Fierce opposition to development of Onawa

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Nuusita Ashipala

Onawa-Some residents of Onawa where the servicing of a reception area for 3,000 people is earmarked for January next year have accused the Oshakati Town Council of paying peanuts for their property to pave way for development.
While the Minister of Urban and Rural Development Sophia Shanigwa was attending the ground-breaking ceremony for the first phase of 400 erven at Onawa, aggrieved residents were assembled under a tree at the headman’s house, just a few metres away.

Their grievances were also displayed in Oshiwambo on a cloth poster, accusing the council of social injustice.
The community further alleged the council is relocating them without according them an alternative place to resettle.

The community charged they are not defying development, but want the council to reach consensus with the affected community before relocating them.

They claim the council has given those who are compensated an order not to plough this year, adding that the council is driving them into poverty.

Amongst the people who attended the meeting were those who had not been compensated and those who feel they have not been compensated fairly.

“Where should I go if I did not find an alternative place for my family and livestock? Some of us are sickly, how do I go to a place where there are no hospitals? Does government not care about us?” questioned the headman of Onawa village Job Sheehama.

Sheehama appealed to the government to find alternative places for the people to be resettled.
However, the chief executive officer (CEO) at the town Werner Iita dismissed the allegations, saying they are devoid of truth.

Iita said the compensation policy is very clear and as such residents of Onawa who stand to be relocated have been given alternative plots.

“Some wanted to build immediately and were given plots at Ehenye and Ekuku. Giving plots within their field is currently impossible because the area needs to be demarcated properly, surveyed and serviced, but once we are done people can come back and claim their plots,” said Iita.

Iita said residents are issued with receipts of property values and once a consensus is reached they sign a compensation agreement, which would be paid accordingly.

The CEO said that where council has made an omission, residents are advised to liaise with council.
So far 97 homesteads were compensated while eight are still to be compensated.

The minister appealed to those who are not pleased with their compensation to consult the council, adding that the ministry has a responsibility to build the country and negotiate compensation packages.

Shaningwa appealed to the council to conclude the compensation process in order to fast-track development. Community members who attended the ground-breaking ceremony accused people at the headman’s meeting of crying foul after they had misused their money.

“Many of us were compensated and many have used up their money – now they are running around holding meetings,” said a man from the crowd who had assembled to read the poster.

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