Vyf Rand Residents Slam Okahandja Municipality

Disgruntled Vyf Rand (Five Rand) informal settlement residents recently told New Era how the Okahandja Municipality sold them the idea of having electricity boxes in their houses but when they bought into the plan the municipality failed to deliver on its promises.

Frustrated residents who crowded New Era journalists at the settlement last Friday to share their dissatisfaction, spoke of how the municipality “cheated them” into buying electricity boxes to have electricity installed in the area, after they expressed their unhappiness with not having electricity.

They said a proposal was then made in 2007 that they pay N$1 000 to have electricity boxes installed in their homes.

Some paid the N$1 000 to get the electricity boxes installed in their shacks, angry residents said.

Others paid deposits of N$500 each but the electricity boxes were never installed.

Over 100 people, who paid N$1 000 to have the boxes installed, still do not have power and the boxes have become white elephants, according to residents who mobbed the reporters with their complaints against the municipality.

So, nearly eight years down the line the municipality still has not delivered on its promise, as residents are still without electricity and the electricity boxes stand idle.

Gabriel Samuel, a Vyf Rand resident, says they have waited in vain but are still without electricity. This, he said, despite being told they would get power less than a week after the electricity boxes were installed in their homes.

“We feel bad, the municipality has not responded and it is a long time now since we paid them our money,” lamented Samuel.

Residents said they went to the municipal offices to ask back their money but were told the person who was responsible for the scheme had resigned.

“They later changed the story to say there are no electricity poles to make our dream of having electricity a reality, and when we asked them to give back our money we were told the person who was responsible for the project had died. Did we pay the money to an individual or the municipality?” queried Samuel.

“We went there to enquire if they cannot give back our money. But we were told that we will not get back our money,” said another furious resident. The woman said municipal records clearly show they paid to have electricity in their homes.

Another female resident said: “We have children who go to school and they need electricity to study at home. Now I pay N$600 for illegal electricity. I struggled to pay for the electricity box but nothing has been done.”

Further, the residents said there are too many illegal electricity connections in Vyf Rand. They say the connections are dangerous and pose a serious threat to residents, especially the small children who play in the streets.

Fillemon Stephanus said a child’s finger was recently amputated after he suffered an electric shock on an illegal electrical cable providing electricity in the settlement.

“He was just playing around the electric sparks not knowing they are dangerous,” explained Stephanus.

However, the Okahandja Municipality has accused residents of lying and telling tales.

Contacted for comment yesterday, the chief executive officer of the municipality, Frans Enkali, said Vyf Rand residents did not consult or enquire from the municipality regarding the progress of the electricity boxes.

“No, no, no, they are not telling the truth,” said Enkali after asking this reporter if they reported their grievances to the municipality.

“Let them first approach us so that we can see how far we can go to finalise the process,” said Enkali.

Asked when the electricity boxes were installed in people’s homes, Enkali said: “It’s not how long .. .it’s not only Five (Vyf) Rand residents who have electricity boxes installed. Things are done in phases and on the availability of financial resources. It costs a lot of money.”

Source : New Era