The City of Windhoek has identified land in Otjomuise which will likely be used as a COVID-19 decongestion location, amidst rising numbers of confirmed cases in the capital city, Windhoek Mayor Fransina Kahungu has revealed.
This comes as President Hage Geingob last week gave directives to decongest densely populated informal settlements where community transmission continues to skyrocket.
Kahungu told Windhoek Observer that the city started with preparations and that informal discussions at the City of Windhoek where conducted. Formal meetings will continue at management committee level on Tuesday 18 August.
“I can be specific that the place that we have talked about is Otjomuise. Since it’s the prerogative of the management committee, they might come up with other areas. But so far from our informal briefing, the areas are in Otjomuise. We looked at areas also in Havana, but to put up temporary services there, it’s very very expensive,” the Mayor said.
She added, “But Otjomuise is much more feasible. You have to put people where you can give them temporary services, such as water and sanitation. That’s why Otjomuise is much more preferable to Havana, Moses ǁGaroëb or Samora Machel areas.”
She noted that after discussions, implementation will be soon. “We do not have time to waste any longer. We have to act now.”
Last week, Health Minister Kalumbi Shangula stated that in order to decongest densely populated informal settlements, the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development shall identify facilities and venues where residents can be temporarily relocated.
“Local Authorities shall ensure availability of water and ablution facilities at these temporary relocation centres.”
This comes as Windhoek has so far recorded over 1,000 positive cases. Shangula announced 152 new cases on Monday 17 August, the highest in a day for the capital city.
“In the last two weeks alone, cases reported on daily basis shifted rapidly from thirteen cases to the highest reported today, 152. This is about a 10-fold increase,” said the minister.
Chairperson of the City of Windhoek management committee, Moses Shiikwa, however, said that implementation may only begin at the end of the month after formal discussions are held.
“You cannot just start; you need to prepare. The item will come to the management committee tomorrow and then go to the council end of this month I believe. It’s a matter of re-allocation, you cannot just put people in any place,” he told the Windhoek Observer.
He said the decision has not yet been taken formally. “Maybe we can arrange for a special council so that we can handle this maybe on an emergency basis.
All of us are worried. We cannot ignore these things.”
When contacted for comment, Urban and Rural Development Ministry Executive Director (ED), Nghidinwa Daniel confirmed that a circular was sent to all the local authorities in the country to implement the decongestion plan.
He said that instructions were given to the local authorities to identify suitable land for temporarily relocating residents; find out the number of people that need to relocated and make appropriate plans.
“Once that is done they must just start immediately. They must move the people, and they don’t need to wait for further instructions,” The ED said.
This comes as a decongestion plan was initiated for the Twaloloka informal location in Walvis Bay last month, amidst rising cases in the coastal town, just days before the location was engulfed in flames.