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Epembe Residents Blame Leadership For Lack of Infrastructure

By: Justicia Shipena

Residents in the Epembe constituency are blaming the regional leadership for the lack of infrastructure in the area, stating that they have been left out.

With nearly 14 000 inhabitants, the Epembe constituency is situated in the Ohangwena region in northern Namibia.

In a letter dated 22 July 2022​​​​​​​, in possession of The Villager, the residents cry that despite having basic needs such as water and electricity, they continue to be ignored in infrastructure development.

The residents said promises of bringing infrastructure to the village had lured the inhabitants to continue voting for the ruling party for the past 15 to 25 years but say it has not delivered to date.

The letter also states that the Epembe constituency community requested government to prioritise upgrading the Uushake – Okankolo gravel road.

“Construction of an access gravel road from Epembe (Onamagogani) to Omuhongo Health Center and Oshamono Combined School in Onanyama village (DR3604).”

The community further said the strategy used by Ohangwena regional council is being regarded as a shut-up to Epembe residents.

“The only gravel roads seen in the Epembe constituency today are those constructed in areas that were either part of Eenhana constituency or Omundaungilo Constituency before recent boundary rezoning of 2013/2014 as well old colonial one,” it reads.

On the roads, a resident who spoke on condition of anonymity said in 2013, there was a plan to construct Epembe Vision School. This move was also said to have been welcomed by the residents.

“The regional council further identified the needs of Epembe residents, and it proposed that the plan for a Vision school should be transformed into a boarding School to address the local needs. The reality is that nothing is happening to date in this regard. As the revoke of Epembe residents continues, it is rumoured that this school will be shifted to Oshikunde, where Abraham Iyambo SS already exists.”

They claim that all secondary schools in the Ohangwena region are just one-sided of the Oukwanyama area.

The residents also complained about the network tower setups in their area, stating that the proposal to have a network tower at Onyama shifted to Onhinda, then Oushake and Oshongwe.

“Onhinda and Oushake, as these premises are within the constituency boundaries, but it had begun to be questionable when the last chance was shifted to Oshongwe.”

Epembe activist Stefanus Nepela said the development issue has been there for a while, and from 2019 until 2021, they engaged the region’s leadership on the gravel road to be turned tarred.

“We always took action to approach the leaders positively, and they did not give us a positive outcome. The constituency has the largest population in the region, but to date, there is nothing,” he said.

Nepela said they have found that the regional plan has put them second.

“That is why we are saying we are left out. Our people are left out. We are left out, and I think the leadership created this situation. None of the governors that took the Ohgwena region office, no one ever decided to visit our concerns seriously.”

According to him, four months ago, the residents had written a petition which was handed over to the regional council, but no feedback was given.

“We submitted the petitions, and they said they would answer to us. We gave them three months to respond, but there was no response,” said Nepela.

The community is now appealing for the involvement of the central government.

When The Villager reached out to the governor of the Ohangwena region, Walde Ndevashiya, he referred the paper to the Epembe constituency councillor, Mateus Nanghama.

Nanghama said the road infrastructure in the constituency is an alarming issue.

“What those people are feeling, we are feeling the same. Regarding the road infrastructure, we are suffering seriously, and I know everyone in the regional leadership is aware of it,” he said.

Additionally, he denied that the regional leadership neglected the constituency.

“I cannot say that the regional council neglects us as I am part of the team, and they understand the situation in Epembe. It was not done on purpose if it is like that. The word that there is ‘no development is wrong,” he adds.

Nepela stressed that there is development in the constituency.

“There are many developments that have taken place since independence. There are 22 schools in Epembe and only two that don’t have electricity, which is what we mean by development.”


Justicia Shipena

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