Okongo village up in arms over land given to Chinese company

28 Apr 2016 10:30am
OKONGO, 28 APR (NAMPA) – The allocation of a strategically located business plot to a Chinese company at Okongo village in the Ohangwena Region, has angered residents who last week decided to confront that company’s workers on the issue.
Residents are angry that the Okongo Village Council, headed by Paulus Mwahanyekange, has allegedly allocated the plot in question to a Chinese company called Lenn’s Investment, which during the demarcation of their plot apparently included portions of land belonging to others.
This includes, amongst others, a portion of land belonging to the Moringa and Makalani business outlets, the Oukwanyama Traditional Authority office and two residential plots.
They plan to construct business facilities on the land and if the construction of the Chinese business in question is to go ahead, residents said, it will hamper access to the road leading to the village’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN) centre.
“We prevented the workers, who were putting up pins encroaching on our plots, from working during their demarcation last week,” said one of the residents, Johannes Nepela, to Nampa on Tuesday.
He claimed that residents are now up in arms and prepared to use everything in their power to prevent the Chinese business owner from taking their land.
One of the local business people, Teofelus Haimbodi told this news agency that residents have formed a committee tasked to take up the issue with the local authority, in order to prevent further confrontation with the company and to seek a solution to the problem.
Approached for comment on Tuesday, Chinese national Xu Figo told Nampa his company wants to construct a warehouse on the plot in question.
“What we want is for the village council to let the opposing group understand that we are paying lease for that land since 2014 and now we want to start developing it,” Xu stated.
He referred to the disputed land as plot 140.
“Paulus (Mwahanyekange) and Nico (Nathaniel Nicodemus - the acting chief executive officer of the village) are good people. They invited us to come and take part in the development of Okongo and create employment, unlike those preventing us from doing so,” he said.
Mwahanyekange declined to comment on the issue when approached on Tuesday and referred this news agency to Nicodemus, who confirmed that plot 140 is allocated to Lenn’s Investments to establish an industrial business at the village.
“It will be a hardware business to provide building materials to our people, especially those who will construct their houses here,” Nicodemus explained.
He, however, denied that the road to the ELCIN centre will be closed and that some residents will lose their land if the development of the Lenn’s Investments hardware is allowed to go ahead.
“That plot is unoccupied and it was earmarked for the open market (Omatala), but we changed and are now planning to allocate a new plot where Omatala will be built,” said Nicodemus.
He stressed that the disputed land belongs to Lenn’s Investments and it remains as such unless the village council reverses its resolution.
Okongo was proclaimed in 2015 and is being administered by a village council, following a Local Authority Election held there last year for the first time.
Members of its village council are all from the Swapo Party.