Namibia: Chaos At Distribution of Free Water Tokens

CHAOS erupted at various constituencies in Windhoek where people were getting free water tokens on Saturday.

Khomas governor Laura McLeod-Katjirua confirmed this yesterday, citing a lack of coordination by those in charge of the exercise.

She said people were not to blame for jostling to get the water tokens.

"There should have been a coordinated effort between the law enforcement agencies and the constituencies to keep order and ensure that the people that really needed the water tokens got them, not just any person," said McLeod-Katjirua.

She said many people had come on board to make the provision of water to the masses a reality.

Donations included water tanks from the Namibian Defence Force and N$100 000 donated by mobile telecommunications company MTC.

The governor also expressed concern over the defiance by people who refused to close their bars and long queues at shops and banks.

"Saturday was the first day of the lockdown and it was a bit difficult for most people. There were a lot of good and bad things that I observed when I drove around Windhoek. Social distances were not being kept. People still sold alcohol and some moved around in big and small groups," said the governor.

The absence of law enforcement agents was a key factor to the governor, as she felt things would have been better, especially the need to keep social distances if law enforcement officers' presence had been more prominent.

She expressed hope to find a proper solution for the issuing of free water tokens today, but stated that water tanks are also being taken to informal settlements.

She also expressed hope that the food bank can be used to issue food parcels through the various constituencies to the neediest part of the population.

Approached for comment by the Namibia Press Agency, Windhoek mayor Fransina Kahungu said the situation is out of control and her office is looking into the possibility of having the taps in all informal settlements open.

Popular Democratic Movement parliamentarian Elma Dienda also called for food parcels to be given to the poorest of the poor or those whose businesses have been heavily affected by the lockdown.

She also called on the Social Security Commission to use its funds to assist people who are in need.

The Landless People's Movement's Henny Seibeb pointed out the issue of the urban land crisis, which he said the LPM would be looking at addressing in parliament.

He said if the government had dealt with housing and sanitation, the fight against Covid-19 disease would be better, as people can self-isolate.

Commentator Dietrich Remmert said the coronavirus disease had brought subjects that the government had hoped to ignore to the fore.

Issues like housing and sanitation have been on the lips of experts for decades, but nothing was done to address them, he said. "This emergency is now calling for attention to sanitation and housing," said Remmert.

A drive through Windhoek on Saturday, the first day of the lockdown, showed that markets once filled with vendors and buyers - including the kapana market at the Katutura Single Quarters, the Wanaheda bus stop and the Soweto Market - were empty.

The popular and infamous Eveline Street in Windhoek's Goreangab area - a crime hot spot known for its night culture and alcohol abuse - was shut down, and only streams of cars driving through could be spotted.

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