Agriculture ministry apologies for Oshivelo delays

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Windhoek-The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry says contingency provisions have been put in place at the Oshivelo check point to immediately respond to any situation should delays of motorists occur as experienced on Sunday where hundreds of drivers were left enraged over long and slow queues.

The ministry has not only apologised to the aggrieved motorists and members of the public who were delayed at the Oshivelo veterinary Check point, but is also looking at several medium and long term measures in anticipation of the upcoming festive season, if the FMD situation remains the same.

Hundreds of motorists were left high and dry at the Oshivelo veterinary Check Point on Sunday following long queues stretching over two kilometres from the check point.

Some of the motorists claim they joined the queues leading to the check point as early as 06h00 in the morning, but only left in the evening because of the long and slow moving queues.

The crisis is attributed to the control measures which were instituted during May in response to the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak, as each and every vehicle passing had to be sprayed, while individuals had to step on a carpet with chemical solutions.

Many passengers and motorists abandoned their vehicles and resorted to walk to the nearby shebeens to quench their thirst, while others rested under the trees alongside the Omuthiya and Oshivelo main road. The Namibian traffic police was also deployed along the buy road to maintain law and order.

“Our cardinal objective with this intervention is to prevent the transmission of FMD through the food, clothes or vehicles returning from the NCA (northern communal areas) and causing an outbreak elsewhere in the country. We cannot overemphasize the importance of this disease and the devastating effect it has and may have on the economy and livelihood of the farming communities of our country and we therefore appreciate the patience and understanding of the public and continue to ask for your maximum cooperation and understating during the control of this outbreak,” Abraham Nehemia, the acting permanent secretary in the ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry yesterday said.

He said the reason for the delay was mainly attributable to the huge numbers of travellers returning from school holidays, the Ongwediva Annual Trade Fair and the Olufuko festival.

“Whilst this phenomenon is expected at this time of the year, it was compounded by the control measures that were introduced to contain the spread of FMD in the Northern Communal Areas of the country,” he noted.

Further, he explained each vehicle and all the occupants of  vehicles were expected to subject themselves to search and disinfection procedures as prescribe by the Animal Health Act {Act 1 of 20ll}, which increased the time it normally takes a vehicle to pass the check point as opposed to when there is no FMD outbreak.

“This alerting and returning to vehicles caused more delays as not all members of the public promptly returned to their vehicles in order to make space for other vehicles in the queue,” he said.

Coincidentally, Nehemia said that almost 60 percent of motorist chose to use the veterinary check point at Oshivelo, between 07hOOand 20hOO on Sunday, resulting in congestion at that checkpoint with normal to under utilization at Verda and Bravo Check points.

He however, informed the nation that the situation has normalized as from 02h30 yesterday morning (31 August 2015), and vehicles are passing the checkpoints with minimal delays.

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