Grootfontein – Hundreds of Grootfontein residents on Tuesday marched to the municipality to demand land, saying many of the town’s destitute residents have resorted to squatting in cardboard boxes without basic services such as running water and sanitation services. Frustrated residents have called for the removal of the entire local authority councillors they feel are inept, citing their failure to address their plight since 2017, which include the provision of residential land, the slow development, as well as poor basic service delivery. Led by activist Moraiz Gaingob, they handed a petition to the municipality, which they copied to urban and rural development minister Erastus Uutoni and governor of Otjozondjupa James Uerikua.
Failure to positively respond to their requests within seven working days will result in protesters forcibly shutting down municipality operations. In addition, they vowed to repeat events of 2017 in which they were compelled to grab land.
They wanted to know why council has been dragging its feet to allocate residential plots at extensions 6,7,8 in Omulunga, which have been serviced under public-private partnership for five years, seemingly without any progress. Those plots are not connected to electricity.
Based on that, residents also vehemently object to the establishment of the planned new extension in the upmarket suburb of Luiperdhuewel.
“We have lost hope, trust and confidence in this useless council; thus, we request them to stop with the planned establishment of extensions before attending to us, low-income earners,” Gaingob and the other protesters stated in their petition.
The issue of suspected nepotism and corruption at the municipality in terms of employment and the awarding of tenders was also raised in the petition.
None removal of waste and blocking the sewerage system was listed as another challenge by disgruntled residents.
“The living conditions of people in Blikkiesdorp informal settlement is unacceptable, where 17 people live on one erf without toilets and clean drinking water for the past 20 years. Community is, thus, forced to use the bush when nature calls. All dumping sites in the informal settlements have not been cleaned up since 2018, resulting in blockades of streets,” stated the group in unison.
They say this blatant failure by the Grootfontein municipality puts the community at the risk of contracting diseases such as malaria, Hepatitis-E, Cholera and the dreaded Covid-19.
Gaingob said 2 000 residents are homeless and are in dire need of plots. Therefore, he pleaded with council to give a piece of land, known as Kap en bou, to set up their shacks.
Servicing of land should be considered after the allocation is done, the group demanded.
“If they oppose this peaceful request, we will not have other options but to go and occupy the land. If this will be construed as land grabbing, we will request council to evict those erecting shacks next to the army base under the pretext they were legally resettled,” concluded the petition. The petition was received by town mayor Abisai Haimene Shondati, who said council will look at the issues raised and respond timely within the stipulated period.