While the Namibian government and local municipalities are burning the midnight oil to erect new recreational and sports facilities in previously neglected areas – those already in existence have become white elephants and an eyesore.
Khorixas, situated in the Kunene Region, approximately 200 kilometers northwest of Otjiwarongo, is one the few rural towns equipped with world-class sports facilities. The town boasts a state-of-the-art lawn sports field with athletic track, as well as an adjusted field for netball and basketball, complimented by a well-structured grandstand for spectators.
However, the facilities are in a deplorable state and now resemble a neglected garbage patch, where apparently very little maintenance takes place.
The clearly under-utilised netball and basketball courts and stadium have become the grazing ground of stray elephants, which frequently pop by, as they cannot resist the lure of fresh grass, thus trampling the surface and vandalising structures in the process.
Kunene Regional Sports Officer Esna Haradoes says her hands are tied and there is very little her office can do to the remedy the sorry situation: “It’s not only about the maintenance of sports facilities, we are saddled with lots of other major problems that remain unresolved.”
The bespectacled sports officer puts the blame squarely on the shoulders of the portfolio ministry. “I’ve written numerous complaints to the ministry and although they always acknowledged receipt, very little is done, if anything.
“There is also a serious shortage of transport and as a result schools are unable to meet time lines for designated sports activities in the vast region,” she said. She adds that the breakdown in communication between her office and the ministry’s headquarters is part of the problem.
“Workshops are held regularly, but resolutions taken at these gatherings are now gathering dust because they are not carried out. As it stands, there is nobody to water the grass and take care of other functions since the death of the former caretaker last year.”
Despite all the troubles hampering progress, Haradoes is not throwing in the towel yet and says she wants to introduce traditional sports, including the revered Owela (traditional chess).
Approached for comment, deputy director of school sports Norii Kaanjuka admitted that the ministry faces serious obstacles and challenges, but noted that the problems are not restricted to Khorixas.
“We just had a workshop at Gross Barmen, where all these problems were addressed and recommendations were made to implement certain programmes aimed at erecting new facilities, while upgrading existing ones,” he said.
Kaanjukua, however, expressed disappointment in some municipalities and town councils: “There is a sickening tendency practiced by some municipalities, who have made it their sole beat to inflate charges for water usage with regard to watering lawns on the fields.”
He urged residents in the outlying areas to be a bit more responsible by taking ownership of government facilities and called on residents to regard the local sports facilities as public property.