THE toilet project which was meant to improve sanitation at the Aus settlement, has resulted in misery for many beneficiaries.
In March last year, the //Karas Regional Council questionably awarded a N$7 million tender to build 154 toilets at the settlement to Dollar Six CC, owned by Thomas Nicodemus, and Voice Trading CC, owned by Denhart 'Mesho' Petrus.
However, 74 toilets built by Dollar Six CC have not yet been connected to the main sewer line, three months after the project should have been completed.
Voice Trading CC completed the construction of 80 toilets, but have since been accused of doing a shoddy job.
A few days after the hand-over of completed toilets to beneficiaries in December last year, some of them already started complaining about leaking pipes and unsteady, seeping toilet pots.
"Because of the sub-standard work, water leaks every day when we use the toilets," said a visibly frustrated beneficiary, Thomas Alweendo. The toilet leaks have resulted in him now paying more for water.
Alweendo said he has complained to the local settlement office, but has received no response yet.
Another beneficiary, Magdalena Klaassen, whose toilet has yet to be connected to the main sewer line, said she did not expect to still be going to the bush when nature called, given the promise of functioning toilets by December.
"We were informed that our toilets would be handed over in December, but we're still waiting," she said, adding that the settlement office was silent about the delays.
Aus' chief control administrator, Sophia Elisabeth Koopman, acknowledged having received complaints from beneficiaries, adding that these complaints had been forwarded to the project consultant, D&P Engineers and Environmental Consultants, to address with Voice Trading CC.
"The contractor has fixed the water leakage defects, but we again received two or three new complaints," Koopman said. She assured beneficiaries that the water leaks would be repaired.
However, Koopman could not explain why the 74 toilets were not yet connected to the sewer line.
"I am only aware of about 15 houses which could not be connected to the sewer line due to a lack of sewer bulk services in that area," she said.
Dollar Six's Nicodemus said a lack of material delayed the sewer line connection, promising that he will complete his portion of the work by the end of January.
He blamed vandalism by locals for the delay in completing the construction of the 74 toilets within schedule, adding that 15 of the 74 toilets could also not be connected to the sewer grid because of a design flaw.
However, //Karas' acting chief regional officer, Augustinus Ucham, contradicted Nicodemus, ascribing the delayed sewer connections to funds not being released on time to pay the contractor.
Voice Trading's Petrus said he was not contacted regarding the water leaks, but was willing to fix the defects. Jan Scholtz, regional councillor of the !Nami≠nüs constituency, yesterday said he could not understand how officials signed off shoddy work.
"This is unacceptable," he fumed, blaming a lack of coordination and supervision for the shoddy work.
"These types of things negatively reflect on the toilet project that was meant for a good cause," he stated.
Aus' toilet woes do not end there, though.
Goretti's Catering Enterprises, which was recommended by the project consultant for the tender to construct the 74 toilets, has demanded through its lawyers that the regional council should explain why it was not awarded the tender, which instead went to Dollar Six CC.
Ucham yesterday confirmed the letter of demand, saying the council has approached the government attorneys to deal with the matter.
"We have not yet received any feedback regarding the matter from the government attorneys," he said.