Irate Mutorwa Scolds Namwater – As Katima Goes for Two Days Without Water

A clearly unimpressed Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa yesterday summoned the NamWater board of directors to explain why Katima Mulilo went for two days without water following a supply disruption on Sunday.

Mutorwa described NamWater’s current organisational structure as archaic, dysfunctional, unresponsive and practically unworkable.

His unkind assessment of the national water utility was delivered at an urgent meeting yesterday between him, NamWater board members and government representatives from the Zambezi Region.

This after the latest incident of water supply disruption – in a spate of such events – at the town on Sunday, which left Katima Mulilo’s residents, hospital, schools, clinics and businesses without a drop of water until Tuesday morning.

The cause of the disruption was a dilapidated water pump and deteriorating asbestos pipelines, it came to light at yesterday’s meeting.

“The sooner the top-heavy and heavily centralised NamWater system is discontinued and replaced, the better for efficient and effective service delivery by NamWater to its clients,”

Mutorwa fumed when he listed a series of such incidents over the past few months in Rundu, Katima Mulilo and Ondangwa.

The minister said he has taken note of the water disruptions with a sense of deep concern and disappointment.

He told New Era exclusively yesterday that NamWater’s organisational and management structure is in total contradiction to government’s decentralisation policy’s letter and spirit.

“I already aised and directed four years ago that NamWater’s structure is top-heavy and unworkable and I urged them again gly today to start investing now in the upgrading and or replacement of the old infrastructure and equipment,” he said.

“Standby generators, pumps and any other essential equipment should be made available, particularly where the practical reality so justifies and where past experience has already so demonstrated,” he noted.

Mutorwa compared running NamWater to running a pharmacy without medicine and ordering everything from Windhoek.

“NamWater’s current centralised top structure is all based in Windhoek. This can’t be. NamWater’s structure must make provision for a manager in all fourteen regions with certain decision-making powers.”

“NamWater’s accountability and responsibility lines are completely blurred and invisible,” he told CEO of NamWater Dr Vaino Shivute.

Shivute pointed out that Katima Mulilo was due for a water infrastructure upgrade some years ago but it was put on hold because the town council was in arrears with payments for water supply.

He also stated that a tender was recently awarded to an independent consultant to work out an emergency plan for all towns and villages regarded as trouble spots and that the findings of the study would be made public next year.

Mutorwa responded by saying that two years have passed since the tender was awarded and time has marched on with serious consequences for those in former homelands whose towns like Katima Mulilo, Rundu, Nkurenkuru, Ondangwa and Oshakati are now growing fast and who face regular disruptions in water supply. Some of the NamWater infrastructure is obsolete and very old.

“This is unacceptable time is crucial and water is life. I urge you, NamWater, to now start investing in the upgrading of the old infrastructure and equipment or to replace them. You are doing our people in these areas an injustice,” he concluded.

Source : New Era