Omusati regional governor Erginus Endjala, joined by traditional authorities, churches and community activists, has rejected in totality plans to seal the Calueque-Oshakati canal and replace it with a pipeline.
The canal, which is approximately 150km long, supplies northern Namibia with water from the Cunene River in southern Angola for drinking and irrigation.
The canal serves an estimated 950 000 people in Namibia but has been beset with multiple problems in the form of severe water losses, sedimentation and high costs of maintenance and purification.
Endjala confirmed that he received a letter, dated June 11, informing him about the pre-feasibility study being conducted for the purpose of investigating the technical, financial and environmental viability of replacing the Calueque -Oshakati canal with a pipeline.
The office of the governor was requested to contact all the authorities, institutions and people who might be affected by the proposed project and to get them to provide their comment to the office of Urban Green cc by latest July 3 this year.
In the meeting held at Outapi yesterday, attended by traditional authorities, regional councillors, community members as well as former Omusati governors, the idea was condemned with attendees saying they have been dependent on the canal since pre-independence.
National water utility NamWater justified its plan by citing high maintenance costs, amongst others.
“The need and desirability for the mentioned is based on the high financial costs and social implications associated with yearly damages caused by flooding,” reads the NamWater email to Endjala.
“The canal frequently gets damaged resulting in water losses, supply interruptions downstream, high operating costs and health risks.”
The email further noted that the current system of raw water transfer by open canal entails a number of problems.
“The 24 inverted siphons and one super passage (the Caluegue-Oshakati canal) is unable to accommodate the surface flow which spreads out over a large area. During floods the canal gets inundated and flooded at various sections,” it reads further.
“Other problems experienced as a result of the yearly flooding are water quality requiring additional costs to treat the polluted water , reduction of the canal capacity due to island debris deposits and clay deposits entering the Oshakati purification plants,” said NamWater.
It stressed that all the problems result in additional costs for NamWater, expected to be close to N$6 milion per year, which in turn result in continuously increasing costs for the end user.
However, Endjala said it is very inhuman today after 25 years of independence to be taken back to the early 1960s’ tap water from the wells, while the provision of water specifically rural water supply to some parts of Omusati Region is still a dream not yet realised.
“Therefore NamWater and the ministry of agriculture must rethink their action plan,” urged the governor.
Speaking during the meeting the Uukwambi traditional leader Herman Ndilimani Iipumbu also condemned the proposal saying that whoever came up with that idea was sent to interrupt the peace among those affected.
Ombalantu chief Oswin Mukulu also rejected the idea and urged NamWater to alter its stance.
Johannes Ndundu, a senior traditional leader of Uukwaluudhi who represented Chief Shikongo Hosea Taapopi, likened the planned removal of the canal to “reinventing a second war”.