Namibia: Communal Toilets' Cost Lost in Translation

THE City of Windhoek has denied a report that it spent N$15 million to build 25 communal toilets, saying that the project actually cost just short of N$1 million.

"The City of Windhoek would like to correct misleading claims that it spent N$15 million to build 25 communal toilets," the city said in a statement issued on Wednesday. According to the city, the amount that was spent on the 25 toilets was N$987 852,19.

The city issued the statement in reaction to a report published by the Namibia Press Agency (Nampa) on Friday last week, in which it was stated that the municipality handed over 25 communal toilets that cost N$15 million "as part of provisional services in the informal settlements" of Windhoek. The Namibian subsequently published the Nampa report on Saturday.

The information in the report raised questions about how and why the Windhoek municipality spent an average of N$600 000 on a single toilet.

The municipality explained that 25 pre-fabricated toilets were supplied for N$243 368,75, while N$744 483,44 was spent on works, which include the supply of water to the toilets, the installation of sewer pipelines from existing pipelines, site preparation and the construction of levelling slabs where toilets were installed.

"Thus, a total of N$987 852,19 was spent, which translates into N$39 514,09 per toilet," the statement detailed.

Furthermore, a portion of the city's budget plans for the 2019/20 to 2021/22 financial years, which was made available to The Namibian by Windhoek deputy mayor Ian Subasubani, indicates that the city's budget for 268 toilets in informal settlements is estimated to cost about N$8 million during that period. That would translate into an average cost of close to N$30 000 per toilet.

According to the reporter who wrote the original Nampa report, the intention was not to communicate that the 25 toilets cost N$15 million, but rather that the 25 toilets are part of a project of the city to provide basic services, with the entire project expected to cost N$15 million.

"The toilets inaugurated last Friday at Sonderwater in Katutura East constituency were part of a total 267 communal toilets that the city plans to build in the following constituencies: Tobias Hainyeko, Moses Garoeb, Samora Machel, Khomasdal, Windhoek Rural and Katutura East," the city said in its statement.

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