Wanted – Visitors to Heroes Acre

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Though inaugurated three years ago as a sign of respect and honour for the fallen heroes and heroines of Namibia, the Heroes Acre has over the years not attracted the expected numbers of visitors. Heroes Acre Manager from the Monument Council of Namibia Sisco Auala says few people have visited the shrine site since it was inaugurated in August 2002. Statistics gathered since the introduction of entrance fees show that only 7 533 people visited the Heroes Acre during the period April 2005 to March 2006. This figure, according to the Heroes Acre manager is disappointing. “We expected to have at least 20 000 people visiting the place in this given time,” she said. However, the council is exploring the best marketing methods for the site. So far, a private tenderer has been identified to start operating a restaurant. Visitors to Heroes Acre are expected to pay N$5 for Namibian adults and N$10 for adult foreigners (tourists). Young Namibians are required to pay N$2.50 while young foreigners pay N$5. Another N$10 is paid per vehicle. Auala indicated that it was important that local people visit the site to pay homage to their heroes and heroines. “It also fosters national reconciliation and that makes it even more important that we pay homage,” she stated. During the inauguration of the Heroes Acre, founding President Dr Sam Nujoma noted that the shrine should be seen as one of those tangible expressions of the country’s policy of national reconciliation, statehood and unity as a nation. The Heroes Acre should be seen as a place for all Namibians irrespective of their political, racial, ethnic or religious backgrounds to come and honour those sons and daughters of the soil who sacrificed their lives, and those who, during their lifetimes, made great and meaningful contributions to the liberation of Namibia and all her people in their diversity. The Heroes Acre was built at a cost of N$60 million and the work was carried out by a North Korean company, Mansudai Overseas Projects. Meanwhile, three years since its inauguration, the Heroes acre is already showing signs of deterioration. The Under Secretary in the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication Kuutumbeni Kathindi agreed that there have been a few “deteriorating marks” brought about by the heavy rains but the responsible ministry would address that soon, adding that the maintenance budget is crucial. Kathindi stated that Namibia lacks a culture of preventative maintenance. “Every structure that is put up, not only the Heroes Acre, needs preventative maintenance but the only structures catered for so far are the roads”, he stated. Kathindi acknowledged that three years of the Heroes Acre without maintenance is too long. The Heroes Acre is 15 km south of Windhoek. The idea of building a Heroes Acre was conceived by Nujoma in 1997 during an Organisation of African Union (OAU) summit in Harare, Zimbabwe.