Walvis Bay primes infrastructure development

By Confidente Reporter

WITH the aim of addressing challenges caused by urbanisation, the Walvis Bay council has established a new township ‘Green Valley’ (formerly known as Farm 37) which will cater mainly for ultra-low-income residents, Walvis Bay Mayor Alderman Immanuel Wilfried revealed.

In an interview with Confidente, Wilfried highlights some of the milestones reached by the council declaring that Green Valley will be a fully-fledged township with all the amenities provided for such as schools, clinics, a police station and satellite fire station.

How would you describe your tenure serving as the council for your town?

Having been Mayor for five uninterrupted years and having served as a councillor intermittently since 1994, I have seen so much on my journey. Back then Walvis Bay had about 28 000 inhabitants while the number today is well over 100 000. I have seen the town growing from strength to strength and truly taking the lead in terms of industrial development in Namibia. You see, Walvis Bay is dear to me. I am one of the founding councilors of the Walvis Bay Municipal Council with my term running from 1994 to 2004 and from 2010 to the current year. Year in and year out, what I enjoyed the most is working with my community and seeing how much of an impact we can make when we put our heads together and move forward with a common goal in sight.

What are some of the challenges that you have faced in your tenure?

Shack fires have been the heaviest of challenges as they claim lives and affect the wellbeing of families.

Another challenge we faced is the high influx of Namibians into the town. Urbanisation has played a key role and as the result of the industrial nature of Walvis Bay, many flock to the town in search of greener pastures. This has resulted in the provision of adequate serviced land becoming a major challenge.

How did you deal with some of these challenges?

In terms of shack fires, our Fire Prevention Section has been active on raising awareness that prevention is better than cure and equipping the community with information and demonstrations on fire prevention strategies and tactics.

Would you say you met your goals as a council?

Yes we have been hard at work to ensure that development is taking place in our town.

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Jobs have been created and after facing many challenges and objections in the beginning, we finally have a modern and exceptional mall here in Walvis Bay. Since the start of our first democratically elected council in 1994, many new townships have been added to the Walvis Bay map. Farm 37 is certainly one that stands out in terms of fast-tracking its establishment from concept to reality in just over three years.  Usually, such a process would take much longer.

What development can you say you will be leaving behind when you depart?

There are simply too many to mention, and it will probably not be fair to single out just a few. However, our residents and fellow Namibians will certainly agree that the multitude of new housing developments, industrial expansion, the addition of new harbour and airport facilities, and many more exciting advancements have simply been phenomenal. As a council we certainly cannot take credit for all of these, but we have lived up to our mandate as active facilitators to make most, if not all of them come to fruition.

Are there any projects that you would like to see carried forward even after you have departed?

Yes, mainly Farm 37 becoming a sought-after area for residential and business purposes, and the POAN vehicle assembly plant growing from strength to strength. These projects are close to my heart because they illustrate that if we really put our minds together, we can achieve anything in Namibia.

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On a lighter note how would you score your council performance on a scale between 1 and 10?

I think we have done very well as a council but ultimately we are not the judges. Our open-door policy has allowed us to be a very responsive council. Having direct and frank discussions with our stakeholders has allowed us to achieve much more than we could have anticipated. 

Do you think local authorities in general have done well over the past five years?

Resources have been scarce, and we are faced with unprecedented times in terms of economic and social challenges, but I think we are doing our best to keep our heads above water. Rejigging the course of economic development in our country will require new strategies and strength of character, while we should be mindful of protecting the environment at the same time. We are proud, however, of coming this far.

How important is working positively together with both the management of the town as well as residents when serving in council?

It is a crucial relationship. The day-to-day running of a town is the responsibility of the administrative arm. The equilibrium between council, administration and residents is absolutely crucial if we want to achieve our goals together.

Anything else you would like to add?

I have been truly humbled by this once in a lifetime experience of serving as the Mayor of Walvis Bay and having achieved the status of Alderman. I am proud of myself, my community and municipal employees. On that note, I would like to take this opportunity to announce that I am retiring. As one of the founders of a post-apartheid Municipal Council, I leave this legacy and 22 years of experience in the hands of my successors and I wish them only blessings and success for the future.