Walvis Dump Carpenters Worried About Future

A GROUP of dump scavengers who organised themselves into an entrepreneurial group called the Twahangana Group three years ago, are worried about the future of their business at the Walvis Bay dump, and are seeking help from the municipality.

According to the group’s coordinator, Paulus Seraun, Twahangana’s future is being threatened by the environment as well as rising ‘rental costs’ at the dumpsite.

In 2011, more than 30 dump scratchers realised the potential in throw-away timber at the Walvis Bay dump and how they could use it to establish a furniture business venture that would help them fend for their families.

They approached the Walvis Bay municipality for an area at the dump site where they could store the timber, and make the furniture.

The municipality agreed and a three-year agreement was signed by both parties for a rate of N$900 per month with an annual escalation of 10%.

The agreement ends this year and it is uncertain whether it will be extended. With sand dunes having covered a large section of the workshop due to g winds, the wood is apparently being dumped elsewhere at the landfill, forcing the group’s members to walk far (or pay others) to get the timber to their workshop.

“This is making it very difficult for us to do our work, which in turn causes us to lose revenue. This has resulted in many of our members deserting the group because business is not so good,” said Seraun.

He explained that members are expected to pay 10 percent of sales towards the group’s expenses like rent – but this has not been happening lately.

“It would be good if the municipality can give us a more secure place away from the dunes, and closer to where the wood is dumped. It would also be good if they can give us a storeroom to keep our furniture for sale,” he told The Namibian.

A source close to the Water and Waste Department at the municipality said the Twahangana Group had to be evicted from the landfill site because they were not paying the agreed rent, and that it is “out of sympathy” that they are still being tolerated there. The area they took for their work is also apparently bigger than the area originally agreed.

The source agreed that the group has potential and has done a lot by organising themselves into a business team, and that the municipality would encourage and support such initiatives, but then they (Twahangana Group) too will have to keep their side of the agreement.

“We do not owe them anything. They owe us, but we tolerate them at the moment because we know they are struggling,” the source said.

Seruan admitted they had not been paying the rent regularly but added that they were in the process of paying their arrears.

“We are happy with the help we got, but we need their help now to make this possible. We are paying for a place that is being swallowed up by the dunes. It is not the place we got three years ago. It makes it hard for us to work, and therefore affects our ability to pay. If they can help us now, we can work better, make more money, and pay them,” said Seraun.

Source : The Namibian