RESIDENTS of the Evululuko informal settlement desperately seeking to rebuild their lives and homes following the devastating floods earlier this year have accused the Oshakati Town Council of hampering development by denying them building plans.
In March, the Northern regions of Namibia endured four weeks of heavy rain, which resulted in the dislocation of thousands of people.
Those living in the informal settlements were hit the hardest, with many losing their homes, possessions, crop and livestock.
Oshakati Town Council immediately took a decision to relocate people living in the informal settlements to less flood-prone areas to prevent the impact from future flooding.
The relocation plan however, meant that residents in the informal settlements of Oneshila, Evululuko, Oshoopala, Kandjenghedi, Uupindi, Sky Location, Eemwandi and Kalaula were denied building plans.
Some residents in Evululuko claim the ‘no building plan’ resolution is discriminatory as it does not apply to all residents of informal settlements.
Hilma Wilbard, residing at erf number 5023 in Evululuko says her numerous requests to obtain a building plan have been denied, even though some of her neighbours have received them.
“I was told by the (Oshakati) town Council that no one would be given building plans because they will move us all. But how can that be true when I know at least four of my neighbours are currently building their homes after obtaining building plans in May? That is corruption,” Wilbard said.
Another resident of Evululuko, Felicia Elias, claims the council’s refusal to give her a building plan is costing her a lot of money.
“I have all the building materials I need to build my house. I have bricks, cement, doors and window stiles, all of which are kept outside because of a lack of storage space. I have now hired a security guard to keep a watchful eye on my materials, which is costing me a lot of money,” Elias said.
Residents claim the Town Council has not been forthcoming with information as to when the relocation plan will get off the ground.
The doubt has led to speculations that the relocation plan might not even happen.
Elias fears that by the next rainy season, she will still be living at erf number 5072, where she has been residing for over 27 years.
“The rains will destroy cement, and that will cost me even more money. They should just give me a building plan so that I can move on with my life.”
Oshakati Town Council’s Technical Assistant in the Planning department, Pius Shikongo, says the resolution taken by council to deny building plans to residents in the informal settlement is cost effective.
“People will be compensated for the infrastructure they have put up, so there is no point in giving them building plans as we plan to relocate them,” Shikongo said.
“People that are currently building are doing so at their own risk because the council will not compensate anyone that has put up infrastructure after March.”
Shikongo denied that the town council had given anybody building plans after the floods.
“The people that have plans received them before March, however the council has also advised those people not to build,” Shikongo said.
Asked when the council planned to relocate people to the earmarked areas, Shikongo said plans were still in the pipeline.
“The council is in the process of getting professionals to advise us on the way forward,” he said.