OMUTHIYA – Several towns have promptly implemented the government directive to reconnect water supply to the houses of residents drowning in unpaid water debts.
The Ministry of Urban and Rural Development last Thursday issued an urgent directive to all regional governors, mayors and chairpersons of councils to reconnect the water of defaulters in rural areas, settlements, villages, towns and municipalities in the light of the corona pandemic.
It was suggested that all those with outstanding water bills whose water supply has been disconnected should be reconnected with immediate effect, although councils were advised to continue charging for various municipal services.
The mayor of Tsumeb, Mathew Hangula, said they have already started servicing broken taps and reconnecting water to residences whose taps have been dry for non-payment.
Acting chief executive officer of Omuthiya, Simon Nghuulondo, said the council reconnected defaulting residents over the weekend but he advised those who still do not have water to report to the office for immediate action.
The directive was issued amid the Covid-19 pandemic that was declared a national health emergency by the head of state, and to run until 14 April.
Meanwhile, the rural and water supply department in Oshikoto is finding the directive vague as it did not somehow include the ministry of agriculture.
This was stated by the head of rural and water supply in the region, Stevenson Tuukondjele, who questioned how the decision was made without the inclusion of the ministry of agriculture, the custodian of water in terms of rural supply.
“It is not only about opening the tap – we are talking about rural houses of which some had their water suspended many years ago. Therefore, to reconnect this requires one to replace or repair pipelines as they might have been damaged since they are not in use,” he explained, adding that as much as he understands the urgency and the dire state, his hands are tied because of a lack resources to effectively execute the directive.
“To do this job I will need at least five vehicles but which are broken including the tanker truck. So who is going to be responsible for these repairs if my ministry is not aware, neither my superiors?” questioned Tuukondjele.
He said the directive does not address issues of who is to be responsible for the new water bills of the defaulter and how it can be settled. “All in all, I will only act upon being instructed by my superiors under my ministry to whom I report to guide me on the way forward – as it stands it has many implications on our part,” he said.