IN LIGHT of the coronavirus pandemic, the City of Windhoek has directed that water supplies that had been disconnected because of non-payment of bills will be reconnected for the next 30 days.
This is in line with president Hage Geingob's declaration last week of the novel coronavirus as a state of emergency to enable the country to mobilise resources to respond to the crisis.
The country has so far recorded seven confirmed cases of Covid-19.
The fourth case was confirmed on Monday after a Namibian male who returned from London on 18 March, tested positive for the virus.
Windhoek mayor Fransina Kahungu told a press conference yesterday that water supplies for defaulting clients will be reconnected and be disconnected again after 30 days.
he directive was effective from last Monday.
The municipality will also scale up the provision of water in informal settlements, including the placement of water tanks at strategic places.
"Municipal buses and vehicles will be disinfected after every cycle and bus drivers will be provided with sanitisers, masks and gloves," she said. Meanwhile, owners of public transport will be required to sanitise their vehicles and to ensure that their clients' hands are sanitised.
Public vehicle owners will also be required to ensure that their vehicles are not crowded to avoid close contact of their passengers.
Kahungu said contractors on site who are busy with the electrification of informal settlements will continue and precautionary measures will be put in place to minimise exposure.
However, the signing of leases for household owners will be put on hold until further notice.
"The city of Windhoek was busy carrying out the mass registration of informal structures as part of upgrading informal settlements. This mass registration is now put on hold until further notice," she said.
The mayor said markets and industrial stalls will remain open and traders are urged to adopt appropriate precautionary measures and good hygiene practices.
She added that the municipality will ensure that markets are thoroughly cleaned, disinfected and sanitised.
"Illegal street vendors should be removed and City Police should do law enforcement in this regard," she said. Business owners are required to ensure that their businesses are not overcrowded and to ensure their customers maintain safe distances.
The mayor said shebeens will now be opened from 12h00 to 19h00, while bars and night clubs will be opened from 20h00 to midnight.
"New applications for shebeen licences will not be processed during this period of 30 days," she said.
Cleaners at public facilities will be supplied with protective clothing, continuous disinfection of public toilets and damaged ablution facilities will be fixed and related infrastructure rehabilitated.
Breathalyser testing of motorists by traffic police officers will be suspended for the next 30 days.
Meanwhile, the Ongwediva Town Council says it will also reconnect the water supply of households whose water connections had been cut over the non-payment of their municipal accounts.
Ongwediva municipal spokesperson Jackson Muma in a statement issued yesterday said residents whose water supply had been cut should visit the town council offices to have their supply reconnected.
This exercise, Muma said, is being carried out to ensure the supply of water and promote personal hygiene as part of preventative measures against the spread of the virus. Muma said the public should note that no reconnection fee would be charged and water consumption would be charged as usual.
"The outstanding bills should still be paid. This arrangement should not be construed as free service. We are just not disconnecting any water until further notice," he said.
The town council's decision comes after former urban and rural development minister Peya Mushelenga on 20 March ordered all local authorities to reconnect the water supply to households whose water had been suspended for non-payment.
Mushelenga said all citizens need to wash their hands and water is a basic need. The minister made the remarks after president Hage Geingob declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus.