Omatando wants compensation to run concurrently with servicing

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Nuusita Ashipala

Omatando-Outraged residents at Omatando are demanding that Ongwediva Town Council must first shows that it has enough funds to compensate the traditional owners of the plots, and to service the land, before relocating people from their crop fields.

Villagers are angry that the council is quick to relocate people from their traditional homesteads, but takes years to compensate the relocated people.

This emerged at a community meeting between the residents of Omatando, Ongwediva Town Council and the police on Monday that was called to sensitise the public to the upcoming clean-up campaign, noise pollution, and other concerns.

At the meeting, the town council also appealed to the community to come out in numbers for the scheduled clean-up campaign slated for October 27.

Part of the area to be cleaned is an area allocated to businessman Ben Zaaruka to develop. The idea was met with resistance, with some residents questioning why they should clean an area allocated to a private developer.

The community was of the opinion Zaaruka should himself clean the area allocated to him, or compensate those planning to partake in the exercise. The concern was raised after Jackson Muma, the public relations officer at the town, announced that compensation negotiations were scheduled to start in a few days’ time.

The announcement was also met with resistance by crop field owners, who fear the rainy season is about to start, and that they may not have a place to plough come end of the year.

In addition, the residents in attendance also appealed to the council to look into finding alternative accommodation for those being relocated.

Ongwediva Mayor Angelina Angula said the request to find alternative shelter was discussed at council level and has been forwarded to the land board to be taken up at the second land conference, which has been postponed indefinitely.

“How long ago have those people been compensated and yet the area is still undeveloped?” asked one community member, pointing to an area from where people were relocated and compensated.

Muma said negotiations about compensation might take time to be finalised and as such, the council would not relocate people immediately. Mayor Angula said council only issued recommendation letters on behalf of relocated residents to traditional authorities to allow them to be given land, wherever they may seek it.

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