By: Justicia Shipena
Windhoek informal settlements residents have pleaded with the council to reconnect water since Covid-19 has not ended.
The urban development ministry ordered the City of Windhoek to provide free water to the informal settlements during the Covid-19 period.
However, the City of Windhoek disconnected the water, citing a high bill that had not been paid.
Some residents who spoke to The Villager said Covid-19 had not ended yet; the council should not disconnect water now.
Victor David, a resident in Havana informal settlement, said should the water be cut, he does not know where to get water for sanitation as he cannot pay for the service.
“If the city is closing the free water, will they bring us another alert native that we can afford?” he questioned.
Anotheident also said the pandemic had robbed them of their jobs, and they couldn’t afford basic services like water.
“For us to hear that the municipality will be cutting the free water is not good news to us at all.”
The residents say they learned about the end of free water by the municipality through radio or other means, but the municipal has not given them notice.
“I did not hear about the decision by the municipality to end free water, maybe my fellow mates have heard it, but I don’t know about it,” said one of the residents of Ombili informal settlements.
Another resident in Havanna questioned why free water in their areas has to end if the global pandemic still lives amongst them.
“Did Covid end? We are not happy about this because earlier, they said they would give us free water because of corona so we can keep clean and now they are cutting the free water, and the virus has not ended. Where will we get water? They were supposed to wait until the pandemic has come to an end so that they can cut the free service.”
Speaking to The Villager on Monday, Monica Amunyela, a community leader in Havana, said the people who misuse water are those who grabbed land illegally.
“They have no where to fetch water, and they don’t have taps so they come to our taps for water. These people are the ones who waste water, and they don’t care. If the paying system returns, we won’t know where to get money to pay for water,” said Amunyela.
Amunyela called on the government to put up rules to be followed by those who encounter someone wasting water.
“Sometimes you will find someone at the tap doing laundry or playing with water, but they tell you it is ‘Harambee’ when you approach them. I want us community leaders to be given direction on what to do when faced with such situations,” she said.
Another resident argued that water should be paid for, but the City should not overcharge them.
“Previously, you recharge N$20 worth of water, and you will only get two 20L bottles, and that is it. At least a N$20 should last a week or so.”
He added that it is early for the City to cut the free water.
“They should give us at least eight months, and they did not also notify us we just heard rumours that the free water will be cut,” he said.
He further added that the City is wrong for deciding based on other people invading their space.
“They come from their locations to fetch our water here, and later people complain that people in the shacks are the wasting water, but it was outsiders that came to our place to waste our resources.”
The residents also suggest that they should be given padlocks and the keys to be kept by a designated person to avoid misuse of water.
The supply of free water to informal settlements came from the government to fight coronavirus.
Last week, City spokesperson Herold Akwenye said since the beginning of the pandemic two years ago, the government only paid N$12 million for the first months of lockdown. Akwenye said that no payment was made for informal settlements by the government.
Akwenye had said that the decision by the council was influenced by misuse of the free water in informal areas.
The cutting of this service will affect nearly 180 000 people living in informal settlements in Windhoek.