Khorixas — Khorixas Town Council is owed N$50.1 million by residents. This is according to the town council's statement of estimated income and expenditure, which was tabled together with tariff structures for the 2018/2019 financial year last month.
"It is important to announce and inform the council that residents have an outstanding debt of about N$50,166,912," said Kleophas Tjuunduwa, chairperson of the management committee in his report.
The Khorixas council hopes to recoup the N$50 million debt by creating a loan repayment system and defaulters will pay back the outstanding debt in the way they pay for other services.
Tjuunduwa said the council would like to do away with the current system whereby defaulters are paying their debts separately and as they wish.
"In respect of the new system, once it is approved, the defaulter will sign a loan repayment agreement to how you will afford to pay and the amount will appear on your monthly municipal bill and as such you will be servicing your outstanding debt inclusively with all other services," Tjuunduwa explained.
An independent investigation and assessment of the current situation by engineers and the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development found that up to 84,000 cubic metres of water go to waste each month, which translates into a monthly loss of about N$900,000 according to Tjuunduwa.
Due to a lack of financial liquidity, the town council is currently unable to purchase new pipes and fittings that are necessary to carry out effective maintenance on problematic areas in the water supply network.
"If corrective action is not introduced by the central government or through public-private partnership (PPP), the current situation is bound to deteriorate in future with detrimental effects on the functions of the council administration itself and the state of service delivery to residents," warned Tjuunduwa.
The chairperson of the management committee further said the rehabilitation of existing water reticulation infrastructure and installation of a pre-paid water system will ensure water is effectively managed and will ensure affordability by consumers, particularly for pensioners, destitute people, poor residents and informal settlement residents.
Khorixas CEO Andreas /Howoseb told New Era if residents pay their municipal bills then the town council can carry out other developmental projects. On the N$41 million needed to fight the town council's ageing water infrastructure, /Howoseb said that the town council will again take it up with Namibian Vice-President Nangolo Mbumba.
"We understand that we have a financial crunch and government has other responsibilities," /Howoseb said.
Residents of the north-western town were advised to sign loan recovery agreements once approved by the town council.