Saturday 10 April 2021
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Rundu’s N$114m bill cripples town

•    Owes taxman N$48 million
•    Owes Namwater N$60 million
•    Other service providers owed N$6 million


Already in the headlines after residents expressed dissatisfaction over poor service delivery, the cash-strapped Rundu Town Council is in a cache-22 situation because it owes the taxman, Namwater and a host of other service providers at least N$115 million.
With water interruptions in the town become a daily norm, Rundu residents have in recent months complained endlessly regarding the state in which the town finds itself.
Besides the daily water problems, slow infrastructure development, refuse removal shambles and inadequate land provision are some of the thorny issues hampering the town’s growth.
Newly-appointed acting CEO Sikongo Haihambo has seemingly landed in a lion’s den and everyone is now looking at him to see if he can conjure up a plan that can turn the fortunes of the town around.
Haihambo is the former Deputy Chief Executive Officer: Operations of the Millennium Challenge Account Namibia and has held several executive positions in State Owned Enterprises (SOEs). He has served as a director on boards of various public and private institutions and is a holder of an MBA Degree and a Bachelor of Commerce degree.
The new honcho confirmed the debt figures this week “saying the council is doing everything within its means to reduce water interruptions and ultimately pay up all its debts.”
But if Rundu is to return to its glorious days, Haihambo knows very well that rhetoric alone will not bring the much-awaited change that the thousands of Rundu residents are yearning for.
“It is true that we are in debt. A sizeable amount of the debt is owed to Namwater that stands at N$60 million. This is money that some of the residents owe the council and we as a council subsequently owe Namwater,” said Haihambo.
The high water bill is partly due to the fact that a sizeable number of Rundu residents cannot afford to pay for municipal services, especially the elderly.
According to Council documents seen by The Patriot, RTC owes companies such as the RCC, Stubernrauch, Schwarting Land, Ndakalimwe Investment, MPP Civils, Bicon, Flip More Investment, Tren-Tyre, Telecom, and /Ae //Gams networks an amount totaling N$5.9 million.
Some of the residents who spoke to this publication were particularly irked by the water precarious water situation and dirt lying around in the town.
“We cannot live like animals, the town looks like a garbage town due to illegal dumping sites and lack of refuse removal services,” said a resident who opted not to be named.
Another resident, Reinholdt Kambungu lamented: “Everything is a mess in this town. Almost every day we have water interruptions and the town is dirty.
Capital projects go on forever. Sometimes they stop because money is misused and everything is just left halfway. It is just a crisis here.”
In a bid to clear the debt, Haihambo urged residents to settle their water accounts.
“Namwater has given us a prepaid option where we buy water before using. So this means that for every dollar we pay for the water, 30 cents goes towards servicing the debt. So this is where the residents must come in. If you know you owe the town council, please pay up,” he said.
“If they can pay for their debts, we will surely reduce the water interruptions from a day to a week and eventually for months, until we no longer have to experience these cuts,” said Haihambo.
The newly appointed council boss took over from Romanus Haironga this year, taking on a council that was already in tatters.
“We have a lot of challenges that we are trying to fix. The same residents who owe the council still need water. Some are connecting water illegally but we still want to sort things out. I should say that N$60 million is not a small amount, but just like Namwater, all our creditors must get their dues.”

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