SWAKOPMUND - Residents of Uiba-Oas Small-Scale Miners’ Cooperative situated between Usakos and Arandis are appealing to government to bring basic services such as water and electricity to their area.
About 300 people, whose main source of income is derived from selling semi-precious stones to tourists and interested jewellery makers, said they struggle to get by without running water and electricity.
Speaking to New Era on behalf of the residents, Sylvia Pienaar said they are charged exorbitant amounts of money to get water from nearby farms and settlements with boreholes.
Pienaar says they sometimes have to travel long distances to get water if no vehicle is available to fetch water and fill the storage tanks.
“On top of that, we also have to pay for fuel. Sometimes we are left at the mercy of passing cars as we approach them in extreme cases to get water or a lift to the nearest settlement or Usakos to buy water,” she explained.
According to the residents, a woman from Okahandja, who is farming in the area, is currently assisting them by bringing water for free.
However, the truck she uses has broken down.
Another resident Hildegaardt Dausas says government has in the past drilled boreholes in the area but could not find water.
“I know our area is also dry but I think if they drill the boreholes deeper they would be able to find water as many of the surrounding farms survives from boreholes,” she says.
On the issue of electricity, Dausas suggested solar power would be ideal for them.
According to Dausas, only their craft centre is currently running on solar power.
“We fear for our safety. Once it’s dark, wild animals and creatures especially snakes roam the area. We had at least four snake bites in the past but could not even search for the snake as it was too dark,” she said.
She added that they are also reluctant to make use of conventional methods for light out of fear that it might cause veld fires.
“That is why we are pleading with government to make water and electricity accessible for us,” Dausas appealed.
Commenting on the issue, the Daures constituency councillor Kennedy Haoseb said he is aware of the plight of Uiba-Oas and that his office is working towards the provision of water and electricity for its residents.
“The provision of water specifically is been catered for under the drought relief budget and is at an advance stage. A tender will soon be allocated in order to connect a pipeline from a privately drilled borehole to Uiba-Oas,” !Haoseb explained.
As for the electricity, !Haoseb said he is liaising with Erongo Red and that Uiba-Oas is a top priority in the rural electrification programme of the electricity distributor. “They must just be patient we are addressing their challenges,” !Haoseb said.