Rundu’s debt dilemma hampers infrastructure development

Niël Terblanché

Rundu Town Council is under significant pressure to improve its infrastructure while addressing substantial financial liabilities to its residents and utility companies due to escalating debt.

The council currently owes NamWater an eye-watering N$229 million, with residents contributing to a debt of N$350 million in unpaid municipal charges.

Bernadus Swartbooi, leader of the Landless People’s Movement (LPM), voiced concerns at a recent campaign rally in Rundu.

He stressed the necessity of constructing a new town council building to replace the current deteriorated facilities.

Despite these infrastructure challenges, Swartbooi also highlighted pressing issues like food insecurity, underperforming agricultural schemes in both the Kavango regions and the overarching water supply crisis impacting the community.

“The severe financial strain on the local authority has led to compromised service delivery in various sectors, including water provision and waste management,” he said.

The town’s Chief Executive Officer, Olavi Nathanael, acknowledged the dire situation, stating that without sufficient revenue, the council struggles to maintain or expand essential services.

He has outlined plans to introduce pre-paid water meters as a strategic move to curb future debts and ensure sustainable water usage.

Nathanael indicated that the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development has approved funding for a new office building for the local authority that will increase its potential to improve the council’s operational capabilities once financial resources are allocated.

“The local authority faces ongoing challenges with service delivery, especially in the Ndama area, which only recently saw improvements in its water supply system after prolonged shortages,” he said.

Nathanael urged residents to settle their dues in order to enable the council to fulfil its mandate and propel Rundu towards socio-economic stability and growth.

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