Windhoek — Staff at the Otjozondu Primary School in the Omatako Constituency of the Otjozondjupa Region have expressed gratitude for a New Era article on dust pollution at the settlement.
The article, published in New Era about a month ago, brought to the fore the plight of the community that is constantly exposed to the inhalation of black dust believed to come from trucks that carry loads of manganese ore from Purity Manganese mine adjacent to the settlement at Otjozondu.
"Thank you very much for publishing our story," said child care supervisor at the school hostel, Emmanuel Mujazu, explaining that since the story was published, an alternate road has been scraped for use by the trucks carrying manganese ore.
As previously reported, learners and teachers at the school are living in fear of being exposed to health hazards due to the constant inhalation of black dust. Mujazu confirmed that about 500 learners and 20 teachers have been experiencing constant headaches, flu-like symptoms and skin rash, which look like chicken pox.
"The learners are coughing continuously and covered in black dust," he was reported as saying at the time.
Since the article was published, health inspectors visited the school to assess the situation and staff from the Ministry of Works and Transport are currently working at the school to fix clogged drains and replace old pipes, according to Mujazu.
"The mine will be using a back road on a piece of land belonging to a commercial farmer," he said with relief, adding that this would help diminish the inhalation of dust coming from the main road situated close to the school.
"The road will hopefully be completed by January next year," he said, adding that the rain has also helped to settle the dust problem.
The Purity Manganese mine is located about 1.5 kilometres from the school - however, the boys hostel is only 50 metres away from the mine, according to Mujazu. The mine and the school are separated only by a public gravel road.