KEETMANSHOOP – Keetmanshoop municipal councillors and residents should stop ‘throwing stones’ at each other and rather join hands to develop the town for the betterment of all, a member of the council has said.
The municipality’s management committee chairperson Easter Isaak also warned that the days of officials only getting a slap on the wrist for mismanagement of public funds are over – and that those guilty of incurring financial losses for the council will, from now on, be held accountable.
“As a newly elected town council, we inherited massive municipal debts from corporates like NamWater – and it is now up to us (council and ratepayers) to bring about strategic interventions to tackle these challenges,” the chairperson urged during a recent community meeting hosted by the town council. Isaak said council is now embarking on new projects and partnerships to create much-needed employment for residents, which will in turn empower them to pay off outstanding and current debt for basic services delivered by council.
“Council previously went into a consultancy project with Nipam to service 700 erven in the town at a cost of N$60 million, which can absorb many of our unemployed residents,” he continued.
Other upcoming projects, according to Isaak, is the rehabilitation of the tarred B1-road between Keetmanshoop and Mariental, construction of a logistics hub and development workshop for the formalising of informal settlements.
In terms of the availability of land for development, he explained that council is currently only utilising approximately 15 000ha of land out of an available 47 000ha, of which the remainder can be utilised for agricultural and irrigation projects similar to those at the Naute irrigation project and Aussenkehr agricultural project.
When probed by pensioners, who have enormous outstanding water bills with the municipality, on the possibility of installing pre-paid water meters for them and making water more affordable, he explained that council is currently looking at the feasibility and viability of such a project.
Isaak then raised concern about the increasing moral decay of the town due to substance (alcohol and drug) abuse.
‘’Shebeens are mushrooming daily in residential areas, disturbing school-going children during studies and also the community at large – but as long as you (community) give shebeen owners consent to erect shebeens next to you, the situation can never be changed,’’ he stated.
Speaking at the same occasion, Keetmanshoop mayor Maree Smit raised concern over the increasing outstanding water accounts residents have with the council.
“If you are willing to pay partly on your current and outstanding accounts, then we can join hands and discuss arrangements on how to solve this problem amicably,” she advised. Smit then called on residents currently renting municipal houses or erven to let the council know when they vacate these premises.
“Please do not transfer these assets to your families, as you will be held accountable for all municipal accounts – even if you are no more staying there,” she added.
The mayor assured that such community meetings will from now on be held every four months in response to a cry by community members that such meetings do not take place often enough.
Sharing concerns… Keetmanshoop residents attending a recent municipality-organised community meeting in Keetmanshoop.
Photo: Steven Klukowski