Community members of Amilema in Oshikoto region have vowed to block the construction of an MTC network tower at Onakasino village.
The community argued the tower was initially supposed to be constructed at Amilema centre but was abruptly relocated to Onakasino, a move they view as favouring a Swapo member of parliament who resides in the village.
These issues were raised in a petition, in which they have vowed to block the construction until a satisfactory answer is given or reverse in the plan is granted.
“We as the community demand answers from MTC, if not we will cover up the trenches that are dug and no construction will take place,” said group spokesperson Haimbondi Ananias.
“It is always a norm that such projects are constructed where there are other government institutions, in this regard we have electricity at Amilema and this could have saved them money which could be invested somewhere else.”
The bone of contention is that the site of the tower is in the proximity of the homestead of former finance deputy minister Natangwe Ithete. Amilema villagers feel he might have played a role in persuading MTC to have the tower erected in his area in order to have easy access to electricity.
Amilema and Onakasino are about three kilometres apart. MTC spokesperson John Ekongo said the entity holds the right to erect the tower where they deem it necessary based on topography, network strength and technical matters that come with such a project. Therefore, he rubbished assertions the decision was based on political influence.
“Among other reasons was to bring electricity to Onakasino since Amilema already has power,” he said. In addition, Ekongo said, they have realised putting up a tower at Amilema will not have good network optimisation, thus it was resolved to look for an area that is two to three kilometres away.
“By moving the tower away, we realised it will increase the radius coverage, range optimisation and quality network distribution.
“Therefore, we began searching for such an area. However, it is unfortunate that the place that is suitable is in the close proximity with the said politician. Hence, I want to make it clear that there was no any sought of third part influence in our decision,” he said. MTC recently announced an initiative to provide electricity in rural areas to the tune of N$11 million.
This is in addition to N$85 million already spent in phases involving the erection of towers countrywide. “As part of phase 1 of our 081 project that aims to provide close to 100% network connectivity, we have so far invested a total of N$85 million to build over 133 power lines that now provides electrification to rural areas that previously had no electricity.
As part of phase 2 that commenced in March this year, we will build another 105 power lines that will connect 105 rural sites.
These power lines are not just meant to provide power to our sites but to the entire area and that is why we deliberately decided to invest in power lines as opposed to simply buying generators, which would only have benefitted our sites. We see this investment as one of social and economic development because once a rural area is electrified, it creates other essential economic opportunities for other stakeholders,” read the statement.
Setting record straight… MTC spokesperson John Ekongo.