Mariental municipality to help illegal squatters

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Lorato Khobetsi
Mariental

Mariental Municipality will have to raise funds to provide services, such as sewage reticulation and electricity for residents who illegally constructed structures on municipal land in areas such as Takarania and Nuwe Lokasie.

Speaking at the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology’s Hardap office recently, the Mariental CEO Paul Nghiwilepo said the municipality has to work out the costs of provision of basic services, such as electricity and water supply and sewerage services in the area.

“It is processes that will take some time, as the municipality still has to raise the money to pay for the servicing of the area,” he said.

According to Nghiwilepo, the municipality has started with demarcation of the area and is developing plans to provide the residents with basic services after it already started installing community taps in the said areas.

“We have started with the demarcation, but when we start with the services we will look at the cost of servicing the plots and we’ll decide how we’re going to dispose these erven to them, whether they are getting it for free – which I don’t think at the moment is going to be the case. They will probably have to pay for the plots, because of the services that we will provide,” he said.

He echoed the sentiments expressed by President Hage Geingob during his State of the Nation Address last week when the Head of State warned those who grab land illegally to refrain from doing so, as their actions derail development plans.

Nghiwilepo said: “We have to control this whole process of illegal land grabs, but the people that are here now, we have to deal with them and we have to provide them with services.” He said the municipality is in the process of registering households in the area and in due time will allocate erven numbers, as that forms part of the council’s plan to formalise the area in the next two years.

“We have started with the provision of water. Probably the next issue is sewerage and electricity, but it’s not going to take five years,” he added.

The municipality recently installed four communal taps for the residents of the Takarania and Nuwe Lokasie settlements. The taps will cater for approximately 1,150 households and were installed over a period of three months, since last December. The municipality plans to install six more communal taps, with one tap costing approximately N$5,000.
Nghiwilepo said although the municipality cannot evict those already settled in the area, it is trying to control the influx of people whp are setting up illegal structures.

“As a local authority we have to do something, because we’re talking about close to around 600 households (in Takarania). Where do we take them if we evict them from here? We have been stopping people from putting up new shacks. Last week we even demolished one. We have to control this whole process of illegal land grabbing, but the people that are here now we have to deal with them. We have to provide them with services,” he said.

According to the CEO, houses marked with an X sign in Nuwe Lokasie will be moved to another area nearby, as they were either constructed in an area not permitted by the municipality, or on an erf that belongs to someone else.
“Houses that have been marked with an X, those are the houses that have to be moved, shifted not demolished. We’re just moving them. They are marked for us to know how many houses need to be moved,” he said.
* Lorato Khobetsi is an information officer at the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology based in Hardap Region.

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