‘We feel like refugees in our own town’: DRC residents

About 100 residents of the DRC informal settlement in Swakopmund petitioned the town's municipality on Monday, in protest against their forced relocation to another unserviced location.

The residents, according to the municipality are being relocated from Extension 31 to Extensions 161 and 163 in order for council to service the area, which the residents are opposing.

In a petition handed over to the municipality, the residents, through their spokesperson Caroline Kasenda, expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that they are being relocated and moved around without prior consultation.

According to Kasenda, the residents say that the municipality never notified or addressed them as to why they were being relocated from serviced land to unserviced area further away.

At first we were informed that we should move from extension 31 in order for them to service the area and that they would move us back, which we did, but now that that area has been serviced, we are being asked to move to another unserviced area.

The residents are demanding fairness and transparency without discrimination, permanent land, water and electricity.

Our neighbouring towns have shacks are permanent and have water with electricity but our town makes us feel like we are refugees.

We cannot be moving around like that as our structures are made of wood and other easily destructible material, which will cause it to damage and no longer enable us to build proper structures, Kasenda read

The residents also complained that the area they are being moved to is unsafe for both children and adults as it is dark and makes it easy for thieves and other perpetrators to commit their crimes.

As Namibians, we have the right to settle in any part of the country and therefore all we want is permanent land, affordable houses, the residents pleaded.

Receiving the petition on behalf of the municipality Chief Executive Officer Alpheus Benjamin said denied allegations that the residents did not receive prior consultation of the move and that they were also informed that this was for the municipality to properly service the land.

The council is aware of the inhabitants' cry for affordable serviced land and our aim is to provide such services, however it should be understand that in order for that to happen, the move needs to take place, Benjamin told the media.

He added that it is not easy for the council to keep up with the continuous rural to urban migration but that it is trying its best.

Benjamin added that the council has so far spent N.dollars 239 million to service some part of DRC and that the process continues, with the current phase having commenced this month and is expected to go on for six months.

DRC informal settlement has been in existence for over 20 years and is currently home to over 25 000 inhabitants.

Source: Namibia Press Agency