23 October 2012

Namibia: DRC Residents Up in Arms

Swakopmund — Impoverished Democratic Resettlement Community (DRC) residents in Swakopmund were once again up in arms on Saturday over erven, access to proper basic sanitation and lack of running water.

Hundreds of unhappy DRC residents on Saturday during a community meeting held in DRC said that they are fed up with the dilapidated state of DRC. Residents say their situation is not improving though they have elected leaders to address their concerns.

Angry DRC residents accuse their leaders of apparently turning a blind eye to their plight, including the poor water services and toilet facilities they have been receiving for years now.

DRC resident Patricia Guims told New Era that some of the residents have been living in DRC since 2004.

The only change in the settlement they have witnessed after all the years is what they call the good-for-nothing toilets shared by four families.

"Our toilets pose a health hazard, while the taps are not even maintained and only a few are in working order. We walk for miles to collect water. Our shacks are burning down and our families are dying while the fire brigade is driving from Mondesa to DRC," lamented Guims. She added that it is time that the municipality speeds up the formalisation process of the informal settlement. "We are willing to pay for the plots ourselves," she added.

She also challenged the Swakopmund Municipality officials to visit the informal settlement and gain first-hand experience of life in DRC.

Erents Thaniseb, a resident of DRC, also told this newspaper that the municipality had ample time to formalise DRC, but is resting on its laurels doing nothing.

"It is just a matter of prioritizing but it seems that DRC was never on the agenda of the municipality. These toilets do more harm than good. The one I built for myself is even better than the ones the municipality paid thousands of dollars to build here. They could have given the tender to DRC residents to build the toilets," said Thaniseb.

Ambrosius Marsh, a member of the DRC concerned group also said DRC residents want to work with the municipality of Swakopmund insofar as the formalisation process is concerned.

"Therefore, each of the steps in the planning process must be taken with full public participation. In that way the formalisation process will receive the support of the community during implementation," Marsh said, adding that DRC residents are only demanding that all residents receive a plot which is fully serviced with water and power, and must not cost more than N$7 000.

An elderly couple, Thomas Ipinge and Ophelia Andreas during a visit to their home told New Era that they have been living at DRC since 2000. "We have already paid off our plot and now we hear that we will be relocated by the municipality," Ipinge said. "All I want is a place where we can spend our old days. The municipality must just speed up the process. DRC was supposed to be a fully developed suburb just like Mondesa by now," he said.

Comments from the chief executive officer of the Swakopmund Municipality, Eckart Demasius, could not be obtained since he is attending a workshop in Windhoek.

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