With the festive season looming some toilets in the Etosha National Park which have been closed to the public for months are still not fixed – a situation which forces visitors to use the bush when nature calls.
This comes months after the alarm was sounded at a stakeholders’ meeting of the Etosha East Forum, where officials from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, lodge owners, members of local and traditional authorities and the police force meet regularly to deliberate on plans, developments and issues arising within Etosha and surrounding areas.
Recently, New Era reported that some toilets in the Etosha National Park have been closed to the public mainly due to lack of staff to maintain and regularly clean all the latrines in the park.
It is understood the toilets have been out of operation for several months now, which has sparked concerns from tourists visiting the park, as they are forced to use the bush when nature calls, or alternatively to drive back to the campsite or lodge where they are accommodated.
Contacted for comment whether this crisis been sorted out taking into consideration that the festive season is looming, Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) Manager for Corporate Communications and Online Media, Mufaro Nesongano, said: “As NWR, our mandate is to operate the facilities within the national parks. Whereas the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) manages all the facilities within the parks. It would therefore be advisable to seek clarification on the state of the facilities from MET.”
Meanwhile, the spokesperson at MET Romeo Muyunda said first of all it’s important to distinguish between such facilities in NWR resorts and campsites from the ablution facilities around the park.
He said the ablution facilities around the national park are managed by MET and those in resorts and campsites are managed by NWR.
“With regard to all toilets managed by the ministry, only one has been closed because it needs major repairs or maintenance. All the other toilets around the park are in good working order and are cleaned,” he said.
According to Muyunda, the ministry is in the process of repairing one of the toilets to ensure it is open for use by visitors.
In this regard, he said, a notice has been put up to warn visitors of such inconvenience. Namutoni camp is one of the notable campsites to have been affected.
However, plans are underway to rehabilitate and redesign the toilets, and one of the proposed designs is based on the bucket toilet system.
Other issues deliberated on at the time of the stakeholders’ meeting included the illegal sale of alcohol by individuals within the park, although cases of that nature were said not to be occurring anymore, as opposed to past years. The issue of security was also raised in relation to absentee landlords of nearby farms that serve as gateways for intruders and poachers into the park.
In some instances only workers are left on the farm and some collude with poachers to gain access to the park.