Gobabis — The main business centre of 'Cattle Country', Gobabis, is experiencing a rapid influx of people from other regions looking for work, according to the Chief Executive Officer of the Gobabis Municipality, Ephraim Davids.
Speaking exclusively to New Era, Davids said this rapid influx is causing the municipality headaches in terms of the provision of adequate services. Recently, the municipality with the assistance of its partners in the Netherlands started to build dry-pit toilets for residents in the Kanaan informal settlement.
Davids told New Era that so far 112 households were provided with the toilets, while an additional 300 are still to benefit through funding by the Smallingerland Municipality in the Netherlands - the town's twinning partner. The oldest Namibian-Netherlands municipal partnership is between Gobabis and Smallingerland.
Davids was quick to point out however that the municipality only provides the upper structures and the connection to the main sewer line, while the residents have to install the toilet pots and systems themselves. According to the CEO, they further received N$25 million from the Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment and Economic Growth (TIPEEG).
He said N$10 million of the stimulus funding was used to upgrade the sewerage system in the informal area, while another N$10 million will be used to upgrade infrastructure in the town, such as repairs to River Road in the industrial area, which was recently damaged by ground water from a nearby fountain.
Some of the money will also be utilised to service 70 to 80 new erven and for the provision of light fixtures in the informal settlements. Another important development at the town is the provision of 400ha of land to the Namibia-Angola Housing Initiative (NAHI) by the town council on a long-term lease basis.
According to Davids, all the necessary approvals have been granted and they are now awaiting the green light from the Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development for the project to start in earnest. He indicated that the project involves the establishment of a dry port that will allow trucks from neighbouring countries to more than halve the distances of their regular trade routes. He envisages that trucks from South Africa and/or other Southern African countries will make use of the facility as they can ferry their goods through the Trans-Kalahari Highway with Gobabis as the hub. Other developments at the NAHI complex will include a meat-processing plant and a second industrial park to cater for small and medium-size business enterprises.
The complex will eventually belong to the town council, he emphasised. Davids was full of optimism for the future of the town and brimming with excitement over the available prospects and opportunities that exist. One of the council's current priorities, according to Davids, is the provision of affordable and quality housing. To this end, he said, they have identified a piece of land where they have erected freestanding toilets in the Rakutuka location.
According to him, the land was initially earmarked for residents of the old compound, but other people may also make use of this opportunity. He said that people could get the erven for as little as N$120 per month on a lease-to-buy basis for 20 years. These erven are provided with water and electricity on a pre-paid basis and the occupants will be responsible for building houses at own cost.
Davids also pointed out that previous developments such as the establishment of the toilet paper factory at the town, the upgrading of the abattoir to the status of a meat exporting facility, as well as the establishment of a walk-through mall as some of the highlights of his tenure.
His next aim is to concentrate on creating job opportunities for the growing number of desperate jobseekers, who are converging on the capital of 'Cattle Country'.