By Lahja Nashuuta
The issue of returning funds meant for regional development back to government treasury might not happen this financial year as most of the local authorities funds are being channeled toward urban land servicing for housing and industrial purposes.
The Ministry of Urban and Rural Development is one of the government ministries that have previously been criticised for underspending and returning funds meant for regional development back to the government coffers.
The Auditor General’s report for the year ended 31 March 2017 as presented to Parliament last year, shows that the urban ministry returned N$300 million to treasury during that financial year, which was allocated to address the national housing crisis in the country.
However this year’s State of Region Addresses (SORA) presented by different regions last week shows that most of the regional councils and local authorities have prioritised land-servicing and housing provision with almost a quarter of the amount of the regional budget injected into servicing of land and infrastructure development, during the 2018/2019 financial year.
SORA is part of the presidential directive to all regional governors to update their regions on an annual basis on the economic advancement in the region, infrastructural development as well as social progression.
In addition, SORA highlights key achievements, challenges confronting the regions and proposes the way forward.
The Kunene Region State of the Region document shows that the region has spent a combined N$14 million towards housing provision and land servicing in its four local authorities.
Regional Governor Marius Sheya while addressing the region last week, pointed out that a total of N$5 093 069.20 was allocated to the Opuwo Town council for construction and services that include water and sewerage of Katutura Extension 2 as well as to complete servicing Otuzemba Ext 2 as well as a total of 450 erven earmarked for the Shack Dwellers Association.
An additional N$6 962 802.84 was spent on the construction of the Kunene Region Vocation Training Centre (VTC) phase 1, construction of bulk services and fencing underway in Khorixas said Sheya.
He further said the government has availed N$1 million for the purpose of water provision, rehabilitation of water points and the installation of boreholes.
The Oshikoto Region, a region with 182 000 inhabitants has spent N$10 million on the servicing of land and housing provision. According to Oshikoto Regional Governor Henok Kankoshi an amount of N$368,162.04 was used for the construction of Build Together Houses at Onayena and Oshivelo Settlements while N$747,140.23 was spent on the construction of Rural Toilets under its Sanitation Programme.
Furthermore N$2,194,915.12 was used to upgrading of roads at Oshivelo Settlement while N$736,002.30 was spent on Surveying of Oshivelo Extension 1.
Kankoshi further reveals that the region utilised N$478,760.09 for the installation of street lights at Oshivelo Settlement, N$632,578.99 for the upgrading of roads at Onayena Settlement and N$366,229.56 to install street lights at Onayena Settlement.
An additional N$1,091,254.43 was used for the renovation of Oshikoto Regional Council Head Office, while N$884,959.50 was used for the subdivision, consolidation and amendment of title conditions of various erven at Oshivelo and Onayena Settlements while N$1,685,629.00 was spent on the implementation of Food/Cash for Work Programme.
Further, Kankoshi revealed that the Ministry of Industrialisation Trade and SME development through the development agency, Namibia Industrial Development Agency, is currently busy with the construction of the industrial park in Tsumeb which comprises of 12 (twelve) industrial workshops.
According to Kankoshi, the initial purpose of the industrial park is to provide trading facilities in the form of workshops to Namibian manufactures for the purpose of value addition. The project is estimated to be completed by October 2019 at a total cost of N$38 million.
The Omusati region has also invested heavily in housing provision.
According to the regional Governor Erginus Endjala, during the period under review, the government has invested an amount of N$364 million in terms of infrastructure development and other services. Most projects are completed, while others are in progress. An additional amount of N$62 million has been spent on socio-economic development in the Region. The regions total expenditure for the financial year 2018/19 stood at N$427 million.
Endjala said most of the funds were spent on rural electrification that includes, the construction of In-Situ Cast Culvert Crossing and a Gravel Road in Onesi Settlement.
The project was completed at a cost of N$1,500,000.00. Construction of an oxidation pond in Onesi Settlement at the cost of N$1,500,000.00 and construction of sewerreticulation services in Okalongo Settlement at the cost of N$1,800,000.00.
Other funds were spent towards the maintenance of gravel roads, such as the construction of Earth Dam at Okapuku Village in Elim at the cost of N$266,800.00. The Rehabilitation of Omukondo Earth Dam in Okahao Constituency was completed at the cost of N$129,000.00. The construction of a Community Hall in Otamanzi Constituency is in progress and will be constructed to the tune of N$261,781.61. Meanwhile the Omaheke region has spent an amount of N$ 14 million towards rural development.
According to Omaheke Regional Governor Festus Ueitele a total amount of N$13,171,454.00 was allocated to Rural Development within Omaheke Regional Council, whereby a total amount of N$5,804,545.33 is utilised to implement different projects in seven constituencies.
Ueitele said the amount utilised represents 44.1% of the total allocation to Omaheke Regional Council.
The beneficiaries who benefited are estimated at 233 households. Funds are utilised to purchase services, equipment, materials and tools for different projects. The implementation of rural projects with remaining budgets for different programmes is in progress.