Floods in Oshikango displace businesses

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Nuusita Ashipala

Oshikango – The floodwaters streaming through the northern border town of Oshikango have left several shops submerged in water, resulting in the closure of several businesses at the informal Okatwitwi location.

Apart from those submerged in water, Angolan nationals in the area, who are known for mahangu and other crop produce sales, also had to vacate their stalls after the area was hit by heavy flooding on Monday afternoon.

Many at that section of the market are currently accommodated in shacks around the location, but the same shacks are also disposed to flooding.

The wave that hit Oshikango East stream is part of a bigger wave streaming into Shanalumono, Engela, Ohaingu, Shakambebe, Okanwa, Oneheke and Okalongo West streams. Apart from Oshikango, the flood wave is reported to have hit other streams by Saturday morning.

Hydrologist responsible for the Cuvelai-Etosha Basin in Northern Namibia Leonard Hango said the flow of water in the Oshikango East stream is slow compared to other streams where there is rainwater present already.

He said streams, such as the Shanalumo, are directly connected to the river in Angola, hence its fast flow. The water level at Shanalumono stands at 0.89 metres. The stream at Shakambebe was also observed to be flowing at a very fast pace.

“There was not much of an inundation at Oshikango. That is why the water is flowing very slowly, because it is inundating other areas as it comes down,” said Hango.
By yesterday morning, several business people had already relocated their belongings, while a handful were still in the process of moving.

Emilia Kongashili, one of the residents housing the Angolan nationals whose place at the market was flooded, said the floodwater was detected in the area on Sunday already.
“By the time they knocked off yesterday, the area was still clear until almost around six in the evening when the water stormed through the market and into some shacks,” said Kongashili.

Oshikango Mayor Eliaser Nghipangelwa said only a section of the Okatwitwi location is expected to be flooded, but could not give any estimate of the number of businesses expected to be flooded.

Despite the strong wave of flooding from Angola, Angolan nationals continue to cross the border unabated to shop at the border town.
Tomas Haitembu, who hails from Onheleu Village, said the wave front is much stronger and the water much deeper in Angola.

“The water is very deep. We cross in underwear and only dress when we approach the border where the water is more shallow,” said Haitembu.
Onheleu is just five km from the Oshikango border.

Several other Angolan nationals, including young mothers with babies on their backs, are amongst those who crossed the deep water. They claim their crop fields in Angola are under water.

Over 70 people have so far drowned in Oshana, Omusati and Ohangwena regions because of heavy downpours.

Over 60 schools in Omusati Region are also reported to have shut their doors, while about some 120 families consisting of 562 individuals have been displaced at Oshakati and temporarily relocated to Ekuku.

Heavy rainfall is forecast for the areas within the Cuvelai Basin, including Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena, Kunene, Kavango East and West and the Zambezi regions and residents of those areas are advised to be on high alert for possible flooding.

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