by Eliaser Ndiyanale

LOCAL authorities have been told to develop urgent decongestion plans to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

This directive is contained in a letter minister of urban and rural development Erastus Uutoni wrote to mayors and regional governors last week.

Uutoni said his instruction is in line with a directive of minister of health and social services Kalumbi Shangula on the country’s migration from stage 4 of state of emergency regulations to stage 3 as announced on 12 August.

Uutoni implored Namibia’s local authorities to identify settlements or residential areas in their localities and establish the number of dwellings and people involved, their employment status and income levels.

“Develop an urgent decongestion plan outlining among others: the number of people who need to be moved or relocated, the type of decongestion or relocation that has been identified, recommended or decided to be undertaken, and the availability of alternative land or an area where people can be moved or relocated to,” he said.

The minister said if the land identified has no basic services such as water and sanitation, critical works such as earthworks, surveying, pegging and demarcation should be worked out.

He said provision has been made for this in local authorities’ budgets, and they are therefore urged to consider innovative ways to implement the exercise.

“The decongestion is in response to the Covid-19-related state of emergency and is aimed at saving lives, and thus requires a change of priorities where necessary,” Uutoni said.

Last week Shangula said to decongest densely populated informal settlements, the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development would identify facilities and venues where residents can be temporarily relocated to.

Local authorities would ensure the availability of water and ablution facilities at these temporary relocation centres, he said.

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