Zambezi Project To Take Shape Soon

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Construction of the proposed multi-million dollar Zambezi Waterfront Project aimed at stimulating tourism in the Caprivi Region is likely to start early next year. The waterfront – a joint venture between the government and the private sector – will be developed on the shores of the Zambezi River. With its feasibility study completed in 2004, the building of infrastructure starts next year. The proposed waterfront development includes a four-star hotel, self-catering facilities, an aquarium and a cruise boat on the river. According to a statement issued by the public relations officer of the Zambezi Waterfront Tourism Park (Pty) Ltd, Joseph Simataa, a private company funded by the government to spearhead this development, has appointed a consultant who will submit technical and financial proposals for project management, the co-ordination and identification for private stakeholders, designs, preparation of tender documentation and construction supervision for the envisioned development. “Infrastructural designs and plans are to be in place by the last quarter of this year. By September, we will have started with servicing and that includes water lines, sewerage lines, and electricity lines,” Simataa told New Era. He said Cabinet already approved the allocation of N$32,2 million in public funds for the project to be appropriated over a three-year period from 2004 to 2007 but the ambitious project will eventually cost N$357 million. If all goes according to plan, construction will be completed by 2010. The development framework of the Zambezi Waterfront Project consists of three phases – the pre-implementation phase, the implementation of the public sector phase and the implementation of the private sector phase.ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚  Currently, the project is in its second phase which will last through the third quarter of this year to cater for services and facilities such as the Mokolo Harbour, roads and infrastructure, entrance and administration facilities, an aquarium, public walkways and landscaping, a plaza and a commercial/art and craft center. The implementation of private sector investment would include a floating restaurant, a four-star hotel, a self-catering holiday resort, a putt-putt recreational center and a three star Khuta. Portion 25 of erf 1328, valued at about N$ 1.1 million, is a donation by the town council, and, according to Simataa, this land has already been surveyed. The Caprivi Region is endowed with many natural resources that can attract thousands of tourists to the region, but, due to a lack of proper international standard facilities, tourists mainly use the town as a gateway to neighbouring countries that have better tourist attractions and facilities. “Caprivi has the status of being a gateway to four countries: Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola and Botswana. Despite having that status, the region is not benefiting as most tourists just spend less time in Caprivi when they are mostly in transit to other countries,” lamented Simataa. He added the idea is to maximize the benefits from the tourism industry, which can only be done by ensuring that tourists spend more time in the area. The waterfront will not be competing but complementing tourism attractions in neighboring countries like the Chobe National Park in Botswana and the Victoria Falls, which is shared by Zambia and Zimbabwe. Tourist activities or services on offer by the Zambezi Waterfront include fly-in Safaris, banking facilities, medical facilities, game and bird viewing, elephant-back safaris and crocodile farms. Simataa promised that the Waterfront will have positive impacts on the region as it will uplift the living standards of people. The people of Caprivi produce craft-work, work with beads and reeds, pottery, traditional games and the preparation of indigenous dishes. “Other possible projects that can be undertaken by the community include cultural performances, basketry, traditional costume making and display, indigenous fruit gathering, sledge rides, carving and establishment and display of traditional village/life”, added Simataa. A number of investors, including some from South Africa, have already shown interest in the project.