New Era (Windhoek)

Namibia: Ambitious Plans for Karas Region

Vaalgras — The Karas Regional Governor, Bernadus Swartbooi, has disclosed a series of infrastructural projects and educational development initiatives aimed at attracting business and investment to create much needed employment and mitigate poverty in the region.

Despite its huge potential for economic growth, the Karas Region has been unable to provide employment to many of its inhabitants. The governor made the announcement during an information sharing consultative meeting with the community of Vaalgras over the weekend.

Swartbooi also seized the opportunity to announce the region's development theme for the year, which is "The Year of Renewal".

"The theme is to promote a sense of accountability and renewal of our objectives to develop ourselves," he said at the community meeting where he and his team were welcomed in style by a traditional cavalry of horse riders.

The meeting was also aimed at consulting the community ahead of the governor's planned meeting with President Hifikepunye Pohamba on Wednesday.

Vaalgras, a settlement located 60km northeast of Keetmanshoop has been at the centre of a leadership dispute. The squabble has turned to the ownership of a resettlement farm in the area.

Swartbooi also expressed unhappiness over the poor performance of the region in the Grade 10 and Grade 12 exams of last year and announced that the region will hold an education consultative conference in March to discuss the issue.

The governor said the region has so far collected N$15.7 million for the construction of the proposed southern campus of the University of Namibia (UNAM) in Keetmanshoop.

The consultative meeting organized by the governor's office was attended by senior officials from the regional offices of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, the Ministry of Health and Social Services, the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, as well as officials of the Namibian-German Special Initiative Programme (NGSIP) under the National Planning Commission (NPC).

According to Swartbooi, the projects to be tackled this year include the construction of a dry port, the servicing of 600 residential erven, the completion of a regional office of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration, as well as a TB ward in Keetmanshoop.

He said the list includes the allocation of 200 residential erven to contractors who will be working on the Neckartal Dam project for the accommodation of workers when construction starts.

He also announced that the Lüderitz Corridor Development Initiative (LCDI) has been approved by the government, which will now pave the way for the long-awaited commencement of the N$400 million Lüderitz Waterfront Development project.

"Further delays experienced in the tender process will not be entertained. This initiative should be implemented as a matter of urgency so that we can create employment for our people," he declared.

He promised he would advocate that the status of Lüderitz be changed to a fully fledged municipality and that government take over the ownership of Rosh Pinah and proclaim it a town during the course of this year.

He also announced the construction of a 1.5km long-ship loading and off-loading conveyor belt this year at Lüderitz.

"Lüderitz harbour has a rocky bottom and the shallow depth has meant that larger vessels have not been able to use the harbour, therefore the construction of the conveyer belt will serve that purpose," according to the governor.

Swartbooi said Lüderitz has the biggest economy in the region and the potential to grow with a budget of N$120 million compared to the N$50 million of Keetmanshoop

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