Councillors Bicker Over Fire Station

Windhoek City councillors cannot seem to agree on whether to build a fire station in Havana informal settlement or in the more upmarket Olympia suburb.

The council has plans to build an N$11,3 million fire station but members appear not to yet have reached consensus on its location, which was quite evident at last Thursday’s monthly council meeting

The council agenda for June indicates the fire station should be built in Stadium Street in Olympia. But some councillors argued Havana should be prioritised because of the high prevalence of shack fires in the location, which result in serious damage to property and at times even loss of lives.

Councillor Benestus Kandundu was not impressed with the decision to prioritise Olympia at the expense of the more fire-prone Havana settlement in Katutura.

“There has been no incidents of fire reported in Olympia recently, but if you look at Havana it is a different story,” said Kandundu.

Gerson Kamatuka who sat next to Kandundu made gestures and comments supporting Kandundu’s stance.

Kandundu was however opposed by the Management Committee Chairperson John Moonde who said the plans to build a fire station in Olympia should be okayed and at a later stage one could be built in Havanna.

“We need at least one fire station that side [Olympia], ” said Moonde.

The discussions were adjourned for members to vote on the 20142015 budget, which was approved. Councillors will have a chance to continue their discussions on the fire station at a later stage, even though the council agenda clearly stipulates the next fire station in the city will be built in Olympia this fiscal year.

Mayor calls for central government’s intervention

Speaking to New Era yesterday, Windhoek Mayor Agnes Kafula said: “We will see what we have in the budget and decide whether it can accommodate two fire stations. There is nothing in Olympia, therefore we must share the resources. We must remember that fires can break out in any part of the city.”

Kafula said the city’s N$369 million budget deficit does not make the situation any easier either.

She said illegal squatting is a major concern because squatters settle at places that are not in the city authorities’ planning.

“That is why we always request our central government to assist us with funds to service land for squatters. Windhoek is growing because people come here from other places in search of jobs but then they end up being unable to afford the services we render,” Kafula said.

She called on the central government to initiate job creation programmes in all regions to lessen the burden on Windhoek.

Source : New Era