Redefine coming through

11 August 2020 | Columns

Enzo Amuele

The residents of the Twaloloka informal settlement in Walvis Bay, which in Oshiwambo means “we are tired”, recently experienced one of the most devastating moments of their lives.

The settlement was engulfed a massive fire which left countless residents homeless, destroying homes and killing a three-year-old boy in the process.

This could have been prevented if government and other organisations within the town of Walvis Bay had paid attention to the outcry of the residents of Twaloloka.

Only a few people stood by Twaloloka over the years. We take the likes of young lawyer Henry Shimutwikeni, who represented the people of Twaloloka in a court case in 2017 - which he won.

He knew the people were really tired of living in such conditions. This disaster generated political debate, in which many started pointing fingers at the ruling party Swapo for neglecting the poor.

The shanty location was recently renamed Otweya, which means “we are coming”.

So many questions around this tragic incident! Why are we only coming now? Is this what we have been waiting for to happen? Why only after the fire outbreak did we decide to come out to help?

People from this informal area had been without proper services for quite some time and they had been complaining about it for years, but guess what? Nothing was done! We can’t only blame the government; we should look at all the possible loopholes that could’ve caused Twaloloka not to be properly developed.

Imagine this informal settlement is in one of the towns that generates Namibia’s most income, but it was still a struggle to develop the services of such a small settlement.

We can do better, Namibians!

Like the president would say, no one should be left out, but we still have people out there suffering.

Let’s not wait for such tragic events to happen for us to react.

Now all of the sudden we have Good Samaritans, donations all over the place, everyone is coming through.

Some because of their good heart, others for political reasons. Where were these people when people from Twaloloka were really in need of all the assistance they are rendering now?

According to a local community activist Joolokeni Johannes, he has since 2016 been engaging with local authority management to relieve the informal settlement from the congestion.

This is quite a long time for the management not to realise how important it was to decongest the area. This clearly means if there was never a fire outbreak, no one would’ve ever come for Twaloloka.

Guess what? These are the people politicians run to for votes and promise them essential services, which never materialise.

Is this an indication that government actually looks down on the poor? If it was an area where rich people lived, it would be serviced immediately, but why did it take Otweya so long to get proper services?

This should be a wake-up call for the whole nation to stand together and fight inequality.

In fact, the local authorities should start developing these areas to avoid such terrible events. The point here is why are the government and local authorities only devoted to come through during a crisis that could’ve been prevented?

We are a few months away from the local authority elections. I think that should answer why all of the sudden they are coming through, or should I say we?

One would be happy that such an awful event had taken place to wake up the whole nation as to why it is important to develop such informal settlements, but then it was unfortunate that an innocent life was lost due the negligence of community members, the government, local authorities and whoever you can think of.

We cannot always expect the government to come to our rescue. Let’s not turn a blind eye on stakeholders, private companies, investors and so forth who sit, relax and wait for the government to always initiate developments in these settlements.

What if the government had allocated funds for Otweya to be serviced and these funds never reached the relevant offices?

There has been a lot of cases of money getting lost within the government.

I suggest we do not point fingers and rather be glad that finally something is being done by the relevant authorities.

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