Kanaan Residents Cash Off Community Taps

RESIDENTS of the Kanaan informal settlement in Gobabis have accused people responsible for collecting money at water taps on behalf of the council of demanding more than the stipulated 80 cents per litre and pocketing the difference.

The municipality installed taps on selected plots in the settlement last year to solve the water and sewage problems the people were facing. The council asked the owners of these plots to collect the water fee on its behalf but some residents accuse unscrupulous plot owners of demanding more than the stipulated council fee.

“We have no choice but to pay the amount they are asking for as the community taps are in their yards,” says Kanaan resident Martha Nuses, a middle-aged single mother of one who works as a housekeeper.

She claims that although the municipality demands 80 cents per litre, some plot owners charge N$1 per litre and pocket the difference, without considering the plight of their poor neighbours.

Residents also allege that sometimes the taps are inaccessible for a larger part of day, forcing them to go without water for hours.

“Sometimes they close the taps too early, say by 17h00, and when we return from work, we have no water at home,” Nuses said.

When Nuses and other residents do not have money for their daily water supplies, they have to draw from a body of waste water on the outskirts of the settlement.

They use this contaminated water, which has turned green, for bathing and washing, even though residents admit that it is not fit for human consumption.

“Sometimes when we do not have the 80 cents or N$1 fee, we have to beg for the money just to get clean water for cooking and drinking,” she says.

Christofine Afrikaaner, an 18-year-old school dropout, says her family has no choice but to use the dirty water for laundry since none of her family members are employed to afford clean water all the time.

“We sometimes use the same water for bathing as well. It is the only way to survive,” she says, adding that the demand for better municipal services will only heighten with time.

Another resident, Vejama Kangootui, says whenever there are problems with the taps, residents wait for hours before council workmen fix the problem.

“By the time they are fixed, there are usually long queues to draw water,” she says.

Gobabis municipal worker Feolinda Katjiutua, tasked with closing and opening the community tap in her yard, says those who charge N$1per litre were doing so without municipality’s approval.

“It is a fact that many of them charge extra when they are only supposed to charge 80 cents per litre,” she explains.

Katjiutua also says people were supposed to open the taps from 07h00 until19h00 everyday, but sometimes taps are closed too soon. The Kanaan informal settlement is home to the largest population of Gobabis, with residents mostly migrating from other regions to the town in hope of a better life in the “cattle country”.

Despite the municipality last year receiving N$10 million for the setting up of water and sewage system at the settlement, it seems more still needs to be done to ensure that Gobabis’ poorest are catered for.

Efforts to get a comment from the municipality were unsuccessful because the chief executive officer and all councillors were said to be attending a week-long seminar.

“They are all at the workshop,” a woman who answered the phone said last week.

Source : The Namibian