KEETMANSHOOP - The ongoing Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) strike has denied many Namibians access to vital information, including radio listeners in the //Kharas region.
Some pensioners from remote areas in the region raised the concern that while assuming to getting paid their social grants the past Monday since the following day was a public holiday, they turned up eagerly at Nampost in Keetmanshoop, only to be informed that payments would be only effected on the Wednesday.
“If there were NBC radio services in place, this waste of our transport money and time could have been prevented,’’ lamented one pensioner.
Keetmanshoop rural constituency councillor Gerrit Witbooi said residents who solely depend on radio transmissions as a source of communication are now also left out from development programmes.
“I am having the challenge of informing our residents in remote areas of developmental projects from which they can benefit because of this strike,” he explained.
The politician said most of these unfortunate citizens are facing challenges of not being able to access newspapers due to the vastness of their areas, and if they eventually get hold of one, the information contained therein is outdated. Witbooi added that these impoverished people are now denied updated information on local and international events like the coronavirus, politics and other issues which directly and indirectly affect their livelihoods. Helga Hubsch (70), a farmer in the Hardap region, said since they are staying far from town, it has become difficult for them to get updated on the latest developments in the country.
“We do not have access, and can furthermore not afford internet services as
an alternative source of communication,’’ she observed. The farmer added that this denied them the chance to benefit from updates on public announcements, like where they can access government programmes and events like drought relief assistance, social grant payment points, farmers association meetings and socio-economic developmental interventions, to mention but a few.
“I really do hope our government can solve this problem of the NBC strike as soon as possible as we are losing out a lot,” she noted. Some residents in Keetmanshoop, however, said they get their information from alternative sources. “We are at least fortunate to access information through commercial radio stations or the internet as a means of staying updated on the latest developments,” said a resident.
They do, however, share the concerns of their fellow affected residents and NBC employees.
When New Era probed some of the broadcaster’s staff members in Keetmanshoop, they argued that the strike is affecting them both financially and emotionally, and even they struggle with access to credible, factual information.
“As things stand, we are losing out on our monthly salary for every day that the strike continues, and fear for our future job security,” said a worker, who insisted on anonymity.
The employee said they heard rumours of the possible loss of 50% of jobs due to retrenchments, and they are now unsure whether they are also part of it.
“We have a duty towards our viewers and listeners, but can nonetheless not compromise on our current situation,” said the staff member.
The worker also said they realised that the general public is now denied their basic human right of access to information, and hope the issue can be solved amicably between the parties involved as soon as possible.