WALVIS BAY – The Botswana dry port that is currently under construction is under scrutiny as some coastal residents are up in arms over the fact that no environmental impact assessment (EIA) study was done before the construction of the port.
The disappointed residents residing in close proximity to the future port attended a meeting for affected parties with representatives of the municipal authority, the Botswana railways as well environmentalists from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism last week Wednesday at Walvis Bay.
The meeting was held after numerous complaints about dust, noise pollution and several other health and safety concerns were raised by residents, including cracks starting to appear in the walls of their homes due to the construction work on site.
The residents felt that proper procedures were not followed prior to the construction of the dry port and that their inputs were also not noted, while they have to deal with the potential health hazards.
Addressing the meeting, environmental officer Selma Uushini said proper procedures were not followed by the developer of the project in terms of the EIA study.
According to her, residents were supposed to be notified by the developer about issues arising from the construction of the port, be they positive or negative.
“Residents were to be told how this operation would be carried out and how the project would affect them during all phases. There is legislation that allows for sustainable development where the interested and affected parties’ concerns are addressed and their input. This should be followed by any developer,” she said.
The commercial manager representing Botswana’s interests in the project, Mthulusi Lotshe Lotshe said they were not aware that an EIA study was not conducted but they were under the impression that “everything had been done under the legal framework” of Namibia.
He said he only learned about the breach of the regulatory process at the meeting on Wednesday evening.
Namport port engineer Elzevir Gelderbloem said that due to the concerns raised by residents, Namport planned to erect a sound-proof fence around the construction site in due course. “However the fence would cost N$10 million and this is still under discussion with the Botswana government,” he explained.
By Eveline de Klerk