Free water not for everyone

03 September 2020 | Local News

Swakopmund • [email protected]


Orano Mining Namibia donated drinking water to several towns along the central coast in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, Swakopmund town council decided that this water will be donated to households that have outstanding accounts.

“I feel the allocation of this donation as extremely unfair,” said council member Wilfried Groenewald (SRA) on Monday during the council meeting. Despite his objections, the rest of the council decided that only households with outstanding water accounts would benefit from this donation.

In May, Orano Mining Namibia donated 200 000m³ of drinking water from the desalination plant near Wlotzkasbaken. At the time, the company said that the towns of Henties Bay, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Arandis would benefit from it. The value of the donation was put at around N$6 million.

One reason for the donation was that government had asked all towns across the country to provide water for their residents - often free of charge.

Since the beginning of the Corona crisis, drinking water has been free in Swakopmund’s poorer suburbs, while all households whose taps had been shut off due to non-payment have since been reconnected.

Distribution

On Monday, the distribution of the water donation was discussed at the Swakopmund council meeting. The town received 40,811m³ of the total of 200 000m³. The value of this is around N$606 000.

“It is recommended that this water be used for consumers whose water connections have been cut off due to non-payment,” says the draft resolution. The total value of the overdue accounts stands at more than N$1 million.

Groenewald does not agree with this and therefore raised the objection.

“Everyone in Swakopmund is trying to make ends meet and to pay their bills. Not just certain people,” Groenewald said. Some residents are even selling their valuables or real estate to survive. “This donation should therefore be distributed equally to all households in Swakopmund and not just to those who have not paid their bills,” he said, adding: “This would encourage other households to keep paying the bills.”

No other council member agreed with Groenewald’s opinion.

“We do not want to discriminate because of bills,” said Mayor Nehemia Salomon after Groenewald's objection.

Every decision we make, we make for the good of the town.”

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