The CEO of the Namibia Water Corporation (NamWater), Dr Vaino Shivute, came under scathing criticism earlier this week from traditional leaders and farmers in Omusati, angered by the water utility’s plan to close the Calueque-Oshakati canal.
Shivute came under a ferocious verbal onslaught when he met traditional leaders and farmers on Monday to make a presentation on the NamWater-sanctioned pre-feasibility study aimed at establishing the viability of the rehabilitation of the Etaka/Olushandja Dam at Outapi.
According to Shivute, the proposed closure of the canal was necessitated by the high costs that come with the maintenance of the water canal, illegal water connections by community members and the apparently loss of human lives due to drowning in the canal.
The message was not taken lightly by those in attendance, including traditional leaders, farmers, regional councillors and community members, who openly expressed their displeasure with Shivute’s proposal.
They called on NamWater to go back to the drawing board and come up with a master plan on how best to supply water to the canal, but also to streamline the provision of water to rural communities.
“You want to close the canal just because of a few isolated cases of loss of human lives? Then we should also close the roads and stop using cars that also significantly contribute to the loss of human lives,” reasoned Tataati Simon Shileka, the chairman of the Omusati Regional Council and Regional Councillor of Outapi Constituency.
Leader of the Uukwaluudhi Traditional Authority, King Josea Shikongo Taapopi called on NamWater and on government to rather extend the provision of water through the canal to other constituencies and villages in deep rural areas of the drought-affected regions.
“We should extend this canal into rural areas and our cattle posts so that our animals and wildlife species, such as elephants get to drink this water,” said the Uukwaluudhi traditional leader.
NamWater claims to spend about N$6 million a year on the maintenance of the canal due to flooding and vandalism, but this claim was strongly dismissed by traditional leaders present at the meeting. They argued that these statistics are false and that NamWater is fooling people.
Matias Walaula, Chief of the Ombandja Traditional Authority, called on the government to also explore other sources of water to compliment the supply of water from Calueque in Angola.
“We have the Kavango River, Zambezi River and Orange River, why don’t we use this water to build many other canals so that people can have enough water in the country?” asked Walaula.
In his concluding remarks, the Governor of the Omusati Region, Erginus Endjala, announced that a committee would be set up in the region, comprising relevant stakeholders to document all the concerns surrounding the issue of the canal closure so that a full report can be submitted to the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry.