10 January 2013

Namibia: Government Caves in On Fresh Produce Centre

THE Ministry of Agriculture has agreed to set up the fresh produce business centre at Wanaheda in Windhoek after initially pushing for the hub to be located in an industrial area. Agriculture Permanent Secretary Joseph Iita confirmed to The Namibian yesterday that they have accepted the land which the Windhoek Municipality made available to them.

The City council received a letter this year from the Ministry of Agriculture informing them that they will accept the land.

According to a source, President Hifikepunye Pohamba, who has an interest in agriculture, is said to have given a green light that the hub be set up in Wanaheda instead of Prosperita.

The ministry intends to build a wholesale market, bulk cold storage and retail facilities. It will also provide facilities for sorting, grading, packaging, branding, transportation and distribution logistics of locally produced horticulture products.

Iita said the hub will be set up as soon as they get support of financial and technical skills, adding that implementation will start in the next financial year.

The agriculture ministry described the land as "too small and the intended project will require large open platforms suitable for heavy trucks and interlinks to simplify loading and unloading of products in bulk".

City of Windhoek's chief executive officer, Niilo Taapopi said the ball is in the agriculture ministry's hands and they have done what they could.

The council donated the land to the agriculture ministry and all the councillors agreed that development should be brought closer to the people, arguing that "Prosperita is on the other side of Windhoek where access by previously disadvantaged was only possible after independence. One would like to have access to the facility easily and buy our tomatoes there."

Controversy reigned over where the hub should be located and the news of Wanaheda being chosen as the location will not be good news to Former Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary Andrew Ndishishi who lobbied for other locations.

Ndishishi, who is now the PS at the Ministry of Health, wrote a letter to the Ministry of Regional, Local Government and Housing in which he vented his frustration at the City council's refusal to allocate a plot in Prosperita.

In the letter he said the Wanaheda plot will not be suitable for the envisioned fresh produce hub, which requires industrial and commercial activities.

"The plot in Wanaheda is located among residential homes and a school and is therefore not suitable for the market."

Ndishishi even said the ministry does not have any other option than to move the industrialised component to Okahandja.

Ndishishi, who was replaced by Iita last year after the Permanent Secretaries reshuffle indicated in that letter that the land in Wanaheda is sloped and its usage is dependent on the large-scale earthworks expected to cost N$15 million.

"Erf 2192 Wanaheda is zoned institutional and it has to be rezoned for industrial land use. This rezoning is a long and protracted process and is open to objections by the public," Ndishishi wrote in the letter.

Other projects of a similar nature at Rundu and Ongwediva are already nearing completion, according to Ndishishi.

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