DRC residents not happy with Council feedback on development

The Swakopmund Town Council organised a series of public meetings this week to inform the residents on the strategic plan and some of the projects Council has embarked upon. The public meeting on Tuesday focused on residents of the DRC informal settlement.
According to the Mayor of Swakopmund, Clr Pauline Nashilundo, the meetings are conducted annually and provide residents the opportunity to interact with Council on issues of mutual concern. Council in turn informs the public of various activities which are in line with the principles of participatory democracy and outreach programs. These require the public to take part in decision making within their locality. The public is encouraged to attend monthly Council meetings too, which are held every last Thursday of the month at the municipal council chambers.
Residents can fami-liarise themselves with the day-to-day operations and decisions made by Council.
During the briefing in DRC the acting Chief Executive Officer Mr Marco Swarts shared which projects Council has undertaken and which projects are envisaged as per the budgetary provisions and strategic plan approved by Council with the residents of the DRC informal settlement.
According to Swarts the formalisation of the DRC is in full swing and the servicing of land is ongoing. Council is committed to upgrade DRC informal settlement through the provision of electricity, water and sanitation.
However, there have been various challenges: the land to be serviced is occupied by informal structures and Council is appealing to the community of DRC to cooperate with service providers and give way if need be for the officials to make the project a success.
According to Swarts only 85% of the installation of civil and electrical services in Extension 28 of DRC 2 has been completed. The only outstanding area is located north of DRC 2, which is populated. The ground is also very hard (hard rock) which is challenging for the installation of services. Council also informed about developments in other suburbs including the Mile 4 Area, Matutura Extensions, and Tamariskia. During the meeting the DRC residents questioned the developments in other areas as they have nothing to do with them. One man in his late 40’s asked Council: “You are talking about development in mile 4, Tamariskia or town, what does that have to do with the residents of DRC? Those developments have nothing to do with us.”
The attendee continued saying that the multi-purpose centre currently under construction in Mondesa will not benefit the children of DRC because it is very far from DRC. “When will our children, those who sleep in shacks, will go and make use of these facilities while they burn to death in shack fires?” Responding to these questions, Swarts said: “There was nothing when the new Council took over. Children from Mondesa or DRC could not go to town because of the long distance but now there will be something for the children, where they can go and use library services, which will be provided at this facility. As time goes by and if there are funds available Council will continue developing Mondesa and DRC bringing development closer and closer to the community. Everything cannot be done overnight,” he assured the residents.
As usual many other attendees, most are residents of DRC, voiced their concerns over housing issues. One lady, who has been living in DRC since 1992, said that she has applied for housing many times, even for the Build Together Scheme, but has never been successful.
According to her, her name never featured amongst the successful candidates. Now she is old and still lives in DRC.
“It is very heart breaking to see people from other towns coming to Swakopmund and getting houses but the old residents of Swakopmund always apply but never get houses. I know I can afford a house or build one but how can I do that if my applications are never approved?” the lady asked.
During the meeting namib times learned that many residents of DRC are afraid of making way for the installation of civil and electrical ser-vices because they are unsure if they would be able to return to their respective erven should they agree to move.
Additionally Council has not yet allocated an area where the residents can move to while development is taking place.
Swarts also informed the residents of other continuous projects by Council, including surfacing of roads; the Mondesa-rail crossing/-B2 circle; the Multi-purpose centre; the cleansing of mobile and refuse bins, restrooms and garages; the sewerage works and redirection of the sewer pump station; new sand trap and grit removal system; and development of an SME Park on Erf 4864; as well as water works, including the replacement of water meters and pipes; meter readings/water loss reduction and a new water reservoir for the small holdings.

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