John Ekongo Not so long ago, in school I learned the basics of media communication, that communication should be reciprocal and every aspiring journalist should do that with the greatest of intent and sympathy. It should be on the basis of message received and understood. Obviously this was a principle to be adopted at a later stage should you venture into Public Relations. However, the events of last week left much to be desired especially from Namwater’s side. It cannot augur too well for their image. And rightfully so, it is a catastrophe partially caused by nature but one that could have been prevented if precautions were taken in advance. When the Hardap Dam came down with full force, aided by Mother Nature, the mercy of Mariental’s fate lay with Namwater. Now as a communicator, I felt absolute distaste at Namwater’s “blame the weather” response and believe that many will agree with me. Again, as an entity, Namwater should have known better, that barely six years ago a similar incident raked in the southern town and time was sufficient for early preparation and crisis response measures. What does this teach us? Perhaps about ambitions and capitalistic driven minds that believe money needs to be made at all cost, leaving much to be desired about the lives of human beings and property. Can we rightfully state that in the desire to make profit, we ignore the basic laws of compassion? This is similar to Hurricane Katrina, and yet it was caused by the laws of nature. We still have a duty to protect and if need be assist those who maketh us, no matter what a profitable entity we may be. At the end of the day, residents are awash with questions, and the sluice gates did not help either. Instead they created havoc, leaving one wondering what they were designed for. As for the response that if water was not released the banks of the dam would have burst, well Namwater makes a hell lot of money and they should have known better. One does not need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the dam’s capacity is a good solid 300 million cubic metres and on that fateful weekend more that 500 million cubic metres per second was released en masse. Add the numerous runs and flows of the mighty rain, you have a “Noah’s Arc Debacle”. Blaming and naming won’t help either, but I remember profoundly when Namwater used to air their Public Relations gimmick on national television and radio, that “our business is water”, so a reminder is there again to take care of your business. Well it might be a little too harsh, but Namwater knew that a little water released earlier could have saved the town and not a whole lot of damage would have been experien-ced. In this case, I wholeheartedly agree with a lawmaker, that the weather will always be there and for as long as there is rain, floods will continue coming and I don’t believe that Namwater will go into redundancy. So put your thoughts in place and work out the solution for next time. In the meantime a good Public Relations campaign to calm the wrath of the fist-waving residents and business people should be priority number one. After all, communication is the essence of all good business practices, and not distancing yourselves. Take it from a communicator’s point of view. Eewa!
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