N$6 million worth investment ruined in Otjinene
Confusion over ownership of a piece of land between two investors has erupted into chaos which led to the demolition of an estimated N$6 million investment in the Otjinene constituency.
The Villager is reliably informed that the OvaHerero and Maharero traditional authorities allocated land for investment to Ripanga Meroro and the Mutjimba brothers which led to a dispute.
Speaking to this publication this week, Otjinene constituency councilor, Erwin Vetarera Katjezu said the Mutjimba brothers, backed by the Maharero, successfully won a court order to demolish a service station which had already been erected by Meroro.
Meroro confirmed that he got a Development Bank of Namibia loan of N$3 million to erect the service station to which he injected N$1.5 million.
He put the total project cost in the region of N$5 million to N$6 million. He bashed his rivals as “very greedy people from the Omaharero traditional authority with vested interests” who grabbed the land from him after realising its potential.
He also said he had proof that one of the officials in the Maharero traditional authority had shares in the company that the Mutjimba brothers own which creates a conflict of interest. However, a letter from the justice ministry to the secretary of the Maharero seen by this publication regard Meroro as having illegally built the service station and instructed the deputy sheriff to proceed with demolition.
However, the government attorney said the Maharero would bear the cost of the demolition “which will later be claimed from Mr. Ripanga Meroro”. But Meroro, speaking with this publication, heavily disputed this.
“I haven’t gone wrong at all. They came up with tricks and all sorts of things to grab the land away from me. Their position was that the piece of land belongs to the (Maharero) traditional authority and has to go through the communal land board.”
“My understanding up to now is that the piece of land belongs to the village council of Otjinene. The village council also at the time was not sure who exactly the piece of land belonged to,” he said.
He said their argument was that the Maharero claimed to have been given the go ahead by the Okaruokape village leadership, which is within the boundaries of Otjinene. Meroro said even when the other party submitted its application to the land board, it was not advertised in Otjinene but in Gobabis, for people to object.
He said when he learnt from people that there was an application, it was already late although he wrote to the communal land board asking them not to entertain it. He was already living on the land and had already commenced constructing the service station with the understanding that he was on village council land.
Meroro is now preparing for a legal fight in which he is disputing who has jurisdiction of the land, the traditional authority or the village council.
The council has made it clear that it is the rightful custodian and not the Okaruokape or any other party. It said if a major investment were to be made, the Okaruokape would be asked to clear off and get compensated.
The Otjinene councilor has in the meantime expressed disappointment with the latest degeneration of the stand-off between both parties which he said had been subjected to meetings with the governor to map out an amicable solution.
He however said Meroro did not follow procedure to go to the land board of which the Mutjimba brothers did. “But the unfortunate situation is that the Maharero traditional authority was the one which asked for a court order for the demolishment of this service station. As a traditional authority based in Otjinene and for the sake of the constituency, that is where my worry is.”
“For me as a councillor, responsible for the economic development of the constituency, my disappointment is more on how someone can demolish an infrastructure that costs let’s say N$600 000 or N$1 million. You just demolish like it didn’t cost anything!” he lamented.
He said he tried in vain to avoid the demolition and is now fearing for investors who may be spooked out of investing in his area. A meeting with the governor sought to have the Mutjimba brothers allocated a piece of land or buy another infrastructure, but this again was in vain.