New Era’s regional reporter for the two Kavango regions, John Muyamba, also known as ‘The Riverside Reporter’, this week caught up with Governor of Kavango West Sirkka Ausiku to discuss the progress, as well as challenges in her region, especially regarding infrastructure development, which remains in high demand.
New Era: How far is the process to construct the government office park in Nkurenkuru. We see there have been some delays, although the earthworks were completed last year already?
Sirkka Ausiku: The construction of the government office park’s phase 1 – which is earthworks – is completed and the tender for the construction of the park was advertised already and closed on the 25th of July 2016. Kavango West Regional Council is currently busy with evaluation before the awarding of the tender. The construction of the park is not being delayed. It is on the right track and my wish is for the contractor to be on site by September 2016, before the budget review in October 2016. We all know the Ministry of Finance and National Planning Commission do no entertain funds lying around and they may channel it to other projects, which are running elsewhere in thec ountry.
What ministries or departments will be housed in the government office park?
It will house the Office of the Governor, Kavango West Regional Council, Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture and the Ministry of Works and Transport’s department of maintenance.
Tell us about the clinic that is being built in Nkurenkuru and the progress being made in this regard.
We are disappointed as a region with the slow progress in the construction of the Nkurenkuru Primary Health Clinic, as well as the district hospital, which has been abandoned. The clinic is 85 percent complete. The site handover was on 15 April 2014 and the original completion date was 9 October 2015.
What type of services are still lacking in the regional capital, Nkurenkuru?
Lack of serviced land, office space, accommodation and conference facilities, restaurants and financial institutions, are among many. We also desperately need a public secondary school with a hostel, because as of now we only have a combined school and a primary school that cater for the residents of Nkurenkuru and surrounding areas and nearby villages.
How is infrastructure development in the region as a whole progressing?
In terms of infrastructure in the region a lot is happening. For example, the construction of four constituency offices, Rupara Rural Development Centre, three shopping complexes that are under construction in Nkurenkuru and re-graveling of road D3407, which links Nzinze Nepara and Mpungu Vlei. Last financial year most [government] offices, ministries and agencies informed the region that they were at documentation stage with their projects and the construction was due to commence this financial year and we hope this will materialise. As a Governor I am happy, but I feel we can do more. I would not like funds earmarked for the region to be returned to Treasury, or be diverted to other projects out of the region. That will mean there’s bad planning. We’ll continue to lobby these offices, ministries and agencies to establish themselves in the region, as well as the private sector to join hands with the government and construct proper office spaces for agencies, as well as government to rent, and accommodation facilities, including lodges, guesthouses and hotels, to attract and cater to people visiting, like tourists coming to Kavango West Region, or when there are workshops and other events hosted in our region. As for now, we’re struggling.
Madam Governor, what has been the education ministry’s response to your call for construction of a secondary school in the area?
They told us that a new secondary school with a hostel is on their priority list for this financial year and we rely on their word for them to deliver, as it is really a need, not a want.
How is the drought situation affecting Kavango West?
The Regional Disaster Risk Management Committee, together with the Office of the Prime Minister, is managing the drought relief situation in the region.
What makes Kavango West unique? Why should an investor choose it over another region?
SA: The region has abundant flora and fauna. If properly developed, it will address poverty and unemployment in the region. The region can serve as a breadbasket for the country at large, as it has fertile soil and a perennial river, which is suitable for irrigation projects. Being a new region that is practically starting over, investors can grab many opportunities that are here. They know what the region needs, developers can come and build facilities for businesses that are needed in the region, especially in Nkurenkuru, where accommodation space for both offices and people to live in is a challenge, as well as the lack of medical facilities and leisure facilities.