Edgar Brandt Windhoek-The City of Windhoek (CoW) will continue spending millions of dollars in an attempt to formalise the ever-expanding informal settlements around the capital, where about a third of the capital’s approximately 400,000 residents are estimated to live. For the current (2017/18) financial year, which started on July 1, 2017, and to end on June 30, 2018, the city has budgeted for the provision of services such as infrastructure development, water, electricity and sanitation to the informal areas. For example, for the current financial year CoW budgeted for electronification of the informal settlements (N$20 million), township development (N$40 million), formalisation of informal settlements (N$15 million), improvement of northern areas’ residential streets (N$78 million), just to name a few. According to Windhoek Mayor Muesee Kazapua, the city council will also appoint electrical contractors in February to install electricity services at the Havana and Babylon areas. “We will continue with the formalisation of informal settlements by appointing successful contractors from the expression of interests that was floated in 2017 to service land and build houses in the informal settlements …. By April this year something should start. This should be a priority among priorities,” Kazapua said this week during the presentation of CoW’s second quarterly organisational and financial performance report. CoW’s spokesperson, Lydia Amutenya, added that budget allocation depends on available resources and it takes into consideration the challenges in the informal settlements as well as any other areas that might not have access to municipal services. She noted, however, that the current infrastructure in the informal settlements is not sufficient which is why these areas are a priority for the city as it strives to ensure improved living standards of residents in the areas. “We continue to acknowledge that the informal settlements, as they are referred to, are part of Windhoek and we should consider our residents living these areas and treat them fairly like any other residents in Windhoek. However, it is a fact that provision of basic amenities in these parts of the city are a challenge and we will continue to try our best with the minimal or limited resources at our disposal to improve and enhance the living standards of our residents,” said Amutenya in response to questions from New Era. Last year the CoW introduced its Transformational Strategic Plan (2017-2022), which encompassed the theme of social progression with clear performance measures that focus on the provision of access to essential services within the informal settlements. Amutenya added that housing and land delivery, in general, are a challenge in the city, but it is much worse in the informal settlements and this has been identified and listed as a top priority in the corporate scorecard of the five-year strategic plan. “However, it must be noted that the city’s targets are purposely conservative during this strategic period given the current financial, human capital, technological and expertise constraints. Nevertheless, the city remains committed to achieving its target given the critical nature of housing and land delivery,” Amutenya stated. “With that said, residents of Windhoek can look forward to new and exciting projects such as renewable energy (solar and wind). “The council end of last year approved a piece of land that would be used to set up a solar plant in Windhoek, as well as waste-to-energy power plants that are expected to generate 50 megawatts respectively, during this five-year period,” she explained. However, meeting the demand for services is a major challenge for the city as the population growth in the informal settlements actually outstrips the supplied services. However, the council has committed to continue with improvements by making budgetary provisions for these areas every financial year, even in the face of limited resources at its disposal. “Another challenge is maintenance of our infrastructure in these areas. There are more cases of vandalism than in other areas and the council continues to educate and encourage residents to safeguard the infrastructure but it is a minimal percentage of people who adhere to such calls. The public should take note that, if we are not taking extra care of infrastructure provided to us, we will continue to have the same problems over and over, because instead of channelling the already scarce resources to other equally important service areas, the resources will be pumped into maintenance all the time,” Amutenya lamented. The Population Projections Report (PPR) from the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) indicates that Windhoek’s population would have increased to 431,000 at the end of 2017 from the 342,000 recorded in 2011. The NSA report also shows that many people move to the capital from the different regions in order to further their education and to look for employment. The NSA conducts a population census every decade, with the next census for Windhoek to be conducted in 2021.
New Era Reporter
2018-02-02 11:00:43 9 months ago