation and negotiate a payment plan.
Nyamazana further said the situation of the elderly people that owe the municipality will be looked into and that Red Force following discussions with the pensioners will then draft recommendations to the municipality to consider writing off the debt, with the approval of the line ministry.
He urged residents to come forward and discuss their debt and the way forward, saying arrangements will be made to cater for everyone to settle their debt, but warned that failure to honour agreements will force the company to recommend drastic action, such as cutting off the water supply to non-paying households and eventually taking legal action if needed.
“Residents are required to abide to the agreed payment terms and if they default on this, but we can see, after proper analysis that these are people well-positioned to make payments, then we will take drastic measures,” Nyamazana warned.