Havana residents unhappy about slow road upgrade

01 Jan 2016 15:40pm
WINDHOEK, 01 JAN (NAMPA) – The upgrading of Monte Christo Road in the Havana informal settlement, which was supposed to be completed in August 2015, will now only be completed in the first quarter of 2016.
When Nampa visited the area before the 2015 festive season, residents complained about the slow progress of the road’s construction by a local contractor.
Havana was established about two decades ago as the City of Windhoek (CoW) experienced a high rate of urbanisation due to people flocking to the capital for better employment prospects.
The CoW in January 2014 awarded a N.dollars 47 million tender to local company Otjomuise Construction to build single-lane adjacent tar roads in the area.
The projects also involved the upgrading or roads in Torra, Walvis Bay, Bethanie, and Outapi Streets.
Havana residents however told Nampa the contractors only “wet the gravel road, only to be seen after a couple of weeks”, with no sign of development so far.
Havana resident and street vendor, Lydia Malakia said the incomplete road affects their businesses negatively.
“It is a sad reality seeing that it has been two years and nothing has been done to date. They (contractors) just come here, wet the gravel road and tell us to move our stalls to another place for them to start with their work, but they do not do anything,” a visibly upset Malakia said.
Speaking to Nampa last Wednesday, the councillor of the Moses Garoeb Constituency under which the Havana settlement falls, Martin David said the project has been dragging on for far too long.
He said despite the complaints he has laid with the municipality, he has not witnessed any progress on the issue.
“People come to me all the time to complain about this road and I have spoken to the owner of Otjomuise Construction. He said they stopped working because of the rain,” said David.
Monte Christo Road is the main road that links the informal settlement to the rest of Windhoek and provides residents with access to small markets for groceries and other domestic items.
A 52-year-old domestic worker, Gertrude Vries complained about difficulties with transport to work and school for her children, saying they often are late and as a result have to get up very early, but that also puts them in danger.
“A lot of people get raped and murdered here in the riverbeds. I, for instance, wake up at 03h00 and the thieves monitor our movements, which mean we live in fear here. The municipality buses do not even come deep into the informal settlement because there are no roads here,” said Vries.
Approached for comment regarding the matter, City of Windhoek spokesperson Lydia Amutenya said the project involved the upgrading of a number of collector and arterial roads, including Monte Christo Drive and Walvis Bay streets in the area to bitumen standard, which is what complicated the process.
“The commencement date was 03 January 2014. The completion date is now estimated to be during the first quarter of 2016,” said Amutenya.
Efforts to get comment from the contractor proved futile as calls to their number went unanswered.