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Clean water runs down Klein Windhoek street, reported five times before municipality responded

Clean water runs down Klein Windhoek street, reported five times before municipality responded

09:27, Friday 20 March 2020. A technical team from the municipality has arrived to fix the leak.


09:00, Friday morning 20 March 2020

Clean, drinking water has now been gushing for 39 hours non-stop from a water leak on the side walk in Olof Palme Street, Klein Windhoek. At 09:00 it was reported the fifth time. I spoke to a person by the name of Anna who confirmed that the report is in the system and that it has been reported multiple times.


19 March 2020.

On Wednesday evening a neighbour in the area of Klein Windhoek where I stay alerted me to a water leak on the pavement. A quick inspection showed that water was bubbling out of a hole on the side walk, about two metres before the water meter. This showed me that the leak was probably in the municipal line that runs in the servitude on the pavement from where all the houses in that part of the street get their water.

This leak is on the corner of Olof Palme and Herzinger Street. It is a fairly busy street during peak hours and the water was running across the street so fast that it is impossible to miss the leak.

At 18:25 I called the water emergency number listed for the City of Windhoek only to be told that I have now reached the fire brigade and I must call the usual number, 290 2402. This turned out to be the Windhoek Municipality call centre. The call is answered quickly but by a machine, and this is where the frustration started. The indicated response number is 3. This I pressed and waited and waited, probably for about 3 minutes – no reaction, no-one answered.

I called again and went through the same process. This time I was lucky and a lady who introduced herself as Justina answered the call. To my astonishment, when I told her the location of the leak, she informed me that it was already reported by a neighbour at 18:10. The only thing she asked me was whether it was clean or sewage water. I told her it was clean.

OK, so now the problem should be taken care of speedily or so I thought. It was still daylight with more than enough light to do any repair work. When nothing happened for half an hour, I called again at 18:54. This time the call was taken by a lady by the name of Doreen. Her first question was for a reference number. When I told her I spoke earlier to a Justina, she confirmed that the leak was first reported at 18:10 and then again at 18:35. She also did not furnish a reference number.

Later that evening when I went to bed, Windhoek’s clean water was still running across Olof Palme Street. Every time a car passed, you could hear it driving through the water.

Early Thursday morning I did another inspection. The leak was still active with lots of water now flowing out of the hole on the pavement and the water still running across the street. This was 13 hours after the problem was first reported.

Perhaps my biggest astonishment came on Thursday afternoon. Against all expectations to the contrary, the water was still flowing across the street. It was 20 hours after the first report. I took a spade and diverted the flow of the water to two nearby trees. This eventually stopped the water flowing across the street but it quickly filled the area around the trees.

At 14:25 on Thursday 19 March, I reported the water leak again. This time I spoke to a Mr Haingura who assured me that the problem will be solved promptly. He gave me a Reference Number – 7889.

By now we are approaching the 24-hour mark after the first report and I am anxiously waiting to see how much of Windhoek’s drinking water will continue to flow into the stormwater drain.

This protracted and painful event is an eye-opener to any Windhoek resident who pays rates and taxes. If this kind of mismanagement can be tolerated for such a relatively minor event, how much bigger must the damage be when it comes to serious issues that affect hundreds or thousands of residents.

The City of Windhoek’s technical departments certainly did not project a sign of competence, or more disturbingly, a sign of giving a damn. The impression created was that the dams are now full so why bother over something as simple as a water leak.

In the meantime I am confronted by the reality that the increases in rates and taxes over the past five years have vastly outstripped inflation, so much so that the City has become one of the main contributors to household inflation. Axiomatically, this means that the City has now become a retarder of development instead of a promotor. This makes one wonder who is in charge, and how much do they actually understand about the concept “Productivity.”


 

About The Author

Daniel Steinmann

Brief CV of Daniel Steinmann. Born 24 February 1961, Johannesburg. Educated at the University of Pretoria: BA, BA(hons), BD. Postgraduate degrees are in Philosophy and Divinity. Editor of the Namibia Economist since 1991. Daniel Steinmann has steered the Economist as editor for the past 29 years. The newspaper started as a monthly free-sheet, then moved to a weekly paper edition (1996 to 2016), and on 01 December 2016 to a daily digital newspaper at www.economist.com.na. His editorial focus is on economic analysis based on budget analysis, disecting strategic planning and assessing the impact of policy formulation. For eight years, he hosted a weekly talk-show on NBC Radio, explaining complex economic concepts to a lay audience in a relaxed, conversational manner. He was a founding member of the Editors' Forum of Namibia. Over the years, he has mentored scores of journalism students as interns and as young professional journalists. He often assists economics students, both graduate and post-graduate, to prepare for examinations and moderator reviews. He is the Namibian respondent for the World Economic Survey conducted every quarter for the Ifo Center for Business Cycle Analysis and Surveys at the University of Munich in Germany. He is frequently consulted by NGOs and international analysts on local economic trends and developments. Send comments to daniel@economist.com.na