Grave Concern As Cemeteries Close

THE Windhoek municipality has expressed grave concern over the fast-disappearing cemetery space and has revised the budget for graveyards from the N$3 million set aside last year, to N$6 million this year.

Lydia Amutenya, the municipality spokesperson, said the Oponganda cemetery – the largest serving the Katutura community – is almost full and that extension work to prolong its lifespan by another eight to 10 years has begun.

“In order to provide burial space for the future, new land was acquired. In the meantime, the City now provides only eight foot adult graves that allow for two family members to be buried in a single grave, at different times. This has already slowed the rate of filling up to a small degree,” revealed Amutenya.

She also said the Old Location cemetery has limited space available, while the Leutwein, Veronica Street, and Katutura cemeteries are already closed.

Amutenya said the Gammams cemetery in Pionierspark is also filling up fast and could be closed within the next four to five years.

“The Khomasdal graveyard will likely accommodate new burials for a few months, before reaching full capacity,” she said.

As a result, Amutenya said the municipality has come up with plans to develop new cemeteries, one of which will be located south of Rocky Crest.

Amutenya said although the new Rocky Crest cemetery is yet to be planned and the necessary procedures followed to become a registered property, the project will cost anything between N$2-4 million.

“An environmental impact assessment was completed recently. The cemetery is expected to be operational by 2016. At this stage, the development costs are unknown as the master plan has yet to be compiled,” she said.

Another new cemetery the municipality plans to construct at Goreangab was allocated N$165 000 last year, and the amount has been revised upwards to N$2 million.

Amutenya also said they are working on a second cremation furnace that was put on tender last year, whose parts will be delivered soon.

“The installation of the furnace will go hand-in-hand with extensions to the current crematorium,” Amutenya said, adding that the current crematorium furnace, which was constructed in 1974, has served the country’s needs for decades and will now be complemented with a second one.

Earlier this year, the crematorium was out of order for a couple of weeks because of age.

Amutenya also said while the cremation services were done on a part-time basis, cremations now take place almost every week and the crematorium has become very busy over the past 10 years.

“Once the new furnace is commissioned, the current furnace will be refurbished and fitted with modern technology, thus resulting in two workable furnaces to cope with the increasing demand for cremations,” she said.

This year, the municipality has allocated N$2 million for the crematorium project.

Amutenya said the process, whereby people book their graves online, has started and that the municipality’s information technology department was developing the system.

“We have already identified a contractor and will communicate details in due course,” she said.

Source : The Namibian