Water crisis in Usakos

Sharlien Tjambari

The Usakos Town Council refuses to sell water to some houses in the community, since the introduction of the pre-paid water system six years ago, left many houses with overdue water accounts from previous house owners.

Municipal accounts of many residents in the mining town run between N$10 000-40 000. These accounts were never closed after these peoples’ forefathers died in the early nineties. Namib Times visited a few residents in the Hakhaseb location in Usakos to get a grip on the severity of the situation. An unemployed lady in her late thirties told the Namib Times she inherited the house she now lives in, from her grandfather who died in 1993. The last time she got a statement from the council was in 2015. The account was in arrears of N$28 814. “How am I going to settle this account if I don’t find a job? I try to find a job but have no luck.” The lady said. She said the little money she gets form her family members, she uses to put food on the table for her children and for electricity. “To live without water is not easy”, she said. Many houses in the Hakhaseb community don’t have water, toilets don’t work, and they are blocked. Not only is the smell terrible, it is unhygienic, especially in a country where Hepatitis E is a problem. “We go into the bushes because we can’t use already blocked toilets that can’t flush. The residents in this community explain that using the bushes as a toilet is not safe at night. This is especially true for old ladies and young girls. An elderly lady said that the water situation is really a serious matter. “This water situation is very worrisome. The fact that the council does not hear us out is a major problem. They hardly come to us to hear our concerns. We have attempted to see management numerous times, but our meetings are always postponed. We are tired of this.” Said a senior citizen. Another affected resident, a young lady, said she inherited her house from her parents. Water to her house was disconnected, the pipes were cut, and her toilet pot was removed by council years some years ago already, but the bill is already at N$40 000, “How is this possible? I would have understood if the pipes were connected to the house. We need help! How can the council charge me for water, but I don’t even have water pipes anymore?” Residents in Hakhaseb and the informal settlements in Usakos says the council pays no attention to them. Decisions are made at the top levels without consulting the community. Namib Times is still waiting for a reply from the Usakos Town Council.

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