Walvis owes municipality N$300m – Local News

Walvis owes municipality N$300m - Local News

LEANDREA LOUW

Outstanding water debts as at 7 February:

• Walvis Bay – N$119 722 536

• Meersig – N$16 379 426

• Narraville – N$22 753 20

• Kuisebmond – N$83 101 662

• Tutaleni – N$13 169 203

• Langstrand – N$14 419 886

• Dolphin Beach – N$30 886 491

WALVIS BAY

Residents and businesses in Walvis Bay owe the municipality N$300 432 404.

According to communications officer Anita Kaihiva, this amount includes a current debt of N$38 million, which was due by 7 February.

“A high proportion of our consumers are employed by the fishing industry. Most are seasonal workers whose income fluctuates. We are also dealing with Covid-19 and many have lost their jobs. This situation affects our debt management position.”

Kaihiva noted that a high percentage of consumers in the high-income level areas such as Langstrand and Dolphin Beach are absentee landlords and that these consumers settle their accounts infrequently.

At the ordinary council meeting, Walvis Bay mayor Trevino Forbes said the outstanding debt currently stands at N$416.5 million, providing the following breakdown: Narraville – N$21 million; Kuisebmond – N$76 million; Walvis Bay – N$261 million; Dolphin Beach – N$261 million; Langstrand – N$13.2 million, and Meersig – N$13.3 million.

Interest amnesty

Kaihiva said various factors – including water leaks – influence the accumulation of debt.

“Each case has its own merit and is dealt with individually depending on arrangements and other factors.

“Due to Covid, there have been no cut-offs since March 2020. We recently notified all residents whose accounts are overdue that disconnection of outstanding municipal accounts will commence. Rate payers are requested to pay their accounts or make suitable arrangements to avoid their services being disconnected,” she advised. The Walvis Bay municipality also announced an interest amnesty period applicable from 23 February to 31 December.

“The interest amnesty is aimed at assisting customers who are struggling to settle their municipal bills. It is not aimed at writing off customers’ capital debt, but rather to pardon accrued interest.”

‘Heartbreaking’

Community activist Ryan Gordon said it is heartbreaking to see residents’ water supply being cut off.

“There are residents who want to pay their water bills, but simply cannot do so because they have no source of income.”

He added that they are trying to provide relief by filling 25-litre bottles with water and handing these out to those whose water has been disconnected.

Gordon said a request was forwarded to the municipality to meet some residents halfway.

“The amount owed to the municipality by some is huge – between N$15 000 and N$25 000. The residents feel that some of these water bills need to written off. All we ask is that they look at installing prepaid water meters and, if possible, write off all or 50% of the water debt owed by pensioners.

“The other 50% can be recovered by deducting N$15 from every N$100 when those who are in debt buy water.”

Gordon also urged those who can make payments to do so.

“Pay what you can so that the municipality sees payments are being made, no matter how small,” he said.

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