Windhoek — Chief Hikuminue Kapika of the Kapika Royal House has urged government to accelerate the construction of the Baynes hydropower plant, saying that the livelihood of his people lies in the project.
Kapika, who has been known in the past for objecting to the construction of this project, made a U-turn some years back and is now backing the establishment of the power project.
Namibia and Angola intend building a hydropower station and a dam at Orokawe or Baynes on the Kunene River.
However, this plan has been met with strong resistance by some residents of the affected areas in the Epupa Constituency, with some saying that there are holy mountains and graves belonging to their ancestors.
Addressing the media in Windhoek on Thursday, Kapika said the establishment of the power project will bring the much needed development to his people.
"My people are suffering untold hardship, including hunger and disease and the only hope we have is for the establishment of the power project as it will bring along job and development especially at Orokawe," said the tribal Chief in his dialect.
Furthermore, Kapika appeals for developmental aid and emergency aid from government saying that despite the good rains experienced this year in most part of the country, severe drought condition persist stubbornly in the Kunene
Region, which has receive minimal and patchy rainfall.
"Our people are suffering untold hardship, including hunger and disease," he said in a media statement read on his behalf by Ephraim Tutjavi.
Kapika who was accompanied by his Senior Councillors Veihama Tjindunda and Muzengua Tjiposa says due to poor grazing conditions, his community are losing livestock at unprecedented rates and poverty is not only spreading, but is deepening with tragic consequences for man and beast alike.
"Pasture is virtually non-existent and the land is turning into a vast dust bowl of despair and desolation," he said.
"It is saddening to watch the lives of scores of our people go to waste through the abuses of alcohol and other unbecoming behaviours fueled by abject poverty and hopelessness," he added.
He said young people are unable to find any meaningful or gainful employment, due to the lack of overall development. "We have literally became destitute in our own land," he said.
"We feel neglected and forgotten because we cannot even afford to take our wives and children to clinics, because there are no health facilities for kilometers around," he said.
According to him, the odds and distant clinics are not adequately stocked and are poorly managed.
"We have no roads or those that are there are impassable, due to lack of regular maintenance. We cannot even appeal for help to the outside world, because of the absence of the telecommunications network. I appears that development is denied to us, because there is little to no infrastructure development at all," said the tribal Chief.
Kapika says the Okanguati settlement has a potential to become a town, but due to the absence of political will, it is now teething on a brink of becoming an empty shell of a place.
"People there now survive on brackish, salty water, which is unfit for human consumption. We desperately need clean and potable water," he added.