By William Mbangula OSHAKATI Residents of Ompundja constituency in Oshana region have teamed up to address an inhibiting factor in the development of their area, a risky and troublesome riverbed. The river is prone to flooding and, because it was impassable as always, this led to the death of two children who could not be taken through it to the hospital for medical treatment. One incident happened in 2000 when a child from Ondulu village was bitten by a snake but could not cross the running waters to receive medical attention at a clinic at the nearby village. A similar incident occurred in 1980 when a sick child from Ombonde village could not reach the clinic and also died. The stream also poses a problem for learners from Ontako Primary School. Some children from Ombonde are compelled every year to put up at the homes of family members or friends for several months until the waters subside. Being the gateway to the main flooding plains of Oponono, Hinakulu yomadhiya, Uupeke, Ekango Saltpan, Omapale, cattle posts, forest development projects in the semi-desert area at Engombe, church, pension pay-out points and other important destinations, the crossing point is regarded as crucial to the survival of the users of the road in the northern regions. The Councillor for Compendia constituency, Adolf Uunona, told New Era that close to 20 000 people use the crossing line every month during the rainy season including government officials, tourists and representatives of non-governmental organizations. As a result, he noted, residents have decided that enough is enough. They will put up a makeshift bridge at any cost because the point is key to their own development and survival. Since the end of September this year, residents have been collecting money and building materials to construct the bridge. The construction work, with voluntary advice from the Road Construction Company (RCC), started in earnest last month and is expected to be completed before the rainy season sets in. Uunona said his office is spearheading the construction work with the full participation and cooperation of the residents. Several individuals and committees have been appointed and established. They are collecting money and materials from residents living within and outside the constituency, as well as from people of goodwill. Some Committee leaders are Leonard Paulus (Onashiku), Iita Shoopala (Oshinyadhila), Mwetulunda Mwahi (Omega), Shikongo Nafuka (Oshipumbu), Linus Shiimi (Oshakati), Shiningeni Shigwedha (Ongwediva), Hiskia Haufiku (Ompundja) and Aukus Shilofwelwa (Onamavo). Appealing for financial and material assistance, Uunona noted that his people are not only requesting ssistance while they are sitting idle and doing nothing, but they themselves have already started helping. Close to N$3 000 has been collected, and 41 cement bags have been bought and donated to the project. Many car and tractor owners are collecting sand, water and other materials on a voluntary basis. “All what we need from the government, NGOs and individuals of goodwill, wherever they may be, is to supplement what we have started in order to ensure sustainable development in our constituency,” he said.