Windhoek needs to spend N$4 billion to survive

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Desie Heita

Windhoek-The City of Windhoek must spend over N$4 billion in the next five years if it is to avoid becoming a city of shacks, scarce residential land, where car accidents are a daily occurrence in heavily congested traffic, and where residents survive on water rations.

Yet that tab is merely the cost of upgrading the city’s ageing and overburdened infrastructure over the next five years for it to be able to house and police its ever growing estimated 342,000 population, as of the 2011 census, but which was estimated to reach 431,000 by this year-end.

The recent publicly launched strategic plan sets an ambitious growth path, with huge spending on capital projects, but also looks at tapping deeper into public finances – something which Windhoek city fathers have long ago advocated.

Public institutions that generate revenue from public infrastructure, such as the Road Fund Administration, have now been marked for a comprehensive billing and invoicing by the city.

The costs of having efficient functioning emergency services, for instance, would cost the city an average N$95 million a year. These essential services entail having a fire brigade and emergency response.

Policing such a population would cost the municipality N$700 million in the next five years, of which N$200 million is for the current financial year. From next year onwards the municipality will spend N$100 million a year to have the City Police keep law and order in the city.

To avail land – a crucial aspect to a city estimated to receive a family of five each day – Windhoek would spend N$300 million on developing the informal settlement areas. The development of such areas has been declared a priority and starting next year the municipality aims at starting its spending with N$40 million, gradually increasing it to reach N$80 million in year five of the plan.

As the city’s chief executive officer, Robert Kahimise, says in the recently launched strategic plan, the costs for the next five years merely “reflect the realities (both inherited and anticipated)”.

The municipality’s public transportation system would require N$8 million a year, for the next five years, which is for the procurement of public buses.

The plans also include acquiring 100 hectares of land every year for the next five years, so that it is able to service land for residential areas. It also promises to service land for informal settlements so that each year it would have formalized the setting up of three new informal settlements complete with basic services of water, sanitation and electricity.

“Housing and land delivery have been identified and listed as a top priority,” Kahimise says in the document.

With over N$2.5 billion earmarked for capital expenditures – the money is to be secured from the central government – the municipality now aims at upping its implementation level. Currently the council only records a 60 percent implementation level, but it now wants to push that up to 70 percent in the next year and ultimately to 80 percent of capital expenditure spending.

The municipality is also looking forward to have a clean audit report every year, which Kahimise says is “non-negotiable”, as opposed to having financial reports with a disclaimer. He says having a clean audit “has a direct bearing on the city’s revenue collection potential”.

Additional areas of focus in the next five years include investments in renewable energy generating 50 megawatts and waste-to-energy power plants that generate 5 megawatts.
Also high on the council’s agenda is urban agriculture, which will be rolled out during the next strategic period. “This initiative is a key focus area under the spatial development framework, which is envisaged to be completed within the 2017/18 financial year,” said Kahimise.

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