Governor, residents butt heads over roads construction

… as residents allude to favouritism

• BY MARX ITAMALO

THE envisaged construction of gravel roads in Oshana region has brought tension between some residents of the region and the regional governor Elia Irimari.

This is because the residents are allegedly not happy with Irimari and some of his regional councillors’ choice of roads to be refurbished and upgraded.

Amongst the roads at the centre of the storm, is the Ondangwa – Uukwiyuushona gravel road as well as the Oshakati – Ompundja road.

According to sources who spoke to this publication, residents of Oshakati-East constituency under which Ompundja falls are not happy that the regional leadership proposed for the Ondangwa – Uukwiyuushona gravel road to be upgraded instead of the Oshakati – Ompundja road. 

“The issue is, government through the Roads Authority (RA) has decided to upgrade and construct new roads throughout all regions. Regional councils were asked to make recommendations of which roads they want attended to this financial year (2022-2023).

“However, it appears top officials with influence at regional at Oshana regional council only made recommendations for roads from their areas to be attended to,” one source from the regional council told Confidente.

According to him, some councillors from the west of Oshana are not at peace with Irimari over the matter as he has the final say as governor when submissions are made to the RA. The RA is the custodian of national roads in the country.

The source further said when the RA instructed the regional council to discuss and prioritise which roads had to be worked on first, all regional councillors gave their input.

“It was agreed that the Oshakati – Ompundja gravel road should be upgraded first because of the volume of cars using it on a daily basis and the fact that it came before the Ondangwa-Uukwiyuushona and that there are also government offices at Ompundja namely the circuit and an agriculture office as well as the clinic.

“But when the list of the roads to be constructed was released, Ompundja road was out,” he said.

This according to the source, this angered the residents of Oshakati West constituency and some politicians. They are allegedly accusing Irimari of favouritism because he is from Ondangwa town.

A resident of Oshakati West and a teacher from Ompundja also raised his concern          regarding the matter.

According to him, he fails to understand why the initial plan of upgrading the Oshakati – Ompundja road has to be shelved to favour the Ondangwa – Uukwiyuushona road.

“My understanding is that all residents of the region are equally important. Why would you change plans for the better of one constituency when it was agreed upon by all? Is it because you are from there?” he asked while at the same time imploring the regional council to withdraw the unilateral decision of upgrading the road at the centre of controversy.

Responding to questions Irimari said most of the decisions regarding the construction of roads in the region were made long before he became governor. He said he and his current team only enforced those decisions.

He indicated that one of the reasons why it was decided to upgrade the Ondangwa – Uukwiyuushona gravel road rather than the Oshakati – Ompundja road was because the road passes next to the Ondonga palace of King Fillemon Shuumbwa Nangolo of Ondonga Kingdom at Onambango.

“I am not saying it was entirely based on this fact but it was also considered. A lot of dignitaries travel on that road and it is in bad shape. Thus it is not wrong to upgrade it,” he added.

The governor pointed out that recently President Hage Geingob used an alternative road when he paid Nangolo a visit, due to the bad condition of the road. The governor said the regional council is working around the clock to ensure all constituencies in the region have good roads regardless.