Ongwediva-There are mixed feelings over whether Okalongo, which has been a settlement since the 1990s, can financially sustain itself should it be upgraded to a village council. Okalongo has been a settlement for 20 years.
A meeting held last month to discuss the future status of Okalongo irked residents after it emerged that Okalongo was likely to be downgraded to a growth-point if it is not upgraded to a village by the end of this year.
The chairperson of the Omusati Regional Council, Modestus Amutse, assured residents that council was fighting tooth and nail to have the settlement upgraded to a village council, despite financial constraints.
This, he said, was despite the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development earlier turning down the application to have the settlement upgraded, citing the inability of the settlement to sustain itself in terms of revenue.
Meanwhile, leaders of Omusati Regional Council say they are putting all their efforts into developing Okalongo further in terms of service delivery, so that it can continue to provide plots and increase its revenue base.
“And if the services are there and more people are able to construct their plots it means that the revenue base will expand,” Amutse told New Era. “Then we would be sure that we are making the right decision, but the application was already made. The decision was turned down and we were requested to make further research on whether it can truly sustain itself.”
Apart from the subsidy that Okalongo will receive from government if upgraded to a village council, it will also be entitled to raising its own revenue to sustain the office and staff.
Amutse further said if Okalongo were to be downgraded, the advice would still be channelled from the same ministry.
He, however, dismissed assertions that Okalongo does not have services. “It is not like there is nothing, it is only because the whole of Okalongo is not serviced,” Amutse said, stressing that apart from Okalongo, the regional council was also developing settlements, such as Ogongo and Onesi.
He said the resources at hand are not sufficient to develop all the settlements at the same time and urged the residents of Okalongo to be patient, because plans are there to provide the services needed at the settlements.