RUNDU - After enduring three days without electricity last week, Rundu businesses which lost perishables and had bookings cancelled because of the power outage are fuming.
The outage, which was caused by a burnt compartment in the transformer at the Rundu sub-station, also affected water supply to the town, which consequently left the residents without water during that period.
NamPower’s area manager for the northern regions Petrus Immanuel confirmed that power was restored at around 18h00 on Thursday in all parts of the town.
Following an intensive investigation, the technical team found the fault. The relevant part was, however, flown to Rundu and installed three days later.
Many businesses resorted to generators, while those who couldn’t afford opted for total closure.
Counting her losses, businesswoman and owner of Tambuti Lodge Elizabeth Hilger said she lost between N$10 000 to N$ 15 000 in booking cancellations due to the power outage.
“Although we used generators as alternatives, most of our food was spoiled because the generators could not supply power to the fridges. When tourists passed by the business, it was very embarrassing to inform them that we can’t serve them because there was no electricity; yet we expect investors to visit our town,” she lamented.
Hilger said the town is growing, and the town council must therefore constantly engage its various stakeholders to ensure that equipment and facilities are upgraded to serve the population.
Another businessman, Fernando John, owns a vocational training institution at the town, and said classes had to be suspended due to the situation.
“We had to suspend all our practical lessons because everything was affected. We were also forced to purchase solar panels to keep some of the systems running, which was totally out of our budget,” he added.
John said the situation also compromised their safety, and that the town council should have made arrangements with the police to ensure that members are deployed at various points to safeguard residents and properties.
Rundu Town Council CEO Olavi Nathaniel said the issue had nothing to do with the town council, as it was caused by external factors.
“Although we are grateful that water and electricity have now been restored, it is very unfortunate that the residents had to experience water and electricity outages for almost three days. But this had nothing to do with the town council. It was caused by external factors, because this happened just a few days after we had restored water at the town,” he explained.
Prior to the power outage, the town was left without water for almost a week due to the financially- strained town council’s inability to procure its monthly bulk water.
Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry Calle Schlettwein said while briefing parliament on the water issue that when the country was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, government directed NamWater not to shut off water supply to local authorities, regardless of whether they were in arrears with payments or not. Consequently, this resulted in an increase in the total amount of unpaid water bills by over N$500 million.
“The Rundu Town Council already had a significant outstanding [amount] prior to the Covid-19-related agreement,” Schlettwein said.
The residents reportedly owe the council close to N$300 million, while the council owes NamWater N$124 million.