Mariental has seen a proliferation of illegal settlements since 2002 and one such settlement is Nuwe Lokasie where residents have no basic services such as water and electricity.
However, the Mariental Municipality recently installed four community taps for the residents of Takarania and Nuwe Lokasie informal settlements.
The taps that are strategically placed in the two informal settlements serve approximately 1 150 households. They were installed over a period of three months since December 2016.
Sonita Louw, who moved to Mariental from where she was living in Hardap Resort in 2011, when the resort closed for renovations, was one of the first people to construct a shack in Nuwe Lokasie.
According to Louw, before the tap was installed in the section of the location where she stays, she used to buy water from households in other locations.
“It was difficult for us; we used to buy water from people in other locations with water access. I am actually very happy for the water,” she said. Residents access water using pre-paid cards that they received from the municipality.
Another resident of Nuwe Lokasie, Meme Selma Martin, 55, who moved from Okalongo in the Omusati Region in 2002 in search of greener pastures in Mariental, said some of her neighbours had to clear the land to construct their houses from corrugated iron sheets.
“When we moved here, we only found bushes; we want to thank the municipality for the water they gave us and now we are just waiting for them to give us electricity. As you can see, we hang our meat outside to dry to preserve it because we don’t have electricity to keep our meat in the fridge,” said Martin.
Most of the shacks in Nuwe Lokasie have been marked with a clearly visible red X, and according to residents, they were informed that the markings signify that they will be allocated erven numbers.
“The way we see things now, it is like they (municipality) are busy giving us erven numbers and they are marking our houses which means they are trying to make us legal. I will be very happy if they make us legal and give us electricity and toilets,” Louw excitedly said.
Tate Nakale Eliakim, who also stays in Nuwe Lokasie, echoed his neighbour’s views. “The red cross marked on our houses was for the municipality to give us water and electricity – there are however no toilets but we are grateful. We hope the electricity comes soon.”
The Mariental Municipality was unavailable for comment on the issue of squatters.
• Lorato Khobetsi is an information officer at the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology in Hardap Region