Dear Mr Minister of Environment and Tourism,
Dear Permanent Secretary of the same Ministry,
Dear Ombudsman, Mr John Walters, please take note:
During the last couple of years I have visited Sossusvlei with quite a number of visitors to our country. I regularly take them for a walk to Dead Vlei and surrounding areas, and every time I go there I am shocked – shocked and appalled by the state of our biggest tourist attraction, Sossusvlei.
The area of Sossusvlei and its surrounds have been permitted to degrade to the state of a public toilet.
What has happened to our pristine desert?
According to the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia, Article 91(c), which reads, inter alia: … failure to protect the beauty and character of Namibia.
Your Ministry and your staff, Mr Minister, are in charge, but you have failed completely to protect our most valuable asset.
Please go and have a look for yourselves; take a walk around Sossusvlei together with one of us guides – I am a professional Namibian tour guide and I volunteer my services – and see for yourselves. You would be as disgusted as I am.
Virtually behind every dune or tuft of grass you will find toilet paper, tissues and excrements and more despicable items. Let me make it clear: Even one piece of toilet paper is too much!
Is This Really Necesssary?
I do not think so. In my opinion, it is you and your staff who simply ignore the basic needs and requirements of our valued Namibian guests, and our local inhabitants.
We all have basic needs, and one of the most basic needs is a reasonably acceptable toilet facility so that you can relieve yourselves in a hygienic and acceptable way, especially at a place where you have a concentration of many people.
Please Provide Something that is Acceptable to the Modern Human Being.
What do we have at present? :
Wooden shacks over a pit that stinks to high heaven with a toilet pot that is so dirty and grimy that you cannot expect any self-respecting person to use it.
Can we really offer these absolutely unacceptable facilities at an entrance fee of N$80 to our Namibian guests and call this civilized hospitality? No! By offering this, you force the guests to go into the desert to deface one of our most valuable assets.
Please, there is NO necessity for expensive, flushing toilets. What is required, however, is a decent hut, with a functioning door, a decent toilet seat, some chemicals to dispel the smell and the daily cleaning of the facilities and, as a bonus, some toilet paper. (If you do not know where something like this can be purchased, please ask Mr Goldbeck, CEO of Gondwana Park – they have just installed some at Aus Info Centre. These toilets do not cost millions!)
Furthermore, it would be required to instruct every visitor/driver and guide to use the facilities provided, and make them aware that this is a pristine desert area, making them aware of: Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints!
Please note: This despicable situation holds true for Aruvlei and the rest of the Namib Naukluft Park facilities.
They are at present visited by millions of flies. (At Ganab, we saw two live snakes that had fallen into the long drop – poor creature! We were not able to help them, but with a proper toilet, this could have probably been avoided.)
TOUR GUIDE AND PROUD NAMIBIAN CITIZEN