Bukalo: A gateway to Chobe River, Victoria Falls

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Bukalo: A gateway to Chobe River, Victoria Falls

Newly-appointed Bukalo Village Council CEO Anna Lyamine-Sazita sat down with New Era’s senior reporter Albertina Nakale to touch base and discuss her plans for the development of a council which has been without a substantive CEO since 2016.


NE: Kindly tell us how far Bukalo has come as a village council in terms of development. 

AS: Bukalo Village Council has come a long way from its days as a settlement to finally being proclaimed a village council in 2014. Elections were held during 2014 to elect its first council, during which time the administrative complex was under construction through the supervision of the Zambezi Regional Council (ZRC). It is also key to mention that when Bukalo was still a settlement, the ZRC played a very crucial role in the development of core infrastructure such as sewers, roads and water reticulation. These key services were already in position before Bukalo was proclaimed a village council. 

In terms of housing, the Bukalo Village Council benefited from the Build Together Programme, which was commissioned in the late 1990s as the first formal community housing project. 

In 2014, Bukalo benefited from the government’s housing programme, which saw the construction of approximately 86 houses by the National Housing Enterprise (NHE). 

The council also benefited from the housing project by First Capital Housing Solutions, whereby approximately 40 houses have been sold to first-time homeowners in the lower and middle-income groups. 

As a gateway to the Chobe National Park and Victoria Falls, a service station was constructed and operates on the Trans-Zambezi, which is a very busy road frequented by tourists who pass through Bukalo to countries such as Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa. 


NE: What are some of the services that have been brought closer to the people of Bukalo? 

AS: The government of the Republic of Namibia has shown unwavering support to the residents of Bukalo by bringing services closer to the people. The upgrade of the Bukalo Clinic to a health centre is one of the major services brought closer to the people. The presence of primary, secondary and senior secondary schools is among the services brought closer to the people. There were also roads infrastructure developments, where some have been upgraded to bitumen while others to gravel in and around Bukalo, linking it with all other places around and faraway. 

Government offices such as the ministry of poverty eradication, and the recently- inaugurated NaTiS office by the Roads Authority, show the government’s commitment towards bringing services closer to the people. Bukalo also boasts with the presence of a Nampost office, which has been in existence for almost two decades now. Furthermore, the upgrade of the Nsundano Secondary School from an ordinary secondary school to one of the technical secondary schools in the Zambezi region, is likewise a milestone worth mentioning. 

NE: How involved is the village council with the community, and what are some of the projects to uplift the lives of residents? 

AS: The village council is intensely involved with community programmes.

At the moment, one of the key community projects spearheaded by the council is the construction of the Bukalo open market. This is one of the projects that the council has embarked on to support local economic development to avoid the mushrooming of street vendors within the local authority areas, and to boost trade amongst residents. Furthermore, to support economic activities, the Local Economic Development Agency, which is funding the construction of the Bukalo open market, has committed itself to funding the construction of a community hall for the Bukalo Village Council, which would be used by residents for various suitable functions, activities and the hosting of community meetings. 


NE: What are some of the challenges faced by the council which hamper service delivery, and what is being done to address these issues? 

AS: Some of the major issues affecting the Bukalo Village Council and hampering development include being understaffed because of being dependent on the central government for operating expenses, as certain key positions that are crucial to service delivery are frozen and cannot be advertised without the approval of the central government, which controls the operational expenses of council. However, the council has been advised by the line ministry to focus more on revenue-collection as this is the pathway to financial independence from the line ministry, and this would be a motivating factor for the line ministry to approve any amendments to the existing organogram and the unfreezing of several key positions. Land banking is another serious challenge faced by the Bukalo Village Council, whereby companies and individuals acquire land in the local authority area, but do not develop such land. This is because most of these individuals and companies who have acquired land are absentee landlords who reside in different parts of the country and, therefore, take their time in constructing structures on their allocated plots. 

However, the council resolved to begin the process of repossessing undeveloped land which has been allocated for certain periods without any existing structures. This land will revert to the council, and be reallocated to those keen on putting up structures on the said land. 

Another challenge faced by the council is the dilapidated sewer network because of understaffing. The sewer network was not well-maintained over the years, as the council had to rely on outsourcing this function. Outsourcing has proven to be an expensive exercise. Therefore, the council struggled to properly maintain its sewer network for effective use. The Bukalo Village Council has actively engaged the central government to assist in this regard, and this matter is receiving emergency attention.

One of the other major challenges faced by the council is low water pressure, which continues to be a problem. As such, it is sometimes very difficult to attain acceptable water pressure from our water reticulation system. 

On this water pressure issue, the council has engaged NamWater to investigate the root cause of the problem. Once this investigation is completed, the council will address the matter and find a lasting solution to it. 

Unpaid debts to council and service providers are among the challenges faced by the council. One of these is in the form of owed monies to utility service providers such as NamWater, which date back to the time Bukalo was still a settlement.

The experience during Covid-19, where payment for water usage was withheld, is another issue. The history of these debts was not settled, but was rather inherited by the village council upon its proclamation. However, the council is now pursuing an aggressive revenue- collection policy. There are steps to ensure that revenue is collected timeously from end-users of these services, in a way, actively servicing these debts through regular payments, depending on the revenue collected by the council monthly. 


NE: How would you describe the provision of water, sewerage, roads and power, among other essentials, in Bukalo? 

AS: The provision of basic services such as water, sewerage, roads and electricity does not go without challenges, as there are interruptions from time to time which are beyond the control of the village council and its stakeholders. But the provision of these services within Bukalo as a local authority are moderately and fairly standing at acceptable standards. 


NE: What is your vision for Bukalo? 

AS: My vision for the Bukalo Village Council to one day become a fully-fledged town is that it should be an industrial hub and a town which takes full advantage of the tourism sector through the number of tourists who frequently visit the Trans-Zambezi Highway. 

Bukalo should not only be a gateway entity, but should also be a town offering various services such as continued supplies of services and revenue- collection; stakeholders involvement; attracting community support; and luring investors to invest in the town. It should also attract housing and accommodation development agents to continue erecting housing structures, and accommodation facilities such as hotels, guesthouses, flats,and business complexes. There should be the promotion of sound infrastructural development without bottlenecks so that it can grow and convince authorities that indeed, the village council has accumulated enough revenue and is self-reliant to convince relevant authorities that indeed, there is a need for it to now be promoted to the status of being a fully-fledged town.


NE: What is your independence message to the people of Zambezi and Namibia at large? 

AS: This year marks 34 years of independence that is celebrated in the Zambezi region. The years of fighting for the liberation marked the loss of lives that Namibian heroes and heroines sacrificed their lives for the motherland. 

Today, we enjoy hard-won freedom. Those who sacrificed their lives fought tooth and nail, and handed down our motherland to us without a price. Their sacrifices will continue to be adored in the building of the Namibian societal fabric. Indeed, their blood waters our freedom. They fought a physical fight to liberate Namibia, but we are fighting to build one nation built on inclusivity and economic emancipation, fighting social evils such as unemployment and inequality, while emphasising the building blocks of a non-racial, non-tribal society. 

We are premised on building a better Namibia, which all of us want to live in. We hope for a country that develops and lives in unity, and encompasses national and international support.