GOVERNMENT is to spend more than N$35 million on the relocation of the Opuwo airstrip after a Ministry of Works and Transport feasibility study found the current location “undesirable” and “unsuitable”.
The Opuwo Town Council's chief executive officer, Alphons Tjitombo, told The Namibian yesterday that the situation at the airstrip had become unsafe for air traffic.
“The fence constructed few years ago is partially cut and damaged by people and animals,” said Tjitombo.
Tjitombo added that the airstrip must be moved because currently it is cutting the town in two. Simply rehabilitating the current airstrip is not an option, he said.
“The aerodrome is inhibiting the movement of people and vehicles between the town and the informal settlements east and south-east of the aerodrome. And it is because of this division that people ended up cutting the fence surrounding the aerodrome to get from one side to the other.
“Opuwo is a major tourist destination and the free movement of people, motor vehicles and livestock across and within the aerodrome severely affects the safety of air traffic,” he said.
Tjitombo said the airstrip is also preventing the expansion of the town towards the east.
“The lack of water points on the outskirts of the town has led to extensive damage because people created entryways by cutting the fence surrounding the aerodrome to make way for animals to drink water from the sewage ponds located inside the fence. And this water is contaminated and will contaminate the animals, which in itself is a threat,” he said.
It is not clear how many jobs the project will create and a breakdown of the N$35 million budget was also not readily available.
Tjitombo told The Namibian that Windhoek Consulting Engineers (WCE) are in charge of the relocation.
The new airport will be located east of the town, about four kilometres from the main road between Omakange and Opuwo.
Opuwo was proclaimed as a town in November 2 000 and is now the regional capital of the Kunene Region.
Last month The Namibian reported that the Opuwo Town Council's expenditure was far more than its income.
The town council reportedly had an expenditure of N$5,6 million, while its income was a mere N$3,9 million.