Kasane – Kasika and Impalila Island residents in Kabbe South Constituency in the Zambezi Region want the government to prioritise infrastructural development as they are currently compelled to use boats to access basic amenities at the nearest border town of Kasane in Botswana.
Apart from an immigration office, a police station, school and clinic, Impalila has no roads or shopping centres, forcing residents to take a boat to Kasane for shopping.
The situation is even worse for the residents of Kasika who are required to travel through Kasane to get to Impalila to access health services.
“The predicament is that some of these people do not have passports and when they get to Kasane to get to Impalila they are arrested. Sometimes they are forced to overnight at the border because the border closes at 4.30pm,” related Kalika Ngonga Richard who ferries people to Impalila.
“Sometimes it is windy and there are animals in the water and we lose people through this transportation system,” Robinson Sibongo narrates the challenges they further face.
In addition, the residents claim they are required to fork out a lot of money as their passport gets full quickly as they frequently cross into Botswana, with some people crossing twice weekly.
The ferries cost N$10 for a six-minute boat trip to Kasika and five minutes to Impalila. Residents are charged N$1,000 to have their cars ferried over to the two areas.
Kabbe South Constituency Councillor John Likando said seven people have died, while three were attacked by crocodiles this year alone whilst crossing the waters.
“It is a critical issue and when we speak about these things people think we are capitalising on votes – and that is why we have brought the cadres from the Swapo Party School to come and observe the situation first hand,” said Likando.
Last week Likando, flanked by the Swapo Party School rector Marco Hausiku, led a delegation of over 50 people from the school into Impalila.
While the residents of the two areas continue to endure suffering, a government river transport vessel is lying idle in Katima Mulilo and is only used during emergencies such as floods, as its operational costs are apparently too expensive.
Likando who is a resident of the area sympathised with residents, saying something needs to be done to address the issue.
He said the issue of road infrastructure at Impalila has been long coming. He said he has raised a motion for the island to be declared a settlement which will see it transform into a village council and consequently into a town to attract investors.
Likando assured that Impalila will by the end of this year have electricity and a mobile telecommunication network.
Getting the school feeding programme to the area is also a challenge. Officials who refused to be named said there are challenges of finance to get the food on time to the school. Because of the transportation method the maize often gets spoiled on the way.