Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

Namibia: Random Off-Road Driving Along Beach Leaves Permanent Scars, and Fines

Information provided by the Namibian Coastal Conservation and Management Project Holidaymakers behaved well and adhered much better to the rules and regulations of the Dorob National Park this past summer holiday season. However, random driving off the C34 trunk road to gain access to the beach areas between Swakopmund and the Ugab River, has increased.

Signposted and marked access routes were created at 21 turn-offs to the shoreline from Swakopmund to the Ugab River Mouth, where holidaymakers and anglers could easily reach the beachfront. The aim of the marked access roads and turn-offs is to avoid unnecessary tracks in and further damage to the desert.

Despite the various requests for adherence to the rules and regulations of the Dorob National Park, and these being readily available to the public, many drivers chose to drive off demarcated tracks along the C34.

The Ministry of Environment and Tourism is considering the option of erecting a cable fence to the west along the C34 between Swakopmund and Henties Bay and Henties Bay and the Ugab River mouth to prevent indiscriminate off-road driving. This would force anglers and beachgoers to only use the access roads to reach the beachfront. Once on the beach, they are allowed to drive along the beaches excluding the beachfront at Henties Bay, Wlotskas Baken, and Swakopmund.

The ministry said it will undertake a feasibility study in this regard and also do an assessment for the placement of toilet facilities between the access routes along the beaches. Furthermore, the ministry is considering the upgrading of some of the access routes, where applicable, by re-gravelling or compacting them with salt. The ministry now has a grader and other equipment to maintain these roads regularly.

The Ministry of Environment and Tourism reported that cooperation from the public has been very good and the majority behaved themselves well during the entire holiday season.

The ministry issued 146 fines to people for illegal off-road driving, 8 fines for illegal camping, 33 fines for illegal entry into the Dorob National Park without a permit and 18 fines for individuals who disregarded or disobeyed the provisions of the Nature Conservation Ordinance as enforced by park wardens. An amount of N$59,000 was collected for admission of guilt fines.

According to NACOMA, a deterrent would be to increase the admission of guilt fines as well as to erect more information signs in the Dorob National Park.

Fishery inspectors of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources issued a total of 46 admission of guilt fines for illegal activities during the past holiday season, amounting to N$22,000. A total of 22 people were caught angling without permits, while six fines were issued for undersized catches, nine for worms and one for rock lobster.

The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources lauded the cooperation by the public, especially for some members reporting illegal activities to the Fisheries Inspectorate.

According to various accounts, towns along the central Namibian coast experienced a positive season in terms of business. The towns had been full and trade activities were above average.

The Walvis Bay Municipality reported that the harbour town experienced a good festive season. Retail outlets and tourism operators indicated an above average season. The number of complaints by the public declined compared to previous seasons. Requests regarding the use of fireworks in residential areas, unfortunately, fell on deaf ears. It was emphasized again that this activity is against the by-laws, is dangerous and could cause damage to properties or threaten human life. It also upsets dogs no end.

Henties Bay also experienced a busy festive season, with few problems, though a few near-drownings were averted by the emergency services. Much off-road driving took place at Lagunenberg, while many cars were sighted at the Dead Sea, with some of the public camping illegally there. A number of quad bike drivers contravened rules and regulations of the Dorob National Park, which prohibits the driving of these vehicles or two wheeled bikes north of the Omaruru River.

The Namibian Police also reported the good cooperation of the public. A total of 1,581 summons were issued to the value of N$1,8 million along the central Namibian coast. During the holiday season of 2011/2012 a total of 1,961 summons to the value of NS2, 29 million were issued. Included in the past season's summons were 45 for drunken driving, 22 less than the previous season. The Namibian Police tested 1,224 people for driving under the influence of alcohol, 410 more than last year. The number of accidents, decreased to 233 from 323 during 2011/2012. The number of crime cases, however, increased from 828, last season, to 844 this past holiday season.

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