Outjo residents demonstrate, demand electricity

27 Jun 2015 09:30am
OUTJO, 27 JUN (NAMPA) – More than 200 residents of Camp Five informal settlement in Outjo in the Kunene Region staged a peaceful demonstration on Friday, demanding connection to the national electricity grid for their shacks.
The residents, mostly pensioners and women with babies on their backs, handed over a petition to Outjo Town Council Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Joseph !Urib, and another one to the Central North Regional Electricity Distributor (Cenored) Operations Manager, Emil Kuhanga.
In their petition, the residents accused Outjo Town Council of quickly approving electrification to posh residential suburbs, while the majority of economically-handicapped residents live in the dark in Camp Five.
“We can clearly see only the rich in Outjo are eating the white bread of independence and we the poor continue to eat the brown bread of poverty, as it was before the independence of this country,” read the petition.
The residents said all councillors of Outjo have forgotten fast that the same poor residents of Camp Five stood in long queues under the scorching sun to vote them into power.
They also asked if the council wants to see the same voters’ blood “water” the streets of Outjo in fighting to have their houses connected to the national power grid.
They warned !Urib that they are not afraid to be imprisoned like the leaders of Namibia were during the colonial area for the children of Camp Five to have their shack houses electrified in the future.
On his part, the Outjo CEO said it is not the mandate of the Outjo Town Council to electrify their houses.
!Urib said Cenored is tasked with the responsibility of electrifying all houses in Outjo.
Upon hearing this, the residents marched, chanting songs and slogans to the Outjo Cenored offices, where they handed over another petition to Kuhanga.
The residents said they were tired of Cenored’s empty promises since 2013.
“We have written letters to you in which we explained why we need electricity in Camp Five. That area is dark at night, allowing criminals to do their illegal activities.
“Our school children also need lights to study and do their homework at night,” they said in the petition.
The residents also asked Kuhanga if he knows what it means to live in darkness at night.
Kuhanga then promised them not to worry any longer, saying their request for electricity will be part of this year’s financial budget of Cenored.
He said Cenored this year will make sure the entire Camp Five informal settlement get electrified.
The Outjo Constituency Councillor, Abraham Job, in an interview with Nampa on Friday, said the concerns of Camp Five residents are genuine, and he also understands the financial resources Cenored has to invest in electrifying all houses in Outjo.
He suggested that Government starts to subsidise the electrification of informal settlements across the country.
“Even this rural electrification policy under the Ministry of Mines and Energy needs to be changed. Let everyone in rural areas benefit from the programme,” Job said.
Approximately 400 shacks in Camp Five need electricity connections.