By: Uakutura Kambaekua – Kamanjab
Residents owe Kamanjab Village Council over N$ 12 million in services such as electricity, water, refuse removal, sanitation, rates and taxes, including decentralised Build Together loans. The loans date back as far as 18 years ago, which the council narrated could cripple its cash flow and ability to fulfil its constitutional mandates.
The debts owed by the resident to the council stem from Kamanjab’s proclamation as a village council, which around 2019 stood at N$ 5 million, and in a period of fewer than four years, doubled the figure to N$ 12 million.
These figures are contained in a recent council report shared with The Villager. The debts, according to the report, are classified into various categories, ranging from ‘decentralised build together houses’, which owes the council more than N$ 4.5 million in loans allocated between 2004 to 2017.
These loans vary between N$ 20 000 to N$ 40 000 with a monthly interest rate levied on the capital as per National Housing Development Act, between 4 per cent to 7 per cent.
Other debts include those of erven, which residents are allocated on a 5-year repayment and exempted from any additional costs or any interest rate for a period of 5 years.
The village council has also allocated more than 250 residential plots at a market price of N$ 18 000 to N$ 40 000. The outstanding balance due to the financial system, which reflects as debts, stands at N$ 3 million, while the actual revenue that could have been generated if the 250 erven were sold without repayment could be N$10 Million.
Kamanjab Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bianca Ngualko told this publication that due to the council’s affected cash flow, they have resolved to suspend water for those in arrears. She added that pensioners will effectively, from the date of the new gazetted tariff, pay N$400 per month, which will also include N$ 120 insurance on outstanding debts, which shall be written off if the pensioner dies.
Ngauiko also stated that even though they struggle with their cash flow, the council’s annual expenditure on electricity which amounts to N$ 193 000, is already paid. However, the CEO noted the precarious effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, which resulted in the municipality providing free water to all residents regardless of owing debts or not, as directed by the government, escalated the town’s Namwater bill to N$ 2.4 million.
“Namwater account is outstanding by N$2,4 million, which escalated due to Covid-19. But I am certain that as we drilled our own borehole, we shall be able to pay the debts,” she said.
Furthermore, Nguako said that the council’s strategy of recovering outstanding debts from residents involves the installation of prepaid water meters across all households, adding that the council has also sought to write off the interest rates levied on the outstanding account.
The council has refused to hire a third party for its debt recovery, stating that it has a financial burden on both council and the Consumer, but encouraged the consumers to make arrangements with its assistant accountant on how to repay the debt while paying for monthly bills which is less than N$ 500.
She also stated that the village will not repossess people’s properties due to debts but will, however, reclaim undeveloped erven, some of which have been white elephants for the past 20 years. Ngaukio also added that the council has resolved to halt the development of a new settlement and rather focus on completing the old ones.