Allow me a platform to share these opinions with my fellow countrymen and women, regarding the issue of town creating and development in Namibia. In 2015, I penned a similar letter published in The Namibian newspaper that carried the title “what is in a town?”
Back then, Omuthiya town was only seven years of age, as it was promulgated in 2008. Of course, it was a juvenile town, and perhaps the leadership was inexperienced back then. As I pen this piece today, Omuthiya is a whopping 13-year-old town, and surely although without a CEO, they have come of age, and the council leadership should have enough experience by now.
My letter was written based on a Facebook rejoinder written by a friend on Oniipa and Onethindi township proclamation, it said, “Recently in the news, I heard Oniipa and Onethindi are to be proclaimed towns. Do you comrades understand it? These are villages less than a kilometre from Ondangwa...why do you want a town at the doorstep of the other town? How is it going to sustain itself? How will the local authority survive? Are we this mad? Do we plan or we just jump out of our dreams and make decisions? Towns need factories and other sources of employment to sustain themselves. As a scholar, someone pls make me understand.” sic.
Surely many could agree that this has nothing to do with the purported development, as there came much baggage with town creating in northern Namibia, one being that towns are surrounded by villages where communal farmers live. Another being the sewage and dumping site location, which leads to pollution of water ponds and air instantaneously. These are effects that we could less afford with our ailing nation, where health is a luxurious commodity to have for many of us who are unemployed and lives in abject poverty.
As you read, Omuthiya is haunted by some of these, the location of the dumping site which emit steam of smoke affecting villages and out of town suburbs at Omadhiya, Ondiika and Oshifukwa. These are ghosts that will continue haunting these people for as long as we allow gluttons to lead us into dismay. People claim to have been forced to sell off their mahangu fields and pave way for the town, yet it has been years since no development reached these out-of-town fields.
Meaning people have been robbed of their means of producing food to feed their families in the name of a town. We have serviced land that has been idle for years now without allocation, and the lights erected there are shinning upon bitter bushes, mouses, and squirrels, while we have people in town without electricity, and even surrounding villages of Okafupi, and many more. The question is who is liable to pay for the electricity of these empty streets west of Omuthiya town where the land lies idle without allocation, while the majority of people applied and have not received plots for the past 10 years?
Another issue that I wish we could all understand and sort out is the town’s function. Many could agree that Omuthiya is well known for its marketability, omatala. None have passed through without asking to stop by and grab the delicacy of food, traditional attires, and apparel sold at Omuthiya open market. The idea of relocating it behind a mall, where until now no tarred road has reached, let alone a gravel one is wrong.
Who will leave the B1 road to go stop and enter enclosed spaces to buy the delicacy we are known for as Omuthiya? This planned move is suicidal and it will lead to cessation of omatala operation and function. Who will spare wasting hours of travelling time and reaching a destination faster in a bus heading to Lüderitz just because some shrewd people thought taking omatala that far is development? What does the “open market” mean with this new relocation development? Even a pedestrian know better that omatala will only be profitable if it’s located along the road, where customers pass. Our customers in Omuthiya are travellers along the B1 road where the council wants omatala to vacate.
In 2015, I wrote to say, “I have always wondered what makes a town. Is it a name or its functions? In geography, Development study, and Natural economy, we learned that towns came to life due to their populations but most of all when it has something of an economic purpose to the people. Then I remembered how Tsumeb came about. Of course, the minerals, and Usakos, Arandis, Oranjemund and some others too.”
Came to think of Omuthiya, is it about Etosha, or just having a central place in Oshikoto, decentralisation maybe or maybe just because a prominent elite, whose name shall not be mentioned, was born and lives there? Where are the town planners? Omuthiya at inception had a great idea to have a park south of the regional office. Yet 13 years down the line, the place has become a grazing place and a place where political rallies are held by the select few.
What benefit and how much does the town get out of that backwardness move? What happened to inviting general meetings, business lunches, and attracting investors offering them incentives on land so that we can have town halls, vocational colleges, institutions of higher learning where more residence will thus be attracted to our beloved town, and decentralisation in its true meaning will be fruitful and fulfilled this way. We need not have our youngest residents relocating to the city for no apparent reason, just because we failed to attract a university. We have a soccer field in this beautiful town, whose function has been turned into a training facility, it is the only one in northern Namibia with artificial turf, yet it does not have a pavilion to host quality matches, and the longer our beloved town drags its feet in building one, the artificial turf will rot away and become useless and hard to replace. It will be a wasted donation given to the wrong nation of course.
Well before you mock me, and say I like complaining, know this I am an active member of this town, I do my best to share my views on platforms available. When they invite and cancel general meetings at will, I always plan to attend and share my views.
I have submitted a proposal to the town CEO before, and the council on my ideas, but as you will understand not all with ears can hear, and not all eyes can see, plus not all of us are in serving positions, some are there to eat.
Where have you seen a town without basic amenities to offer to its residents?
A town that offers no recreational service to the people, no sports facilities, no park services, no community places, libraries, schools, hospitals, and clinics should be unheard of.