‘Affected residents ignored warning’ – official
By Anna Ingwafa
Officials in the northern part of Namibia have warned people in the area to be on the lookout amid fears heavy rains may cause more flooding in Oshakati and surrounding villages where an estimated 3 000 people have already been affected.
Already, residents in these areas have been hit by flash floods caused by three consecutive days of heavy rainfall.
The worst affected areas at Oshakati are: Oshoopala, Oneshila, Kandjengendi, and Uupindi informal settlements.
Villages from Endola are completely cut off from Oshakati because the small bridge linking the two areas has been washed away.
The water also threatens to damage the bridge from Ompundja that is now under water with authorities fearing it can collapse anytime.
The Oshana regional Governor Clemens Kashuupulwa, Police Regional Commander
Ndahangwapo Ka-shihakunwa in collaboration with Oshakati Municipality and other stakeholders held a joint media briefing yesterday to discuss the situation.
After assessing the flood situation with his team, Kashupulwa estimated the number of people affected at about 3 000.
Measures have been put in place to rescue about 500 people believed to be badly affected and to relocate them to higher drier ground.
According to Kashuupulwa, the committee decided to relocate the most affected people to Ongwediva Trade Fair and University of Namibia Northern Campus Hall for the time being.
With the help of Namibia Defense Force, those relocated were given tents for use until the situation returns to normal.
The team appealed to the NDF to put up temporary bridges to allow affected communities to reach the centre of town.
The governor urged people to be calm.
“The situation at the regional level is still under control, we have financial constraints but we have already communicated this to the central government for assistance,” he said.
He expressed concern over the level of water in the area, saying that this could result in water-borne diseases due to unhygienic conditions in and around informal settlements.
There is also a fear of criminals breaking into houses in the flood-hit area, as the Namibian police will be available only at the temporary settlements where people have been relocated.
The situation is not expected to return to normal soon because the town has no drainage facilities to remove water from affected settlements.
The governor urged the local municipality to draw lessons from this crisis and ensure that it is not caught by surprise should flooding occurs in future.
Kashuupulwa appealed to business people and individuals in the region and beyond to render materials and other support to those affected by the floods. He said people need clothes, blankets and food.
He urged parents to accompany their children to and from school and enjoined motorists to be cautious to avoid unnecessary cases of drowning.
The governor appealed to the government to help the region with a helicopter for use in monitoring the floods from the air.
Meanwhile, the Oshakati Chief Executive Officer John Nghihepa has said most of the inhabitants of the flooded Uupindi informal settlement are illegal occupants who were warned by the municipality not to settle on the flood prone area but chose to ignore the warning.
The Regional Emergency Committee is expected to meet soon to come up with a solution to the problem of floods in and around Oshakati and the region.