Oniipa Town Council CEO Jakob Junias said since the settlement was declared a village and a decade later upgraded to a town, there has been equitable development, while the living conditions of inhabitants have improved.
He said despite Oniipa being declared a town in 2015, it only became fully operational in 2018. In hindsight, only two and a half years could be counted in terms of service delivery to the people and the ongoing developmental efforts.
“Only in 2017 did we begin to render services to the people – and in 2018, we began with the actual work on communal land rights. This was challenging because we first had to lobby for funds to compensate the (relocated) farmers,” said Junias.
“After we serviced the land, we located the plots to successful applicants. The challenge was that they could not afford the plots. We were left with an alternative, which was to allocate plots to various developers to build bankable houses. Some of these houses are now finished.”
One of the residential areas christened is Onethindi, with a few houses that are being developed.
After a trip to Finland, the town council collaborated with their Finnish counterparts, for a solar power pilot project.
A group of residents at Kalivona location shares a centralised solar panel that provides power for everyday household needs such as lighting.
One of the beneficiaries, Sam Shinedima, said he is happy with the solar power and he believes should more residents receive these solar panels, the council would improve the lives of many. “We use it on anything – just like Nored. I have been using it for six months now. Everyone has their day and night units. So, you have to control it accordingly – just like with Nored units,” he said.
Some residents are also lucky beneficiaries of free internet connectivity provided to them by the town council.
The Wi-Fi now comes in handy, as learners make use of online learning to continue with their education due to the temporary closure of schools as a measure to mitigate the risks from Covid-19. Emily Kandenge, who has been a resident of Kalivona since 2014, says what has particularly improved her life is the high-mast street light that was installed by the town council.
“When I came here, it was difficult. It was dark at night and thieves would hide in the bushes and rob us. But now, I walk from the main road to my house at night and it’s very clear,” she said.
Additionally, the CEO pointed to the installation of septic tanks for community toilets, a domestic refuse collection programme that operates by paying residents for each bag of garbage collected.
This not only keeps the town clean but it also provides residents with an income. Street lights were installed along the road from Oniipa bridge to the Onandjokwe hospital.
Despite the fact that the town council operates with limited personnel due to budgetary constraints, Junias is optimistic that with co-operation from residents, the town can rise to greater heights.
“Let’s work together to build the town. You can write a letter to the CEO’s office. Bring all your concerns to the town’s management and report any wrongdoings,” he said.