THE relocation of more than 300 families from the Eemwandi location of Oshakati to the newly-established Onawa Reception Area was completed six months ago, but the line ministry is apparently unaware of such a “monumental achievement”.
The apparent communication breakdown between the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development and the Oshakati Town Council came to light recently when Minister Peya Mushelenga wrote a letter instructing Oshakati Mayor Angelus Iyambo to put on hold the relocation process that was completed way back in June.
The Eemwandi informal settlement lacked basic services such as water and electricity. The residents were relocated to the newly-established Onawa Reception Area which is earmarked for the development of low-cost houses.
The process was welcomed by many, but it also generated discontentment amongst residents who alleged that the plots allocated to them at Onawa were too small and that the amount of money they were given was not sufficient for them to build houses that are of the same quality as (or even better than) the houses they had at Eemwandi.
They also said that the relocation negatively affected the schooling of their children who were attending schools within a walking distance from Eemwandi, but who are now forced to travel long distances to and from school, a situation that will last at least until the end of this academic year.
Meanwhile, Minister Mushelenga wrote a letter dated 29 October 2019 saying that he is “aware of the Council’s intention” to relocate the residents of Eemwandi to Onawa. He is requesting that the process be put on hold until end November.
He further said that it is the responsibility of his ministry to ensure that residents of informal settlements are not negatively affected during a relocation process and that they should not be worse off than before their relocation.
“My office is hereby informing you to put on hold the relocation issue until the end of November 2019 while the ministry is investigating the matter to come up with best practicable solutions that benefit both the Council and the concerned community of the Eemwandi informal settlement,” he said before advising the Oshakati Town Council to always involve his ministry when formalizing informal settlements.
Sources say that copies of the ministerial letter were distributed to all councillors and it will most likely be on the agenda of the next council meeting.