News and Information

Government to throw Katima a lifeline
August 4, 2004

GOVERNMENT has stepped in to try and resolve the protracted water crisis at Katima Mulilo and is considering a financial injection to get the town's administration back on its feet.

The Permanent Secretaries of Local Government, Agriculture and Finance were holed up in meetings with bulk water supplier NamWater for the whole of yesterday to discuss a solution that could restore the full water supply to the town.

Local Government Deputy Minister Gerhard Tötemeyer said yesterday that the water issue had grabbed the attention of Government as it had become a humanitarian concern.

"Life must go on.

It has reached a stage where it not only affects the council but the people at large," he told The Namibian, saying he feared a breakout of disease because of the water cuts.

Tötemeyer could not say how much money Government would consider giving the Town Council, but he stressed that it would not be a long-term solution to their problems.

NamWater's Corporate Communications Manager Johannes Shigweda said yesterday evening that no agreement had yet been formalised between the parties and negotiations were set to continue today.

NamWater has given the Council an ultimatum to either begin paying for their water or to go without.

Yesterday morning, Katima Mulilo Mayor Michael Mudabeti issued a statement at the town calling for calm among residents.

He told them that Government was now handling the water issue.

Mudabeti warned that should residents not settle their water accounts, their services would be terminated without notice.

"The Council has realised that there is a lot of panicking in town due to street rumour-mongering on the issue of water.

To avoid this in future, the community is requested to seek clarity from council offices," Mudabeti said.

Tötemeyer said it was worrying that the town's hygiene, sanitation, economy and the region's tourism were deteriorating as a result.

The Ministry intends to dispatch a team to the town before the end of the next month to oversee its administration for three months.

Last week, the Ministry held a special week-long course for the Katima Mulilo Town council in efforts to improve its administration.

Tötemeyer said that this was necessary to ensure that administrators and councillors put what they had learnt into practice.

"It is not just a matter of the human aspect and the suffering going on, but that there needs to be good communication between the administration and the council and good administration," said Tötemeyer.

The Deputy Minister said poor communication and a lack of professionalism were at the root of many of the town's problems.

Katima Mulilo residents have had to make do with only three hours of water a day because of the N$21,5 million that the town council owes NamWater.

Council has not made any payments towards their debt in more than a year.


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