– Community Wants Action – President Pledges Solution By Surihe Gaomas Mariental After a tour of some of the flood-affected areas in Mariental yesterday, President Hifikepunye Pohamba pledged that government would in all earnest look into the problems of the community and come up with a solution to their plight. The people of Mariental will have to wait for some time before Cabinet can decide on whether or not to declare their town a disaster area after the recent devastating floods. The Head of State jetted into the town for a three-hour visit yesterday. Upon arrival, Pohamba was first briefed about the devastation wrought by the floods, as well as the financial losses suffered by businesses. After the briefings, he made several stopovers at some of the worst affected properties. Among the officials who accompanied the Head of State were the Minister of Safety and Security Peter Tsheehama, Works and Transport Minister Joel Kaapanda, Minister of Defence Charles Namoloh, Deputy Minister of Agriculture Paul Smit as well as the Chief Executive Officer of Namwater Dr Vaino Shivute. The first stopover was at the Hardap Irrigation Scheme where the Head of State was shown the complete wash-away of the 14 hectares of land that was home to 2 000 date trees. During the briefing, local farmers informed the President that the total estimated cost of the damage amounted to more than N$50 million. The farmers who suffered the damage are from the Hardap Irrigation Scheme. They incurred severe infrastructural damage as well. “We need action but we need it now, your Excellency. If we don’t, then we won’t be able to go into production or be in operation at all,” said Dawie de Klerk, chairperson of the Hardap Farmers Association. The president later paid a visit to the Spar Supermarket in town. He was deeply touched by the hoards of canned food and food products that had gone to waste after being drenched in mud without any electricity. “It’s a great loss this one,” said the Head of State after he was informed by the owner of the retail business Johaan de Lange that the cost of damage stood at N$7,8 million. Stepping out of the muddy shopping centre into the Southern Motor Mecca business, the President witnessed how brand new Nissan bakkies were flooded. The remains of the high-level mark of how deep the business was submerged under water were visible. The last stopover was at the Namibia Pig Farm, where 1 600 piglets perished and the raging floodwaters destroyed the structures of the four-year-old business venture. Earlier that day, the Governor requested the Head of State to consent to the community’s appeal for at least considering the town “after-effect disaster area”, seeing that the floodwaters are gone and only the devastation remains. However, before jetting back to the capital, Pohamba said after witnessing the damage of the floods, he would together with his team look at the proposals as documented by the region’s Emergency Management Unit and come up with a response on the matter accordingly. “Yes, the water is gone and has left untold destruction behind. Many people have lost their property and I am happy that I came to witness it myself,” he said. He encouraged the community of Mariental to keep united and strong during this difficult time of recovery. Meanwhile, the two sluice gates were opened early yesterday by Namwater technicians, releasing more water from the Hardap Dam, whose level is currently at 85 percent. Humanitarian assistance continues on the ground for the 2 000 displaced families. The 78 businesses have been recorded to have suffered loss of income of N$80 million. The entire population of Mariental, which currently stands at 16 000 was devastated by the latest floods, the fourth and worst in the history of the town.
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