Omugulu Gwombashe Chugs into Onyaanya

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By Engel Nawatiseb TSUMEB The country’s new rail baby, the Omugulu Gwombashe cruised for the first time to reach the Onyaanya constituency en route to the newly established Ondangwa railway station, where about 500 villagers including Works, Transport and Communications Minister Joel Kaapanda awaited its arrival over the weekend. The train was introduced for the first time during March last year, when former President Sam Nujoma inaugurated it at Oshivelo, barely two weeks before handing over the country’s reins to President Hifikepunye Pohamba on March 21, 2005. Speaking at a reception ceremony at Onyaanya, the constituency councillor Henock Kankoshi appealed to the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication to carry out regular maintenance work on the road leading to the sub-station to ensure smooth mobility for potential customers and passengers accessing the station. He called for the extension of the railway fence to allow for the construction of more gravel roads to connect from Onyaanya to other regions. “The extension is necessary because with the blessing of Onyaanya Constituency Development Committee (CDC) and the region (Oshikoto) as a whole, we have plans for a gravel road to start from Onyaanya to Omutse, Okangolo, Oelun-du, Kongo, Rupara up to Katwitwi border post in order to link this station with the rest of southern Angola, Zambia and the DRC.” He also took issue with children risking their lives playing near railway lines and urged parents to educate their children accordingly. He also urged animal owners to keep their livestock in kraals to avoid them being hit by trains. Kankoshi announced that the CDC and some senior citizens of the constituency (Onyaanya) have unanimously decided to name the railway station after its 7th King of Ondonga, King Shikongo ShaKalulu in honour of his contributions to that community during his reign. Barely four weeks ago, a TransNamib cargo train ran over a young adult male near Oshivelo killing him instantly, after he was reportedly found lying on the railway tracks. The police ruled suicide for this accident. In a separate incident, three women who were travelling in a Toyota Corolla sedan escaped death narrowly following a collision with a train at the cross-section of the railway near Tsumeb. Previously, a large number of goats also fell victim to trains, forcing the owners to demand compensation from the Government. Kankoshi however noted that such hostilities between government and villagers could be avoided if safe grazing areas are identified to keep the animals isola- ted. “The construction of this railway line is a massive developmental injection by government to bring services closer to the people and should be viewed as a positive initiative and not as an element of destruction. Trains cannot stop at short notice to avoid accidents. Therefore, it is our obligation to play safe with our lives and those of our property and animals to avoid negative publicity about our trains and country in general.”