The City of Windhoek debt book has been swelling for the past years due to constrained revenue sources, but they had no choice but to render services to city dwellers.
According to the city’s spokesperson Harold Akwenye, total debt as of 30 June 2021 excluding non-interest-bearing debt stands at N$876 million, made up of N$716 million of the on-lending loans and another of N$160 million.
The city also owes the government N$712 million that dates as far back as 1994, 1997 and 1999, which is still due.
When asked what has been the barrier of repaying these loans, Akwenye said: “Many residents find it difficult to pay their municipal bills, despite many efforts by the city to collect the same, which resulted in an increase in the debt book.”
He noted while responding to questions from New Era that the growth of the city has necessitated the need to develop various infrastructure aimed at improving the lives of the residents, and which does not have the revenue stream attached to it.
“Among others were the surfacing of streets in the previously neglected areas, and the building of markets to empower the previously disadvantaged communities.
Also, the maintenance and expansion of the bus service, which is a loss-making service, but provides for the needs of those who cannot afford other transport,” he stated.
“More so, the building of satellite fire stations to be able to cope with the demand for the service, and to install water and sanitation services in areas where no or little income is derived from,” Akwenye continued.
The spokesperson said the city had to direct most of its resources to these new residents to ensure that basic municipal services are rendered to all, despite the lack of affordability by the majority of consumers in these communities.
The city thus remains committed to addressing the challenges of disparity that existed brought about by the apartheid regime in terms of service delivery, he added.
Furthermore, the city is in deep negotiations with the government for a debt/land swap with the N$712 million due. The loans come a long way. In 1994, they took a loan from the European Investment Bank, which stands at N$56.7 million today for the city’s infrastructure such as water supply, wastewater collection and treatment, and a 66KV transmission system.
In 1997, the city took an additional loan of N$93 million for infrastructure development, with another in 1999 from the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the European Investment Bank with the value of N$365 million and N$200 million, respectively, as of 30 June 2021.