Namibia: Arandis Uses Drone to Monitor Lockdown Violations

(file photo).

The Arandis Town Council will use a drone to keep an eye on the Covid-19 lockdown activities in the town.

Council communications officer Irene Jacobs told The Namibian on Friday that the drone will be provided at no cost to take aerial pictures, which will be transferred to the office for quick action should anyone contravene lockdown regulations.

Law enforcement agents would then be able to quickly identify the place and people contravening the regulations.

Lakahula Mining Namibia company and Neumayer Civil Contractors have provided the drone.

"It will serve as our eye in the sky and not create any unnecessary stress to an already stressful situation as a result of the pandemic. This is in fact an efficient and inexpensive intervention that will not call for additional resources, cost or cause any disturbances," said Jacobs, responding to this newspaper on lockdown arrangements at the town.

The lockdown is having devastating effects on small towns, especially in Erongo, as the region and Khomas have been in lockdown for a month now - two weeks longer than the rest of the nation.

Not only has it caused confusion and frustration among communities over the many grey areas of the lockdown regulations, but it has deprived many people who rely on informal trade, of income.

Jacobs said after local authorities were informed to partially re-open informal markets, the council has put measures to ensure that informal trade can take place safely.

"Traders in essential goods were identified in line with all safety regulations and the Arandis informal open market is now equipped with ablution facilities. Water is also available, and hand sanitisers will be provided to the mentioned traders by council at its cost.

"Masks were also provided, and social distancing markers put in place," she explained, adding that registration cards were issued to all traders allowed to operate.

Patrols were also arranged to ensure that traders do not contravene regulations during operating hours between 08h00 and 18h00 on weekdays.

Arandis has also ensured that all its residents, who number about 6 000, have water, regardless of huge debt for municipal services. The residents owe tens of millions of dollars to council, a challenge The Namibian highlighted in September last year.

The arrears are either due to residents ignoring to pay or being unable to pay because they have no source of income.

"All residents who had services disconnected were requested to complete a reconnection application form as we could not ascertain who had left town due to the lockdown. The applications were recorded under the Covid-19 account file and submitted to the technical department for reconnection. All reconnection were completed and no resident will be refused connection," Jacobs said.

"This adds pressure on service delivery as collection rates are low," she said, adding that contrary to claims, water tariffs had not been increased. "Instead, new prepaid water meters were acquired recently which enabled and assisted all clients that were disconnected for years."

Jacobs said only 442 emergency assistance food parcels could be provided during the lockdown.

"The reality is that we will never have sufficient [food] to cater for all," she said.

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