OMUTHIYA – Due to budget cuts experienced across board in the country due to the economic downturn, the Oshikoto Regional Council is finding it difficult to expedite development at its two settlements of Onayena and Oshivelo.
Oshikoto Chief Regional Officer Frans Enkali said there are still challenges such as compensation and lack of funds that are hindering the smooth implementation of the planned developmental projects at the two settlements.
For the current financial year, the Oshikoto Regional Council has budgeted about N$8 million to be used for surveying of extension 1 as well as re-planning of the township boundary at Oshivelo. In addition, N$3 million is allocated for services at Onayena.
“For Onayena, we will still have to consult the Permanent Secretary and the Minister on how we can utilise the N$3 million because the amount allocated is insufficient. Furthermore, there are still outstanding issues at Onayena such as compensation but now there are no funds to compensate. That’s why we need to consult the high officer and see if something can come up, because we cannot go ahead with development if people are not yet compensated,” stressed Enkali. He said the issue of lack of funds has been an obstacle, as residents in the areas targeted for development cannot be relocated because there is no money to compensate them.
Furthermore, Enkali said once the process is complete, the settlements can each accommodate about 3000 households, although there is a possibility a much bigger number could be accommodated.
“The other challenge or limiting factor is the none availability of funds to service land. One critical point people should know is that the regional council does not sell land in settlement areas, and there is no way we can generate more, we only get money through lease hold and those are minimal,” added Enkali, saying extensions have about 300 erven. Enkali could however not specify as to how much a plot cost, but he said it depends on the size as they are sold per square metre. In the same vein, he said this applies to leasing as well, the bigger the plot the higher the lease amount. “Those prices are gazetted, and as per new environmental Act, we cannot sell less than 300 square metres,” he stated, adding those are the only capital projects budgeted for in 2017.
In addition, he said the council’s budget was cut by N$10 million, hence they had to streamline their operational expenditure based on what is available.
“For example, we had to look at critical vacant positions and recommend to the Secretary to Cabinet (George Simataa), that through our permanent secretary we have so many vacancies that need to be filled up because they are also budgeted for. But for the noncritical positions, we will keep them until when the budget improves,” he concluded.