If all goes according to plan, construction of the Baynes hydropower Dam in the Kunene Region will commence next year.
This is according to the Governor of Kunene Angelika Muharukua, who strongly believes that construction of Baynes – also known as Orokawe hydropower – will uplift the region.
The governments of Namibia and Angola intend to build a hydropower plant and dam downstream of the Epupa Falls at Baynes along the Kunene River, 200 km downstream of the Ruacana in the Epupa Constituency.
The Governor of Kunene region believes the construction of the Baynes hydropower will benefit the entire country. “This is the development we’re talking about. The people who are opposing its construction are mainly outsiders, who are instigating the locals to oppose the construction of the dam,” said Muharukua in a telephonic interview with New Era yesterday.
In a Nampa report citing Minister of Mines and Energy Obeth Kandjoze in November last year it was said that “a few issues” need to be ironed out before work on the project starts.
Despite this, there are still concerns among residents that they were not consulted properly and made aware of the benefits of the dam and what their stake in it would be.
In an interview with New Era at Okanguati in September last year, chiefs who gathered for a ceremony in that area remarked that government wanted to “steal” from them with the construction of the hydropower.
“If we give away our land for the construction of the dam, where will we go?” asked Chief Maongo Hembinda of Orotjirindi. He maintained the construction of the hydropower station would only benefit government and not the inhabitants of the area, who are predominantly Ovahimba.
He also said communities living there have graves of their loved ones and exhuming those graves would be disrespecting the dead.
Yesterday the councillor of the Epupa Constituency in the Kunene, Nguzu Johannes Muharukua, said the planned construction of the dam created divisions among communities in that part of the world.
“The views of the majority of the community living at and near Orokawe on whether the construction of the dam should go ahead has not been given due consideration,” Nguzu Muharukua stated. He added that the majority of people living in that area still do not understand the benefits of constructing the hydropower station.
“I am a councillor of this constituency, but I do not even have the latest information on the status of the hydropower,” he remarked and stressed the need for proper consultation between all stakeholders, including the communities living at Orokawe.
Governor Muharukua maintains that the majority of the people are in favour of the construction of the dam. “Those who are against it are being instigated by outsiders,” maintained the governor.
“People should not politicise development, because that will not benefit the community. The people want the dam, because they know it will bring development,” said Muharukua, adding that the electricity from the hydropower will not only benefit the Kunene, but the entire country.