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Thursday 18 July 2019
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Okakarara yearns for investors

Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 11.24.42 AMOkakarara is yearning for investors to boost business climate and at the same time ensure development in the town, which is home to about 8 000 people. All eyes are on the town’s leadership to solve challenges such as unemployment, sanitation provision, land provision as well as enhanced water and electricity provision. This was revealed recently when this publication sat down for an interview with town mayor, Olga Tjiurutue. By attracting investors the mayor is hopeful that the town would undergo a development boom that could attract more investors. Although there are some investors who have already started flocking to the town, Tjiurutue said many of those who apply for land to do business often vanish without a trace. “Many of the investors want land to build complexes, we have allocated land to some who are busy with construction but there are also those who just go silent after submitting their application while others fail to develop the land given to them,” she said. Tjiurutue also lamented the lack of interest from members of the public who rarely attend council meetings.
“I am someone who believes in consulting before making decisions, but if our people do not come to council meetings we cannot consult them,” said Tjiurutue, who described the mayor ship seat as a “hotseat”. At the end of her term, Tjiurutue said she wants to see the residents of the town able to fend for themselves, jobs created for the youth and the elders of the town well taken care off. “It cannot be fair that our old people are neglected, whether in Okakarara or any part of Namibia, because they fought for our liberation and therefore they deserve to live their last days in a dignified manner,” she said. The mayor also wants a multi-purpose centre to be opened at the town, but bemoaned the lack of funds. “We need such a centre to ensure that our people have a place where they can go and share ideas on how to grow their town, currently there is no such place,” she said. Without mentioning any names, she also blasted opposition parties who sabotage community meetings to score political points.
“Some of the political parties use the community meetings to mislead people. When we are in the Council meetings we agree on an item but as soon as we go out some plead ignorance to such agreement and force people to disrupt community meetings organised by the Council,” she lamented, adding that the situation is not tenable because all councillors should be fighting for a common purpose. She added: “We are all in the same ship and if there is a hole in the ship all of us will sink. That is why we must all join hands to reach our goals, which is to improve the lives of the people that voted us into power.”  The Council is currently involved in a partnership agreement with a foreign investor from Germany to setup a solar power plant. “We are busy developing a solar power plant through our business arm, Africa Renewable Energy. We signed a power purchase agreement with Cenored (electricity distributor)  and they are willing to buy electricity from us.  We entered into a shareholders agreement with investors whereby we provide the land and they finance the project,” revealed the mayor.
The council also took fault for the ongoing situation whereby the town’s sewerage pond and graveyard is not fenced. Residents have complained that the unfenced sewerage pond poses a hazard to livestock and children in the town. As for municipal accounts, the town’s acting CEO Uetuu Humbu sympathised with pensioners who are struggling to cope with the costs involved in using municipal services. “The situation is the same like all over the country, pensioners are trying their best to pay accounts although some accounts are in the red, some are fortunate to have youth assisting them,” Humbu said. She said the Council has received calls to write-off pensioners’ municipal debts, but added that such a decision does not lie with the council. “This must be decided by the line ministry [Urban and Rural Development], we understand the position of the pensioners but the situation is out of our hands,” she said.
Land woes
Land continues to be a contentious issue across the country and Okakarara is no different. “People want land but there are no funds to service the land. We have land but there we cannot service it because we do not get enough money from central government. Sometimes the pressure is so much that we are forced to sell unserviced land,” she said. She said the Council has recently turned to public private partnerships to fill the financial void. Okakarara’s housing waiting list is currently close to 400. “We have set aside a piece of land on which to build low-cost houses because there are people who cannot afford houses built under PPPs. We also approached some embassies to see how they can assist us in this regard because it is unwise to rely on government while there are also other areas that need to be attended to,” she said. She said the town has ceased to sell land through tender because the locals were always left on the sidelines by those with deep pockets. “Land tendering resulted in a situation where only those with money can afford the land and these are mostly outsiders,” she lamented. The town serviced close to 46 plots last year and it plans to service a further 175 erven during the current financial year.




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