12 September 2017

Namibia: Swakopmund's Wall of Shame

The Swakopmund municipality says it has built a wall to shield the more affluent and beautiful side of town from the informal settlements along Nelson Mandela Road in Mondesa which are making the town an eyesore.

The wall, facing the main road at the town's entrance, is the first of eleven 30-metre long walls the municipality plans to build. The municipality said the walls are to make the town more attractive to local and international visitors, but did not want to disclose how much it would spend in putting up the wall, now dubbed the "wall of shame".

However, residents of Mondesa's former single quarters in the Meduletu area say the money which the municipality used to build the wall could have been used to build better houses for them.

Tobias Thomas (74), is one resident who has lived there for years.

"I moved to Swakopmund from Oshakati in the early 80s. In a way, the wall is a good thing, but maybe they could have used the money to upgrade some of the houses here. What they are basically saying is that they have seen the bad condition the houses are in. Yes, they are our houses, and we have a responsibility towards them. But maybe they could have helped us, and then we could pay them back in instalments," Thomas noted.

The public relations officer of the Swakopmund municipality, Aili Gebhardt, said the reason they erected the wall was to beautify the entrance to Swakopmund.

"Most people use that entrance when coming into our holiday town, and the houses along Nelson Mandela Road are very ugly. That is not the only reason for putting up the wall. Another reason was for the people's safety, and to protect residents against the strong winds," she stated.

Gebhardt added that building the wall was part of council's strategic plan, and the budget was approved by the council. As soon as funds are available, they will also continue with the wall because of the mushrooming of shacks in Mondesa.

The municipality employed local small-scale contractors on the side that is facing the main road. The pavement is paved in order for pedestrians to cross and walk safely, Gebhardt said.

Most residents The Namibian spoke to, had mixed feelings about the wall, but all agreed that the municipality built the wall because they were ashamed of the Mondesa houses.

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