Slow Growth Worries Gam Folk

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK The community of Gam has expressed concern over the slow pace at which some capital projects are going. Gam, an outlying area in the Otjozondjupa region is a resettlement area for returnees from Botswana. Its community, mainly communal livestock farmers, experience problems in marketing their animals at good prices because of the distances the animals have to travel. During the recent visit of President Hifikepunye Pohamba to Gam and Tsumkwe, the community said the road between Otjinene and Gam, whose construction started years back, was taking too long to complete. Deputy Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, Kazenambo Ka-zenambo, who formed part of a ministerial delegation that accompanied the president to Gam and Tsumkwe, said the traditional authorities there told the President about the importance of the road to Gam residents. Completion of the road would mean better market opportunities for the commu-nity’s livestock because at the moment, farmers have to drive their cattle over 250 km before they can be trucked to abattoirs. “They say the animals pick up dust in their lungs and lose weight due to the long distances,” said the deputy minister. Apart from the slow pace of construction, Kazenambo said, the community also feels that the road is being constructed with substandard material, which has led to vehicles getting stuck or overturning. Other problems affecting the community are lack of a hostel, electricity and other concerns such as the need for expansion of the Gam Combined School to Grade 12 level and also the expansion of the mortuary. Due to time constraints, the President did not meet traditional authorities in Tsumkwe. Pohamba told Gam residents that from its reception centre in 1993, the area developed to an extent that it now boasts of positive developments in education, agriculture, infrastructure development and other projects. Although the school has been upgraded to cater for Grade 10, Pohamba said more needs to be done to ensure that no child was denied the opportunity to learn. Other projects that have taken place in Gam are the construction of the Dobe border post, and an NBC TV transmitter, among others. He said although the government would continue to upgrade and construct more infrastructure in the area, the success of development programmes would depend on the participation of all its citizens. Gam and Tsumkwe have been accorded the status of special areas in a bid to bring all residents into the mainstream of Namibia’s economic development. While Gam residents are mainly Herero speaking, Tsumkwe residents are San communities, the most disadvantaged of all groups in Namibia. Pohamba noted that the San live in abject poverty and degradation, a situation that needs urgent attention. “We believe that the living conditions of our citizens from the San community deserve further and urgent improvement,” said he. Tsumkwe also has a share of development such as a computer centre at the Tsumkwe Junior School, a community learning centre and a community hall. Amongst the concerns that Pohamba has over the San community are alcohol abuse and the lack of employment opportunities, especially for the youth. He called on community leaders to address the problem of alcohol abuse, while calling on the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture (MYNSSC) to intensify its recruitment drive to enable the youth in the two areas to be trained in vocational skills. Other ministers who accompanied the president were Deputy Ministers of Home Affairs and Immigration; Lands and Resettlement, Teopolina Mushelenga and Isaak Katali respectively, and Ministers of Education Nangolo Mbumba and MYNSSC, John Mutorwa. Gam and Tsumkwe, like other far and outlying areas usually have problems with national identity documents such as IDs and Birth Certificates. Mushelenga told New Era yesterday that the ministry visits the areas once a year to assist the residents with ID documents. “Although this has been happening, it is much faster now than in the past,” she said, adding that this may hasten the process of ensuring that all people have such documents. The programme of the minister to cover outlying areas also includes the Eiseb block, the Topnaar community and areas of the Kunene Region.