Keetmanshoop Municipality envisions a town without informal settlements as it strives to make available more serviced land where all residents can have access to basic services – perhaps a reminder of Zimbabwe’s own ‘Operation Murambatsvina’ of 2005, a large-scale government campaign to forcibly clear slum areas across the country.
Keetmans spokesperson Dawn Kruger said that the municipality hopes to be free of informal settlements in the near future, as per its strategic plan. She told New Era this can be achieved, as the town only has one informal settlement, pointing out that while there are still shacks at the area commonly known as Ileni, it is not an informal settlement as widely believed, as all plots in this area have been formalised.
She indicated that the area referred to as Ileni has been serviced and is formally known as Tseiblaagte Extension 4 and 6, with Extension 4 fully serviced with water, sewerage, streets and electricity, while Extension 6 was also serviced with water and sewerage and plans are underway to provide electricity and streets to the area.
“The council is committed to the provision of affordable basic services to all the residents of Keetmanshoop and is striving to do away with informal settlements as part of our strategic objectives,” she said.
Kruger indicated that the only informal settlement at the town currently is the so-called ‘Reception Area’, which has about 300 households, and with a decision taken by council to formalise the area during the 2017/18 financial year, the town is on the right track to abolish informal settlements.
She explained that the Reception Area is a place that was created to accommodate people temporarily, until such time they can be relocated to a formalised area, or until the Reception Area itself is formalised.
“The municipality took the decision to create new townships on the same land where the Reception Area is located, commencing in the 2017/18 financial year, so that the area can be formalised,” she observed. She further said once formalised and serviced, residents will be able to build their own toilets or benefit from existing sanitation programmes.
Kruger said this would not only benefit the residents who will now have basic services within reach, but will also take pressure off the municipality, which continues to face challenges in the provision of proper toilet facilities and water taps to this area, which she said costs a lot of money and are constantly vandalised.