by Adam Hartman
THE Swakopmund municipality has identified key areas in the DRC informal settlement where it will set up water taps for free water supplies to the thousands of poor residents there – for the duration of the emergency measures being implemented against Covid-19.
“We decided this at short notice, and in response to the Covid-19 state of emergency. We do not have a choice; we have to act in solidarity with the rest of the country,” acting chief executive of the town Helao !Naruseb told The Namibian yesterday.
He said several taps would be set up in various locations of the settlement where people can collect water for cooking and washing and maintaining hygiene.
He could not say how many taps would be erected though. In the past, residents had to collect prepaid water from a few standpipes – many of which have been vandalized and not working, increasing the pressure on supply.
“Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the cost of water at the DRC will be on us for the time being. These are emergency times,” said !Naruseb. This response from the municipality comes after DRC residents, through the Swakopmund Community Engagement Group, appealed to the municipality to take cognisance of the plight of the poor in DRC in these testing times.
“We believe that fighting this pandemic can only be possible if everyone has access to clean water. This community used prepaid water but many cannot afford it, given the circumstances such as job losses, unemployment, with many whose lives and means of survival have been put on hold because of this virus,” said Vadi Phil of the engagement group to this newspaper.
Phil said the informal settlements are always at high risk and affected the most during disasters and disease outbreaks.
“We believe the best way is to open the water for us for free, at least until this corona situation is resolved,” Phil said.
Furthermore, !Naruseb said the municipality will reconnect water to those residents whose services were cut due to outstanding bills. This decision also follows a directive by the urban and rural development ministry to local and regional authorities to reconnect defaulters’ supplies during this time.
“The only favour they are getting is that their water is opened again, but they still have to pay their arrears, and they will still have to pay for the supply,” he said.
Residents whose water has been cut due to default on bills can inform the municipality, who will in turn arrange for the re-opening of the taps.