Villagers Threaten Poll Boycott

Residents of Othingo in Oshana Region have threatened to boycott future regional and local authority elections because of the purported failure by the Oshakati Town Council to relocate a dumpsite located in the heart of their village.

The dumpsite at Othingo – a village within the boundaries of Oshakati – is believed to be the cause of several deaths and health problems experienced by both villagers and their livestock.

The villagers claim the dumpsite is also to blame for subsequent poor harvests experienced since 2003.

They say the dumpsite not only affects Othingo, but five neighbouring villages as well.

Residents claim to have consulted the council several times to relocate the dumpsite, because it is a “health hazard” but to no avail. As a result hundreds of residents have decided to register only for the presidential elections while refraining from participating in the local authority and regional council elections.

“We are only registered for the presidential elections but not for local authority and regional council elections,” said one of the villagers who identified himself as Eddy Iyambo.

Oshakati Town Council Chief Executive Officer Werner Iita acknowledged his office was aware of the complaints at Othingo and the possible danger that comes with the smoke from the dumpsite.

He said he was however not aware of any reports of human deaths as claimed by the villagers.

“In the long run we will relocate the dumpsite because that is not a suitable place for a dumping area, especially when it produces smoke,” said Iita.

Iita said the town council plans to service the area and turn Othingo into industrial erven, thus residents will be compensated and relocated in the long term.

Iita further urged the villagers to register for the regional council election and vote for their own leader.

The community claims that four infants and an elderly woman have died, while a number of people mostly children constantly suffer from respiratory illnesses as a result of inhaling smoke from the dumpsite.

“This dumping area is killing us, it has already killed my mother because she died after she experienced breathing problems. I am also suffering from the powerful smoke that we breathe in,” said Simon Isreal.

Some of them claimed to have lost a number of livestock after the animals consumed needles and other objects from the dumpsite.

“We are having sleepless nights because of the heavy smoke, and even our food smells of smoke. We want the dumpsite to be relocated somewhere else,” one villager said.

“Everything is dumped here. Our houses are always under smoke depending on the wind direction. We don’t sleep very well during the night. When we cook our food smells strange because of this g smoke,” said Eddy Iyambo.

Werner Nakankeya, 61, said the smoke penetrates their rooms at night and they are forced to open their bedroom doors when the smoke becomes unbearable.

Villagers further accused environmental inspectors of ignorance and laziness as they never visit the dumpsite.

Iita however maintained the town council cares about its residents but in future they will compensate the people accordingly and construct industrial erven since there is no industrial area in the entire Oshakati area.

Source : New Era

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