Young people at the sleepy mining village of Uis now have a permanent modern spot where they can obtain information as well as get fit and involved in programmes and activities that can shape their lives for a bright future.
This came after the official opening of a Multi-purpose Youth Centre funded through the Namibian-German Special Initiative Programme (NGSIP).
The centre, constructed under the NGSIP resorting under the National Planning Commission, is now officially up and running at the entrance to the Uis residential area. It aims at providing access to information to thousands of young people at the village and adjoining areas in that part of the Erongo region.
It has a gym, a conference hall, a storeroom, an administration office, two self-catering rooms, a computer laboratory, and netball and volleyball courts.
The deputy minister of economic planning, Lucia Iipumbu, who delivered a keynote address at a ceremony to mark the official opening of the facility, said the centre was finally completed, despite the many challenges and delays it faced because of the fact that previous contractors could not deliver or complete its construction on time.
Iipumbu said the previous contractor, who started in 2013 and abandoned the project last year, caused the delays. She, however, expressed satisfaction with the new contractor over the works that were completed last month.
“We know this was a long journey from 2011 to 2017. But at the end of the day we have achieved our goal, putting up a Multi-purpose Community Youth Centre at Uis,” she said.
Iipumbu said that the government wanted to support local contractors to the fullest, she however used the opportunity to advise contractors to take their work seriously if they wanted to be empowered by government through tenders.
She said contractors, mostly small and medium enterprises (SMEs), sometimes complained that work was being given to bigger companies, yet when they receive such work they often delivered sub-standard products or simply abandoned the projects altogether.
“It is always pleasing that a local contractor has been awarded the work. However, it is disheartening to hear that they have abandoned the project and cannot perform to the expected standards,” she said.
“Yes, our government wants to empower local contractors so that they grow and also deliver quality services to our people,” she said.
“However, as much as government is willing to help them grow, local contractors are the one who let government down. When they get the money, they buy expensive cars and forget their responsibilities to complete the projects for the communities.
“It is well known that the government is committed to the development of children and youth in Namibia so that they can be employed and thereby develop. The centre will therefore cater for the needs of the youth in Uis.”
She said that the centre, which was initiated back 2011, could have been operational by now, had it not been for the many delays caused by the contractors who failed to deliver as expected.
The deputy minister further encouraged the youth and community of Uis to use the centre for their development in business and computer skills.
She said the centre is geared towards providing young people with access to a physical space that gave them credible information and assistance to guide their personal and professional development.
“It is up to the residents of Uis to make good use of the centre to advance themselves," Iipumbu said.
She also urged the youths to take full ownership of the centre and to guard it against vandalism and destruction of its facilities.
“Let it be our mutual responsibility to report such acts,” she pleaded.
HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
Erongo regional governor Kleophas Matjavikua in a statement read on his behalf by the Daures constituency councillor Joram Kennedy !Haoseb, said the opening of the Multi-purpose Centre gave hope for the future as the residents would directly or indirectly benefit from it.
He said that due to the recent drought situation, residents in the Erongo region were finding it difficult to make ends meet and that this has been compounded by the closure of a number of fishing and mining companies which has also adversely affected the regional economy.
Matjavikua said the Multi-purpose Centre was well placed to carry out the mandate of the government, by engaging young people and thereby providing them with relevant support to contribute productively to nation-building and economic development.
“One can only hope that many more of these programmes are opened in Uis, as projects of this nature are important because they can benefit ordinary people directly,” he said.
In his personal capacity as the Daures constituency councillor !Haoseb encouraged the youth to take full advantage of the opportunities and information that the centre will provide and urged them to draw up a plan of action for implementation.
“There will be no excuses from today that Uis is boring and therefore stay at shebeens,” he said. “The youth and elders should come together and plan what they envisage at the centre.”
The head of development cooperation at the embassy of the Federal Republic of German in Namibia, Christian Gruen, congratulated the community for making a wise choice to invest the available funds into a Multi-purpose Centre, saying it was a very wise choice that would complement government's efforts in providing sound education.
“I would therefore like to congratulate them for this choice because it will not only give them a place to meet, but a place of education as well. It is only when people receive sound education that they are able take control of their destiny and independently shape their own economic, social and political development, ” he said.
Gruen also said it was in line with the framework of the NGSIP to support small and medium size projects initiated by the communities themselves.
On her part the Erongo chief regional officer, Natalia /Goagoses, who is a product of Martin Luther High School in that area, thanked the Federal Republic of Germany for the generous gesture.
“We are going to take good care of this centre,” she stressed.
Describing the Multi-purpose Youth Centre as a place for education and community engagement, /Goagoses said it must accommodate all tribes and groups.
She even went on to promise that the Erongo regional council would avail funds if it receives economically viable and sustainable project proposals that could be operated from the centre.
According to Arandis constituency councillor Benitha Imbamba, on behalf of the chairperson of the Erongo regional council, Hafeni Ndemula, the Uis Multi-purpose Youth Centre will be a tool for economic and community development that will serve local residents as well as people from outside the community, while at the same time also contributing to the economic development of the greater Erongo region.
“Let me hasten to express my profound appreciation to the NGSIP for choosing this community,” she said. “ A job well done!”
The centre was built at a cost of just over N$4.3 million, with funding from the Federal Republic of Germany through the NGSIP.