Vice President Nangolo Mbumba has indicated that there is a need for local authorities and regional councils to align their needs and secure funds for the overall development of the Zambezi Region.

Mbumba held a meeting with local and regional councillors at Katima Mulilo.

Issues of concern included the need for governments to utilise land allocated by traditional authorities for income-generating projects, sewer lines, bridging the gap on quality educational facilities between rural and urban areas, compensation for residents being relocated to pave the way for development, and the expansion of Mpaca airport.

"We should continue to organise ourselves and prioritise the biggest issues you have, from the town council to the village council to the ones to be newly proclaimed, to make sure that your items of importance are truly properly organised. For example, the sewerage system here is a time bomb; it is really going to affect you in terms of your health, our health, tourism, and general welfare."

Local and regional council leaders emphasised that a lack of adequate funding and unequal budget allocation from the central government have had a negative impact on service delivery.

Katima Mulilo Urban Constituency Councillor, Kennedy Simasiku, says, "The hospital does not have enough vehicles unfortunately, so they are faced with a situation where they have to use private ambulances to transport government patients either to Windhoek or Rundu or wherever. At N$40,000 per week, your excellency, in 6 months, the cost of transporting patients shoots up to N$900,000, which can easily buy a land cruiser or station wagon that they can convert into an ambulance; the mathematics now becomes a big question."

Bukalo Village Council Chief Executive Officer, Ntwala Lyamine-Sazita, says, "So we are really appealing to make sure that the government should consider constructing a police station at Bukalo village council. The other issue is the clinic. Bukalo is growing if you go to the clinic; it's very small. We should be considered to be given at least a small hospital or a bigger health centre that can accommodate and provide services to the community."

"The town has become small, and we have a lot of illegal land occupation. We implore the government to come to our rescue to extend these boundaries' because the whole town is surrounded by those who are given by the traditional authority, and they have constructed permanent structures, which will make it very difficult for planning and extension," says Katima Mulilo Town Council CEO, Rafael Liswaniso.

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Juliet Sibeso