Keetmanshoop-based journalist Steven Klukowski zooms into !Nami#nus, one of the constituencies of the vast //Kharas Region, by speaking to its councillor, Jan Scholtz.
Steven Klukowski (SK): An amount of N$26.6 million is earmarked for the upgrading and rehabilitation of the Aus-Lüderitz railway line. Does this mean the re-introduction of rail/passenger services between Keetmanshoop and Lüderitz will soon be a reality?
Jan Scholtz (JS): As for now, the rehabilitation of the railway between Aus and Lüderitz’s main motive is the cargo of goods and services for export and import purposes. By using Lüderitz, Namport will boost economic activities in the region that translates to economic growth for the entire country. Moreover, should the request for rail/passenger services between the two towns be raised with proper supporting information for its demand then I believe it can be taken into consideration.
SK: What is the current status in terms of the provision of basic needs like housing, sanitation, access to health services and clean drinking water in your constituency?
JS: On housing, the Lüderitz Town Council fully committed itself by addressing the housing problem in terms of land servicing and providing low-cost housing for its inhabitants. The process of alienation of the 26 council houses in Aus to the beneficiaries has been approved by the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development. The process started in 2012 and it’s envisaged to be finalised before the end of 2019. Therefore 26 old houses in the Khaubeb area in Aus will be allocated permanently once the alienation process is completed. The Build Together programme is expected to commence in Aus settlement for which I believe the housing needs will be addressed by this programme.
On sanitation, !Nami#nus Constituency consists of Lüderitz town and Aus settlement of which last year I handed over 154 flush toilets in Aus. However, due to the increasing population and new development in the constituency N$4 million has been allocated for the construction of services (water and sewerage) in Aus for the 2019/2020 financial year in order to provide future sanitation. Similarly, at Lüderitz, 24 flush toilets were constructed in Amilema and Area 7 during the previous financial year and were handed over to beneficiaries by the town council. For the current financial year an amount of N$8 million has been allocated for the construction of services in Lüderitz by the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development.
On access to health services, a district hospital and clinic provide health services to the residents of Lüderitz. However, there is a need for the clinic in Area 7 to be upgraded in order to cater for the increasing number of people who are residing in that area. Aus settlement clinic received a donation from the Anglo-American Foundation for the installation of four mortuary drawers in 2016. This need arises due the fact that there was no mortuary in Aus in the past and corpses had to be taken to Lüderitz. Furthermore, Aus clinic received a donation (ambulance) from the Seaflower Lobster Group during the 2016/2017 financial year.
On clean drinking water, !Nami#nus Constituency has 95% access to clean water.
SK: !Nami#nus Constituency is the centre of fish processing factories, surrounding mining activities and tourism attractions, yet poverty and unemployment rates are still high in the constituency. How would you respond on that?
JS: The high poverty and unemployment rate are national issues affecting the whole of Namibia, not only our constituency. Even though there are a lot of natural resources within the jurisdiction of our constituency they benefit the whole of the country and are being regulated by the Ministry of Mines and Energy. However, through constituency stakeholder engagements we managed to bring Cosdec to Lüderitz, which aims on training the school dropouts to be able to penetrate the job market especially in the mining and fishing industries.
Other poverty and unemployment rate reduction programmes in our constituency include the following: the agriculture project in Lüderitz, namely the food for work programme, whereby people are producing lucerne, while five income-generating projects in both Lüderitz and Aus were approved for the 2017/2018 and 2019/2020 financial years by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare.
SK: It is feared that the name change of your constituency might negatively influence its ability to attract foreign tourists due to the historical past of Lüderitz. Can you perhaps share more light on that?
JS: The name change per se does not have any negative influence on attracting foreign tourists due to the historical past of Lüderitz. What changed is only the constituency name in order to accommodate another place like Aus, but the town’s name never changed, it is still Lüderitz as it was before and it keeps on attracting foreign tourists.