14 December 2012

Namibia: Creating a New Oshakati

Massive plans are underway for Oshakati with the New Oshakati Concept, the brainchild of the town's Flood Mitigation Project under the Master Plan Project.

The Oshakati Master Plan Project was first conceptualised in 2007 after the town was inundated and left shattered by heavy floods. The impetus driving the project was to develop the town but due to flooding, this was almost impossible.

The government needed a permanent solution for the town and its people and decided to priority the Flood Mitigation Project in order to develop Oshakati. It has since grown into one of the biggest projects that the town has embarked on.

As a first step, the Oshakati Town Council has serviced the Ekuku higher ground area and project plans are well underway. Once complete, all the previously affected households situated on lower grounds will be relocated to Ekuku with free serviced plots. This will allow the Town Council to have more land at its disposal to implement the dynamic New Oshakati Project.

The concept comprises four projects which include constructing a dike around the town, the alignment of and deepening of the rivers, building gates to control water coming into the town as well as the reconstruction and expansion of the bridges, chiefly the Sky and Okandjengendhi bridges.

Construction is already in progress for the Okandjengendhi bridge and other pedestrian bridges will also be constructed allowing people from the surrounding villages to walk to and from the town's main business area.

In an exclusive interview with the Economist on Thursday, the Director of Buro of Architecture Namibia, Martha Amupolo said the concept is advancing well. Buro of Architecture is the company responsible for the design of the dike and the directing of flood water as part of the Mitigation Project.

She said the 23km long dike surrounding the town will not only be protecting it from further flooding, but with the deepening of the ground, water will be harvested. "The harvested water will remain at that area even when droughts occurs so that people and animals can still continue to mak use of the rain water."

Amupolo said that their main idea was to turn Oshakati into an island but the experts that conducted the environmental assessment advised against the idea due to the risk of malaria. "The whole project is costly and it is up to the government to go with the idea or not as we have to keep the water running in order to avoid attracting mosquitoes and this costs a lot of money."

Amupolo explained that the town is not only flooded by water coming from the northern area but when the efundja flows down to Ompundja, it bounces back to Oshakati so flooding happens from the two sides.

The dike is designed to contain flooding from both directions. "With the aligning and deepening of the ground around the dike, fishing can continue, people can make use of boats and tourism can be enhanced." Agriculture can also be enhanced and the dike will have a side walk allowing residents and animals to walk around freely.

She said that although the dream might not be realised soon, it is do-able and the next generations will also contribute as it is an ongoing project and may even go on for three more generations before it is complete.

Amupolo said that the foundations are set as the servicing of the Ekuku area is nearly finished and the designs of the project is done. "What is left is the implementation of the projects."

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