Omaruru residents 'fed up' with municipality

Residents from Omaruru recently held a protest and expressed their dissatisfaction on a range of burning issues, to the municipality of the town.
Nikanor Nangolo
The residents from Omaruru recently accused the Omaruru municipal leaders and employees of "continued mismanagement due to incompetence and self enrichment" in a petition headed over to the Mayor of Omaruru Vincent Kahua at a peaceful demonstration held in Omaruru.

In the petition handed over to the mayor, the residents accused Kahua of wasting public money and acting indecent in public. "Vincent Kahua continues making empty promises. He is more on the road and out of office as he is in the office. He does not notice nor prevent the downfall of Omaruru, but claims there is no money for maintenance and critical repairs. He should be removed as mayor and councillor and never be allowed to return,"

According to the aggrieved residents, the acting CEO Josef Haipinge is in charge of municipal affairs and yet failed to manage the technical department. "Water supply and sewerage containment (under his direct control) is a burning issue. Assets are run down, misused and not maintained. ls this the right person to act in the CEO post? Omaruru is heading to village council status with this style of management. We do not want any of the current municipal employees in the CEO chair."

The petition also calls for the removal of regional councillor Ernest Wetha who allegedly swindled money from Erongo RED in the second quarter of 2O21. "He is not battling poverty nor unemployment in Omaruru - this is not the example we need from the municipality for the community, nor for our future leaders."

The residents further accused the council of not conducting council meetings as prescribed in the Local Authorities Act. "Only two legal council meetings were held for 2022. It is due the incompetence of the mayor, the chairman of the committee and his followers that these atrocities are knocking over a once-well operated municipality. Councillors are paid to travel for council meetings while monthly meetings are not held," the petition state.

Technical issues

According to the unhappy residents, the handling and problematic sewerage system is becoming a health hazard in the town. "This is the case in the main road at the police station, at Spar, behind Bank Windhoek and at the industrial area behind Erongo Red where sewage is channelled away by a man-made river across the street into the bush and into a side flow of the Omaruru River. Complaints raised since November 2018 have been ignored and the least effort is put in to contain and clean it up. Solid waste dumps are not fenced in and waste escapes when it is windy. Perpetrators are not held accountable for dumping waste on pavements and municipal workers turns a blind eye. They do not to clean or charge offenders because it is an unpopular action."

The residents also highlighted that new water meters are installed with no lT system in place to manage them. "The devices are inaccessible after office hours, inconvenient, not user friendly, expensive and managed from Windhoek. Users are paying monthly rates on the water meter system without getting value for money and in some instances receiving less water than expected. This resulted into a accounting system (not managed by the municipality) being brought in, as the people employed for the job are not competent enough to do it."

Failed Promises

The residents also pointed out that promises made over the past five years to service extension Seven and Eight have not been kept. "There are no streetlights, no toilets, no sewerage system, no water and no action taken in this regard. The mayor promised on 30 May that Amabokke would be electrified. Nothing has happened since then. A number of burning issues were discussed with the governor in November and still no report or any feedback has been given to the residents. The title deeds to paid erven are still not issued and this prevent residents from getting their electricity connected. The mayor promised at a meeting on 12 March that he would get the certificates issued, nothing happened."

A member of the Omaruru Residents Association secretariat Johan Nel, said that the list of complaints was enlarged and put up on the municipal notice board for all to see. "The Deputy Minister of Urban and Rural Development Natalia !Goagoses visited Omaruru on 3 June 2022 after the association complained about matters as set out in our complaints list. She gave the municipality three months ending 3 September to rectify. However, we do not see any sustainable attempt happening from their side. ORA has informed the deputy minister on Monday that this is the case and also handed over a letter to the mayor explaining that Omaruru is fed up. If these issues are not addressed to a satisfactory level by 3 September, there will be chaos," he said.