Aussenkehr-Oranjemund Town Council wants to see a shack-free town, despite the opening up of the town, which some suspect may lead to many people flocking to the town in search of jobs.
Oranjemund has been a closed-off town since before Namibia gained independence in 1990, largely due to the diamond mining taking place there. People were previously required to apply for a special permit to enter the town.
But this year the town council announced applications for permits will be scrapped and that the town will be open to all.
Oranjemund Mayor Henry Coetzee says they are aware of the possible negative effects this might have on the town and noted that despite the change, the town does not want to see shacks at all.
Asked by New Era about the town’s readiness to deal with the expected large numbers of people that may flock to the town and the eventuality of shacks at the town due to the high demand for housing, Coetzee simply said the council will not tolerate shacks.
He said infrastructure development at the town is progressing well and the council has made significant strides to ensure once the town opens up there will be enough serviced land to cater for everyone, even for low and ultra-low earners.
He said should t any shacks be built here, they will be demolished immediately. “We do not encourage shacks and we are prepared to take them down before they are even built. Building shacks in itself constitutes land grabbing,” he warned.
He also stressed that the town council in collaboration with the Namibian police will ensure that the town remains free of crime and other social ills. The mayor also talked about the need to open up Oranjemund, saying this will normalise and diversify the town’s economy, which he said is highly dependent on diamonds.
He said it is important for Oranjemund to transform and move away from a mining town to a normal town, noting that diamonds are not forever and the town must prepare for life after diamond mining to avoid becoming a ghost town in future.
He said the official opening of the town on October 14 will be a new beginning for Oranjemund and that the president of Namibia, Dr Hage Geingob, will be officiating the ceremony to mark a clean break with the past.
“We need to normalise this town. After 27 years of independence, this is the only town that people cannot enter freely, but there will be no permit [in future], they might just scan your ID upon entry, but that is it. All applications for permits will fall away on [October] the 14th,” he confirmed.
He further said the opening up of the town will not only make the it self-sustainable, but will encourage private property ownership, which was not allowed there in the past.