Southern villages disappointed in EkandjoBy: LUQMAN CLOETE
THE village councils of the Hardap and Karas regions have accused the Minister of Regional and Local Government of being insensitive and disrespectful to the plight of the poor.
The accusation was made after Minister Jerry Ekandjo did not respond to the councils’ request to help them settle their water debts.
The village councils in the two regions combined owe a whopping N$13,5 million to NamWater, which has threatened to cut the water supply to them today.
At a media briefing yesterday, the councils said they would ask President Hifikepunye Pohamba to intervene in the matter.
NamWater this week threatened to cut water supply to Tses, Maltahöhe, Gibeon and Kalkrand if they fail to settle their debts.
Tses’s outstanding bill by the close of business yesterday was N$2,5 million, Maltahöhe N$3,1 million, Gibeon N$3,8 million and Kalkrand N$303 000.
Bethanie owes NamWater N$2 million, while Berseba and Koës have run up bills of N$921 363 and N$831 000 respectively.
Some of the debtors do not face water cuts as they have entered into payment agreements with NamWater.
“It is clear that the ministry doesn’t care about the the dilemma which these villages find themselves in, especially the water cut-off situation that we are facing,” said Tses Village Council chairperson Brian !Goaseb at yesterday media briefing.
“In principle the provision of water to the public is the responsibility of the Government and it’s a basic human right and not a privilege as some are assuming,” he added.
!Goaseb said none of the village councils is in a position to settle its accumulated water debt.
He highlighted poverty, unemployment and the high interest charged by NamWater on outstanding debts as challenges that make it difficult for the councils to make ends meet.
He said councils can only turn around their financial misfortunes if fully subsidised by the central government.
!Goaseb also attributed underground water leaks due to ageing water pipelines for the councils’ escalating water debts.
“Councils are not in a position to rehabilitate the ageing water systems,” said !Goaseb.
Ekandjo could not be reached for comment yesterday.