Residents of Omadiva B village in the Oshikoto Region have expressed concern over a dumpsite erected close to their homesteads by the Omuthiya Town Council, saying it poses a health hazard.
They also accused the town council of having failed to compensate most of them since the dumpsite was relocated there 15 years ago.
Frustrated residents are also bemoaning the lack of consultation when the dumpsite was relocated in the middle of the village, where medical waste is also discarded.
This, they say, could make them vulnerable to diseases such as diarrhea, colds, and flu.
"I keep asking them when they burn the waste in the dumpsite: where is that toxic smoke going if not in our homes? Every day our children have coughs, flu, and diarrhea, and so many flies," said Omadiva B Village resident Loide Simon, adding that "in December we spoke to the councilors, but they never came to our aid. How long should we suffer? They could not even relocate us or consult us when they brought this dumpsite into the middle of the village."
"What we want here is not the fight between the community members and the council, because we don't want this. Because when development comes, it comes with challenges, all we want is if they can't come up with solutions on how to manage the waste here, at least maybe they find a best-suited house, not within the vicinity of the houses," added another resident, Johannes Andreas.
Maria Shikongo wants the municipality to provide services they pay for: "We want people who are running this dumpsite to do the right thing; we cannot really say they should remove it, even though that's what we are aiming for. They can even maintain the dumpsite as other people do in the area. They are not complaining like people here are complaining. This dumpsite does not only affect people around the dumpsite; it affects everyone around Omuthiya."
A security guard on site at the dumpsite had to use a pepper spray gun to prevent a Namibian Broadcasting Corporation camera operator from filming the site, saying the council had given instructions not to take any pictures or videos of the site.
When approached for comment, Omuthiya Mayor Johannes Ndeutepo confirmed that the council does not allow people to take pictures or film the dumpsite due to the ongoing complaints by residents.
"After all these hullabaloos about the dumpsite, the security company was informed that no one is allowed to enter the dumpsite nor take pictures of the dumpsite until there are no more issues regarding the dumping site."
Ndeutepo accused residents of deliberately taking selective pictures of the dumpsite because they are against its current location.
He said the council will relocate and compensate seven households living within a 500-meter radius of the dumpsite once the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development approves its budget.