8 February 2013

Namibia: Clearing of Fish River Going Ahead

THE permanent secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture yesterday retracted his statement of a day earlier that the tender to clear the reeds and deepen a one-kilometre stretch of the Fish River at Mariental was cancelled because of a shortage of funds.

Joseph Iita told The Namibian yesterday that he was referring to another tender related to the Fish River at Mariental, which closed on November 1 2011.

The cancelled tender was about a 20km stretch which was supposed to be cleared and deepened, which would have cost the government in the range of N$170 million.

"The clearing and deepening of the Fish River will help that the river is not overflowing its banks during the rainy season. This one kilometre has been identified as the critical part that needs to be done after which we will again determine whether there is a need to clear and deepen the rest of the river," the chairman of the Mariental Flood Task Force, Chris Nel, told The Namibian yesterday.

During February 2006 properties in the western part of Mariental, downstream of the Hardap Dam and the lower Fish River, were flooded following heavy rains. This caused damage in excess of N$100 million.

"It can be that it [tender] will be approved by tomorrow's [today's] meeting or next week Friday. The tender prices range from N$10 million to N$25 million, but we cannot spend more than N$13 million on this project," said Iita.

More than ten tender applications were received from local contractors.

The aim of the project is to try and straighten the course of the Fish River for one kilometre and to deepen the riverbed to two metres. In this process 225 000 cubic metres of sand would be excavated.

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